Wake up, take the kids to school, work, pick up the kids, take the kids to clubs, feed kids, put kids to bed, washing on, feed hubby and bed. Repeat!Sound familiar?
This is the repetitive pattern for many working mums but is it really that healthy?
A few years ago, my husband Jonathan decided to alter his business from retail outlets to an online jewellery and watch repair business. Having enjoyed a short career in marketing for a local museum with a side step into education, I thought that working together after the birth of 2 children would be a good plan. It gave me the flexible working hours I wanted, allowing me to drop my babies off at school and nursery and to be there to collect them at the end of the school day. I would not have to deal with a frustrated boss when I asked to have a morning off work to sit through a school play, look after a sick child or take time off for school holidays. In theory, I had the best of both worlds; I was a working mum, building up our family business.
How wrong I was!
The past few years have been the most difficult of my life. Although Jonathan and I were by no means naive as to the amount of work required to run a successful business, the site did not grow as quickly as we had hoped. Money was extremely tight and banks wouldn’t lend (a story I am sure many business owners can relate to). I made the decision to do a course at a local university to gain a greater understanding of how websites work (using the internet for shopping etc and building a site are worlds apart). During the intense course, I learnt about SEO, PPC, AdWords, keywords, social media (the list goes on). With this newly acquired knowledge, I was able to talk to the people helping us to build our site in a language which they understood (techy speak as I called it!)
Slowly, the business was building. I enjoyed being a ‘traditional mum’ (ie. cooking, baking etc, engaging in voluntary work) while working on the business.
Little did I know what was just around the corner
A big grey cloud was lurking and soon my life began to spiral out of control. I lost all my confidence, struggled to do even the smallest of tasks and developed anxiety and depression.
Change was required and quickly
I knew that I could no longer juggle all of these metaphorical balls. After visiting various experts on different aspects of life, I began to cut down on anything ‘non essential’ and I had to focus on my priorities.
I know I am not the only woman who has suffered. The more I talk about it, the more women with this shared history come forward. I always thought it was selfish to put myself first and that is the biggest lesson I have learnt. When on a flight, the safety information instructs us to put the air masks on ourselves before others. Maybe this is how we should be in our life. When I put myself first (and let’s be clear, I am not suggesting a luxury spa break every weekend), when I relax, then I know that I am a better mum, wife and business partner. Taking that time out for me is in fact not selfish. It is a way of ensuring the family runs smoothly.
Not that I have all the answers – there are still days when I struggle, when I wish my house was cleaner and that there were no dirty dishes in the sink, but then I think to myself: the mess was caused by my kids having fun, the dirty dishes show that I have made a delicious meal enjoyed by family and friends.
Perfection doesn’t exist
Sorry Mary Poppins, you may have been ‘practically perfect in every way’ but you didn’t live in our 24 hours society. Time is ticking and will continue to do so. Instead of watching the clock, let’s enjoy what we have. As women, we have a tendency to think that we are being judged by other women and I have learnt that it is only the self that judges.
Practicing mindfulness and meditation I am calmer than I was before and can focus better on the task in hand. The business is growing and I am proud to play a crucial part within it. My kids are happy and healthy. When asked if women can have it all, I think that we need to change the definition of what ‘all’ means and realising that it differs between women.
Currently, I have my all and I constantly work on balancing it all. It is time that we change the way we approach our lives as busy women, making sure that we come first!
Latest posts by Hannah Goldstone (see all)
- Time to change how we view the notion of ‘having it all’ - October 4, 2017