Motherhood is everything. Difficult but fulfilling. And owning/running a business is equally challenging yet rewarding. Both require and insane amount work and energy.
Whether you are are career parent or stay-at-home, we all battle the juggle between accomplishing something and giving attention to our children.
How do we do it? How do I do it?
Some days, I wake up with expectations to accomplish the world with children who would be well-behaved and play independently. But nothing works as planned and I must release my frustrations and realize that days like these are meant to be slow. The messes, the tears, the tiredness. We all feel it. So I decide that tasks take a back seat to attention in order to save all of our sanities. Accept this. Allow myself to be flexible. It's OKAY not to accomplish my to-do list for the day. There is no one you need to prove yourself too. You are enough. I am enough. Without doing a single thing except loving yourself and your children.
Mom-guilt is tough to shake. I hate leaving my girls in the care of others so I can work. And there is a lot of shame in our society for doing so. But we've got to let it go. It takes a village guys. Our closest family is almost 1,000 miles away, so we have to create our own village here. When did we get the idea that we could raise our children totally on our own?? Or worse, that we should?? We were never meant to be so isolated, to have so much pressure on ourselves. But when those feelings come, and they will, allow yourself to experience the tension. Then remember, although motherhood is the most rewarding part of my life, I'm more than that. And so are you. Remember to nurture those parts of yourselves, whether that be working as a driven career woman or spending time alone painting while your kids take a nap.
First picture: A letter Clarity wrote to me while I was at a market selling tea. Second: A button she made for me to wear while I was gone at markets "so you don't forget me, so you can remember what I look like, and so you can keep me close." You guys think I totally didn't just break down sobbing?? ... After I recovered from the tears, I used that emotion as fuel for a deeper connection with her whenever I come home.
One-on-one. Daily. Even if just 10 minutes per kid. This often takes more discipline for me than accomplishing work-related tasks. I thrive off of "being productive," so to leave my phone in the other room on silent for a good amount of time can be a real challenge for me. This time is crucial. I let my children dictate our time together. Favorite activities include reading books, playing games, coloring, blowing bubbles outside, riding bikes and trikes in our cul de sac. It doesn't matter, as long as they know they can expect me to be theirs and theirs alone for a few minutes, everyday, consistently.
Weekly. Take a full morning, full afternoon, or full day if we can (here's to hoping). We go on hikes, explore the coast, or go to the park. We have tea-time and game nights. It doesn't really matter what we do, rather THAT we do it. It's a crucial reminder to my children AND myself to put in the most important things into my week first. Nothing brings me more joy than unplugged time with those I love most.
This is HUGE. It's such a common mantra: "Eat well, sleep well, exercise." Kind of the cure-all, right? We've heard it our whole lives since health class in elementary school. But for the first time ever, I'm taking it seriously. Eating well has always been a priority for me, but getting good sleep and exercising consistently? Nah. Starting this New Year, I brought them forward into my week and made them a priority every day. Here's the crazy thing: If I get a decent night's sleep and invest an hour a day doing something active, I get WAAAYYY more done than if I used those extra hours to work. I'm a much better mother, wife, friend, and business owner. My anxiety and depression fade away. I'm a better me. Who knew??
When it comes to exercising, do what you enjoy, and don't torture yourself. If you don't enjoy it, you won't keep up with it. Don't compare your body or goals to what you think "fitness" means. If exercise is new to you, start slow. Just listen to your body and move it in a way that makes you happy.
Appreciate the beautiful moments in your life. The small things. The details. Notice the way your food tastes. The way the sun rays cast themselves into your home. The way the grass smells. The way your feet hit the pavement as you walk to your mailbox. The way the song on the radio crescendos while you sit at a stoplight. The cool, clean way your teeth feel right after brushing them.
Mindfulness doesn't require any sort of planning or scheduling. It's just about noticing and appreciating that which already is in your day. It brings your mind away from the anxieties about the past and future and grounds it to the present moment. Mindfulness is a great tool for battling anxiety and depression, for keeping yourself focused with giant to-do lists, for zoning into the step in front of you rather than getting overwhelmed by the mountains in front of you. It's also helpful during toddler meltdowns.
Be your biggest fan. Give yourself love and grace. And DON'T COMPARE YOURSELF to others. Know that we are all in this together. Nobody is competing with you. Remember, those around you are there to support you, not as a means of defining your worth. You are doing your very best, we all are. When you're hard on yourself, you evoke feelings of fear and anxiety within you. Instead, speak love and compassion to yourself so you can find your worth in your being rather than your doing.
Pretty self-explanatory here. I write down my goals and create my tasks and schedules around accomplishing them. Putting the tasks on paper helps to keep my mind clutter-free. Creating a schedule helps to keep me from forgetting an important deadline or ballet lesson. It also helps me hone in on my time management skills and reveal problem areas. But just remember to give yourself compassion, grace, and movement when things need to be shifted. Being a momtreprenuer is all about being flexible.
Whatever your current life situation, know that you are not alone in the frustration of the balance between work and family. We are all doing our best to balance what matters most to each of us.