“I would dread anyone asking me to do anything past 7pm, not because I disliked the people who were asking, but more because I didn’t have any energy to get excited. Sounds lazy but I had recently given birth to twins and they had control over my every move, with how their night and day had gone.” Vivienne
So, how did I become more focused and what did I do about my routine? One thing I did was to stop looking at the time. This helped my work flow and progress. When I wasn’t clock-watching to see if it was nearly home time, the day went a lot faster.
I switched from a mum who was worrying about her children, thinking about the ten million things that she had to do when she got home, to living my work day in the present moment. I took longer to read over emails, and although I couldn't always book clients in around the children, I came to an agreement with myself. If it wasn't realistically possible then I wasn't allowed to beat myself up about it. It took a while to get used to this, especially when I added in putting my phone away. I knew my children’s school had my home phone number and would call through if anything was wrong. Firing through emails without any stop start process, I was getting more done in a shorter time frame.
I also created a new routine for my children. It would start with my favourite three Bs, which are Bath, Book and Bed. I spent so much time repeating myself, shouting from one end of the house to the other, before I established this. My children all learnt that once I had announced that the Bs were starting, that this mum meant business! Everyone, including me, had to switch off from the outside world, stop watching TVs and iPads and put away phones. It resulted in us all getting a better night’s sleep. Although my toddler does still manage to end up co-sleeping at some point in the night and I’m still working on the ownership of my bed!
My individual part of the daily routine would be to wake up before any of the others, have a nice cup of tea and double check my to do list of the day. My phone stays downstairs as I wake all three children up, then we get ready and they go to school and nursery. I found that I would be ready and charged up for a day of work and everything ran more smoothly.
However, there will always be some bumps in the road.
My toddler had a spell where she would wake up three to four times a night and I would be physically and mentally drained from the lack of sleep. When this would happen when I worked in the school, I would have no other choice than to get up and power through it on an overload of coffee. But now I reflect and ask myself how I can help my body and mind gain more energy through my food and by getting extra rest. I’m sure you all know this isn't as easy as it sounds but ask your partner or family member to take over the reins as you recharge. If you’re thinking that it would make things a lot easier if you did have your own business that worked around your children and family commitments, then start by thinking about something that you love and enjoy doing. Whatever it is, write it down and envision ideas on how this can generate an income. The love of sewing could result in having your own classes, for example. You never know until you mind map and dive into it. Your business idea should come in the form of something that you're passionate about.
Whether you choose to set up your own business, or return to work, how can you overcome the initial fear of ‘what if’? I would suggest focusing on the identity benefits. You have an opportunity to be ‘you’ away from your mum role and to create money while doing this.
I’m talking mums having a career and enjoying it. Working can make you feel alive, empowered and it can be an escape from running around juggling the children and the house. Yes, sometimes work is a break from the reality of motherhood, is that so wrong to admit? Not at all. If you’re due to return to work listen to what it is that you truly want and then realistically plan the outcome that you would like. You might just be a little bit nervous to return because you’ve been off and don’t know if things have changed, or you might seriously want a change yourself and becoming a mother opened your mind to that.
I learnt a valuable lesson during my maternity leave too - that whenever I went back to work, I would not let work life cloud my personal life. I was finally awake to how other mums managed their jobs around their children and it looked great!
You're doing great!