This is a guest post by Angela of Mostly Mindful. Enjoy!
On the surface you have it all. A loving husband, a couple of cute kids and a flourishing home bizz. You’re the envy of your office Jane friends.
But here’s the thing. As much as you love being a wife, mom and entrepreneur, the roles don’t mix very well. Especially when you take into account that these aren’t the only three hats you wear.
You’re also a lover, friend, mediator, shoulder to lean on, confidant…the list goes on.
And because you’re a woman and multi-tasking is second nature to you, you change costumes with the consummate ease of a veteran Broadway actress.
In fact you don’t so much as miss a beat as you shift from mastermind mogul to lunch making mom to sultry seductress and back again (as soon as the kids are asleep and mister is spaced out on the couch).
You’re exhausted bordering on comatose, but you force yourself to carry on. There are bags to pack, school lunches to make and emails to be answered. The late nights are taking their toll, but what else can you do?
To make matters worse, you’re feeling resentful on top of being dog-tired because deep down you know the pickle you find yourself in is all your own doing.
You’ve been flying around like Superwoman without a cape for the last year, saying yes to every request (no matter the cost) and putting your personal health and wellbeing last.
You have a classic case of women-itis.
It’s what your mother did and her mother before her, so why should you be any different? Of course you can do it all.
I am woman, hear me roar.
The problem is we’ve taken that saying completely out of context. We equate being powerful with being able to do it all.
Without asking for help.
When in fact the opposite is true.
Recognizing our limitations and asking for help when we need it, now those are the qualities that make us stronger.
Sure we could all do with more hours in the day, but isn’t that treating the symptom rather than the cause?
Rather than wishing for more time, let’s look at how you can make better use of the time you have available to you.
Say no more.
It’s perfectly acceptable to say no. Just because someone asks something of you does not mean you have to say yes. People ask because we’re taught that it ‘can’t harm to ask’, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
It’s up to you to let go of your need to always be the nice gal. If you don’t have time, if you don’t feel up to the task or even if you just don’t feel like it…
Just say no (it’s a complete sentence after all).
Because apart from the obvious disgruntlement that will build up, doing things when you don’t want to or if you don’t have time means you probably won’t do them as well.
We often over-estimate how much we can achieve in a day. I’m not sure why this is exactly, but I’d put it down to a combination of inadequate scheduling and wanting to look good, if only to ourselves.
By underestimating what you’ll be able to complete by when, at worst you’ll deliver on time and at best you’ll be ahead of schedule. Either way you’ll impress the heck out of yourself and everyone around you.
Time is a precious commodity, so spend it wisely.
I once had a client who had three kids, all in schools on the other side of town. Instead of arranging to collect them together, she’d make three separate trips.
Does that sound like you?
What about arranging a car pool with the other moms in your area? Another idea is to arrange for the kids who get out earlier to stay in after-care until their siblings finish. They could use this time to do their homework, which would mean one less evening chore for you.
Plan your work meetings around your kids’ school times. Arrange it so you can go to them straight after dropping the kids off or just before picking them up. Just like it’s permissible to say no, it’s also perfectly acceptable to tell your clients what works for you time wise.
There will always be exceptions, but the point I’m making here is that unless you speak up you’ll never know if something is possible or not.
Encourage your kids to be independent. Women are inherently nurturing, moms even more so. But while that’s a wonderful quality to have, we sometimes nurture to the detriment of those we care for.
Even little ones can have chores around the home. Start off small and then as they get older, so the size and number of chores can increase accordingly. It’s so important for kids to be able to take care of themselves, otherwise how will they cope when they leave for college?
If you train them well from a young age you won’t find yourself drowning in chores when your family has gone to bed. Teaching the kids to be responsible for packing their own school bags and lunches will free up your time and turn them into the kind of children that other moms are happy to have around.
Even the best-laid plans will sometimes go awry. It’s life. What’s important is not that they careened off the rails, but rather how you cope in the face of adversity. Facing an untoward situation calmly and with good humor will stand you in a lot better stead than wailing and gnashing your teeth.
Remind yourself that ‘this too will pass’ and think about how you will treat yourself when it’s all over. You could go for a massage, have your hair done, meet a good friend for lunch; whatever will make you feel especially pampered.
What if you do lose your cool? So what. It happens to the best of us. Apologize if necessary and then simply chalk it down to being human.
Make no mistake; ‘me time’ is probably one of the most important aspects of the busy woman’s life. To anyone’s in fact, but when you take in account how inclined we are to stretch ourselves crepe thin, it’s absolutely imperative.
Take a bare minimum of two hours per week (a whole morning or afternoon is better) just for yourself. Go and see a movie, hang out in a coffee shop with a juicy novel or enjoy a long soak in the tub. The only rules are that you spend the time by yourself and do something just for you. So no chores and definitely no hangers-on!
Now…what changes can you implement in your life that will allow you to have your cake and eat it too? And if you’ve got ideas of your own to add, please share them with us in the comments section below. The most inspired, out-of-the-box, smarty pants response will win a free copy of Ace the Holidays.
Angela Horn is a Cape Town-based freelance writer, lifestyle blogger and public speaker. Feel free to stalk her on Twitter or harass her via email. Alternatively you can just head over to Mostly Mindful and sign up for her bi-monthly minimalist missives.