Saturday, 24 June 2017

Top 5 Ways to Balance It All

If we were to describe this generation in one word, it would probably be "busy". Even when we are sitting around, seemingly doing nothing, we are probably connecting, virtually, with people all over the world. Couple that with the cost of living and extended working hours, with online schools and parents who want to "have it all", and you have the very essence of busy. Combine all of this with the bombardment we face every day of noise, pressure, and people, and you can add "stressed" into the mix of accurate describers for most of the people we know and love.

I feel that mothers, in particular, face a unique set of challenges in our busy world. We want to be educated. We want to have a successful career. We want to raise kind and loving children and spend time with them. But how? How do we take the pressures hurled at us on a daily basis and squeeze in everything we want to achieve?

Currently, I am working full time, raising a one and three year old, studying nearly full time, running a household and blogging. Many mothers are in similar boats. I've looked at the forums of my University and seen some women say that they wake up at 5am to squeeze in study time before work, so that they aren't missing out on time with their children.

These are the top few ways I squeeze a lot of activities into the hours I am given every day.

1. Recognise Your Limits

Prior to applying for a full time gig, I had a good think about what my current workload was like. I thought about how many units I was taking at University, how often I blog, how much time I wanted to spend with my children, and how much time I'd be able to take for myself. I made plans and alternatives for every single area of my life that is important to me. One was the blog itself - I asked my husband if he'd mind taking outfit photos for me when we were out with the girls, so that I could combine family time and blog time into one. Next, I worked out how much time I was spending on University per week and whether there would be charges if I decided to drop down to two or one classes from the three I was on (I ended up at two, and it's working wonderfully so far). I wrote down all of the tasks involved in running this household and split them evenly with my husband (who also works full time), and then decided I would hire a cleaner once a week if it came to be too much.

By having a thorough understanding of what I do day to day, how much energy I have and what makes me happy, I have been able to have a fairly balanced load.

2. Self Care

I can remember holding my mother's hand as a child and feeling how soft it was. She has always been meticulous about applying pretty-smelling hand lotions. Her hair was always done and her clothing always polished. Even as a very tiny girl, I recognized that she took better care of herself than many others did - and I respected it. I could see that the time she took to care for herself resulted in a more patient mother that had more quality time to dedicate to me.

A mother's tenancy is to sacrifice - Why buy clothes for myself when I can buy it for the kids? Why treat myself to a message when I could get my child a treat?

If you want to be the best mother you can be, you're going to have to fight that urge from time to time. Every couple of weeks, do a face mask. Put the kids to bed and take a Lush bath. Buy that pretty, lace lingerie set you've had your eye on. It's a little like the way we are told to put our own oxygen masks on before helping others - help yourself first, so that you are a whole, refreshed person that can actually help others in a meaningful way!

If you are squeezing a million and one tasks into a day and not taking any time for yourself, you are going to burn out. Those that consistently have a lot on their plate know what I am talking about - slurring words, running into walls, forgetting things. It's all a normal part of burnout, but burnout isn't normal! So don't let it happen. Take time to breathe.

3. Routine

Routine is very important for getting the most out of a busy day. Most days, I wake up, go to work in the heart of the Melbourne CBD, come home, make dinner, play with my girls, do their bedtime routine, and then sit down to study at 8pm. No one messes with my study time. I have my pretty Cinderella coffee mug full of hot coffee, my music and my blanket that I keep near the computer on chilly nights. All of those things signal to my body that it's time to settle down and study.

If you have commitments outside of work, and you want to keep up with them, generally doing it "now and then" isn't quite enough. Make special time for each area of your life.

4. Family Time

For mothers who work full time, we live for the weekend in ways we never did before children. Weekend means family time. Make it good quality family time!! Don't sit around the house all weekend. Go somewhere and do something.

I follow a blog called Mama Knows West, and it has great ideas about all kids of child-friendly activities and food hot spots that we often go to.  I can guarantee you there is a similar resource for just about any place you might live - especially for those of you in the US. Ah, the beauty of the internet.

 (Us at Fairy Park a few weeks ago. We had an amazing day, and it made going to work that Monday much easier!)

5. Coping

I was lucky to study coping last term at University, because I learned a few concepts that are actually easy to explain to a wider audience. Coping is an invaluable tool when, well, adulting. It goes something like this: the more positive and kind you are, the more likely you are to engage in proactive coping. Proactive coping is when you view problems as challenges. You welcome problems. You embrace them, because you know you will grow.

For example - I started my new job a few weeks ago. I'm learning both the recruitment industry and the IT industry all at once. It's daunting, and I'm studying and raising children on top of it all. I have also had family emergency after family emergency happen, and I am grieving several things at once this year. I'm tired. I really am. So, I could view this season in life in two ways: as an overwhelming time in which I have more on my plate than I ever have in my life, OR, as an opportunity to grow and learn things I never would have before, had I not chosen this path. I choose the latter, every single day. I proactively meet the daily challenges I face. I see them coming and say "bring it on", because I know I will grow and be a better person afterwards.

I have yet to meet an amazing person who has had everything in life handed to them. Every beautiful person I know - every person with depth and courage and wisdom - has been through much, and knows what it is to feel tired in your bones. It's how to do a real world "level up". So, whether you are balancing a thousand commitments, a new mother with no sleep and a beautiful baby that you have no idea how to raise (completely normal by the way - none of us know what we are doing!), or you've had some emotional baggage that you can't get rid of, bear in mind that it all starts with you and your own mindset! You got this because you choose to!

I've been getting comments and messages for ages, asking me to do a post on "how I do it". I honestly don't think I do anything that out of the ordinary, I just have many things, all at once, that I am determined to accomplish. Either way, I really hope this helps! If any of you want more detail or have a blog request, I'd love to hear about it :)

Thanks for reading!

xo, Miss Betty Doll


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