"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.