Of late, one of my favourite sayings whenever I am asked to do something I don’t want to do is, “I’m a mum, I’m busy”.
Of course, I say this with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek. When it comes down to it, if there is something I am passionate about, something I want done, I will get it done.
I recently told someone that I was partaking in a 30 day yoga challenge and they instantly asked the most loaded question that I hear all too often, “How do you find the time?” So here is my controversial response to that question. Anyone who says to me, “I don’t have time to blah blah blah”, I call bullshit. (bring on the haters)
I read an article while I was pregnant on the myth of busy-ness. In a work context, the article explores people who are in a state of busy-ness and their inefficient use of time as a result of said mindset. Checking emails throughout the day, engaging in meetings with no productive results and getting caught up in their ‘to-do list’ rather than actually getting things done.
We have, as a society, inextricably linked busy-ness with perceived success.
Let’s bring this back to the context of being a working mum. More often than not, when I ask a mum how she is, the reply is a very long list of events, work commitments, chores and other all consuming dealings that have robbed her of her time on a daily basis, elucidated in an exasperated tone, concluded with “I’m just so busy”. The last part is usually worn like a badge of honour. Look how much I am getting done!
So how can we avoid falling into this trap?
One of my friends is the branch manager of a recruitment agency, she’s a single mum, practices yoga and cooks all her meals (and meals for her kid) from scratch while keeping a beautiful home. When I ask how she is doing, she says she’s great and shares wonderful stories of how her little girl is progressing.
Another friend is a working mum, owns her own hairdressing salon and has a 2 year old girl. When I ask how she is, she regales hilarious stories of a great night out she recently had and the latest celebrity whose hair she cut.
I know many mums with similar stories. Despite the number of tasks they achieve in one day/month/year, they all have a similar mindset.
They focus on the things that make them happy, the things they are proud of and love to do. They think about how those things make them feel.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s no way I can achieve as much as these super women can. In no way am I suggesting that’s normal. It’s more where their focus is. They don’t say shit like, “I’m so busy” or “Time off…HA, What’s that?”
What women risk when they enter the trap of busy-ness is burning out. It is so important to look after yourself. Whether you are a working mum or not. When a little person relies on you, you need to be in a good head-space to look after them. You do that by looking after you!
So here are a few simple things you can do to ‘un-busy’ yourself.
Put yourself first – In case of an emergency, the flight crews on a plane instruct you to put your own mask on before your infant. The reason being, you can’t help your kids breathe if you can’t breathe.
Look after yourself to be the best mum you can be. A part of that self-care is not letting go of who you were before you had a baby. If you love to go hiking, make the time to go hiking. If you love going to the movies, doing yoga, whatever activities give you a sense of joy and fulfillment, make sure you continue to do them.
Identify the non-negotiable – For me, my morning shower, hot cup of coffee and afternoon workout are things I can’t do without. Like you would an important meeting or a wax appointment, schedule the time in your day for those things you can’t do without and make them a part of your daily ritual. Set a reminder if you have to.
Set realistic goals – Be it career goals, a goal to get the bathroom cleaned by the end of the week or completing a chapter in the book you’re reading, by setting (and achieving) goals, you not only create a sense of accomplishment, you’re also more mindful of your time and how you’re spending it. At the beginning of every day, week or month, allow some time to set and review your goals. Think big picture goals and break them down into smaller goals allowing realistic time frames to achieve them.
Practice being mindful – The reason I am such an avid fan of yoga, is the mindfulness meditation that concludes each practice. There is an abundance of resources on mindfulness in books and online as well as a multitude of free apps on guided meditation to help those who are new to mindfulness. As well as an effective way to reduce stress, mindfulness allows a greater perception of self-awareness and increases emotional intelligence.
Self-awareness is the key – Be mindful, not only of your time but also the language you use. Next time someone asks you how you are, smile and think of all the wonderful things in your life of which you are grateful. Be kind to yourself and think of all that you have accomplished. After all, you brought life into this world. That’s a pretty huge feat. Well done you!