image source: www.domaine.com
As a mum of a 4 & 6 year old who both have school holidays, I’m constantly surprised by how quickly end of term seems to roll around. I suppose it’s not that crazy of me to think that way when Term 3 was only 10 weeks long.
Pre kids, I’d regularly work for 8-10 month stretches without taking more than 3-4 days off. I’d be fully focussed on achieving, learning and supporting people to be their best at work.
Now, it’s a very different story!
So that I can support my children, I’ve committed to working within school hours (and any other time I can source while they’re asleep!). But the only way that I can make this work is to prioritise. This is manageable when term is in, but throw holidays into the mix and it’s an entirely different ball game.
With term finishing this week, it’s got me wondering what all the working mums out there are going through and what their “holiday juggle” strategies are.
At our school, common themes for mums buying themselves time includes arranging play dates, sports camps, art sessions, after school care programs or sending them away with dad for a while. Longer term strategies include sending the children away for a holiday with the extended family or simply putting work ‘on-hold” and enjoying time with the kids.
The challenge with all of these options is that they are finite. The juggle continues when each activity is complete.
So what if there was an alternative that minimised holiday/ work juggle stress and enabled continuity of work?
For most of last year, I was extremely stressed about not having enough time!! Not having enough time to do everything that I wanted to keep my business going and not enough time really engaged with the children. Then I was told a wonderful story which inspired me. Here it is.
There was a couple with young children (aged 3 & 5) who were both writers. When the children were born, they'd both taken mundane jobs to bring in steady income to provide for the array of needs their growing family required. Living interstate from all relatives, they were devoid of immediate family to help out with the children and they had no extra money to pay for carers. With responsibilities of parent-hood engulfing much of their spare time, they had both inadvertantly put their creative ideas and dreams on ice.
Once both children started to sleep through the night their energy slowly started to return. So too did their creative ideas writing dreams. But frustration reined as they felt trapped in a space of little time alone and energised enough to execute their ideas. So one day they sat down and brainstormed ways to turn their dreams of publishing books into a reality in their new family circumstances. They landed upon the option of both getting up very early at 4am Monday - Friday so they could squirrel away 2-3 hours of work in complete peace before the children woke. (They’d tried to work late at night but were both too drained and they found it interrupted their morning routine too much).
Slowly but surely over the next 2 years, they both completed books and were on the road to publishing.
WHAT I CHANGED
"Your best ideas, those eureka moments that turn the world upside down, seldom come when you're juggling emails, rushing to meet the 5 P.M. deadline or straining to make your voice heard in a high-stress meeting. They come when you're walking the dog, soaking in the bath or swinging in a hammock."
by Carl Honore (Brainyquote)
Like the writers, our extended family are all interstate so we don't have available support to buy us time. In January this year, I decided to take action myself.
I’ve completely changed the way that I structure my day. I now get up at 4.30/5 am to start my day so that by the time the children wake at 6.30/7 I’ve been able to meditate, come up with creative ideas for my business and work on them for a couple of hours all before the children are up. I'm now able to not only capture business thoughts but I've got time to implement them - all before the busy demands of the day start. But most importantly, I'm more available to be with my children when they need me. I have much less negative chatter going on in my mind or resentment that I can't do my work because i've got to juggle the kids & family's needs. And that's HUGE!
Sure, I'm not exactly great company after 8.30/9pm but its a much better version of myself my family and I are living with.
THE IMPACT OF MY CHANGE
The impact has been phenomenal!
Greater sense of achievement each week
Steady flow of inspiring ideas
Sense of haaving enough time – especially to nurture my needs
Better able to manage priorities
Calmer and more present with the children
More positive mindset
More concencentrative on all tasks – less distracting negative chatter in my daily tasks
Now when school holidays arrive i don't experience the same sense of dread of what to do to juggle work and the children. I've accepted my output won't be as great but ideas continue to stream and plans are made.
Whilst rising earlier and meditating might not be for you at this stage, it’s worth exploring what you could be doing differently if your current structure isn’t serving you.
If you'd like to talk more about it, you can like this post and send a message on Facebook or email me on the link below.
Happy School Hols!!