How to keep sane in a busy season. From a full-time mom and full-time business owner
It’s been one of those tough days again…
‘Baba’ is busy teething. She does not want to be put down, only in mamma’s arms today. The house is somewhat of a mess and you have a client deadline you need to attend to. Tired and weary you power through the day. Night-time comes and you finally have an hour or two to catch up on lost work, spend some time with your husband to complain about your busy day and at the end of the day, find time to settle, switch off and rest.
Looking at all of those beautiful, fully rested, slim and fashionable mamma’s on Insta, you can’t help but feel completely alone in this constant struggle between trying to be the best stay-at-home mom you could be while fighting to build something to be proud of, something of your own (big or small).
Is this you?
I’m sure if you are reading this, you have experienced some similar days before. You are not alone, while it might feel like it most of the time. This post is just another piece of evidence that hundreds of other women struggle too. I am one of them and I have had my fair share, and there is still many more to come.
I want to start off by saying- YOU ARE DOING GREAT. I know what you are thinking: “Renaldi, you don’t even know me, how do you know this?”. Well, you took the time in reading this post, hoping to find MORE WAYS to being a good career woman and still being able to give your children your best. I see that as a mother doing the best she possibly can.
A career mom- Apart from having honed our ability to multitask, our drivers are essentially the same: we set up our business to grow an idea, to become financially independent, to build something your children can be proud of one day and maybe even to change the world! What is your drive? How do you want to change the world? I may not be able to help you with these questions, but I can offer you some advice on how I have been able to keep my head above water (well, most days, not all). I have a few tricks up my sleeve on how I keep sane in a busy season:
1. Be thankful for the good days and learn from the bad ones
I’ll start off by quoting the Harvard Medical School: “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
Boom, mic drop. ACTIVELY search for the good and your day will go better with the right mindset, I can promise you that. If you like to follow challenges like me, this 21 Days of Gratitude Challenge is a good place to start.
Juggling two HUGE things in your life can be hard. It is guaranteed that you will have your bad days. It is most probably the main reason for you reading this. Why not learn from them. Reflect on these days, identify what made it bad and apply some change to make it run smoothly in the future.
2. Wake up earlier
“Whoa Renaldi, you are overstepping some boundaries over here. My beauty sleep is important.” Yes, it is, but waking up before the rest of your house just works soooo well. Imagine having your first cup of coffee for the day in total piece. No rush, no crying toddler, just you, reflecting on the day ahead.
My husband and I wake up at 5am in the mornings. Most mornings he has to drag me out of bed. His persistence both drives me crazy and saves my bum more than I would like to admit. You can have your coffee in peace, maybe do your daily devotions, wash bottles, quickly give the kitchen a clean. Whatever small task to help you start your day on the right foot.
3. Take that morning shower/bath!
This doesn’t seem right. Is this even supposed to be on the list? My answer is YES. I have read on several occasions that in order to have a productive work-at-home day, you have to try dress up everyday. Okay, so I tried this, the results by the end of the week: me in my preggy-pants with no makeup. I just simply don’t have the luxury of time most days. Other days I just really enjoy working in comfy clothes. BUT, I never give up my morning shower. I have felt the difference in my day when I take a shower compared to when I don’t. A morning shower helps me to get my head in the game, to regroup and meditate on the day ahead, plus it is some guaranteed me-time for a few minutes. This one small change makes a big difference in my day’s stress levels. Still not convinced. I’m not the only one that feels this way- read this article.
4. Invest in a Solid routine for your child
If you are also doing the full-time momming-thing, my only hope is that if you had to take away one thing from this post, it would be this. Keeping a strict routine with your child, in my opinion, is the most IMPORTANT part of the puzzle when juggling work and family. I cannot emphasize this enough.
Why we felt so strongly about her routine from day one….
Instilling a solid routine into my daughter’s life not only gives her the feeling of security and comfort, but it gives me the ability to plan every day accordingly. Knowing when to schedule meetings and how many hours I will have every day to work. Can you imagine the chaos that would be if I cannot tell a client when we will be able to schedule a meeting? It would hurt my business and, at the same time, my time with my daughter more than I might realize. A good routine equals a happy and rested child, leading to a happy mom.
An integral part of a good routine that will help you keep sane is an early bedtime for ‘baba’. While I love spending time with my daughter, I can not wait for her bedtime, which is around 7h30PM. As she is busy drifting off into dreamland, I get to relax, spend time with hubby or catch up on some lost work.
5. Active planning
Routine and proper planning goes hand in hand. When your routine is set, planning just falls into place, right? This would be a strong false. You need to ACTIVELY implement proper planning and planning techniques. If you plan correctly, most of your days will be more of a breeze than a storm. Just keep in mind that it can’t always run smoothly, we need to accept those bad days and learn from them.
6. Hydrate well
This is a surprising piece of the puzzle that I only recently paid attention to. A 2013 study showed that drinking water resulted in a 14% increase in productivity. WHAT?! Hydration is definitely important not only for your health, but to keep your mind sharp and your energy levels up. Read this article if you need more convincing.
7.Schedule family time and stick with it
Family-time is so important because let’s face it; your husband needs you; your children need you and you need them. Schedule a set time every day strictly for family time. No work, no television, no phones, just you and your family. Our time is between 6-8PM. It is the time where my husband and I spend some quality time with our daughter before she is off to bed. Sure, there are days where there is a task bothering me, but nothing keeps me from this time. It is the time I look most forward to every day and I have noticed first-hand how my daughter’s cup overflows, at the end, when we tuck her in. Do yourself a favor and try it.
8. Go for a walk
It is no secret that some fresh air will always do you good. Let this be a reminder to work in a daily walk, even a quick short walk will make a huge difference. But be smart. Do it when you know ‘baba’ is usually fussy and you are most unfocused. Maybe before a nap. It will give you at least 10min of a much-deserved break where both of you are happy, plus you will get in some exercise!
9. Ask for help
I just want to say that this list is in no way put in order of importance, because if it were, this would be top of my list. I have only recently pushed the ‘call a friend’ button and it is the best decision I have made. I do not know why I didn’t ask for help earlier. Asking for help does not mean you failed or that you are a bad/lazy mom. It simply means that you made the choice to be 100% present at all times. Instead of being overworked and over-tired.
10. Let go of the guilt
Last but not least – let go of that guilt. I know you have it, I have it too. The moment you hold that little bundle of joy in your hands, I big bag of guilt comes with her. Guilty because you work too much. Guilty because you let your child watch a little more television than recommended. Guilty because you need to make excuses to clients. The list goes on.
I’m here to tell you it’s OK to not be so perfect ALL THE TIME. It is OK to have bad days. It is OK to complain a little too much in hubby’s ear. It is OK to walk maybe a little bit slower than normal in the grocery store while hubby is looking after ‘baba’. What matters the most is that you do the best you can. Rather a happy and healthy mom than an overworked-, stressed-out-, tired- and cranky-perfect mom.
Every woman is in a different season in their life, for which they are made for. God prepares us for each season, we are in it because we are able to be in it- YOU ARE MADE FOR THIS. If you feel worn out and about to give up. Feeling like you don’t have the energy to juggle anymore, take a deep breath and get back into that mindset that made you start in the first place. Apply some of these tips or create your own. The most important is that you start looking after yourself.