FINDING BALANCE IN MOTHERHOOD: CAN WE REALLY HAVE IT ALL?
“Can I really have it all? Is it possible to pursue my dreams and ambitions and still be a good mother?”
Yes, finding balance in motherhood is possible.
But first, we need to be clear on what balance means to you.
If you’re a woman like me with big dreams and goals, but also are committed to being a present mom for your kids…it can feel like these things are at odds sometimes.
But dear friend, don’t fret.
It is possible for us to have it all.
We simply need to define what balance means in motherhood, and find a beautiful harmony between our two roles.
You can chase your dreams without sacrificing your role as a mother.
In this post, I’m going to share my approach to this question: Can we really have it all?
Here are some tips for finding balance in motherhood:
As mothers, can we really have it all?
I believe that yes we can, finding balance in motherhood is possible.
Let’s be clear, I don’t think it is an easy feat, but it is possible.
And finding balance in motherhood is so important.
If you feel like your goals and ambitions are in direct conflict with your desire to be a present mother…this post is for you, Mama.
It is true that when we have a dream or goal that lights us up, it can sometimes feel like our children are distractions to the bigger goal.
When in our hearts, we all feel that actually they are the most important job that we have.
These conflicting feeling can lead us to feeling guilty of putting our children to the side to focus on our own dreams, directly impacting how we feel and can lead us down the shame spiral.
So today, I’m sharing some tips and exercises for you reflect on.
As women, we have an infinite potential to change the world, but we need to find that elusive “balance” between our purpose and our role as a mother.
You can have it all, and you don’t have to sacrifice being a good mom to do it.
First things first, balance is a subjective concept.
Truthfully, “balance” isn’t something that can be discretely defined.
It’s subjective, fluctuating and ever changing. What is balance for one person could be shockingly unbalanced for someone else. And that’s okay!
We’re each responsible for defining what balance is for ourselves!
So finding balance in motherhood first requires that we define what balance means for us.
Getting clear on what balance means for you is important, because it allows you to decide what you want to focus on and where you’re placing your resources.
We all have a limited amount of resources. Your resources refer to your time, mental energy, ability to focus and your ability to pay attention.
Does balance mean spending 50% of your time with your family and 50% of your time working towards your dreams and goals? Or does a few hours of quality time with your family everyday feel like balance?
Start by defining what balance means to you right now – and remember that it is okay if it changes and fluctuates.
FINDING BALANCE IN MOTHERHOOD
1. Compare what you need vs. what your family needs
Start with YOURSELF.
The first thing to think about is: what do you need in order to feel fulfilled and whole?
And I’m referring to YOU, Mama. YOU. YOURSELF.
What do YOU need to feel truly fulfilled in your life?
What do you need out of your life to feel fully self-actualized?
Look inside and be really honest with yourself. Go beyond what you need to “just get by.”
It’s important to start with yourself, because if you’re not feeling fulfilled you’ll start to feel resentful.
When we hold ourselves back from what we need to feel fully fulfilled for the sake of our family or our children, we start to resent our loved ones.
Trust me, resentment does more to ruin relationships than distraction ever will.
Do you need to exercise everyday? Do you need 10 hours a week to work on your business? Do you want your children to go to daycare for a few days every week so you can focus on your dreams?
Whatever you need to feel fulfilled and whole – make this a non-negotiable first.
Next, define what you need to do to feel like a “good enough” mom.
The key word here is enough!
What do you need to do to feel like you’re doing well in the role of “mom?”
I am not referring to what society defines a “good mother” should be, or what those around you tell you how you need to show up. I’m referring to what YOU feel meets your own expectations of being a good Mom.
And when you’re trying to figure that out, I want to remind you of the concept of the “good enough mother.” Perfectionism will not work here, friend.
The concept of a “good enough mother” comes from the early 1900s and it talks about postpartum and the infant-mother relationship.
The good enough mother is good enough, she shows up, is compassionate and present, but she’s not infallible.
It is NOT possible to expect yourself to be a perfect mother AND expect that you will be able to be a fully expressed human being with dreams and goals. Something has to give.
If we are commited to truly finding balance in motherhood, we have to be realistic about the expectations we hold ourselves to.
We need to begin to be OK with being “good enough mothers.” Mothers who make mistakes, perhaps aren’t 100% available all the time and who fail our children in manageable ways.
Failing our children in manageable ways might look like not being available for an hour while you work on your business.
Failing your children in manageable ways might mean that you might not be able to pick them up from school each day, but that someone else can, because you have an important thing that fills you up at that time.
When we fail our children in manageable ways helps to build their distress tolerance and teaches them that the world does not revolve around them.
Lastly, look at what your family needs from you.
Now it’s important again to ensure that “what your family needs from you” is accurate. What does your family actually need? Not what you think they need.
There is a difference.
Does your family REALLY need you to be there 100% of the time and ready to help with their every need?
Or do they need you to do less so that they can develop strong life skills?
Does your family REALLY need you to put yourself on the backburner and care for their every need + whim?
Or do they need you to put yourself first once in a while so they can learn healthy self-care habits?
The truth is: we often believe our families need more from us than they actually do need.
We also tend to put our families’ needs above our own.
When we can objectively evaluate what we need ourselves and compare that to what our family needs, we can work to strike a beautiful balance for ourselves.
Finding balance in motherhood requires us to be objective about where we are making motherhood harder on ourselves, and giving ourselves the freedom to reclaim some time and energy for ourselves.
2. Start Time Blocking
One of the biggest challenges in finding balance in motherhood is TIME.
We literally have a limited amount of time, and so we must be ruthless with how we manage it so we are giving the time required to all of the important parts of our lives.
If you struggle with feeling pulled in different directions and not being able to focus where you are, consider time-blocking.
When I started blocking out time on Sundays to plan my self-care time, business time and family time for the week, my whole world changed.
I took the time to schedule everything that is important to me into my weeks and stuck to it without distraction.
This was really effective because it helped me feel present in each activity as I was doing it.
When I knew I had time in my schedule designated for “business” or “family time,” I was able to be more present in each of those tasks at the time.
Once I was able to be present with each “role,” I got more done, felt less guilt and was less overwhelmed.
For example, when I was spending time with my kids, instead of worrying about everything I had to do in my other roles, I remembered that the time was already scheduled for those tasks later on. Rather than spiralling into guilt, stress and anxiety I was able to take a deep breath because I knew I’d have the time.
Planning your week ahead of time allows you to relax knowing that you’ve already scheduled the time you need for each area of your life. It also gives you a greater awareness of where you’re spending your time.
I recommend using an agenda or planner with a week-spread for this.
This also came in handy when I began my online business. I really didn’t want to dedicate more than 10 hours a week to it, however I found myself spending 30 hours a week and feeling stressed. Time blocking has allowed me to stick to just 10 hours, find more free time in my schedule and ensure I’m living in alignment with my values.
Take time to schedule out your week into time blocks – and make sure you’re blocking out your self-care time too!
3. Avoid Multitasking
Nearly every single woman I work with struggles with a relentless tendency to multitask.
However, finding balance in motherhood is going to be a challenge if you’re constantly dividing your attention between many different things.
The truth is: your brain only has so many resources to give, and can ONLY focus on one task at one time.
Scientifically, our brains CANNOT multitask, so we need to stop acting like they can.
Do one thing at a time. When you’re working on your business – do that! You’ll get much more done.
When you’re with your kids, put your devices on “do not disturb” and really be with them! You’ll feel like a much more present mom and the time you spend with them will be quality time.
When we multitask what we are doing, we only give part of our attention to each task.
Especially when we are multitasking with our children, the resulting feelings are guilt (because they know as well as we do that we’re not 100% focused on them, and that feels like crap.)
4. Ditch the motherhood guilt and shame
Guilt and shame are like any other false thought. However for some reason, we tend to assign them more power in our lives.
Guilt follows from the thought that you’ve done something wrong. In contrast, shame comes from the thought that you’re a bad person.
False thoughts create an emotion and we can choose to believe and engage with them – or not.
If you struggle to let go of guilty thoughts, try reframing your situation.
If you’re struggling with guilt and shame around spending time on your goals instead of your children, sit down and examine your thoughts and beliefs around the situation.
Do you actually believe the beliefs you’re carrying around or are they someone else’s?
Are the beliefs you carry YOUR beliefs or are they conditioning that you have heard from external sources?
A lot of women carry the belief that time away from their children is bad or makes them less of a mother, but this is simply a belief that you’ve chosen to invest in.
What if instead you chose to adopt a new belief? That if doing what lights you up and taking time away from your children, it is actually healthier for everyone?
What if you believed that by focusing on your dreams and what lights you up (outside of your children) that it allows you to be a more full version of yourself and your role as a mother?
Examining where feelings of guilt and shame come from shows you that you have a belief that is false.
You can do what you love and be a good mother. Ditch the guilt, get intentional with your time and shift your beliefs.
In order to be successful in finding balance in motherhood, we need to let the thoughts that cause us to feel guilt GO. We need to stop giving them so much power.
HOW TO BALANCE MOTHERHOOD + YOUR AMBITIONS
THIS EPISODE DIGS INTO:
- Why you need to define what work-life balance means to you.
- How to balance motherhood and who you are, what you need and your goals and ambitions.
- Tips to balance both motherhood and you.
- The concept of the “good enough mother” and why “good enough” is better than perfect.
- How to ditch the guilt and shame around motherhood.
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AUTHOR: DR. CARLY CREWE, MD
Dr. Carly Crewe is a mom to twin toddlers, a modern day nomad and MD Psychotherapist specializing in women's mental health.
Carly believes that when women are well, they have the power to heal and change the world.
Her mission is to revolutionize the women’s mental health care, from fragmented and haphazard to a holistic, comprehensive and integrated approach that meets every woman where she is and addresses the multidimensional reality of mental health.
Dr. Crewe is the founder of Eunoia Medical, a speciality mental health clinic for women in pursuit of a well mind. Carly runs a revolutionary mental health membership for women, The Eunoia Collective.
Carly is the host of the Mind Over Motherhood Podcast and is an Amazon best-selling author. Her newest book You Are Not Your Anxiety: How to Stop Being An Anxious, People-Pleasing Mess will be launching for presale on International Women’s Day March 8th, 2021.