3 Simple Secrets Successful Working Moms Know That Help Them Avoid Burn-Out!
How practicing mindfulness will help you enjoy life to the fullest!
Are you feeling tired, overwhelmed, unhappy and out-of-sync?
Does your life look and feel like how you want it to right now? Or, are you over-doing and ‘under-being’?
As working moms, we’re in constant demand: our kids, spouse, parents, in-laws, friends, work colleagues, employees, bosses, clients and the list goes on. The to-do list is not just long, it seems to be perpetually self-generating!
I work from home, which to many moms probably sounds wonderful; I get to be home with my daughter and nurture her the best way possible. Yes sure, I do that. But I also deal with a whiny baby at my feet anytime I flip open my laptop, or put a client on hold the moment I’m about to confirm a package, because I’m running to avert a potential disaster involving a glass vase and my toddler. Or, taking her to meetings, which I love doing for her sake [to interact with people], but then I’m chasing her around preventing her from swallowing a pen lid or something!
Mommies – whether you work outside of home, or at home, it’s not easy! It’s hard. I get it.
And gosh-darn, is it really too much to ask if on some days we just want to eat chocolate and do yoga without a little one yanking on our pants for attention or something to eat? Oh, and speaking of yoga, when I try to practice yoga at home, it can be fun when she giggles hysterically at funky pose, but it’s not really yoga when she’s trying to get under my downward dog and climb up over my cobra!
‘Me’ time, if any, is precious. But amidst all the chaos and clutter, are there opportunities for ourselves that we’re missing?
SECRET #1: They say NO
3 Simple Secrets Successful Working Moms Know That Help Them Avoid Burn-Out:
Yes. They say NO. To their kids, their spouse, their relatives, colleagues, friends, and even to their bosses.
These women have learned to draw clear lines between what they are truly willing to take on that will provide them a significant emotional, or actual return on investment, and those things that will have very little or even a negative effect on their Emotional ROI. This might sound self-serving right? Well, it is in a way. These women have learned to say NO when saying YES might create a situation that will drain them of energy, money, resources, time and anything else that has value to them, or if it will create negative energy such as resentment. These women understand that saying YES too often will cause them to be less present with their own families, friends and even with themselves; and this is going to cause harm in the long-run. These women have developed foresight and learned let their intuition guide them.
So, this will mean she says NO to her brother who is asking her to babysit his kids (again) while she hasn’t had a break or night out in three months and there doesn’t seem to be an opportunity approaching! She will say NO to that distant relative asking for a favour. She will stand up for herself, and explain to her boss that, really, she can’t stay those extra 4 hours each week for the next 2 months. She will say NO to her kids whom she loves very much when they ask for the umpteenth time to take them to the mall to meet their friends… You get the picture.
Action Step: If you’re feeling close to burning out or getting to the point of overwhelm, stop. Take 10 deep breaths [I find stepping out into the crisp winter air is refreshing and helps me enjoy deep breathing]. Now grab a piece of paper and write down all the commitments you have today. Imagine the E-ROI scale has a 1 to 10 ranking. 10 being the highest possible Emotional Return on Investment, and 0 being no return on emotional investment whatsoever. Now ask yourself what is one thing you can say NO to today, that isn’t high on the E-ROI scale in comparison to the other things on the list. Remove that thing today.
SECRET #2: They know what their time is worth.
Self-worth is defined as knowing your own value. I’ve attend several business courses, trainings and workshops over the years, and I’ve been asked at these events ‘What is your time worth?’ This is an excellent question that not many people actually weigh out. Depending on who you are, what type of work you do, and your self-perception, you can determine or at least estimate, what your time is worth to you. And this doesn’t have to be literally what you would pay yourself an hour, although it could be. But rather, it’s an understanding of the factors such as happiness, peace of mind, and sometimes even sanity and how they come into play when considering what a specific task is worth to you.
But, what could I have done in those 3 hours had the mechanic come to me? Maybe I’d have consulted with 2 coaching clients, or worked on the administration-end of my businesses, or had a meeting that brought me an important private yoga or dance client…Or, by gosh, I could relax and unwind with a cup of tea and a book while my daughter plays… Or even visit with a loved one – like my sick grandfather. But many of us become boxed-in to our thinking, routines and patterns that we don’t notice the opportunities that exist around us. In this scenario, my time was definitely worth the extra $20 I paid. The KEY word here is TIME.
Consider your to-do list. How much would you be willing to pay someone else to do any particular task? For example, I might pay a mobile mechanic to come to my house to do the oil change service for my car and pay $60.00 for 1.5 hours of their time, saving me 3 hours of my time [1.5 hours of waiting in the shop for the car to be serviced, and 1.5 hours getting my baby and myself packed up, and driving to and from the shop]. Now, if I did spend the 3 hours going to the shop, I’d only pay $40.00.
Action Step: The single most important thing to understand about successful working moms is that they know what they are worth. And although it seems odd to attach a dollar amount to your time when you first think about it, I encourage you to try. You may initially start at a low number, and that may increase in time. The decisions you make from this perspective could alter the way you live your life. Are you ready for that?
SECRET #3: They practice mindfulness.
When you Google the meaning of mindfulness, two things come up:
“the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
When someone becomes aware of something for the first time, a new understanding emerges from that experience. That experience then feeds the awareness further if it becomes a regular practice…
I have one child. Breast-feeding, obviously, was something I had no previous frame of reference for. Here was this amazing child, who was dependent on me to provide for her, and I’d do anything for her. I didn’t realize that for almost 4 months I had compromised my back, neck, shoulders and even my hips and knees as I hunched over in various positions to breast-feed 6-8 times a day. When body pain, flexibility and mobility got worse, I realized I hadn’t been mindful of my posture. I hadn’t truly taken care of myself while breast-feeding and now I was paying the price. I started to practice mindful breastfeeding – becoming aware of my body as I held her. And what’s interesting is that practicing this mindfulness helped me bond more deeply with her too – more authentically, because I was more present in the moment.
As a personal trainer, yoga and dance instructor, I believe I have a higher sense of awareness of my physical body. I was always quite good at noticing hyperextensions in knees, or feelings of my leg muscles when I did certain exercises. Mindfulness can begin with the simple things: your feet inside your shoes which are connecting to the earth as you walk; the feeling of the water on your skin as you splash in the pool with your child, or tension in your belly when your breathing becomes shallow. Noticing these things will not only make it easier to adjust to different situations in your life, but life can become more joyful because of it…
Successful working moms are mindful. Practicing mindfulness leads to greater awareness – of the self, and of our surroundings.
These women know how dressing a certain way makes them feel. How not answering calls while minding their baby reduces the feelings of stress. They notice when they are starting to become overwhelmed and stop to change the course of action. They are not waiting to be bowled over by their commitments and demands leaving them drained and burnt-out.
1. Focus your attention on what is in front of you or at hand – avoid distractions.
2. Meditate: this doesn’t mean you have to sit in complete silence and stillness – although this would be a long term goal which is very beneficial; but rather it can start with the simple things: take a walk without your phone and make a decision to have a clear mind (listen to the crunch of the snow under your boots, see the sparkle of the snow in the sunlight, or just listen to the sounds of the cars on the street); dance and fully engage in the movements; listen – really listen-- to music, your baby talk, or sounds in your house. Have you ever tried to feel your heart beat (not by putting your hand there, but really just feeling it beat in your chest)?
It beats all the time, but we don’t notice it; if you pay close enough attention, you can feel it beat in your chest. Beware of an astounding feeling of gratitude that might wash over you as you realize your own humanity!
3. Pause and observe. This is one of the most crucial mindfulness practices; when you are asked to do something – even if it is something you’re asking yourself-- pause, notice the emotion that comes forward, and take inventory about the thing you are being asked for. If the emotion that comes forward is good, follow your intuition and go for it. If the emotion that comes up feels bad, reconsider it.
Burn-out happens when too much is happening at once in our lives. When faced with exhaustion or burn-out, our bodies and minds will try to rebalance…but if exposed to burn-out on a consistent basis, the body will respond in a way that most women say in hindsight was “my body telling me to stop!” This can occur in many ways, but primarily through illness, accidents, disease and other issues.
Remember you are human and that is a blessing – love, respect and cherish your moments here, now. You are worth it.