I love being a parent. My kids mean everything to me.
I love being a woman too. And I enjoy and understand the privilege of being a woman in a modern western world where we have freedom to use our voices, get out & create change, help others and make money doing things we love.
So it’s not quite clear to me why so many times over the years I’ve lost sight of my desire to put the kids first and why I’ve tried to act more like a masculine man out in the business world.
Sometimes it’s been when I’ve been chasing money, sometimes it’s been when I’ve been chasing some version of success, sometimes its been because I’ve been busily chasing my own tail.
For a number of years now I’ve been coaching other women in business – especially those who want to create positive change in the world whilst also creating flexibility and freedom to work around their young family. I think if I’m honest, my whole working life I’ve been helping other women to push boundaries, create lives they love, challenge the norms. I just didn’t call it a “thing” and I didn’t understand that it was something of specific value.
You see, us A-type, high achieving types have a dilemma. We’re part of the “have it all” generation. As western women we live in a privileged time where we can access education, career opportunities, childcare for our children whilst we go out and work in the community, we can become self-employed doing things we love and getting paid for it, we can have a relationship based on equality and respect and shared responsibilities.
Sounds amazing, right?
It is. We’re lucky. And we know it and we keep getting told it, so we constantly search for ways to live it and prove it.
Since starting my young family I’ve been on a constant search for the holy grail of balance in the pursuit of having it all.
Back in 2009 I set up my own business so that I could “do it my way” and create a new way of working. I invited other parents to join me, to step out of the traditional grey world of the law and balance their lives whilst still using their skills for good. It was fun. It was exciting. It was hard. It was a challenge.
I discovered that growing a business – especially around a family – was no walk in the park. I got stressed and tired and lost sight of my priority goal which was to be the best mummy I could. Whatever “best mummy” meant to me, as I had no idea what I was doing as a parent either. Where’s the handbook for that?
I employed a carefully-chosen nanny to look after my children who gave them love and great experiences and taught them many things. It enabled me to do my thing out in the world. And I would find myself crying in the evenings because she was spending quality time with my beauties whilst I was getting the bath-time bedtime witching hours where they seemed to mostly scream and throw their toys at me.
Eventually I had one of those wake up calls which you see in the movies or in the books, you know – the “it will never happen to me” life events. My precious little Bella was diagnosed with leukaemia and we were plunged into darkness. During those many black days I had way too much time to think about who I was, what mattered to me, how I was living my life. Life slowed right down and I had no choice but to come to a standstill too. A crossroads. The before and the after. Choices to make.
Through necessity and intuition I scaled back my business to get my balance back. I spent many hours playing Playmobil, moulding playdoh, drawing pictures and cooking meals at home. I channelled my 1950s housewife whilst I dug deep for the strength and mental resilience to pull my family through the swamp of despair.
I embarked on a learning curve and a journey of introspection.
And when I thought about my business I got confused, because I felt upset and depressed. I told myself it meant I’d failed. I kicked myself hard for how I #shouldhave been able to do more and achieve more. I compared myself to others (often random strangers on social media) and got stuck in a loop of pressure as I tried to whip myself to be happy and to walk my talk.
It took my own 1-to-1 coach to unravel me completely.
She took me to rock bottom so I felt broken. Then from the foundations, I built myself back up.
It’s an interesting situation when you’re coaching women to relax & create balance in their lives whilst simultaneously shouting at yourself to stop that balancing sh*t and GET OUT AND DO MORE. I guess this is why they say “we teach what we most need to learn”
The problem is, that most of us are just bloody knackered. Pretending not to be (obvs) because that’s not the game. The game is to have it all and be happy to have it all because we’re lucky to have it all so keep fighting to have it all and be thankful and smile because we’ve got it all and and and and….
It’s exhausting doing it all, having it all, being amazing at all the stuff, all the time. It’s exhausting trying to show the world how together we are, how much in control we have, how tough and resilient we are, don’t ask for help, don’t admit you’re struggling because that’s like admitting that we can’t have it all.
We go to work and do all the things, then we pick our kids up from school and take them home. We role model to them how brilliant we are at multi-tasking, by popping them in front of the TV whilst we run around with the laundry and getting them stuff that they shout out for and taking phone calls whilst we cook the tea.
Look at mummy, so brilliantly busy! Isn’t she strong and full of energy?
“I don’t know how you do it” people say admiringly to us. We smile and rush off with a wave, mind already on the next task. Inside we might whisper “I don’t know how I do it either….” but we don’t hear that because we’ve forgotten how to listen to our own voice [unless its been mean in which case we listen good.]
It’s not fun.
WHAT TO DO?
I’m playing a new game now. It’s got different rules. I didn’t make them up, I borrowed them from lots of different places and people. It’s this quite unusual game of being kinder to myself, having more fun with my kids, surrounding myself only with people who care about me, taking care of my body & my health, decluttering my life and my home and my relationships. It’s less “have it all” and more “I don’t want it all”