Alright alright… I admit it…I’m a perfectionist. I take pride in a job well done. I’m a mum, I’m a wife, I’m a worker, a house cleaner, a seamstress, a medic, a teacher – the list is a mile long. And somewhere in amongst all of these roles, I need to find the one that magically helps me to find balance… .and then I need to excel at that, too!
Sound familiar? As mums, we put so much pressure on ourselves to be everything to everyone, that we often forget about the impact all our roles and responsibilities are having on our stress levels. We are so busy with life; we often forget to live life!
While I am far from an expert on the subject, I’ve been a working parent for more than 15 years, and I’ve learnt a few things along the way.
Firstly, if I am going to be the best me I can be, I need to take time out. I am no good to my family, my work colleges, or anyone else, if I‘m not coping on a personal level. Stress has the ability to infiltrate every part of your being and it hangs on, compounding, bringing with it some serious health risks. It’s so important to take personal time – read a book, have a cuppa, catch up with a girlfriend, hit the shops – something that will take you away from the everyday. Even if it’s just for half an hour, I guarantee it will make a huge difference.
Secondly, if I am going to be the best me I can be, I need to look after my body. Food and exercise have so much impact on our ability to cope with life and keep our stress levels in check. Exercise produces endorphins, which lightens your mood and gives a natural high. I have NEVER regretted a workout. In fact, when I feel most tired, getting physically active helps to relieve my stress levels and enhance my mood. Finding time is the hard part. Working out once the kids are in bed, or getting up just a little earlier in the morning, is the best time for me. Hubby and I also help each other out by taking turns to look after the kids while the other does a workout.
What I put into my body also has a huge impact on how I feel. Eating regular healthy meals, combined with regular exercise, helps me to feel better about me – inside and out. This has positive flow-on affects to life in general, including extra energy to get things done.
Thirdly, if I am going to be the best me I can be, I need to prioritise. We all dream of having a nice car, a big clean house, and all the mod-cons the media (and everyone else) tells us we MUST have. We want our friends, our neighbours and our work colleges to think we have it all (and then some). BUT, at what cost?
Sometimes we need to look at what it is we really NEED in life and MAKE time. I will never be rich, but I can honestly say that a balance of one parent working full-time and one part-time works for my family. Financially, we’ve had to cut back on a few things, but as a family we have more time together and my kids are getting a better balance between home and school/care.
We also don’t have a huge house, but it is homely and healthy, and the five of us share it comfortably. Our cars aren’t brand new, but we look after the ones we have and they continue to run well. I don’t have the latest iPad, but my three-year-old laptop works great!
I also don’t stress about the small stuff. What’s so wrong with a few toys lying around the house? Who cares if I have ten or even twenty items in my ironing pile? By refocusing what I place importance on, I have seen a huge difference in my stress levels and how much I enjoy life.
Five things to take away with you:
1. You are not perfect and you never will be and that’s okay
2. You cannot be in six places at once
3. Refocus on what’s most important
4. Take time out, eat well and regularly exercise
5. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix (or replace) it.