How to Find Balance | How to Survive Being a Working Mom
How I Learned to Find Balance
I write this admittedly not having all of the answers and that I will always be a tremendous work in progress. This is one thing I know without question, but it's also the beauty of growth and success. It's the journey, not the destination, right?
Over the past 4 years, since becoming a mom and running my own business, each year, I have fallen deeper and deeper into being out of balance despite my desire to find myself there. At the end of every year, I feel burned out and think about all that I missed with my family and for myself. Wondering how I can possibly give the best of myself to my clients and my family when I feel this exhausted. How have I reached this again? How do I let myself get to this point?
At the end of 2017, my husband was called to go to Puerto Rico for 30 days to help restore power; an incredible opportunity. I knew immediately I needed an action plan for while he was gone. I didn't want to just survive his absence, I wanted to grow from it and I wanted to get through it feeling strong and proud.
At the end of the 30 days, I did just that. But what I really learned is that this action plan shouldn't be just for those 30 days he was gone. This is what I need for balance every single day, and so that's what I'm going to do. (and if you want to see my full 30 day journey, head here.)
When listening to a podcast (Optimal Daily Living), there was a point that really resinated with me. That we can't compartmentalize all of the different things we need to do in our lives. We can't say, "I don't have time to eat because I have too much work to do." Or, "I don't have time for that playdate because I'm just too busy and have too much work to do." Or, "I can't go to bed early because then I won't get this laundry done." Instead, we need to understand that it's all fluid and all connected. That eating will make us better moms, exercising will make us better business owners, sleeping will keep us more energized to get the chores done tomorrow. That we need to find that balance because ultimately, it makes us successful in ALL areas. So if we're putting all of our eggs in the "small business" basket, you can't possibly become successful (longevity wise, anyway) because that means you're depleting all of the other areas of your life. You're missing the connection with your friends and family, with yourself, you're not being nourished and you're probably not present, so how are you enjoying it anyway? I sure know I wasn't. I felt tired, I felt like a failure in a lot of areas and I felt sad.
Here was my recipe for success over the next 30 days.
This for me is vital. I have a full morning routine before kids are up and it sets my day up. If I sleep through it, my day is noticeably more difficult and I'm much shorter and less patient.
1. Warm Lemon Water I go downstairs, take care of the dogs, and then I juice a lemon, warm some water, mix it and take it back. It helps detoxify, brighten skin and is simply a great way to start the morning.
2. Drink my coffee in bed. Friends. I've been a coffee drinker since I was a junior in high school. I'm Italian. I'll never not drink coffee. Sorry, not sorry. I only need and only want one cup though. So I take it upstairs, climb back in bed and drink it in silence. NO PHONE. I will not pick up my phone all morning. I just listen. I take in the quiet morning.
3. Meditate. I use the calm app on my iPhone to do a 10-20 minute meditation. It is everything for me. It truly trains my mind to learn to be calmer, more forgiving, more grateful and more present. Meditation is not woo-woo. It's simply learning to be still. It's learning to breath and learning how to handle all the pressures in life and how to be present. If my morning time together is short, this is a priority for me over anything else.
4. Journal. I have a Daily Greatness Journal that I use morning and evening. The prompts take all of 5 minutes and truly shift my mindset and set me up for a better day.
5. Essential Oils. Every morning, I put Joy on my heart to lift my mood. A drop of Harmony above my belly button to help keep my energy aligned, Valor on my wrists to keep me calm and grounded and White Angelica over my head and shoulders to provide protection. Essential oils have changed our lives. They've been essential in our emotional and physical wellness. We use them preventatively and they've proven time and time again to be amazing. I use Young Living and sell it, too. Ask me about joining my team.
I went to the Barre3 Studio as many times as I could get there over the past 30 days. In week 3, I came down with a cold that I gave to the kids, so I only got there one time in a week. That week was full of exhaustion, zero patience, a lot of yelling and overwhelm. I literally felt like I was drowning and I knew it was because I wasn't in the studio. Things I hear in the studio that I take into my every day?
- Self care is not selfish.
- Your body will support you. It will not lie to you. Trust it.
- Your best yesterday does not have to look like your best today.
- Honor your truth. Listen to what you need today and do that.
- Ignore those around you, work at your own pace.
- Be present, bring your mind back.
- Breath. Don't forget to breath. Breath will fuel your body and make this easier.
This is what meditation has helped me do. To be mindful throughout the day. I never looked at my entire day ahead. I made my list. I prioritized what I needed to do and only focused on what was in front of me. I gave myself grace if I couldn't get it all done. Any time I started to multitask or think about the other things I had to do, I quickly brought my mind back to what I was doing and only did this. It's surprising how much easier it is to get it all done when you have this mindframe. Being mindful also helped me go with the flow. Not everything goes as planned; this is very hard for me, but I think I handled it easier when I was present throughout the day.
I would look and find inspiration every single day. Typically, I found it in a book, a quote or podcast. My favorite podcasts are Mom is in Control, Optimal Daily Living, Life Amplified, and Anxiety Slayer. These pieces of inspiration really helped my day.
I drank a lot of tea. It's proven to help reduce anxiety. There are SO many teas out there. Try them! My favorite is Yogi. Their little inspirational quotes on the tea bags are awesome.
I kept boundaries with myself and my schedule. I schedule time to work, exercise, meditate, do house chores and even just lay low with the kids. I refused to allow anything to cross into another. When my allotted time to work was done, I closed my laptop and then did laundry and then when my time to do chores was done, I sat and hung with the kids. Having these boundaries and sticking to them is essential for me in finding balance. It's important to recognize interferences and to turn them off if they're interrupting you. If I need to work, I will not take any phone calls. If I need to do house chores, I keep my phone out of reach so I don't loose time in my e-mail or social media. Look for this stuff, know your pit falls, and be prepared. I also have used these boundaries in scheduling and taking on certain sessions. I used to feel the need to say yes to everything. Now, I have a set, very specific times that I can take sessions and simply won't allow myself to go outside of that. This way, I know I'm giving my clients the best of me, and I also know, with this boundary, I'm also able to give the best to myself and my family. It's a win, win.
Limit Social Media.
Period. You lose so much time here. Time you could have meditated, read a book, got some laundry done, did something for you, napped... so many things. Plus, it just sucks. People only highlight their lives and their businesses and often leave you feeling really bad about yourself. Why engage, ya know?
I'm a night owl. I just am. I know this, so it's important that I have a routine that ensures I get to bed and get necessary sleep. 7 hours, at least, is best for me.
1. Cut off the phone use. I cut off by 9 or so. Sometimes I'll check in if I have a lot of notifications, but definitely not looking at my phone once I'm in bed.
2. Sleepy time tea. I crave it and love it. I sip it in bed while journaling.
3. Journal and read. I try to give myself even just 15 minutes to do my evening journaling and read a chapter... or even just a page.
Not every day is perfect, but I never allow my shortfalls determine my day. I know that I can give my best every day and that's all I can do. Even if my best is yelling and tears, I still know it's the best I can give that day. When I'm really overwhelmed and feeling out of balance, I rely on my breath, meditation and oils... and my husband. They always bring me back. Find what works for you and always keep them in your back pocket.
Happy Balancing! I believe in you!