Do working mothers need to have it all, or do they just need to do what is meaningful?
If you’re that female entrepreneur or working mum who’s got it all together as a woman, wife, mother, business owner and friend. If all of your ducks are neatly lined up in a row and you’re superhuman, superwoman and everything’s fine and dandy in your life; this post in NOT for you!
But if you’re a working mum who feels overwhelmed with all of the demands that are being placed on you at any given time, you may want to read on…
Recently I was interviewed on the ‘Girlfriend Get a Life’ TV Show, where the host Carita Dee asked me the question, “How do you juggle so many things at once and still manage to remain sane?”. We laughed at how intense life can be for female entrepreneurs at times. But my reply was simple, “I’m not juggling life, I’m living life”.
I’m not juggling life, I’m living it!
Yes, it’s true that I’m running my own business, my travel schedule is insane at times, I’m married, I’m a mother of 2 and I still have to find time for personal growth, healthy living, building relationships and leisure. But I seriously don’t see life as a series of events that you juggle up in the air and scamper feverishly to keep them all up, until you lose your balance and they come crashing down on top of you.
I certainly don’t claim to have all of the answers, neither am I some ‘Wonder Woman’ who has it all together. In fact there are times when I’ve felt just as overwhelmed as some of you may be feeling with your busy lives and schedules. But once I embraced the fact that we cannot be everything to everyone, every time, my perspective on handling all the areas of my life changed dramatically.
Here are a few of the ways I got things into perspective and began leading a life of balance that’s fulfilling, enjoyable and meaningful.
Get Organised – My mentor Ed DeCosta, is well known for saying, “Plan your work and work your plan”. As a busy business owner or Executive Leader with a family, you need to plan your schedule to include all of the things that are vitally important to you. I don’t schedule every single event in my day of course, but I definitely slot in the things that are meaningful beyond work, like; date night, a lunch date to catch up with a friend, games night with my kids and of course some me time. I try to schedule all of these meaningful events into my calendar, with alerts so there’s no way I can get swamped with work and forget them. I’m aware that the dreaded Gremlin called ‘urgent’ is always lurking around the corner to snatch those precious moments away from our lives and get us to stay on the ever revolving hamster wheel. So set aside a couple of hours to plan for your upcoming week. It’s a small investment to make for being super organised and more effective. I agree with Ed, once you’ve planned your work, it’s much easier to work your plan!
Live in the moment – People waste far too much time and energy thinking about the past or the future, which robs them of the here and now. I’ve proven it much more beneficial, to focus on the things that are most important at any given time and give them my full attention. While I’m working with a client, I’m not thinking about what I’m going to grab from the supermarket for dinner that evening. Similarly, when I’m spending quality time with my children or attending one of their recitals, I’m not trying to bang out a few emails in between intermission. Living in the moment helps you build a higher level of appreciation for the particular task or people you’re engaged with at that time, it allows you to be fully present to give each task your undivided attention to gain maximum results. Living in the moment, frees you from the prison of always feeling physically and emotionally maxed out.
Stop trying to do it all and be it all – This has been the key to ending my days of the ‘busy being busy syndrome’ and it’s really helped me to stay focussed on the few things that matter to me the most. This is where you may have to let go of trying to micromanage everything around you and let other people jump in and get things done for a change. Painful as it may be for you to watch others make a mistake, allow them to. If you’re the only one who can fix all of the problems around you, then maybe it’s time to look at getting some new, skilled and more competent people in your life.
Invest in a strong Inner Circle – I’ve found that surrounding myself with a great group of friends, family and colleagues is priceless. But I’ve also learned that building a strong inner circle means an investment of time and energy. Take time to build your relationships. People love to offer help to people they like. When I’m having an extra busy day and I need help, I can easily call on one of my inner circle because I’ve invested time in them and it’s easy for me to withdraw from their emotional bank account. If you don’t pour into people, when it’s time to make withdrawals nobody wants to be the lender.
Ask for help – Owning a business, working full-time and running a family is no small feat and you have to learn to ask for help. Network with other female business owners or executives and get ideas on how they organise their busy schedules to get things done more efficiently. This will help you work smarter and not harder, as well as give you more time to spend engaging in things that give you more energy and improve your effectiveness.
This was a biggy when I first started my business. I was so used to being independent and getting the job done alone. I spent most of my time running around like a chicken without a head, trying to manage the business, my family and life. One day I realised it was madness to be doing the same things over and over and not see different results. I started asking others for help and BINGO! I was amazed at how this freed me up to do other important things. So learn to ask for help and trust others who have strengths in other areas that you don’t.
Learn to say no without guilt – Learning to say no is a secret weapon to keeping a hectic lifestyle under control. But it takes discipline and practice? Why? Because many women are so used to feeling as if they’re letting the world down when they say no. But you’re not! In fact saying no gives you power over your own timetable and allows you to decide what are the best activities you should be involved in at any given time. So start saying no to:
- The control freak inside of you that needs to be involved in every single detail of just about everything in your life and the lives of others.
- That limiting belief that says you’re the only one who can do the job perfectly and that it will all fall down without you.
- All of those people who are manipulating the fact that you never say no.
Can working mothers have it all?
My list is in no way exhaustive. But feel free to use some of the lessons I’ve learned and share some of yours with me on this post, so that I can add them to my list.
And please feel free to share this post with other working moms!