Browse any Facebook timeline where a woman announces her second pregnancy, you'll find the standard congratulatory message , as well as redundant advice about how to help the older sibling adjusted, and my favorite making the older sibling your "helper" once baby arrives. Because you know toddlers are such great helpers (inserts side eye). But rarely do you find honest advice about the sh*tstorm that will likely hit once said baby comes, or mothers doubting that they are properly equipped to handle it. I mean after all they've totally done this before.
This week while everybody was sipping on their lemonade and wondering who Becky was, I found myself preoccupied and deeply disturbed by another story that popped up in the media
If you've been on there rock, this is the most recent photo that little Kim posted on her Instagram.
Over the last 15 years we've seen Lil' Kim change herself and morph into a barely recognizable sassy rapper on that 1996 Hardcore Poster. You know the one, in the very provocative squat, leopard bikini and fabulous fur. I had that poster, albeit for a very short time because my parents made me take it down but I love that poster I thought she was gorgeous.
She's been the butt of many jokes over the years, and has at times been compared to Michael Jackson. Unfortunately this shit is no longer funny.
My heart hurts.
First for her, the little black girl who never felt validated. Who was quoted as saying "all my life men have always told me I wasn't pretty enough.It's always been men putting me down, just like my dad. To this day when someone says I'm cute, I can't see it."
It's become very apparent that this is not just a phase, this is not just a little surgery here or there to fix something you didn't like. Lil' Kim was never was comfortable with herself and her skin and no matter what she does or what surgery she goes through, that feeling inside of not being enough prevails.
My heart hurts for her daughter.
We know all too well the effects of having a positive role model inside the home is. As a mother of a little black girl I see it already, she wants to emulate me, when I put lipstick on she asks for lipstick she's even going to my make up bag and asked me to open it and put something on her. She touches her twists and tells me "pwetty hair". She notices every time I change my hairstyle. I make sure I do my best to embrace all parts of me, especially in front of her.
My heart hurts for little black girls and grown black women who have yet to feel validated.
Most of us go through some form of a self loathing phase. Once upon a time, I was that girl. Didn't feel pretty enough, skinny enough, my nose was too big, skin too bumpy. However, as I grew into womanhood and did the self work,I really learned to love everything about me and absolutely zero fucks about what others thought. It took time.
In this age of #BlackGirlMagic, "Plus size" models being featured on covers, artists embracing their blackness, it's important to still note that there are many out there that are still mentally enslaved to a standard of beauty that doesn't glorify them, they are not yet comfortable in their skin or with what they see in the mirror. There is still a lot of work to be done, and it's still as important as ever that we guard our tongues especially when speaking to ourselves, let our daughters know that they are beautiful as is, and be so gentle on how we approach women who have yet to discover their self worth. That we not just laugh and brush if off but show them kindness and compassion.
Do you find yourself holding yourself back when it's time to speak up? Dismissing your ideas as not unique or helpful to others? Scared to put yourself out there in fear of looking stupid or being ridiculed? Consider this your personal permission to unapologetically take space and be exactly who you are.
"You're doing such a great job!" "How do you do it all?" Are sentiments that I often echoed to me by friends, associates and fellow moms. With women juggling so much these days, most of us are endlessly searching for the holy grail of feeling balanced and productive without losing our minds. While I like good compliment, the truth is managing to accomplish the simplest tasks can be almost impossible somedays. Add being 6 months pregnant and constantly chasing a toddler to the mix, and the struggle could not be more real. However, there are days where I manage to get in the zone and get ish done, like I was sprinkled with magical fairy dust. So I started to take notice of what works and how I can duplicate it. Since I'm spending more time home with my daughter now, it was critical to get some kind of system set up. Here's what's worked.
I have great help:
No save the best one for last here. The number one thing I had to realize early on in my mommy journey is that I'm not super woman and I cannot do all the things. It is a team effort all the way around. I'm only as good as the people who have my back. So that's nannies, sitters, girlfriends, aunties and whoever is able to lend a hand.
I don't have the luxury of having easily accessible grandparents, but my mother does her share by traveling with me when she can, or stepping in if I have to be out of town for a longer stretch. That's been a life saver.
One chief complaint that I hear from women who are just starting their business is they don't have the money for childcare. Trust me, I get it, childcare is not cheap! However, you have to think of it as an opportunity costs. How much would you be able to get done by blocking even a solid 4 hrs a week just on your biz, while you hired someone? If you really can't come up with the money get creative, and really think about who can help in your network. You don't know know how many times I've had moms say to me "My mom (other relative/friend) is so helpful, but I don't want to to burden them by asking." Stop that mess right now. If someone you are close to is willing to help, take the help, all of it, this is not the time to be extra humble.
Being intentional with MY time:
So you have a little time to yourself, but oh so much to do! Where do you even begin, maybe this or that..or... and just like that times up and you've accomplished nothing!! Oh I have been there more times then I care to admit. What helps? Being super clear on exact business tasks I need to accomplish in that time frame, and getting to it straight away.
Delegate Tedious, Time Sucking Tasks
Groceries? Laundry? Cleaning? Umm, no thanks! If you're in a major city, there are tons of services that will do it for you at a reasonable costs. Again this is an opportunity costs thing, particularly with the cleaning which may not always be in your budget. Groceries was a no brainer to me, some places do it free, I haven't seen anyone charge more than 10 bucks, so long Whole Foods Parking wars! I loathe laundry, LOATHE. So it gets sent out as often as possible. I realize that I do live in NYC and some of these services are easily available, but what if you don't? You still don't have to do all the things. Ask "who else could be doing this?" and enlist some help to get through those tedious yet necessary tasks and free up the time to truly focus and work in your zone of genius.
No Facebook or News early in the morning:
Ok, so we all know Facebook newsfeed can be a time sucker but regular news too? Yup! I actually found network news to be an even bigger time waster and energy drainer. My most productive days include absolutely no early AM screen time, and yes, you can add email to that too. Consuming media, social or otherwise in the morning, feels heavy. You wake up, scroll down your newsfeed, look at your show etc and there's a whole lot of everything coming at you and frankly it just throws me all the way off. Use that time instead to reflect and set intentions for the day ahead. You'll be glad you did.
I'm still very much addicted to my iPhone and check it first thing in the morning before anything else. I've trained myself however, to click out of any social media, or news source and choose to instead click a meditation app (like Omvana or Chopra Center). The amount of time I actually have to meditate varies greatly based on whether my child is awake or what kind of mood she is in, but I make it work on most days.
Finding joy in the present moment:
Setting specific time aside for work, and open time to just spend with my child is critical. I noticed around 18mths or so, Anou really watched me and what I was doing, and at one point began to close my computer screen. So changes were made. It's not that I'm never on the phone or laptop around her, but I'm more mindful about being fully present with her more often. Yes I can check my devices here and there, but I've completely gotten rid of the expectations of getting work done while she's around. It helps relieve the frustrations on both ends and allows me to focus on just being there with her ( even if it feels like she's holding me hostage).
Know that some days, none of it matters.
Be Ok with it. Life with small children can be hard. Some days you don't want to adult. And that's ok too. There is no perfect blueprint, and what worked yesterday may not today, take it all in stride, grab your favorite spirited drink and know that there's always tomorrow.
One bit of advice that I really want mama's to be cautious with is this whole notion of burning the midnight oil and getting all your work done late at night. I've been seeing this float around the interwebs lately, and NO!! That's the type of crap that leaves you burned out and miserable. I've been a night owl, I was young and had no kids and even then it wasn't healthy but it worked. And every once in a while now, probably could pull it off still. However, if you're like me, knocking on mid 30's door, exhausted from adulting all day, by the time you put your kids to sleep, you izzz tiredd! Take a bath, go talk to your hubby, or just pass out. This expectation that you will magically gain some energy, and get all the things done in the wee hours of the night, is foolish and dangerous. You are a human, responsible for yourself and other humans, you deserve rest and the ability to do your work when you're most energized, chances are it's not at 3 am. Know what time of the day you tend to feel your best, do what you can then, and ask for plenty of help along the way.
2016 is going to amazing or at least that's what you've told yourself. You've vision boarded, desire mapped, ordered your fancy planner and colorful pens. You have all these inspirational post plastered all over your bathroom wall. What could possibly be missing?!
One word my friend...
That awesome, yet at times elusive little word can take you from feeling completely overwhelmed and powerless, to ahh yes! This is exactly what it's suppose to look like.
So what exactly is a boundary? In short a boundary is you taking a stance, drawing a line in the sand and making it very clear what "ain't nobody (read you) got time for". It's your guiding principle, and let's those around you know how you expect to be treated, and what you're available or not available for.
In my experience, women especially have a hard time with the concept of boundaries. We want to do it all, be it all, at all times to EVERYONE. After all, the world as we know it would collapse if we ever said no to anyone/thing for any reason. They need us.
When I'm working with clients, most of whom come to me frazzled and completely overwhelmed, I can't tell you how many times I hear
"...but Stepha, there's no way I can stop doing xyz"
" I wish I didn't have to go to xyz event, but I can't say no"
"I'm way to busy, to even think about taking lunch"
You get the point. Not having boundaries creates a lack of balance. You go, go, go and do, do, do with your family, friends, clients and in the end are left completely burnt out, running on empty, wondering if you'll ever find balance.
Balance itself is a tricky concept, and it certainly isn't the same for everyone. However, setting clear boundaries, learning to say no and delegating are the first steps to creating a semblance of equilibrium. Freedom to say yes to you.
So as you move through your list of to-do's for this year, I encourage you to take a deeper look...in what areas are you lacking boundaries? How can setting more boundaries create more freedom for you in 2016?
If this all sound good to you, yet you're wondering where to start, you can download my free "To-Stop List" below, included is a delegation worksheet because somethings have to get done, it doesn't me YOU have to do it.
Creating a to-stop list was huge for me. I find it both liberating and empowering. You are really in your power when you can recognize and say, you know what "I'm no longer available for THAT!"
Cheers to more freedom and the simple joys you will discover while saying 'yes' to you!