Mom + Work Balance

photo credit

You are not supermom.

So stop trying to be.  You are who you are, you do what you do and all the big imperfect mess of that is exactly how life should be going.

Because it is your life.  It’s not anyone else’s life.  It’s yours.

I know that I struggle with and I hear from you guys that you struggle with this too:  Trying to be/do/have all of it.  Comparing ourselves to others, trying to do what they do, feeling bad if we are not there 100% all the time making the exact right decision for our kids. (or for ourselves)

Also the guilt.  For wanting something other than what we have decided is the best thing for our kids.

Ever notice how what YOU want and need sometimes conflicts with what our kids want and need.  Or what we THINK they want and need?

Case in point: I love, love love the whole vision/idea behind unschooling.  So for it.  I thought for sure that was the path we were on and what was best for my kiddos.  There was no way in heck I was EVER going to send my kids to school.

And, well, both my kids are in school right now.  Life happened and some choices had to be made and I chose to send my kids to school.

It is what I need right now.

I am getting divorced and decided to go back to school myself.  I need the break from them.  I am taking on alot (this business, school, being a single mom) and the little bits of time I get to myself – to think, work through my stuff, and figure out this new space of life – they are so needed right now.

Yes, I could have kept them home, and found ways to make that work.  But, that’s just not what I need to do right now.  Is this the best choice for them?  Who knows?  But it is the best choice for me and one thing I know is that I always have to put my own oxygen mask on first, or I’ll end up with nothing left to give my kiddos.  So, for now, this is the right choice for us.  It is my oxygen mask.

And, without that, there is no way I could be the mom I want to be for my children.  At some point down the road will we go back to homeschooling?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Part of me hopes we do and part of me likes this little break that we get from each other.

Do I feel guilty about changing my mind?  You bet I do.  Every now and then the guilt monsters creep in and make me feel like the worst mom on the planet.  I have some pretty fierce opinions about sending kids to school and now I’ve gone against that.

Which brings me to my point…

We all – each and every one of us – have ideas for how best to raise our children.  And we don’t always stick to that.  Which can lead us down the road of guilt and feeling bad.

My question for all of us is this – who says that doing x, y, or z will guarantee that our kids grow up to be happy, healthy and fulfilled?

The answers is – YOU do!

You are the one that decided it would be better to do one thing over another.  YOU are the one who thinks it.   But, I have news for you – that “right” thing is not “the truth.”  For every single thing that you think is best, someone else out there thinks that it’s a bad idea.  Who is right?

Making the best parenting choices is tricky.  And sometimes we don’t always do what we think is best.  Sometimes we make compromises or we change our mind.

Often, we just do what needs to be done.  Which is all we can really expect of ourselves.  There are SO MANY choices out there (too many, me thinks) and none of them are the “right” choice.

One thing that I know and am learning as I navigate my own parenting waters is this:  If I am not taking care of me, what I need and doing the things that have me be the best person I can possiblty be, then how can I ever expect to be an amazing mama to my kids?

I have to put my own mask on first.

And sometimes, that means going against what I have decided is “best” – but is it really?  Is the best thing the thing that has mama frustrated, exhausted, annoyed and burnt out?  Is the best thing the thing I have to force myself to do even though it wears me out?  Is that really what is best for my kiddos?

So many of us try to fit a square peg in a round hole.  Sure, you might read about something and think it so beautiful and inspiring and you are going to do that for your kids (or for yourself).  But, then when you sit down and do it, it just doesn’t feel right, it feels forced.   But we forge ahead anyway, because “it is going to be so great!!”

There is enough pressure out there to be the perfect parent, so stop beating yourself up when you fall short of your own expectations.  Remember that they are YOUR expectations.  You set the bar.

I think it is time that we start practicing more kindness with ourselves about how we parent.  We are doing the best we can do in any given moment.  If we could do better, we would.  You would, wouldn’t you?  And if you stop and take a moment and just be with your kids, they are doing pretty great.  Watch them, they are! They are awesome and you are doing a great job, mama.  You are.

So, be kind to yourself.  Forgive yourself.  Be gentle.  Yes, sure, I suppose we can all improve.  But, really, things are fine.  We are all doing the best we can.  It’s okay if sometimes you have to go against what you “think is best” to take care of yourself first.  Don’t you think your kids want mama to be well and nurtured too?  They do.

I am not perfect, and neither are you.  So, stop trying to be.  And remember to put your own oxygen mask on first.  The rest will take care of itself.

This week, I heard from Gina Osher aka The Twin Coach.  She shared with me her experience creating a visionary board and I thought is was SO GOOD.  So, I thought I would pass along her words so you can benefit from her inspiring discovery.

Here is a guest post from Gina…. enjoy!

My Vision Board: Creating a Life in Balance

Years ago, as I was learning various healing modalities before I opened my private practice, I had a class in which we were given an assignment to create a Vision Board. The idea behind this request was to encourage us to connect to all of the emotions, feelings and hidden desires lurking in our brains and bring them out, front and center. I quickly saw what a fantastic tool this simple idea was for getting clear about where you’re stuck, what you wish for and how you plan to get there.

Every year, like most people, I make a list of New Year’s resolutions. Not surprisingly, I never get very far with them, in part because my brain was the only part of my being that connected to these ideas. This year, inspired by Visionary Mom, I decided to change two things. First, I am making intentions, not resolutions. This simple change of terms completely altered the way I look at what I want to accomplish. Now, instead of feeling stress and guilt, I feel possibility and excitement. Second, I heeded her call to create a Vision Board in order to crystallize these intentions.

The really interesting thing about making this board is that I learned something about myself through each step of the process. As I spread out my choice of magazines from which I intended to pull photos and quotes, I smiled as I noticed the variety of topics that inspire me: parenting, writing, Eastern philosophy, homemaking.  As I cut through these magazines, laying out words and pictures, adding family photos here and there, I notice myself struggling to keep from over thinking things. I walk away, give the board a break, come back to it and rearrange the placement of things, still overthinking.

Then I recall another class I took in which the important aspects of a person’s life were compared to the four legs of a table – when any one aspect is less focused on than another, the table becomes unbalanced. Suddenly I realized that even though I had been thinking so much, I had not even noticed that I had set up 3 categories on my board: my children, my writing, my self. But what about that 4th table leg? Don’t tell my husband, but I had completely left out anything having to do with my marriage!

This is one of the great beauties of creating these boards. Had I not made a physical representation of my intentions and my goals, I might have missed the fact that my marriage had taken such an extreme back seat to everything else in my life. My table was sadly unbalanced and I hadn’t even particularly noticed it before.

My husband had a heart attack last month and I have been so focused on him and his health that it shocked me to have such concrete proof that although I adore my husband, I haven’t made any plans or intentions for how I want our marriage to grow. This part of my life has to be just as important and just as thought through as how I want to raise our children or how I intend to write my book or how I plan to live a happier life this year.

I went back through the magazines, looking at them with a fresh eye and filled in that part of the page where my marriage lives. Love. Desire. 100% Healthy. Grow old along with me. All of this was somewhere in the recesses of my brain, but now here it was for the world to see and it became all the more real. In a way, making a vision board is like telling someone a secret wish you have. Once you have whispered that secret, you are much more likely to follow through. I sit now, with this board, excited about the life I can create.

Gina Osher is a former Holistic Healer turned SAHM to boy/girl twins, a twin parenting coach and the author of the popular blog, The Twin Coach. There she writes on topics ranging from how Halloween candy helped her discover the meaning of life, to how to handle bed rest and premature babies. Gina describes herself and her blog as “one part friend who’s been through it all, one part mom of twins trying to figure it out, one part mentor willing to share”. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Day 12 of Creating Intentions

Last week I talked about bringing your A-Game.  And now a word of caution about that.

You can’t bring your A-Game to everything.

Really, you can’t.

Well, you might be able to if you have very few things that you really, truly care about.

Which you don’t.

Because I know you guys, and I know you have LOTS of ideas, LOTS of passions, LOTS of things that matter to you.

You will make yourself insane trying to bring your A-Game to all of that at the same time.

That is trying to be Supermom, which I think is a pretty insane goal.

The name of the game here is to live with passion and purpose, to go for it, to pursue your dreams.

It IS NOT about trying to be perfect and juggling a dozen balls in the air without ever dropping one.

Life is sticky and messy and unpredictable.  It is not perfect.

So don’t go thinking that you have to bring your A-Game all the time to everything.

Trying to do that will only leave you feeling like a failure.  Because it can’t be done.

I find, in my own life, that I bring my A-Game to different things, as I feel the need.

Kind of like a hot potato.

Only, not really.

More like me bringing my A-Game is this magical little force of awesomeness that I pass on to the areas of my life that I feel really need it.  I dive in and give that area everything I have and make some good stuff happen.  Then, I pass the potato onto another area of my life.

So, juggling, yes.  Only the balls don’t all need to stay in the air.  Sometimes (often) they drop, and that’s okay.

I pick them back up and keep working, keep trying, keep going for it, without forgetting that it’s just a game.  But, not just any old game.  It is the game of MY LIFE and I play it the best I can and push myself when I need it, rest whenever I can, and remind myself every.single.day that living this life is a gift.

It’s okay to pick and choose where you are going to bring your A-Game.    In fact you should pick and choose.

Because trying to go 100% all the time will just wear you out.

And what fun is that? :)

(photo credit)

This is a project I have been working on for school.  How cool is it that I can spend my study time doing stuff like this??

Dedicated to all of you.  Enjoy….

Balance is a myth ~ It is the holy grail of motherhood.

It is something we are constantly striving for, but we never seem to be able to find.

What does this elusive balance look like?

Spending equal amounts of time on the things that are important in our life?

Feeling calm and centered?

Having no stress or worries?

When you talk about finding balance, what do you mean?

I think the thing we are actually looking for is satisfaction and fulfillment.  That feeling of knowing that what we are doing is totally in line with our dreams and visions of this life.

But instead we talk about balance and we work hard to juggle more, schedule better, be more organized.  As if that is going to help us somehow have it all together.

But, what is actually missing is that feeling of being satisfied, full up, happy, inspired and in love with our lives.

Are you satisfied and fulfilled?

Do you know what brings you immense joy?

If not, that is what your attention should be on ~ not finding balance.  Because balance does not exist. Not really. Yes, there are those occasional zen moments where we are connected and in touch and calm and centered and we call that balance.  And those moments feel amazing, so we strive for more of that.

But, if you were to go talk to other moms who were happy and fulfilled in life, their secret would not be that they have everything balanced.  Their secret would be that they spend time doing things that they love.  And often, those things occupy quite a bit of their time.  Sometimes even taking them over, becoming obsessed and working on stuff late into the night or for many hours during the day.   They get tunnel vision working on their dreams and passions.

And that, my friends, is way more fun and exciting and enriching than trying for balance.   And it is way more sustainable.  I find it to be so much easier to focus on fulfillment than balance.  And, more often than not, when I am truly fulfilled, balance is a non-issue.

What could you work on late into the night without feeling exhausted or like you just have to get into bed soon?
What is that thing that brings you immense joy and satisfaction?

(photo credit)

We are all so busy these days..

Modern motherhood can be really crazy with soccer games, summer vacations, play dates, zoo trips, etc. Not to mention all that there is to do around the house.

Honestly, it can be exhausting.

I know there are so many mamas these days that are working hard to slow things down, enjoy the moment and savor this time with have with our kiddos.  I know this is something I am constantly working toward.

Then, when you throw into the mix this desire to work on our own dreams and passions, that need to take some time for ourselves, doing things that nurture our own being,  well…

We can quickly end up feeling guilty.

Guilty for wanting to “take time from our kids” or feeling guilty because we just can’t seem to figure out how to fit it all it.  Guilty because we know we should be able to handle all of this without neglecting anything.

Have you noticed how the pressure to “fit it all in” is heavy upon us these days?

What can we do?  Because we DO want to more productive and enjoy our lives more and take time for ourselves.  We do!

Well, instead of going to work on planning better or being more organized, or working more productively, or getting stuff done faster ~ why not try to slow things down a bit?

I find that when I am on go mode.. go, go going ~ I actually get less done, I am more scattered, and I am totally NOT in the moment enjoying my days. Instead, I am in my head worrying and trying harder and beating myself up for all that I know I could (or should) be doing better.

But, when I slow things down.. be more present, pay attention to what is happening right now.. then I seem to accomplish more, enjoy life more, feel more connected to my kiddos and I feel great about who I am.  I feel awesome.

There are some kick butt ball players out there that say what has them be able to hit a super fast baseball or tennis ball or whatever, is because they don’t just focus on the ball coming at them.. they watch the seams. Yes, the seams.  That has the ball seem to slow down. It is going just as fast as before, but it looks like it is going slower. Focusing on the smaller detail of the seams shifts their perception and they are easier able to make contact with the ball.

This is true in our own lives. When we can shift our perception, slow things down, then life occurs more manageable, we can make contact – with whatever life is throwing at us. We aren’t just ducking, trying not to get hit in the head by the ball.

We can respond to life, experience it right here in the now, and more often than not, we can respond in ways that have us scoring home runs.  What ever our own personal home runs may be.

So, that is what we are going to be working on in the free e-course that starts tomorrow. Shifting our perception of time. Getting it to slow down so we can be more effective at hitting the ball. So we can have more home runs. So we can find the time to work on our own dreams without dropping the ball!  :)

I hope you will be joining us!!

Click here for more details and I will see you all here tomorrow for the first day of the course.

(photo credit)

I say work a lot.  Working on our dreams.  Getting to work.  What are you working on?

The word “work” tends to evoke negative feelings.  Except when you love what you do, then work is a pleasure.  Getting to work is a joy.  Working on stuff is fun.

So, don’t get turned off when I talk about work.  It is, for me, the good stuff.

So ~ where do you work?

Do you have space dedicated to your art, your writing, your craft?  Do you have a place you sit and work on stuff?  A space that is all your own?

We live in an RV, so all of the space here belongs to all of us.  Right now as I am writing this, my kids are painting, I can see the mountains out the window.  The clouds are rolling in as a storm feels the need to bless us.  I have some groovy music playing in the background, I am ignoring the pile of dishes that are trying to get my attention and I am working.

This is my space.  My time to write, to think, to connect.

What is the space you use to get some work done?  Does it inspire you?  Do you love it?  Does it need some attention to make it a place that feeds your soul?

I think that where we work says a lot about who we are and how important our dreams are to us.  So, take a moment and look at your space.  Or maybe you have NO space to call your own, think about that.

What does your space say about you, about your dreams?

If your space could use some work, how could you make it really awesome?  What could you do that would have where you work inspire you?  Maybe it’s time to make a plan to do that.

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to go hunting for some really great workspaces to share with you.

So, a little inspiration…

a simple, happy space

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bright and colorful

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would love to go sit in there

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oh my, so much to do!

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how about a beach hut studio – 100% dedicated space?

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signs of creativity always inspires me

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a mama den

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great space to nurture the kids’ creativity

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always a good idea to take it outside

Tell me about your space.  Do you love it?  Hate it?  Wish you had one?
What kind of a dream-making space do you wish for?