After my first baby was born, I became hyper vigilant and micro-managed everything in the house. I now know this was a reaction to a traumatic birth. When our second daughter was born, the birth was wonderful but juggling a toddler and a baby with work had a knock-on effect and the micro-managing escalated to epic proportions. I made myself in charge of every second of every day, even when I returned to work full-time. It was exhausting and looking back I recognise my behaviour as a result of high-functioning anxiety. This time of my life was saved by yoga. I can’t even say it was a conscious decision to practice yoga; it was like yoga just found me exhausted one day and invited me onto the mat. I accepted and haven’t looked back. So, when I was pregnant with our third daughter, I was aware of the importance of self-care.
And here I am, blessed with three daughters; they are 7, 5 and 9 months old. In terms of parenting, you could say I am in the thick of it. I juggle sleepless nights and nappies with swimming lessons, play dates and dance clubs. Add in full-time work and the launch of Connected Sisters and you might well wonder how it’s even possible (with sanity intact). But here’s the thing, I don’t believe it does women any favours to believe that this is all possible without some serious juggling, support and coping mechanisms in place. We do each other a massive disservice when we present our ‘busy’ lives as a badge of honour worn on our social profiles; filtered images of women ‘having it all’ only supports a patriarchal agenda because too often the truth is women are ‘doing it all’. And the joke is that its women doing this to themselves!
When other women ask me how I am doing it (and they often do) my answer is generally dismissive along with a joke about my tiredness. So, here’s the truth – I am ‘doing it’ with help from my sister who picks up the slack at work if I’ve had a bad night with the baby, my husband who juggles his work with childcare and a tonne of deep breathing, swearing under my breath, yoga and daily reminders to be grateful for the chaos. It dawned on me recently that I need to practice ‘patience’ and ‘calm’ multiple times every single day; I’m sure most working mums would agree to that. I’ve added a dimension that’s helping me – every time I need to tap into the patience, I remind myself to be grateful for the opportunity to practice. Sounds crazy, but now when something challenging happens, I tell myself to be grateful for this practice and then go ahead and practice feeling patience or calm. This changes the dynamics of the situation.
The truth about modern parenting is that we expect women to work like they don’t have children and parent like they don’t work, and it’s no good for anyone to believe this is possible. Having three children and working throughout has made the lack of that ‘village’ we all need to bring up children very apparent. I have asked myself several times over the years ‘where is my help?’. Now I live in the belief that self-help saves the day – this has extended from the yoga mat into my work with the inspiration for my sister and I to start this project. Grateful and blessed doesn’t come close. So, my story ends with a shout out to all the working mums, I see you. Ask for help when you need it and even when you don’t.