I’ll admit it: Before I got pregnant, or even while I was pregnant, I had no idea why mom after mom seemed to complain so much. What on earth were they talking about, having no time for a haircut, or not being able to go to the bathroom alone?
Now, with my baby Anthony about to turn one next week (!), I understand. Completely, totally, wholly understand.
That said, in case it helps anyone else out there (and, quite frankly, it will probably help me just as much in writing it), here’s how I’ve done it:
1.) Delegate, delegate, delegate.
A very successful mentor of mine (with a $50 million business) once told me that you only get 40-80 hours a week to work on your own. But, if you have four full-time employees, you suddenly have 160 additional hours to work with. If you have a team of twenty-five (which we do, although not everyone is full-time), you have upwards of 800-1000 hours a week to work with. That’s like 20 of you.
Another successful mentor of mine once told me that you can only have three essential functions anywhere — at work, at home, in keeping fit, anywhere, in any aspect of your life. Making sure that you do those three essential functions and then delegating the rest is key.
For me, at work, those three functions are vision/planning, sales, and writing content. I can delegate just about everything else, from most of management to bookkeeping to product design to photography. But I remain the person in charge of vision/planning, sales, and writing content.
At home, this gets dicier, but I think my three essential functions are playing (phone-and-computer-free)/connecting with him in a loving way, reading to him, and cooking for my family. As a mom with her own business, I don’t always do every feeding, or change every diaper. I am fortunate enough to be in a place financially where I can afford a nanny who comes with me to the office, a housecleaning service, and Blue Apron (to dial down the grocery shopping). I enjoy cooking, but I also have a husband who does more than his fair share of laundry and walking the dogs.
But I can make sure I devote significant time everyday, phone and TV-free, to playing with my son. I can make sure I read him at least one book a day. And I can make sure we have at least one high-quality conversation (as high-quality as it gets when one party says da da da). I make sure we snuggle for bedtime every night. Although guilt creeps in, I have to be OK with delegating everything else some days, and on days I can do more, I do.
2.) Have daily minima.
I’ve broken down my three essential functions into tasks that I promise myself I will do, even on my very worst days. In fact, I was sick with the flu and could barely hold my eyes open, but I managed to get in my minima for business and mothering on Tuesday.
My husband first introduced the concept of daily minima to me about five years ago, when I was struggling to make headway on a consistently huge (like, 25 tasks long) to-do list.
My work daily minima varies by the day, but ends up being about 3-4 hours a day. My at-home daily minima is about 2-3 hours a day. And my fitness/health minima (cooking, exercising) is about 1-2 hours a day.
Altogether, it means, even on my very worst days, I’m putting in about 6 hours between the business and home. And on my best days, I’m probably putting in more like 12-16. (But really, who wants to hear yet another working mom rant and rave about how much she works?!) I’m doing my best, but it’s paced, and I’m not afraid of admitting that sometimes my days are less-than-stellar, but I keep moving. And, honestly, I’m still making progress on all of my goals.
3.) Have affirmations and positive self-talk.
The mainstream media is all designed to make us buy stuff. Feel like you’re fat? Buy this weight-loss product. Feel like you’re not spending enough time with your child? Buy them this toy. Feel like you’re not pretty enough? Buy these cosmetic products. Feel old? Wear these latest trends. Over and over and over again, we’re meant to feel “not enough,” and all too often, we moms buy into it, literally and figuratively.
So when I’m tired or stressed out, I turn to things like books by Louise Hay, Gabrielle Bernstein, Cassie Mendoza-Jones, or Martha Beck. I try to fill my life and my mind with images and words aligned with what I want to create in my life, who I want to be, what I want to do, what I want to have for myself and my family: Love. Happiness. Peace. Calm. Strength. Health. Abundance. Creativity. Honesty. Pleasure. Fun. Connection. Authenticity. Awareness.
And I am constantly listening to affirmations tapes — in the car, at my desk, at home while I’m cooking. These things make me realize I’m doing more than enough, and that I in turn am more than enough, and keep me feeling good.
On the other hand, reading magazines and websites where a working mom always says she feels stressed out or where a stay-at-home mom is humble-bragging that she had to spend an hour away from her child last week and still feels super guilty about it — it’s a good thing to commiserate, for sure, and it’s great to have compassion, but at the end of the day, a lot of those pieces are designed to make us compare and despair. I personally am done feeling “less than” and guilty, much less compelled to buy something out of inadequacy and guilt, and I’m not falling for it anymore.
4.) Lululemon + a 10-minute makeup routine.
Lululemon is highly washable. My one-year-old is messy. Unless I have a business meeting or presentation, I live in Lululemon.
I’ve also gotten my routine down to ten minutes:
- Warm up curling iron.
- Makeup remover wipe.
- Vitamin CE Serum. Brush teeth, so it has a minute to sink in.
- Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer.
- NARS Orgasm Blush Stick.
- Quick swipe of Marc Jacobs eyeliner.
- Split hair into 4 sections. Spray on Bumble & Bumble protectant. 20 seconds per section. Brush out. Spray with Pantene.
- Chanel No 5 body oil, spritz quickly all over my body, rub in.
- Throw on clothes. Go.
All of my makeup is creamy and pretty much error-proof. If it looks a little messy, it’s more forgiving.
5.) Bottom Line: You Do You.
Moms are waaaaay too hard on themselves. Our culture promotes it. I spent way too much time in my twenties with depression and anxiety, and way too much resultant time in therapy, to fall for that shit.
You do you. No one can do everything, so be the best you that you can be. If you’re an awesome Christian mom who makes it to Church and all of the events, own that shit. If you’re an awesome social mom who organizes the best play dates, own that shit. If you’re a bookworm mom who knows everything about everything and shares that with her kids, own that shit too.
Anyway, I guess I’ve really survived the past year by being much more radically confident in being 100% me, and owning it, for better and for worse, and for setting up systems that support who I am and who I want to be. And it’s working out great, mostly, with a few hiccups here and there.
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