Motherhood. Synonymous with the juggling of balls. Many balls. The needs of others, the requirements of day to day life as well as the needs of ourselves as an individual.
While my husband can disappear upstairs to attend to his work, his absence barely noted by our two daughters, I find myself at the complete other end of the scale. Shadowed to the toilet by both my daughters, and now also our puppy. Each of them needing, wanting me for something.
As I battle my path through an always growing to do list of chores, beds to be made, school drop offs, washing, cooking, grocery shopping, floors to be cleaned, clothes that don’t put themselves away I find my mind often drifting to my other list. The list of to do’s for the work that I love doing. The work that I am pulled to do. That brings me personal fulfilment and enjoyment. That makes my heart shine.
With only 24 hours in my day, and at least 6-7 hours of these having to be devoted to sleep (damn that) I find myself wondering can I really have it all and accomplish it with the level of success that I desire to. And if so, at what cost? To myself and others?
Yes, I have the same hours in my day as Beyonce, but let’s be real, I don’t have her chef, housekeeper, personal trainer or personal assistant either.
Historically, it has been considered that women must choose between their art/their work and motherhood if they desire to do anything of significance. You can’t have one without compromising the other.
But in the era of having it all, is it now possible for women to pursue their own creativity and have a successful career, remain an engaged and fun Mum, have a happy family life while still getting enough sleep in your day? Am I being unrealistic here?
What I have come to realise about balancing Motherhood with a continued and undiminished passion for my creative and coaching work is this.
Work/Life Balance, It’s A Myth.
While some days you might achieve the perfect balance of work, mothering and sleep often it’s not going to be the case. Rather than trying to have it all worked out embrace the juggling act. You don’t need to be a perfect parent, or have the perfectly tidy and styled home to be a great Mum and a good wife. In fact freeing up some of your time to do what you enjoy, and to explore your own ideas and inspirations (creative or not) might actually be the best thing that you could do for yourself. Create space to do what most brings you fulfilment and enjoyment, even if it’s just in the background of your day. On your weekends allow time for undivided regular family outings also. Sunday brunch together, a picnic at the park or weekend trips to the zoo perhaps.
Stay In Touch With Your Creative Playful Side
If it’s important to you that’s all that matters. It’s so easy when we are busy and wrapped up in child-rearing to only focus on the routine and responsibility of life but where is the fun in that? Life works better when you are enjoying it, so make regular time for what you enjoy doing. Even if what you enjoy doing seems frivolous or unimportant to others who are pursuing a more 9-5 traditional paying job.
You Can’t Run Off the Smell Of An Oily Rag Forever
If the only time you really get to spend on your work is of an evening once the children are snuggled up in bed then you need to prioritise your own sleep. Recognise how many hours you need to be at your best. For the ones you love, for your self and for your work. Set a bedtime for yourself and stick to it. Aim for balance. While there might be times where you might be up later to meet a deadline or to complete something that you were so involved in that you just couldn’t put it down, also allow yourself the chance to catch up on sleep too. Have an early night when you need to or take the occasional day-time nap if you get the chance (I love long family road trips for this reason!)
Ask For Help
This is a given for all situations, but one that we can all be terrible for not doing, including myself. Put simply don’t try to do it all. If help is available to you, even for just a few hours a week, to look after your children, tidy your home, to cook you a meal than say yes before it becomes an urgent overwhelming need. Be inventive about it, you don’t necessarily have to pay for help. Child share with a friend on alternate afternoons for example.
Despite having less time to myself since becoming a Mother I’m also now more productive then I have ever been before. Choosing to make a priority the pursuits that bring me enjoyment and fulfilment has made me not only a happier and more rounded version of who I am, but has also made me a better Mother. For me that is more than worth the juggling act that is Motherhood and pursuing what I love doing. When I do have moments of feeling tired, of feeling overwhelmed, I realise that ultimately there’s nothing better to be tired over.
How do you manage the juggling act of having children with the other parts of your life? Is sleep the first thing to go for you also?
Image credit here.