Me, Motherhood and I
I am a proud new mother. At no other time in my life have I truly had to step up my game. Although motherhood really is no game. It’s a submission. Being a life coach has helped me transition from a vibrant, ambitious and admittedly self-indulgent woman into a sleep deprived, love struck, humbled and more grateful human being. If I had known what motherhood fully entailed many years ago I would have been torn between starting straight away and running for the hills. Luckily my coaching knowledge provided a tool kit for awareness and understanding of how to turn those moments of exhausted challenge into a focused strategy for greater love and compassion.
To every mother who has experienced moments of overwhelm, here are my 10 steps to regaining balance:
Step 1 – Where are you spending your time now?
Day to day, week to week. Are you checking emails 10 times a day or popping to the supermarket five times a week? These can be wasting your precious time. Jot down what you did at the end of each day and review it at the end of the week. You will be surprised where you unnecessarily spenthours.
Step 2 – What is your ideal week?
Write down all the activities that take up your week as a mother and partner outside of your work. Once you have written down all of the chores divide them into three categories:
Must Do List – this is for chores or activities which must be done in your week such as food shopping, cooking, cleaning and washing.
Could Do List – Add your chores or activities which aren’t a priority but are things you would like or need to get done by a certain time.
‘Keep it Real’ List – Now it is time to write down all of those future jobs or activities which aren’t very important but keep popping into your mind wanting attention. The purpose of this list is to keep assessing and fine tuning what exactly needs to be on there and what doesn’t. If it is important it will make it on to the Must Do list in time or otherwise it will quietly fall off, freeing you.
3 rules for each list:
- Prioritise, prioritise prioritise! What needs to be completed first? Do not attempt to sneak in another task before your first in complete.
- Be Realistic. Allocate a timeframe to your tasks and see what is realistic in one day. Remember, what cannot be done today can be done tomorrow. Be kind and realistic to yourself.
- Be Gracious. Nobody loves scrubbing food stains out of the furniture or preparing three different meals but hold a gracious thought of gratitude in your mind while you do so and take in the moment for what it is, time with your loved ones who before you know it will fly the nest.
Now, each day review the Must do list and tick off completed tasks. Every few days consult your Could Do list and add to the Must Do or Keep it Real list. At the end of the week, review your lists and make fresh ones for Monday morning. You will earn a sense of satisfaction as you see ticks down the page.
Step 3 – WIMITY scale?
This stands for Will This Matter In Ten Years? This is all about choice. We can get swept up in our day to day tasks as a mother and loose sight of what is important. We can forget that doing the laundry is actually our choice rather than our destiny. We can still determine how and when it is washed even if we don’t wish to do the laundry! It is crucial to remember we are choosing to do these tasks, thus we are consciously holding on to our power and maintaining our positive energy (and of course keeping our sanity in the process). When you next feel the dread of not wanting to complete a chore, ask yourself, ‘Will this matter in ten years?’. If the answer is yes then it must be pretty important so get cracking. If the answer is no, then can you let it go and focus on what do you choose to do instead?
Step 4 – Let Go of expectations.
Who do they belong to anyway? Society? Your Mother? Colleagues? Societies expectations are cruel and grossly unfair to women. There is no such thing as a ‘perfect mother’ or ‘having it all’. Please just let it go. I remember speaking to a client who couldn’t sit down to watch TV at night until all the washing was complete. It wasn’t the fact that the washing was unfolded that bothered her, it was her mother’s opinion (who wasn’t even in the house) that drove her to exhaustion trying to maintain her standards and expectations. Get clear on who is calling the shots, you need to own and be responsible for your beliefs.
Step 5 – Who Are You? Who are your role models?
You now have license to reinvent yourself as a mother. You are not the same person you were B.B. (before baby). It is a fabulous time to get clear on your new roles in life, how you wish to play them and who you need to be for your baby, partner and for yourself.
Step 6 – Schedule in time for YOU.
First you need to believe you deserve it. Label your ‘time out’ as something that resonates well with you and steers clear of any association to motherly guilt or selfishness. You are fully entitled to recharge your batteries and it needs to be booked in to make sure it happens. Try and schedule one big thing a week, like a facial, yoga class, drinks with friends or reading a book and then one mini thing a day which you can look forward to, e.g. your favourite TV show, an indulgent chocolate, paint your nails or dancing to music.
Step 7 – Write a long term plan.
This is all about you, remember you? Write about where you want to see your life heading now that you are a mother. It is important to keep your future in sight even though you are also giving so much of yourself to others. That way if you feel overwhelmed you won’t necessarily feel lost but rather off track.
Step 8 – Book a Date with your partner.
Keeping the sparkle in a relationship is very important, without your partner your shared goals and dreams would mean nothing. Commit to a few hours a month to be together without kids where you get to be a couple again. Gary Chapman’s book, the Five Love Languages might also help fill up your ‘love tank’. Intrigued? Read it!
Step 9 – Saying NO.
Why do we find it so hard to say no occasionally? It’s back to our old friend ‘priority’. Once you are absolutely clear on where you need to spend your precious energy it is easier to channel it into activities that enhance you and your family’s well being. In order to say no effectively you need to spell it out in words that feel comfortable for you. Play around with saying things such as “that sounds lovely but I will have to pass this time” or “it’s just not possible this time around but thanks for asking.”
Step 10 – Ask for and accept help.
It’s tough to switch from an independent to dependent woman. However, it is no longer just you now, there is a little life depending on their mother being in the best shape both emotionally and physically. Swallow your pride and ask for help to keep a balanced, healthy and sane perspective on life. Every little bit of help helps. Refuse to turn away a helping hand and remember, you can always repay the favour in the future.
And finally, for those of us who forget to… BREATHE.
Release your mind and body of residual tension before sleeping by simply taking 10 deep breathes that fill your lungs like huge balloons. Clear out any stale air. If you hear your mind chattering away simply repeat an affirmation that grounds you back into your body, such as “I peacefully sleep knowing all is well”. Repeating this in your mind as you fall asleep will allow you to start your new day fresh and balanced for whatever delights and trials await.
© Claire Hall & Authentic Empowerment.