Ok PLEASE do not read this thinking you will suddenly transform into a “better” working mum (whatever “better” means). But do have a read, and do leave a comment about the quick ways that have helped you feel like a better working māmā xo
Inspiration comes at the oddest of times.. I read this blog post written by a New Zealand leadership guru, and working mum extraordinaire, Suzi McAlpine. She writes about how you can be a better leader in less than 5 minutes and I thought “Oh man, I wish I could be a better mum in 5 minutes”… and then I thought, actually, why can’t I?
Other than being organised, overcoming the all too familiar working mum guilt and putting rest ahead of, oh I don’t know… EVERYTHING ELSE, here are a few new things I’ve discovered over the last few months that have helped me to be a better working māmā…
First, remember your purpose. If you don’t know what it is, then FIND IT.
Each day, when life is busy, and I get stuck feeling that I’m a hamster on a wheel I connect with why the hell I keep on keepin’ on: My kid.
Everything I do is for my family, and in a way, for myself. I show up mentally, emotionally, physically for us. It’s hard. It is the hardest thing to know that you can’t give up because of this bigger purpose, but it is also an unusual freedom to know that you have no choice but to keep pushing on. Living that selfless life can be really rewarding, so long as your life is exactly what you want, at this time.
Secondly, have a little fun! Connect with your kid in a meaningful way. You’re a working mum, so time is short, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of the time you have right? I read stories and sing songs with my daughter, but for you it could be drawing/creating, or chatting about their day. Ultimately, turn off the TV. Put your phone down for 5 mins. Ignore the mess. Connecting with each other is so important, it limits bad behaviour, and fills up your soul which means you’ll wake up ready to fight that working mum battle for that day!
Third, let your kid do their own thing. Step back! Let them be bored, let them find their curiosity, let them test their limits, let them make mistakes and learn from them.
As well as allowing your kid to grow on their own merit/motivation, it’ll give you a second to check on all the other balls you’re currently juggling.
It can be easier to be like “Kid, here’s an iPad, now bugger off”, but probably the best thing I ever read about was the concept of encouraging independent play. As important as it is to connect with your kid, it’s equally important that they learn how to entertain themselves (at an age appropriate level, mind), to understand boredom and get around it creatively.
Yeah it’s true, the way people grew up in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s was a little messed up (no seatbelts, corporal punishment and constant second hand smoke, anyone?) but something those parents got right was sending us outside to play and explore, telling us that “only boring people get bored” and not actually giving a shit when we whinged that we had nothing to entertain ourselves.
Without intellectualising my point, wouldn’t it be awesome to send your kid off to play while you, oh I don’t know… cook dinner? Or sit down with a cup of tea? Or read a magazine?
Fourth, show your kids how to be good people, in all the things you do.
It’s pretty easy to make the link between what we do, and what our kids do. If you’re mostly kind and respectful, then that’s what you get back, right? It’s the same in the workplace – be good to your staff/colleagues, and they’ll be good to you. Hold people accountable to that too.
And, back to our kids: it might be a hard pill to swallow, but while they’re little, and before they have independence and free will, they are representations of us. So be good. Show them good. Show them what you and your family values, and model that. When your kid doesn’t give you good back, stay level headed. This is easier said than done, but try.
Who else got smacked, because we hit another sibling? Um… that doesn’t compute as a logical message. Who else got sworn at, for swearing? Or put down, for putting down someone else? I think it is the laziest, and probably most ineffective way of trying to parent a kid. And I say ‘trying’ on purpose. You will not succeed with this method. I know for a fact because it didn’t work for me growing up, it actually just made me question my parents ability, authority and integrity.
Fifth, forgive yourself. Forgive your kid. Forgive all of the things you can’t control and do your best. Sometimes I’m late to work, or I miss a deadline, I go home feeling downtrodden and my kid has chicken nuggets for dinner because IDGAF. Sometimes I don’t wash her clothes if they’re only a little dirty, or I go two, maybe three weeks without vacuuming our floors. And with my kiddo, sometimes she’ll have a tantrum because she’s just plain old tired and doesn’t want to go to daycare.
No one is perfect, even you.
Expecting everyone to be at their best, all day, everyday is pointless. You’ll only end up feeling like shit, rather than focusing on the things you did do well. Ask for help and take it when it’s offered.
When my colleagues offer to take an action I had against me but couldn’t find the time to complete I say YES, when my husband offers to take our daughter out of the house so I can get the washing/vacuuming/mopping/tidying done in peace, I say YES. You can’t do it all and you can’t be it all, all of the time. It is a huge thing to surrender to your imperfection in the workplace, and at home, while always striving for better.
What are your tips for being a better working māmā?