Just last week, I bought this new (amazing!) book, by Brigid Schulte called Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play when no one has the time in hopes of finding the answers to my problems. Well… My answer is that I’m not alone! Most days, I feel overwhelmed by the balancing act like Sarah Jessica Parker below in her movie “I Don’t Know How She Does It.” However, Schulte provides us with tons of compelling research and engaging stories as to why we feel this way and the humor behind parenthood and attempting to “have it all!”
The more important question to ask myself is…. “Why is life so insanely busy?” What happened to “leisure time”? Is there really a work life balance? I’ve said before that I there is “no such thing as balance.” However, I’ve learned a few simple ways to manage my permanent state of busyness in order to keep my sanity, physical health, and relationships thriving.
My TOP FITtips to staying a happy, healthy, FITmama are:
- Guilt-free Self Care. Creating time to rest, read, and reboot is essential to one’s soul. How can you take care of everyone else, if you can’t take care of yourself! And I know that practicing guilt-free self care is hard!!! Just the other Sunday, we had tickets to take my son to the circus (for the first time!) and my husband said “why don’t you stay home and relax and enjoy some time to yourself.” I thought that was such a nice gesture, but of course I had to go…right? How could I miss his first circus memory… I would feel so guilty staying home. After debating back and forth, I decided to stay home. I cried, cleaned the house, did laundry, worked on business development and invoicing until my husband called and said “are you relaxing?!!!” NO, I wasn’t! The thought of “relaxing” to me was a waste time. Why was it so hard to enjoy a quiet relaxing moment? This example, is one of my own personal struggles even when I intellectually know how crucial self care is it our health and well-being. My recurring challenge is to schedule 7hrs a week of guilt free self care. So out of 168 hours a week, I’m only talking about 7hrs! But the key is to “actually” relax and not think about your “to-do list” and enjoy a good book, maybe a nap, a cup of coffee and a magazine, a workout, a yoga class, or lunch with a friend… Whatever it is, schedule your “me” time and make it count!
- Support System! I can honestly say “it takes a village!” The secret to being super mom is having a team of support. A few years ago, I met my favorite actress, Meryl Streep, and asked “how did you have a family and a career?” And Meryl replied, “I had a lot of help!” Unfortunately, I don’t have the resources to hire “lots of help” but instead have built my support system. My son is not even two yrs old and we have already been though FIVE nannies, a nanny share, and various friends & family helping out. We finally made a family decision to move out of DC to the MD suburbs in order to be closer to our family support. My husband and I split up morning and evening “mommy & daddy duties” along with having both grandmas babysit once a week. We also enrolled our son in preschool (3x a week), found a dog walker, developed business mentors, and I’ve hired more employees! That being said, this is what works for us. Many parents rely on great help, neighborhood babysitting co-ops, child-care facilities, family, friends, etc… The main point is that we can’t do it alone! In the beginning, I was afraid or too ashamed to ask for help until I realized that I was not going to surviving this “super mom” facade much longer. Today I’m blessed and feel so lucky to have a wonderful support team. My challenge is to keep building and growing those relationships until I’ve built a true “village” of my own!
- Time Management. I admit– In my 20’s, I had the worst time management. I could get lost in a marathon of “SAY YES, to the DRESS” or surf the web for cooking & fitness inspiration or spend hours shopping. However, now I realize how precious my time is and stick to a strict schedule. The best tips that work for me are the following:
- Write a time log. Literally, write down what you spend your time doing for a whole week. It will amaze you! I found that I spent two hours a day (or more!) commuting, as well as about three hours in the car daily between clients. This revelation has made me stack my clients and use my time on the road more strategic, like scheduling phone consultations or staff meetings over the phone, and talking to Siri more than I should about “tasks” and “reminders.”
- Plan Ahead and Schedule your Time. At the beginning of every week, I schedule in my workouts, my “me” time, my family time, my clients, and my office hours. I find that if things are not scheduled, then it is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks and forget about the important dates.
- Say “NO!” It is hard to say “no” and keep adding to our “to do list.” Sometimes we need to set boundaries and stick to them. I take Friday and Sunday off, and it is hard to turn down work requests but those days are sacred for my family and my health. This is a constant challenge for me, but it gives me a weekly reminder that we need to enjoy what we have and reflect on the beauty around us!