When my children were very little I was challenged to slow down and enjoy them. I had to choose to spend less time cleaning up and stressing over the mess in our home and look at investing my time in them. I chose to consciously be aware of how many times I said things like, ' in a minute darling,' or 'when I've just finished this.' I realised that housework had its place but that I needed to prioritise my time to include playing, reading, walking, talking and baking with my children. These are the times we build upon our relationships. When we take time to listen to their hearts and see their development. It was out of this realisation that I wrote the poem 'Slow Down Mummy.' Years on my children are older, but in a grown up sense this is still a continual challenge.
Now my three girls are all in full time school and I run my own Yoga business, teaching evening classes, I work within the childcare sector in nurseries and I privately clean homes during the week. Now I face the challenge of not only being a Mother and a Wife, but also juggling the pressures I place upon myself to be able to do what I used to do before I returned to work. I simply no longer have the time to cook healthy, organic home cooked meals each night or have deep cleaned each bedroom. I am behind in most things I 'need' to do and it can be exhausting trying to stay on top.
But there are a few things I have learnt along the way.
- We must learn to adapt and be flexible and apply huge doses of grace on our frazzled selves! I know trying to compete with my former 'stay at home' version of myself is insanity! I've learnt to give myself a break and cut corners where possible to free up both time and energy. I now try and cook maybe twice a week or even just once if it's really hectic. Other nights it might be cooking something out of the freezer and adding a hearty salad instead.
- You have to do the best you can with the energy and time you have. We place such unrealistic expectations on ourselves and are more often that not likely to fail at them. This can burden us with feelings of guilt and stress. I now try and get up earlier, just 15 minutes before the kids is enough sometimes. Waking 15-20 earlier gives me time to pour a fresh brew of coffee, do some quiet yoga or meditate on the silence of a fresh morning. This can set my mind in the right direction before the craziness of a school morning begins.
- Make a date with yourself for at least one evening out a week. I invest in something for myself, whether it be a yoga class I attend ( not one I teach) or just an hour to journal or write. For you it could be to take a painting class, a fitness class, wine with a friend, a coffee out in a little quaint cafe, anything! But something that feels luxurious to you. To refuel you, to prevent resentment and stress levels from rising. You matter! Your time is precious and how you spend it becomes more important as we age.
- We need to control what we invest in and carve out time for the things we enjoy. It could be as simple as taking a walk in nature appreciating the new life that the season of spring brings or as lavish as planning a trip to a remote island on the opposite side of the world. I recently hit the big 40 and I can honestly say I have less patience for things that just don't matter to me. I've realised even more how precious my time on earth is and I am not willing to waste it. There's so much of life I am yet to explore. Family time is extremely important to me and so I need to create time for them. Planning in designated family time is vital! Schedule it in on the family planner, check everyone is free and make a plan. Otherwise it just won't happen. Organise time with your partner in the same way, schedule in monthly date nights, clear a weekend to just drink coffee and take walks, whatever you can to keep things ticking and healthy.
- Remove anything that is in your life that feels like it sucks your energy and no longer serves you. Again, you may need to be brave and ruthless with this one. Test it by looking into how it makes you feel. I've recently looked at my work schedule and pulled out things that just seemed too much. Reducing my workload but freeing up more of my time. As a life coach I look at people's lives and goals under a microscope and you can do this yourself too.
WHEEL of LIFE EXERCISE: Using a tool named the wheel of life. Write a list with these headings, • Emotions • Health • Hobbies • Personal time • Work life • Love life • Finances • Spirituality • Family life • Friendships / social life Look in depth at each area and mark each one with a number 1-10. 1 being low and 10 being high. Then look at all the low areas and see how you could improve or bring about change. With a little investment looking into each area of your life we can bring clarity to the areas which need a little TLC and areas that are working just fine. With a little evaluating and soul searching you can identify areas where you need to invest more time and areas you can drop back. You can create a life that looks and feels more authentic and joyful, bringing you a new sense of freedom and ease.