When our first born (George) was turning one, I had a stint at returning to work. My plan was to do a 5 day fortnight (3 days this week, 2 days next). I’d booked two permanent days of childcare per week and then every second Wednesday (when I had to work) my mum would come and look after George at home. Although not really wanting to “go back to work” I had the ideal work/life balance and was quite enjoying my “days out” away from George and using my brain again. This could work.
Seeing other families manage with several children and full-time jobs I started to notice how much everyone was missing out. These early years of a child’s life are crucial to their development and time that you will NEVER get back. I started listening to my heart and decided that even though the stimulation (and MONEY) was good, I wanted to commit back to being a full-time-stay-at-home-mum. At least until our youngest child started school. Besides – it almost seemed that George was constantly sick from daycare and we’d spiral on a viscous cycle of getting down, getting back up again and same thing happening next week. It wasn’t really fair on any of us.
Becoming a mum has been so far the most challenging experience of my life and there are no real guidelines to follow! You have to work through so many different emotions, situations and phases that it creates a kind of “go with the flow” attitude. I’d never had this before – I always liked to be super organised and know all the answers and be absolutely certain of every outcome before making a decision. . . In motherhood- (you might already know) this is not an option. Becoming a mum really changed me (who would’ve thought?!) LOL.
So our decision for me not to continue work also coincided with a change in jobs for my husband, Chris, and we moved. 10hrs away from any of our family . . . to a property 80km from any of our nearest towns. “NOT going back to work now!” After all the chaos of moving, unpacking and settling into our new home, I started to soak up the joys of being the full-time-stay-at-home-mum. Then, slowly but surely, I got lost. Everyday became a droning repeat of the day before and the days to come. I lost motivation to exercise, eat well and look after myself mentally. A wave of negativity hit me and it started affecting my “mothering ability”. Kids don’t want a stressed out cranky/moody mother bringing them down. Husbands don’t want a nagging/emotional wife beating them up (NO not really, but you get the picture!) it was abuse on all parts and definitely not the wonderful plans we had in mind. I wanted to have more children to “fill my day” and keep me a bit busier. But the body was not co-operating. I’d only just weaned George from breastfeeding when he was 10months old and doctors told us it could take a while for my period to return and anything to happen. I don’t like waiting. Especially when it is something absolutely out of my control. Another personal test I had to pass I guess!
So this “spare-time” of mine: I thought I could take off with the network marketing I’m involved with selling nutritional products. After all, they helped me previously recover from Bulimia and I cannot recommend them enough. I’ve seen lives dramatically changed through the weight-management products and the work from home opportunity- why wouldn’t I go ahead? Because I was afraid. All of the self-doubt and high expectations I set for myself – only to be letting myself down – had created a giant burden on my vision of success. I couldn’t see where I was going – nor what I really wanted. I was just “going through the motions” because that’s what I expected myself to do. I was busy, doing not much really.
So with ALL these things to do in my day, I could create some structure. Kind of my own “work/life” balance plan. Nope, it was all or nothing. One day I’d be work work work (waste time, waste energy, waste money) or life life life (ignore work, ignore menial tasks, ignore myself). What an exhausting Yo-yo I had become! How do people do this? Why am I so bad at everything?!?!
Ok enough with beating myself up. Bulimia returned, I became a hypocrite –not walking my walk and just deceitfully talking my talk. I dug my hole even deeper into misery. Ooh, hang on – I’m pregnant! WOW what a blessing. Just what I need to get things back on track. This will fix EVERYTHING! 40weeks later a healthy beautiful little girl – absolutely in a state of high excitement and back on track to happiness. (or not) – man this is becoming harder than I thought. I can have family, I can have work, I can have “me time” “hubby time” “kids time” –it all evens out. Doesn’t it?
No not for me. I hadn’t reached the core issues yet. My adopted sporadic behaviour has me with my arms up in the air (AGAIN!) what to do? People out there have a “work/life balance” I KNOW they do coz I’ve seen it written places. It wouldn’t be a phrase if it didn’t represent something. It’s in magazines, on the internet – at the neighbours house down the road! It exists. Where’s my share of this delight?
I don’t know what stars lined up or what suddenly served me this ah-ha moment, but one day it hit me. You need to make a plan. Create some goals. Understand what you want, what you need to do to achieve that and HOW YOU WILL GO ABOUT IT. You need to set yourself realistic expectations (not the desire to be PERFECT) no-body is perfect. You need to accept your mistakes (not ignore them and wish they’d go away only to have them repeat themselves with stronger force!). Learn from them and move on. You need to surround yourself with POSITIVE people, positive material, everyday, every hour if necessary. . . get yourself out of the darkness by simply turning on the lights around you. Don’t wish someone would do it for you. Don’t pity yourself and your seemingly dire circumstances. Be grateful for EVERY blessing you receive – or it could be taken away. Just like that.
Suddenly, I’m a new woman. I’m no saint – but I suddenly believe in what’s right. In all areas of my life right now – I am proud to say – I strive to achieve balance. Balance in everything is key. If you tip the wrong way, place more emphasis on the other end of the scales to bring you back into equilibrium. Know that it should be a steady motion, will require small steps and often takes time. (picture a set of old-style scales) simply dumping a huge weight at one side does not balance the scales. Be patient, remain steady. Be willing to learn. Enjoy your work. Enjoy your life. Enjoy your work/life balance. You deserve it!