What does ‘having it all’ mean to you? In my daydream it goes something like this: My business is super profitable and practically running itself (or by the ultimate COO), I am free to take a leisurely run in the middle of the day, the house is immaculate (Did I mention Mary Poppins is our nanny?), I go for a gourmet, healthy lunch and a massage, I get all my work done, and the kids’ lives are drama-free when I pick them up at 3 p.m. Screeeeeech. Woah! Ok, back to life, lady! You can resume that dream again at 11:30 p.m. (maybe) or 2:33 a.m. (perhaps). As a mother of three kids ages 11, 9, and 5, and a home-based business owner that manages all aspects of the brand (sales, operations, marketing oh my!), I am juggling their busy schedules, our home, and this growing skincare line. My life is messy, girlfriend, and I can almost bet yours is too. Sorry.
Often, my to-do list is so long, I almost don’t know where to begin, or for that matter even want to. Are you nodding, “Yeah woman, I feel ya!”? That’s because, work life aside, motherhood is work. There, I said it. Even though my very hands-on husband knows how hard it can be, he does not love when I say that. Of course, our children are huge blessings (not that I really need to say it). I am extremely grateful for my precious babies. No words can even come close to describing my love for them! Obviously…however, those nodding earlier agree, it can be dig-deep work, and I find the self-induced pressure to raise model citizens to be stressful, and often it weighs down on my shoulders the most. Here are a few rules I have learned from friends, my sister, my beloved mother, and by trial and error to keep this juggling act going without losing it. Hopefully, some will work for you, and those precious gifts of yours will be better off for it.
1. Recognise the power you have. Wait, what? Yeah, you DO have power! The kids may not listen to you, but mama they hear you. Our moods, actions, and words are so powerful that if we lose our sh*t, they inevitably will too. Our partners are happy when we are, and they’re stressed when we are as well. I know, you are looking for tools, not more anxiety 🙂 But, this is the first step. Trust me. Even though recognizing that so much pressure is on us seems even more stressful, acknowledging it has actually taken some off me. How? It forces me to deeply understand that I need to…
2. Take mummy breaks every single day. Yes, single mums, working mums, single/working mums, stay at home mums, plain old MOMS! Take some time Every.Single.Day! Nobody likes a martyr — especially when that martyr is me. (Feel free to tweet that nugget). What lights YOU up? What chills YOU out? What do YOU need daily to be happy, so that you can be productive, organised, and calm for the inevitable challenges and the children? I know for me, it’s hitting the basement and doing a body blasting, 25-minute workout tape (Yes, I took that break while writing this post — and hopefully it’s better as a result, and perhaps I’ll be nicer to my husband and kids later –here’s hoping)! One friend of mine must have a green juice and do daily yoga, another uses her lunch hour for spinning no matter what. Some friends walk their dogs together and have a walking therapy session (Yes, the mums and the dogs. What? You think dogs don’t have problems?). What I’m sayin’ is, don’t put everyone first and leave nuttin’ for yourself. Sign up for that dance class, join a book club, learn a new language, do something YOU want to do to grow as a human being. Go for it! You are not just defined by your job and your kids. Take some time to think about what else excites you! One practice that really helps me focus clearly on what I want is to…
3. Meditate and write in my journal. Everybody’s talking ’bout meditating! But, it’s not just because it’s the cool thing to do (though it is), it’s that there are just so many benefits. If your day starts at a dark, ugly hour and you simply cannot wake up any earlier to go within, wait until you can devote just 5 minutes — it can be after you drop the kids off, during a baby’s nap, on the bus, in your parked car, in the bathroom, whatever. Skip those facebooking minutes today (OK, just shorten them) and close your eyes and think of how you envision your day to go. My dear friend bought me a six-pack of meditation classes for my 40th birthday last winter and it was one of the best things to happen to me as a crazed mother and to my strumming along business. I met my ‘future self’ on this journey (She’s a rock star by the way, and everything I wish to become), and now I speak with her frequently. She is my wise inner guide for where I need focus. This takes away some of the intensity of NOW and gets me envisioning the future. After I go within, I free-flow journal for a few minutes. I find this is a form of therapy too, with the premise that putting it down on paper gets it off my chest. For more awesome information on meditation, check out where I learned to contemplate my navel 😉 at Linda Armstrong’s site. Now, onto a real doozy…
4. Get the whole family into whole foods. No, not the supermarket, though I do shop there and sell my products there (I know, I know shameless plug — I couldn’t resist). Try to get everyone eating plant-based, whole, organic, hormone-free foods. My favourite quote by Michael Pollan is, “Before you eat something, ask yourself if what you are eating is from a plant, or was it made in a plant?’ Food choices can make or break how I feel, and the same goes for our children. Behaviour (aggression, atomic meltdowns, mood swings, poor concentration, etc.) can all be triggered by food choices. I’ve seen it in my own home. When my kids eat fake, processed food with too much sugar all hell breaks loose and I feel like caged animals were let loose from the zoo (is that Madagascar scene playing in your head too? Yeah, but we have no tranquilizer guns in the house). With marketing everywhere for sugary cereals, yoghurts, and fast food galore, I know firsthand this is no easy task. I do know, however, that the effort you make now can give you and your children a better chance in life, and make for a calmer, healthier, more productive home. For great advice on your family’s nutrition check out Nutrition CPR, founded by my friend and registered dietician (also a home-based business owner and mum of two), Jaime Coffey Martinez, MS, RD.
5. Ditch the guilt, sister! If you walk around feeling guilty about the choices you make, STOP! Decide on what you need and do it. Your daughters and sons see your behaviour as well. If they see you treating yourself well, and being accomplished in your work, they will learn to take pride in themselves, too. It’s simple and tough at the same time. Watch your language (and your/MY mouth). Don’t mistake my message that you ought to be frivolous and spend money where there isn’t. But, any budget can be made around your must-haves. Everyone has different priorities. Decide yours and don’t apologise. Stick to your gut choices (about your business, your children, your plans, your purchases etc.) and then shake the rest off. It doesn’t serve you or your family well to walk around with a wet blanket on your shoulders. Leave the guilt in our grandparent’s generation – they’ve got that one covered. And most importantly, it benefits everyone when you really….
6. Recognise you already have it all (at least of course, everything that’s important). I have found that when I once-and-for-all decided to greet gratitude with big, open arms, she hooked me up big time! And, it really is a decision. This was maybe the toughest but most rewarding ‘aha’ I have ever had. It’s late. I am at the computer writing. The house is quiet. My loving husband is doing the dishes, and my three healthy, bright, beautiful, impressionable kids are sleeping soundly (finally) in our little ranch house that is perfectly short on bathrooms, closets, and living space. I have a tribe of terrific friends that I can call upon in need, for last minute carpool pickups, a mood boost, advice, a glass of wine, a forgotten lunch at school, whatever. That’s a gift! I used to bitch way more, but now practicing gratitude has been the best perspective I have found for showing up as the sanest and happiest mum and ‘momprenuer’ I can be. I am lucky because I had the BEST role model for a mum (who worked full-time) and always had a smile and a hug for me. She’d say, “Gilly, you can do whatever you want, but don’t ever settle.” I write this post for her and tomorrow I book a 2 hour massage in her honour (after I help my kid with a project, drive them to a camp reunion, order more oils, sugar and labels, fold 6 loads of laundry, buy apples, make school lunches and dinner etc.) You know the drill! Oh, and do I lose my cool even with all these fabulous tools? At least once a day (on a good day). I’m just taking it One Day at a Tiiiiiiime over here, you?
Ladies, I need to be real here. I wrote this blog for me, to remind me how I want and need to live – to hold myself accountable, to make my business better, and my parenting rock. Be your best friend if you write me below and tell me how YOU manage the work/life juggle. After all, we’re all in this together! (cue the High School Musical soundtrack). XO, Gilly