This post is brought to you by NobleOak Life Ltd
Has anyone else noticed that life has a way of putting way too much on your plate? I am one of those people who needs stillness and time to think to feel at peace with the world. But alas, the life of a working mum with three preteen/teenage daughters doesn’t allow for much of that.
Most of you will know the drill and most likely have one of your own. I get up early to get ready for work. I unpack the dishwasher, pop a load of washing on, make sure the girls are up and supervise their morning routines (lunches, hair, readers, spelling and the rest). I drop miss teenager off at her bus stop and head off to work while the other half puts the two primary school girls on their bus. I put in a 6 to 7.5 hour day supporting people who really need it, before heading home to pick up the kids and start the afternoon shift. (Afterschool sports, homework, cooking tea, refereeing sisterly disputes.) Need I say more? That is regularly 12-14 hours of ‘go time’ 5 days a week. No wonder we get tired!
Don’t worry. I’m not really complaining. I know I signed up for this and secretly, despite the exhaustion, I love it. I also know that pretty much all of us are paddling along in the same boat (or have been at one point.) I do wonder though, as women (or parents) would we be better off if we gave up the notion we can have it all? Or at least the notion that we have to ‘keep it all together’ and appear perfect while we have it all? Coz let me tell you, at least once every week or two I have a Chernobyl style mind meltdown over the endless list of brain-draining tasks that being the centre of a family’s universe, a woman with a job (and frankly just a person on earth) gives you. Give me an Amen if you can relate sister!
What is the answer? Status undetermined. But one thing I do know is that when women put their heads together the synergy they produce is outstanding and often powerful. In my own inquisitive (read nosey) fashion I’ve been fronting up to other busy mums and asking how they slay the busy mum demon and then experimenting with their answers in my own life.
- Teach your children independence. From as early on as you can begin raising little people who can look after themselves. Don’t be fooled into thinking your job as a mum is to do everything for them. A wise word of wisdom to remember is that as parents, our job is to do ourselves out of a job. From the moment they are born until they leave home we are upskilling them to ‘do it on their own’. Note to self: As kids get older they can do more and more of ‘the stuff of life’ on their own – and they should be encouraged to do it.
- Make time for the important life admin tasks. You know the stuff. The serious ones that are so easy to put off until tomorrow (over and over again) because we don’t have time in our 14 hours work days or the brain cells left following our mind meltdowns! Things like making sure you have an updated will, adequate insurance, good deals on your utilities and home loan and that you understand your superannuation. It seems as women we need to schedule time, perhaps once every 6 months, to make sure these things happen and don’t get lost in the ‘busy’ of our lives. (You can get a head start on this one by discussing Life Insurance/ Income Protection with NobleOak phone them on 1300 041 494)
- Plan to look after yourself. What? Who needs to actually plan to look after themselves? Busy women who work 14 hours days – that’s who. By the end of the school term, I am usually staggering from one thing to the next just trying to reach the magical holidays when the afterschool stuff stops and the morning routine slips away and becomes free-range. Do you know what refreshes you? For me it’s that mythical unicorn called solitude. Most days the only smackeral of that I get is the car trip to and from work, so I have learned to fight the busy demons and prioritse time for myself. It is important to learn what refreshes you and plan ways to build it into your life on a regular basis.
- Make a decision on your approach to the housework. Before I had kids I had a clean house and I loved it. These days I am one of those people who stumble into a room and thinks ‘how the hell did this get so dirty – didn’t I clean it six months ago?’ Because personally, I couldn’t settle on the idea of a cleaner, I’ve designed the girls chores around keeping the place liveable (and feeding pets). The floors, bathrooms and bin cleaning gets taken care of by girl power every week. For this, I pay them (a little less than a cleaner would cost) and take them on a ‘girls day out’ over the holidays to spend their earning. Housework is a relentless and thankless task. A regular theme from the women I talked to wasn’t so much based on how clean your house is but more on deciding how much time and energy you want to spend on it and designing a way to make that work for your family. You might need to pay a cleaner, lower your standards or work out ways to work smarter not harder.
- Train people (kids and partners) to put their stuff away. Arrrgghh – don’t get me started on how frustratingly repetitive and hard this one is. But I am told it’s worth it in the long run. Make them come back and get their crappy stuff. Don’t fall into the trap of putting things away for them. They have legs and they can learn to return things to their rightful place. A great idea passed on from a voice of womanly wisdom, is to have a basket (the washing basket works fine) in the main areas of the house. If they don’t put away after themselves stick their stuff in the basket and design a suitably heinous way of making them earn it back.
- Batch cook family meals. Along with housework, meal preparation seems to be the most bemoaned task on the busy mum list. It’s that ‘seriously you want tea every single night’ factor. Not to mention the grocery shopping and pantry management needed to keeping everyone’s bellies full. And the answer it seems is to learn the skill of batch cooking family meals. Other suggestions all run along the same line of pre-preparing. Chop up a weeks supply of veggies and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge, premake sandwiches for school lunches (unless your kids already make their own of course), and always have a frozen homemade soup in the freezer for when it all gets too much.
- Use frozen grapes to cool your wine. Okay, this one is just for fun but it’s seriously a good idea. The grapes won’t dilute your mummy cordial like ice will and they look great too.
Do you have a secret that makes life possible while your out wrangling with the busy demons? I would love you to share it and maybe we can add it to the list ~ for everyone’s benefit.