I have been a mother for almost a year. My son turns one next month. This year has been the most transformational of my life; it has been all consuming. Every single emotion has been felt. However it has been the most fulfilling, enriching and heartwarming twelve months. But by no means easy.
I am a freelancer; a coach, actor and writer so have continued to work, create and earn. I didn’t triple jump into an office on week two but after a month I did host a two hour talk at a top university. Bizarrely my brain snapped into action and I loved it and at the time I felt ‘normal’. It’s funny what you commit to when you are pregnant! My baba was downstairs in a cosy room with his daddy having naps and enjoying the shadows on the wall. Everyone was happy. There was a photographer capturing it- I didn’t need to see the photos. Well, I did, but I quickly closed them.
That day was straight forward. Almost too easy. A little lunch in the John Lewis cafe beforehand and a relaxed train journey home.
But let’s be honest. Many of the days are not. Life is busy. There is lots going on. I need to be super organised and frequently I am over tired, hungry and have crazy hair. But I wouldn’t want it any other way. I love being a mum, especially Oscar’s mum; it is a role I adore and cherish. However I still have a lot of fire in my belly. I am highly ambitious, creative and love to work. Whenever it is tricky, I always go back to why I am doing this. Yes, financials gains are necessary and important but ultimately I know if I am the best version of myself, I know I can offer my best to those who need me.
Here are ten lessons I have learnt throughout the year… many of them are a work in progress.
1. It is going to be hectic but that’s ok
Combining work and motherhood is busy. Being a mother is a full time job then add into the mix a variety of projects. Some days you are going to win and some days you are going to be chasing your tail and the dinner is definitely not going to be instagrammable. Thank goodness for frozen peas and sweetcorn! However mindset is important. If I tell myself I have too much on or how tired/stressed/overwhelmed I am then I will be. Breaking down the day into smaller windows is really helpful and more manageable: e.g. breakfast/play before nap/nap/activity etc Plus if it is a shocker, the countdown to wine time comes round quicker! Becoming busier has made me more productive and efficient so my output and business has expanded.
2) Know your why
This is really important and will add to your focus. I write a lot. I have oodles of notepads (I think you relate, Lucinda!) and like to move my thoughts from my head to the paper. Knowing what I am working towards is crucial and brings a new energy to my projects which may be lacking if I have had a rough few nights of sleep.
3) Don’t try to multitask
I never had a newborn who was happy to just chill on a sheepskin. He wanted to be part of the action, cheek to cheek and listening to what was going on. This was frustrating at first as I naively thought I would just carry on as normal but with a baby(?!) but now I have learnt not to multi task. When I am with my son, I endeavour to be fully present and capture my ‘work mode’ when he naps, I have help or in the evenings when he goes to bed. I plan my week on a Sunday and identify the shape of it so I can plan accordingly. For example, if I have a writing project to complete I won’t schedule it after a full day of coaching clients as my brain will be tired. Instead I may brainstorm the flavour and structure of the article and then write it one morning during nap time.
4) Figure out your weekly average
If I have a day when I am out of the house early working and back just before bath time, I don’t feel I have much time with my son and can feel guilty. I now calculate how much time I spend with him over a week so I can look at the facts rather than be just led by emotion…turns out you are more emotional when you become a parent?! Surprising eh?!
5) Get specific on what you want to achieve within your work window
If I am left to my own devices, I will end up strolling around Youtube or looking at 234 wedding photos of someone I hardly know one Facebook. So I have trained myself to be strict. Every window of opportunity I have begins with a plan; a to do list and a ticking system (yep, I am a geek). I use an app called Wunderlist and have various lists that I can add to when I am on the go.
6) Automate stuff when you can
I am not a super woman. I need help. Plus I know my strengths. Cleaning my house is not one of them. I find it really tedious so we have a cleaner. It’s the best money we spend all week and it actually makes me tidier and more productive. Plus she makes our bed like a hotel bed which is an absolute treat. Our weekly online shop and automating bills are two other weekly must haves. I find I have so much spinning around in my head that if I can keep the basics simple, everything runs smoother.
7) The important stuff stored in obvious places
Pre baby I had my own methods. It didn’t matter where I put that certain thing as I would know where it was. Now we are a three, we are more organised. Plus if our baby is looked after by his grandparents, I don’t want to spend half the morning explaining where everything is. Once I get approximately 37 minutes of me time- I need to grab it! We keep his room very simple and ordered so everything is in a logical place which makes life sweeter especially when sleep deprived or when I am trying to answer an email as we are running out the door.
8) Surround yourself with people who get it and get you
Obvious but essential. We can waste a lot of energy explaining ourselves. Sometimes it is hard enough trying to convince yourself you are ace and ready to rock so only surround yourself with people who agree. Boundaries are essential. Check out my YouTube video ‘Why you should be yourself in business’. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__RVfhDeLxM
9) Try and do something for you every day
I am writing this after three sleepless nights. Pre baby I thought I would be skipping off for massages and shopping days when I became a mum- that is the perception. Turns out a quiet shower for ten minutes can be blissful. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and create a plan with those who are in your life i.e ‘I will do the early shift tomorrow, you do bath time’. I know I sometimes fall into the rhythm of the day and end up just doing stuff as I am efficient so it is good to step back and share the load.
10) You are brilliant
Yes. You are. (I struggle to believe it too some days too, don’t worry). Try and look at the bigger picture of what you are trying to achieve. Don’t attach language to stuff that is unnecessary. Ok it might be 3pm and there may still be breakfast dishes…but don’t whatever you do say ‘I’m not coping’ or ‘I’m a shit mum’. Sometimes things will be chaotic. I had to leave half an online grocery shop all over the kitchen floor this morning as I had to dash to a meeting. Not ideal but essential in that moment (I did shove the cold stuff in the fridge but the baked beans had to wait!) . Plus my baba enjoyed ‘helping to the sort out the food’ whilst I responded to my blog comments’. It’s all swings and roundabouts. Do whatever works for you, your family and your life.
We think Nicky’s tips are great – if you want more you can:
Get 25 % off Nicky’s 3 month coaching package here if booked by 16/10/16
Build an action plan with my free 30 minute coaching video: www.nickyraby.com/makeithappen.