This (above) is a bathroom floor. Some people work in high rise buildings with views of the city, or the harbour, or maybe the workstation next to them. I work in the home. My view is the floors of our kitchen, bathroom and hals, I see the sink from my workplace, or sometimes the washing machine. My closest colleague is a 5 month old. She’s GREAT to work with I must say.
Though I aim to go for at least a half hour walk each day and get outside for my daily does of vitamin D3 from the sun, most of my day is spent inside the home.
In conversation recently the discussion turned to how we sometimes will go 5 or 6 hours feeding those around us, cooking, cleaning and on our feet and then wonder why our mouth is dry and our back is sore. It is so easy to neglect ourselves. And I know it is not only mothers that do this - it is anyone in a caring profession, or a profession that does not allow adequate breaks. And it is all too common.
The Art of Extreme Self Care by Cheryl Richardson is a great book that reminds us to care for ourselves. When I saw her speak last year she discussed learning to piss people off as her first task in becoming someone who looked after herself. Brilliant, I thought. I’m terrible at that.
So this is my little pledge to you and my encouragement also - I promise to have a glass of water, sit down, eat well and take a walk each day. I sense I’ll not only like myself more, but I might have a bigger smile on my dial for my kids and coworkers too. Cheeky grins are a beautiful thing.
Easy, I hear you say. That’s so easy. Ok then, try it. Tell me how you go. I would love to hear your stories, whether you relate, or whether you are a self-care king.
So it’s May the 4th. I have only made the Star Wars joke once today so far, which is pretty good (for me). And now for those of my generation who get it, May the 4th be with you. Forgive me for digressing.
A little while ago I had a very inspirational lunch with an old friend who told me she had decided from now on she would choose her clients. She had shifted her attitude, aimed higher and realised that she only wanted to work with movers and shakers.
I love that. It reminded me that what we think about and act on largely determines our reality. Decisions are so powerful. Sometimes making changes in our lives really is as simple as deciding and then taking action on all the opportunities that come our way.
Yesterday I received an offer of an opportunity that at one time in my career I would have jumped at. The thing is that right now, I am aiming higher. I have decided to study and pursue a dream and do the things I love. This means saying no to the things I like a little bit to leave the space to do the things I really love, and do them properly.
From now on, I am choosing. I am aiming for the stars and maybe overshooting so I get even further. This month is all about cleaning house of the crappy things, and making space for the great ones - physically, emotionally and intellectually.
What do you need to clean out to make space for the great stuff?
Hey Helen, I happened to read this great article of yours and felt like sharing my thoughts.
1. I think it’s a tiresome question to ask a woman whether she’s going to have a child. It’s actually a very personal/intrusive question. Although if it provokes you to consider it, I guess it’s okay.
2. I think a life well lived is one where conscious choices are made particularly around something as important as having a child. Are women having children because they REALLY want them, do they know WHY they want them or do they feel they should have them and will they really have time for them? Because it’s a bloody big commitment that I see most of my peers struggling with because they are trying to have it ALL no matter the consequences for themselves.
3. There is actually a finite limit to the amount of control each individual has over their fertility and ability to reproduce despite every technological advancement known to man.
So I guess what I’m saying is that ultimately there is a time limit and a decision to be made. For me, I thought it would just happen. I didn’t think I would have to make a decision around it, was always waiting for the ‘right’ partner because I didn’t want to do it solo. And now I live with the consequences because I could never really answer the question, do I really want a child and why?
The time has passed now for me I think and sometimes I’m happy that I don’t have a child and sometimes I am sad about it.
Alot of the time I get angry with my girlfriends who do nothing but complain about having kids and complain because their partner doesn’t help etc etc. They all got what they wished for and still are not happy. I think part of it is a romantic delusion that having a child will provide a source of unconditional love. The only living thing that I know that gives that as part of their nature is a dog. I’ve said that to girls before and of course, it did not go down well!
I think if women can answer the why of wanting a child then the ‘perfect’ time, ‘perfect’ partner, money, assets, career are all secondary considerations.
Despite what anyone expects or says, only each woman knows the answer for herself. You have to decide and don’t assume you have limitless time to do so - or you can just wing it and see what happens.
By guest writer, Helen Lear
I’m now what you could call a woman of a ‘certain age’. By that I mean in my thirties with a good job, nice house and a steady boyfriend. So what’s the most common question a girl in my position is constantly asked by friends, family and sometimes total strangers? When am I going to pop one out?
This used to be a question reserved for my persistent parents and grandparents, but after years of asking and getting the same curt response, they seem to have given up and moved onto my younger sister, much to her annoyance.
So why is it that people who you know, or sometimes who you don’t, think that they need to ask you when you’re going to start procreating? It’s not that it annoys me or that kids aren’t on my radar, it’s just the fact that other people are so concerned about my reproductive abilities that baffles me. One friend even suggested to me the other week that perhaps I should investigate freezing my eggs…just in case. Jeez!
This kind of talk has begun to fill me with an uneasy feeling that maybe I should be getting a wriggle on and that the clock that we all fear is well and truly ticking. But is now a good time, do I have enough money, a nice enough house, the right parenting partner? I guess these are the questions that no-one ever knows the answers to, but is it time to just bite the bullet and hope for the best?
These days we see more and more older women, way into their 40s, having kids and seemingly thoroughly enjoying being an older mum, so maybe I do have a few more years on the old clock yet.
Either way, it would be nice to know that when I do make the choice, it’s not a result of the peer pressure of do-gooders.
Would love to hear your thoughts and comments.
You can read more of Helen’s writing and ramblings here - www.facebook.com/helenrlear
Alain de Botton’s ‘list for life’
Resilience: Keeping going even when things are looking dark.
Empathy: The capacity to connect imaginatively with the sufferings and unique experiences of another person.
Patience: We should grow calmer and more forgiving by being more realistic about how things actually happen.
Sacrifice: We won’t ever manage to raise a family, love someone else or save the planet if we don’t keep up with the art of sacrifice.
Politeness: Politeness is closely linked to tolerance, -the capacity to live alongside people whom one will never agree with, but at the same time, cannot avoid.
Humour: Like anger, humour springs from disappointment, but it is disappointment optimally channelled.
Self-awareness: To know oneself is to try not to blame others for one’s troubles and moods; to have a sense of what’s going on inside oneself, and what actually belongs to the world.
Forgiveness: It’s recognising that living with others is not possible without excusing errors.
Hope: Pessimism is not necessarily deep, nor optimism shallow.
Confidence: Confidence is not arrogance - rather, it is based on a constant awareness of how short life is and how little we will ultimately lose from risking everything.
Read more here
What is it about mothers? I mean, we all had one at some point, albeit very briefly for some. And we all know at heart that every mother has different ways of mothering. Despite this knowing we do tend to hold on to some pretty pervasive stereotypes and expectations about what mothers ‘should’ be and do.
Now let’s get this straight, being sad sometimes and feeling disconnected is all part of the process. Even with so-called perfect children and partners there are still these little things called hormones to contend with. And even without justification of any kind it is my strongly held belief that we are entitled to our feelings whatever they may be.
Recently I was at a mothers networking event, the first meeting of this particular group. One of the speakers was an incredibly capable and successful mother who has started a business around wellness and fitness. When she came to the part about why she started the business she choked up. She was tired and a little nervous to be speaking publicly about her previous depression and naturally had a feeling about that. But what is interesting is that she apologised. Suddenly it struck me that in a room full of people most likely to understand and want to give her a big hug, she still felt a bit of shame about her past experience of post-natal depression.
And it’s true, if we need to seek cold medication for a bad cold, nobody blinks.. but mention medication for depression and it’s a whole different story.
My question today is, why? Why do we feel like being a mother means being Wonder Woman? Why do we feel shame around the most natural and common experiences of mothering if they fall on the wrong side of the social acceptability line?
I want to talk about this so we can change it. I want us all to know that there is no shame in experiencing the darker shades of mothering. I want to reach out to anyone out there feeling this and tell them it’s OK and to please talk about it with others. Choose to open up instead of shut down to that shame.
Get it into the light so it can be a little bit less dark in your world. It’s no big deal. Even Wonder Woman had bad days.
No picture here - no time for pictures these days!
Well, that’s not entirely true, but it is one of the many small differences to L.A.B. (Life After Birth). Somehow the acronym seems appropriate now that my daily life has become so experimental in the wake of sleepless nights and zero time to take care of myself. You never know how things will go when your brain is not working properly and all the usual routines have disappeared. Nonetheless, a few gems of wisdom are getting us through and helping me to stay semi sane so I thought it was time to share the love with my top 5 tips for new mum sanity, hope you enjoy them.
1 - Do as little as possible.
Take shortcuts, don’t sweat the small stuff and let go of the need to be general manager of everything. This means you are allowed to ask for help, I mean what’s the worst that can happen? Trust your support people to help if they can and say no if they can’t. At the end of the day this will bring you closer to those that love you.
2 - Be kind to yourself.
Now that you’ve stopped doing everything you’ll notice that things are not as organised as usual, or as clean, or as perfect. And you know what? That’s ok. They are not meant to be. Now let yourself off the hook and sit down.
3 - Take a lot of breaks.
Whenever you possibly can, lie down. If you can’t bring yourself to do that, at least sit down and put your feet up. This will make a world of difference to how you feel, not just to yourself on the inside, but to those you’re living with as well. Plus, the rough skin on your feet will get softer because you’re not doing as many miles per day. One less pedicure a year = awesome.
4 - Be grateful.
Your little bundle of joy is not always the best company let’s face it - it’s easy to lose the joyful feeling when you need it most. So if you’re not smiling, at least be grateful for what it is you’re not smiling about. If there’s pooh everywhere and no-one to help, just take a second amongst it all to appreciate what made the pooh and all the things we are learning and experiencing as parents. And be sure to remember that this too (and this pooh) shall pass.
5 - Laugh whenever you can.
No matter what the situation, if there’s any way to find the lighter side, seek it out and use it. The hardest thing I have found through the sleep deprivation, and actually the SELF-deprivation, is to keep my sense of humour. Tell your friends to call and make you laugh, cut out comics, do whatever it takes to get the smile on your dial whenever possible. Fake it till you make it. Just do your best and smile on. IT WILL HELP (even if you’re yelling it out loud somewhat nervously and cathartically).
Now, off to close my eyes for a minute before the babe wakes me right on cue straight after that…
Keep it light ladies and gents, and let me know how you’re going if you can, would love to hear from others out there swimming in a sea of baby-induced confusion and maybe even still loving it as much as I am.