This is a phrase I often hear. Finding the time, or, more accurately, making time for ourselves, seems to be the Holy Grail for us working mums.
In my last post I explored the importance of having a balanced life and finding different ways to re-energise and replenish ourselves alongside developing our careers and looking after our families. However, I’m well aware that it’s one thing to identify those activities that energise and revitalise us; it’s another thing entirely to actually make doing them a reality.
And the thing that makes all the difference is time – and how we use it.
The ‘Not Enough’ Time Myth
I remember using the excuse of ‘not enough time’ when I was having my own coaching after having my first son. We were exploring my desire to forge a new career path and my fears that to add that in to my already busy schedule would be to the detriment of either my energy, my health or would impact negatively on my relationships with my son and husband.
One thing my coach said then stays with me:
‘Everybody has exactly the same amount of time and there is never enough time, no matter how efficient you are. It all comes down to CHOICES and how strongly you want to make a change. If you want something badly enough you’ll MAKE the time’.
That last sentence really struck a chord with me. Fortunately I felt the challenge in that statement and rose to meet it.
And so it is with finding time for the things that are important to you – be that your own growth and development, connection to others, need to contribute in a meaningful way, or whatever it is that makes your life fulfilled, whole and complete.
A matter of choice
The crucial lesson I learnt that day, when it comes to finding time, was that essentially it all comes down to one CHOICE:
If I say YES to one thing, I need to say NO to another.
So in our desire to forge successful careers alongside growing and nurturing our families and looking after own wellbeing here are four ways to enable this to happen.
We need to give up the illusion that we can do it all single handed and instead learn to utilise the team around us – be that our partners (if we have one), parents, friends, children (when they reach a certain age) or employing professional help.
Essentially if we say YES to going after our career dreams and a family life that fulfils us, we need to then say NO to, and let go of, the myth that we CAN DO IT ALL alone.
2. ALLOW YOURSELF TO RECEIVE HELP!
Allied to this, as women we are more used to giving support than receiving support – so allowing ourselves to ask for and receive support is vital if we are to achieve our bigger goals. We need to let go of feeling bad or guilty at receiving this help from others.
It helps to recognise that in our culture there are inbuilt expectations about gender roles within the nuclear family which can be hard to shake off. In other cultures mothers aren’t so isolated and unsupported in their roles, they follow the belief instead that: ‘It takes a village to raise a child’.
So we need to recognise, in our desire for career and family fulfilment, that ‘Having It All Doesn’t Mean Doing It All and rid ourselves of the false notion that receiving support somehow implies that we are failing in our duties as a mother.
3. DELEGATE, DELEGATE, DELEGATE
Once we’ve clarified our team, and allowed ourselves to receive their support, we then need to look at our ‘to do’ list and share out our tasks.
One client shared the inspiration of a friend who had learnt that in saying ‘YES’ to developing and growing her business, something else had to give. In this case she decided to say ‘NO’ to doing all the cleaning and housework herself and paid for someone else to do it.
Others have shared how they delegate and share the cleaning and housework with their children, who in return earn pocket money whilst also developing useful skills for future independence.
4. CREATIVE TIME MANAGEMENT
Given we all have a set amount of time available, if something is really important to us, be it creating a fulfilling career, developing a business venture, or recharging our batteries with some yoga or a run, we need to carve out some time in our schedules to do this and prioritise our own needs for growth, development or mental and physical wellbeing.
This may boil down to getting up half an hour earlier each day and in choosing to say ‘YES’ to meeting our needs, recognising that the payoff is then saying ‘NO’ to that extra half hour in bed.
How about you?
What’s your experience of juggling family and career as a working mum? What choices are you willing to make in order to reach your goals? Please share your experiences in the comments box below, I’d love to hear them!
P.S. Need some help negotiating a new career path alongside motherhood?
Take a look at my ‘There’s More in Me’ career coaching programme. You can fill in the form there and then schedule a FREE consultation to get some clarity on the situation you are facing.