It is possible to achieve balance as a mum. I spoke to Sarah at the start of her coaching sessions. She was stressed by her chaotic life, parenting three children and running her own business. She could not find the time to exercise and was reaching for the crisps when she knew a healthy snack would be better. She was barely communicating with her husband as they spent their evenings on their laptops or in front of the TV.
Sarah is typical of many mums I meet. They are striving for balance but it feels out of reach. There are no easy answers. I am no expert but I’ve walked with many women on the journey to finding balance. There is no universal perfect balance that is right for everyone. The balance is always shifting. What is right for today may be different for tomorrow, especially as your children grow up and need you in different ways. When balance feels elusive, don’t beat yourself up. This is normal and part of life. We try to do our best, but some days will feel completely out of balance and that’s OK.
The mums I have worked with have put the following 5 steps in place to help them to achieve balance in their daily lives:
Step 1 – Know your re-charge and recognise the power of investing in yourself
In the first few years of motherhood we get used to putting ourselves last. That is somewhat inevitable, but it needn’t be forever. As your children grow, it’s important for them to see you taking care of yourself. “Realising that having time to focus on me isn’t selfish was a revelation”, says Andrea. You need to know what you need to re-charge your batteries, so that you can operate effectively in all areas of your life. Maybe it’s a long bath with a book, a swim, a run, a chat with a close friend – know your re-charge and schedule it in to your week as a priority.
Step 2 – Simplify simplify simplify
We often make things more complicated than they need to be. Top tip – if a task takes less than 2 minutes to complete, do it NOW. For example, rinse the dishes and get them in the dishwasher rather than leaving them in the sink, complete the school permission slip now and get it back in the rucksack. Once the task is done you don’t need to waste mental energy on remembering to do it later. Look at your regular tasks and see what you can simplify.
Step 3 – Stop comparing yourself to other mums
With the intrusion of Facebook it’s easy to think everyone else has life sorted, and you’re the only one who feels like she’s pushing a boulder up hill. That’s really NOT the case. Everyone is doing the best they can but only the good bits show up on Facebook. Instead of comparing yourself, talk to other mums and find out how they are really doing and look to see how you can support each other. Ask them about meal-times, getting out to school on time, doing homework, getting help with chores etc and you may get some good tips.
Step 4 – Ask for help – it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mum
There isn’t a mum on the planet who hasn’t needed help at some point. It can be difficult to ask for help but sometimes it can make all the difference. Parenting is exhausting and when you are running on empty, that’s when the sh1t hits the fan. It’s good for your children to see you asking for help and it opens up their world to see things done differently. You want your children to feel comfortable asking for help when they need it in the future. Let them know you’re not Supermum. Make a list of what you need. Rate the importance of each need. Write down a list of people who could help you (partner, parents, siblings, children, friends, neighbour). Match each person with a different need. Recognise that it’s healthy and smart to ask for help.
Step 5 – Spend time being fully present in your relationships
We live in a world which is heavily influenced by technology. This has so many benefits, and yet there are downsides too. If we are not careful, technology affects the quality of our relationships and ability to connect well with those around us. We are easily distracted by emails, text messages and pop ups, rarely un-attached from our phones. We know we are in balance when we can be fully present in the moment when we are with another human being. Be intentional about having breaks from technology. Set boundaries on your availability to others. Take time to really ‘be’ with the person you are with. Listening carefully and asking questions instead of talking can transform the conversation. Do you need to schedule some time to connect with your partner or children without the invasion of technology?
One coaching client, Claire, says as a result of her coaching sessions: “It’s so easy to get caught up in day to day life and the coaching sessions allowed my head space to step back and really evaluate what was important to me and where I wanted to get to. I’ve moved to a place where I feel my life is finally in balance and that it’s sustainable for the long term.”
Balance is possible. Don’t give up on reaching for it.