As many of you know, I just came out with my first multi-author book, which I’m in complete awe of because writing a book with five other women got a little wackadoodle. However, the stretching and growing that has come from me saying YES to my goals has far outweighed the messiness of collaborating with with five women on my first book, career change in my 30’s, getting my Master’s Degree while pregnant with my third baby.
These decisions happened because of my commitment to my ideal vision and my ability to give myself permission. While at times some of these choices weren’t super convenient for my family, they were all choices I felt called to act upon.
Now, I get asked all of the time by my clients and friends, what do you do if your husband or loved ones don’t support you? Let’s be honest. This happens. Not everyone agrees with your choices or even your dreams!
At least once a week I will hear, “My husband doesn’t think I need coaching,” and then I listen to women justify how their desires and dreams can wait because of their husband’s point of view.
While my husband loves me and, ultimately ends up supporting me — which I’m very grateful for, he hasn’t always bought into my ideas and how it is I want to experience my life.
Here’s the deal. This isn’t a bad thing. Want to know why? Each one of your goals and dreams are unique expressions of you and, until someone pushes back, you don’t get a sense of how much you really want it.
Think of the clothes analogy. You find a shirt you’re obsessed with. Only, the sales lady says she doesn’t have your size. This only makes you want it more. You go home and go to the end of the Internet and back until you hunt it down and find it in your size. It’s that resistance that makes you clarify and question ‘how bad do you really want it?’
I realize clothes aren’t the same as dreams and desires, but that feeling inside of you….not needing permission from anyone to go for it, that’s what I’m talking about! How good does it feel when you do track it down?! Come on. We’ve all been there.
So, when someone you respect, admire, and count on pushes back on one of your goals, dreams, or desires, it’s an opportunity for you to clarify how you want to move forward. Ask yourself this simple question: Why do I really want to experience this goal?
This is a chance for you to enhance your self-trust instead of letting someone you love discourage you. Listen to your heart and the answer that comes up. Then, move forward. There is a reason you have this goal, dream, or desire and, instead of seeking permission from somebody else to for it, give it to yourself.
As soon as you feel pushback on your goal or desire, it truly is the perfect opportunity to clarify and check in with yourself. I promise you will feel empowered by seeing this as a good thing and able to see things even more clearly about how you want to move forward. Remember, you get to choose how you want to experience your life, but this does require YOU to take the necessary steps to make it happen!
Give yourself permission to wake up, plug in, and play big. I’m eager to hear all about it.
Give yourself permission to experience the life you want,
If you’re like me, chances are you have an idea of how you think your life should be, and it might look something like this: Great marriage. Happy, vibrant, brilliant children who love me and each other and life. Gorgeous home. Fulfilling, lucrative career. In other words, a general sense of ‘I got this,’ contentment, fulfillment.
Do you ever struggle being fully present with what you are doing in this moment? Perhaps occupied with a project at work when you are actually spending time with your children? Or maybe worrying about your child’s report card while taking a shower? And I’m not even going to say the word “Facebook.”
Boy, oh boy, is it easy to be addicted to our phones, which is why I’m going to share 3 tips with you to help you break away. I find I go through phases where I’m really self aware of when I’m using my phone and other times not so much. This past week I found myself falling prey to checking my phone while standing in line at the grocery store, getting a tea at the coffee shop and even (I’m embarrassed to admit this) checking my phone while waiting at a stoplight. It hit me the other day that I was back to my old antics and struggling to be comfortable doing nothing. If given even 30 seconds, I felt a strong pull to read, text or click something on my phone. I felt less joyful than usual over the past week, and suspect my phone addiction is to blame.
Time for an intervention! Over the weekend I heard Arelene Pellicane of Growing up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World, speak, and her words hit me hard. I feel more inspired than ever to lead by example and show my children how to set phone boundaries. I’m saying YES to experiencing my life fully engaged. My children will be the lucky recipients of a Mama who’s present, balanced and full of life.
Here are three tips that I practice to help me part with my beloved phone:
1. Out of sight (out of mind) –If you’re at home, keep your phone in another room. This means charge it in another room! If you’re out with your family, keep it in your purse, or your pocket and disable the wireless. You can still use your camera.
2. Turn it off –(Gasp) I know it sounds so uncomfortable. Just try it for 15 minutes. It’s incredibly liberating. I’m experimenting with not having my phone on at all when I’m with my children.
3. Make an agreement with your significant other and support one another- I find it’s extremely difficult to quit cold turkey by yourself. Discuss guidelines with your spouse, and help each other live by them.
I know it’s incredibly easy to justify why we should be on our phones at times. I’ve been there. (It provides me flexibility. My client needs me. I have a deadline.) However, if your goal is to experience more fun and calmness, you need to take action and make decisions that will help you live that way. My hunch is that there are plenty of times when an email can wait 15 minutes or a phone call can be made an hour later. Instead you can use that time to be totally present and absorb your surroundings, which might be talking to a stranger in the coffee queue, having a conversation with your husband or sitting at a stoplight and watching the person next to you have a dance party in their car. It’s in our DNA to want more laughter and spontaneity in our life, so let’s make some space for it. Will you join me and commit to using your phone less?
Happy Mother’s Day to all of our magificent moms in the Conscious Working Mama community. Today we honor you, we thank you and we celebrate you. Motherhood is not for the faint of heart—as I always say, it’s harder than running a marathon—and yet, it really is the most rewarding role we play. However your day unfolds, it’s my wish that you allow yourself to truly enjoy and receive all of the gratitude that’s about to come your way. Let today be a day where you don’t require yourself to give and give and give, and instead, allow yourself to receive as much appreciation and joy as you can possibly handle. If you need some ideas, it could be as simple as:
Lay in bed an extra 10 minutes (consider it a science experiment)
Make time for a cup of tea/coffee in the morning and sit down while you drink it
Let your family know that you’re going to take 30 minutes of alone time and spend it however you like
Instead of thinking you have to wait an entire year to be granted permission to appreciate all of the wonderful things that you do and how you show up for your children and for yourself, why not adopt the attitude that every day is Mother’s day because you’re exceptional and are worth honoring every day. I love how Maya Angelou put it:
Open your eyes to the beauty around you,
Open your mind to the wonders of life,
Open your heart to those who love you,
and always be true to yourself.
We might think that being a mother is about giving to our children, but let’s remember the origin of where it all starts. Nurturing and celebrating ourselves is what births our capacity to be creative, to be kind, to be inspiring, to be compassionate, to be purposeful, to be loving and to experience all of our unique gifts that we have to offer the world. Starting tomorrow, I’m going to make it a point to compliment myself daily about how phenomenal I am as a mom, because I know deep down inside that the most important validation comes from within. Will you join me?
I’m thinking about you today and appreciating you, and come tomorrow morning, I’m going to be doing the exact same thing!
When my oldest son started kinder, we entered the world of playdates. Oh my goodness, did I find this stressful! If my son was invited to a playdate, I felt like I needed to immediately host one in return. My son begged me to host, and I was constantly looking at my overbooked calendar to see what I had to cut to to make the play date work. This anxiety started before the play date even began. Once the play date started, I realized I had not three boys, but usually four (sometimes I’d get lucky with a calm girl), bouncing off the walls of our intimate house and fighting over toys—not to mention little brothers feeling territorial and ignored by their oldest. And every time I would think to myself, ‘Wow, this was entirely self-induced!’ Like most of you, I would forge ahead trying to make play dates work, while secretly feeling thankful when they came to an end.
Something had to change. My son looked forward to these play dates and I wasn’t about to stop having them all together, but these kiddie sessions were giving me grey hairs! It became clear to me that I had a lot of expectations about play dates, including how frequently they should take place, how often I should host, how my children should act during them, what I should do with the kids… the list goes on and on. I reminded myself that when I attach to an expectation, I usually come up short because I’m so focused on how the “should” should look.
One of my mentors, Steve Chandler, makes a great distinction between agreements and expectations, and this distinction made me realize that I can shift my perspective, and ultimately my experience, of play dates if I make an agreement with myself.
A few definitions:
Agreement: An arrangement that is accepted by all parties.
Expectation: The act or state of looking forward or anticipating. Synonym for anticipation.
Imagine if you do away with putting pressure on yourself to “do it all” and stop expecting play dates to look and go a certain way, and instead you make an agreement with yourself along the following lines:I will do my very best planning playdates, and furthermore, I will do my very best enjoying them. I will detach from all expectations and accept that whatever is for my children’s and my highest good will emerge, allowing us to experience whatever it is we are supposed to, for the highest learning of all concerned.
Bam! I’ll be honest. I host less playdates and I’m okay with that. And when I do host, I enjoy them more because I’m more relaxed and unattached to the outcome. My children seem relaxed too. Voila. Give it a go!
Where in your life can you let go of an expectation and make an agreement either with yourself or with someone else, instead of having expectations?
Summer is one quarter away and are you starting to get hit with questions like, “What are your summer plans?”, “Which summer camps are you signing up for?”, “Have you figured out which days you’re going to take off for the summer?”
Have you started to receive emails about camp deals and heard chatter from other parents as they frantically start to sort out their summer plans?
In my world, I can say yes to all of the above! I also have a small confession: Until recently, I use to dread summer holidays. Here’s why: Summer would arrive, school was out, and I couldn’t be home with my children! The initial thought went against all of my visions of being a Mom and experiencing summer’s with my children. Interestingly, when I got really honest with myself, I wasn’t sure if I could handle being home all day with my highly energetic crew and the exceptional amount of patience that it requires. However, I also was operating under the misbelief, that if I wasn’t home with my children during the summer, that none of us would experience an idyllic holiday. I have vivid memories of long summer days at home with my school teacher Mom, playdates with friends, berry picking, riding bikes, week long holidays at my grandparents, long car trips to visit my cousins, and many days where I had enough time to get bored and lounge around in the hot sun. I did attend the most wonderful summer camp, but it was over a condensed amount of time, so I was at home with my family the majority of the break. Oh, the memories. Fast forward to the life of a working Mom, and I simply couldn’t imagine creating the type of summer experiences for myself or for my children because of my full-time work schedule. I also fell into the comparison trap, believing that stay at home Moms were having a lot more fun come summer time and that their kids were too because their Moms were at home.
Can you relate to any of this? I have to tell you, three boys later, I have done a 180 turn, and it feels incredibly liberating and refreshing. I’ve grown to love summers and, instead of feeling stressed, anxious, and anticipating disappointment, I feel excited about the upcoming season and all the new experiences in store for both my kids and me. Here are my 5 tips from moving from summer blues to summer bliss:
1. Update any misbeliefs around being a working Mom – assure yourself that you and your children can experience your summers just as you imagine!
2. Allow yourself to imagine your IDEAL summer experiences – set aside 30 minutes and write down all the difference experiences you’d like to have during the summer for both you and your children. Think about your senses. How do you want to feel, what do you want to see, taste, and touch? Get a big piece of paper and write out those experiences. Remember, experiences don’t have to require money. It can be spending an evening with your family taking a walk once a week.
3. Gather all your facts – if children are old enough to have opinions – ask them what they’re most looking forward to experiencing this upcoming summer. Ask your partner. Gather info on trips you want to take and summer camps you want your children to experience. Any and all information around experiences you desire.
4. Get tactical – Do you have a budget for your summer holiday. If so, review it.
5. Make decisions & move on – As you start to make decisions, cross reference each opportunity (experience) with your ideal scene of how you want to the experience summer. If an experience feels like a fit, then go for it. If you feel resistance, set it aside. Don’t fight it.
6. Engage a village – as a working Mom, take pride in setting up a village that can support you in making your life easier during the summer – carpools, play dates, etc.
There you have six, important tips to help you ease into the summer season with grace, ease, and organization, so you can experience just the way you want it. This exercise wholeheartedly supports you in in making self-honoring choices and leveraging a village, two very important themes that make up the Conscious Working Mama Wheel.
Don’t forget to revisit your self assessment, so you can check in with yourself around your own level of consciousness and look for areas of opportunity.
Today, I feel full possibility. Inspiration. Excitement for 2016.
But, I have a confession. Last week when my husband and I were trying to get our three boys dressed for school, lunches made, and get out the door by 7:45, I felt anxious.
Overwhelm set in. No time for meditation at the early hour.
I’ve noticed this is when I have thoughts of feeling like I need to be in control of every situation in my life to ‘make it work.’ Especially in the New Year. Sound familiar?
The desire to have it all figured it out. Your next professional move. The children’s Spring Break planned. Your girls weekend in the works. Oh, and add: be more patient with your partner and children to that list.
I’ve been seeing this frantic energy and desire to know that everything is going to be ok amongst many of my clients this past week and, admittedly, myself; it doesn’t feel good.
So, I could tell you what my track coach would tell me: shake it off.
Or, you could try a completely different approach. What if you fast forward all the way to the end of the year…New Years Eve. Take five minutes and pretend that you’re sitting with your best friend. You’re so excited to tell her about your year. It’s just as you imagined it. Professionally, you really went for it. You did that one thing you’ve been dying to do. Personally, you stretched beyond your boundaries. You took your relationship to a whole new level you didn’t know possible. As a Mom, you feel even more connected to your children in a way that you didn’t know was possible.
So now, how would you answer the question, “2016 was my most favorite year because I experienced ….”
From this place, what’s one action step you could commit to to move yourself forward and experience the year that you really desire?
Mama’s, let go of the control. Instead, replace it with how you want to experience this year. It might feel a bit slower. It might feel a bit uncertain. Focusing on the experience, you will expand and gain clarity vs. tightening up the reigns and constricting yourselves to a life of frustration, overwhelm, anxiousness, and, dare I say, exhaustion.
When it comes to a disagreement with a colleague, are you one of those women who immediately fires back an email with three paragraphs justifying your viewpoint? When you get into a argument with your spouse, do you end up just walking away? When it comes to your children, do you raise your voice and, then moments later, tell your children to stop shouting at each other? I’ve been there. Your emotions take over. You get upset. You tell yourself it’s their fault. Not yours.
It happens quickly, doesn’t it?
Perhaps you can relate to this, but have you noticed how passionate you get about the issue itself? The nitty, gritty details. Who said what, how it was said, what happened, and what didn’t happen. What we don’t realize is that the real issue is how we relate to the issue.
Considered the possibility that you’re big emotional reaction had nothing to do with anyone else. In fact, it’s simply an opportunity to look within and recognize something deep down inside of you that was triggered and needs to be healed.
If you’re goal is to show up and experience the greatest version of yourself, imagine how it would feel if you could approach issues from a place of calm inside of yourself? This doesn’t mean that you can’t experience disappointment, frustration, or sadness. However, the way in which you engage those emotions will look different. It’s from this place that you’ll be able to communicate in a way that truly serves both others and you for the highest good.
Let me give you a real life example. This week, I received a call from my seven year old son’s elementary school, notifying me that there had been an anonymous shooter threat made. Note, we live in Los Angeles, so there was heightened tension because of the terrible tragedy in San Bernardino. Immediately, hundreds of emails and texts with additional bits of info and hypotheses around what was happening started flying around.
You could feel the blanket of fear covering our little town within Los Angeles. Some parents were immediately saying their kids wouldn’t go to school, while others were feeling paralyzed. I witnessed every kind of reaction you could imagine. Outrage about not receiving enough information. Fear as to how this could happen.
As this whole experience was going on, I was very aware that this was going to be a personal decision as to whether or not I would send my son to school the next day. I also had the revelation that I could make a choice to relate to the issue in a way that best reflected who I want to be in this world. I could react emotionally, kicking and screaming about the way in which I thought it should be handled, or I could choose a calm, thoughtful response, allowing me to communicate in a more loving way so that any feedback or message I wanted to share could actually be heard by the powers at be.
With this in mind, here’s the three-step process I use to help me stay calm and minimize my emotions, so I can behave in away that is in accordance with my values. I will caveat this by saying, I’m human. While it’s always my intention to use this process, it doesn’t mean it happens every time. And, that’s OK. With practice, these steps can become your default.
Give the benefit of the doubt. Many people assume the worst in situations. Instead, hold a vision of possibility and positivity in your head. You really don’t know what’s going on with other people, so don’t assume.
Check in with yourself. If you’re feeling upset, it’s a sign that the outer experience has triggered an unresolved issue inside of you. You can choose to work and heal your issue or not.
Act in accordance with your values. If you desire to show up peacefully and lovingly, then hold yourself accountable. Get conscious.
For me, it would have been incredibly easy to have an emotional reaction to this event at my son’s school. By following these helpful tips, I was able to navigate the situation in a way that still allowed me the dignity of my own process and helped me sleep at night and make a decision out of calmness rather than fear.
It’s easy to get upset, blame others, and stomp our feet. However, it doesn’t leave us feeling good about ourselves and doesn’t support us in living from our best version.
If you find yourself going down this path, remember the issue isn’t about the other person. It’s not about the content of the the situation at hand. It’s truly about how you’re relating to it. If you find yourself triggered, hold a mirror and look into it. There’s an opportunity to heal something inside of you. Imagine all the possibilities when you do this work.
How might you see a work colleague’s point of view differently?
How might you connect with your partner in a more loving way?
How might you feel more compassion and patience towards your children?
How might you be able to make a decision from a place of confidence instead of fear?
I’m inviting you to try it on for size. It might feel odd at first because it’s counter intuitive. That’s okay. If you’ve come this far in reading the article, then go for it. It’s another tool to help you live consciously and love the life you live.
I’m ready to experience some more Ommm. Are you? My days start early. My oldest son wakes up at 5:30am, followed by my 2nd son, and my little Gus Gus rounds out the hour with all systems firing by 6:30am. Every light is on in the house, the volume is a 10, and there’s a lot of excitement with a bit of the grumpies mixed in. And, two mornings a week, I coach clients starting at 7:30, so the start of those days can feel extra frenetic. While, I have a system that allows me to squeeze in a shower, make three lunches, and breakfast for all, this morning I found myself stressed out!
Though the manic mornings end at 8am when they’re all off at school (and there are mornings when I hear myself let out a huge sigh), the stress can easily stay with me.
Can you relate? We’ve all had that experience of being pulled by our clients’ schedules, motherhood, wifely duties, and our own ambition. As a result, are you left feeling manic and depleted, and tell yourself something needs to give….but what?! This conversation can take you down a deep rabbit hole if you’re not careful.
I’m going to share 3 simple tools to help you take the lead and experience more Ommm…
Ask yourself this question, “What do I want to experience right now?” Get crystal clear on those feelings.
Simplify. Slowing down may feel like too big of a step, so start with a baby step. What can you simplify in your life? What can you delegate at work, where can you ask for help, and what can you rearrange to better serve you.
Commit to one action that brings you JOY – here are just a few small ways in this past week that have reduced my stress and brought me joy:
Listen to an inspiring book — I can’t say enough amazing things about Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, “Big Magic”. A must-read for all of us craving more creative expression in our lives. I love Audible.com because I can listen while I drive or clean house.
Pay it forward. Striking up a conversation with a stranger and show your true essence (put that phone down). It will fill your heart just as much as theirs (Starbucks or grocery store que)
Look at old photos! Keep a few old photos around that hold special memories. Amazing how you can connect to them in a heartbeat.
Do an art project. We made Halloween costumes this week, and if I get super honest, I think I enjoy as much, if not more, than the children.
Discover new music. We all have a few culture vulture friends. Find out what they’re listening to and plug in.
Pin your travel desires! I search travel photos weekly because it keeps me connected to future travel explorations! You can get inspired by my travel board HERE:
Through all my years of working in the corporate world, being a Mom to three boys, being a Coach to working Moms, and doing loads of volunteer work, I’ve realized one very important lesson: The more connected I am to myself, the less stressed I am. It’s really that simple.
Imagine how much more relaxed, connected and awake you’d feel…Don’t just do it. Be it.
As a working Mama, are you pushing yourself at all hours of the day? I recently asked a dear, working Mom friend of mine to email her daily schedule because I wanted to see how she organizes her day. She gave me permission to share my thoughts because we thought you could relate, and we thought it could be healing for all the working Moms out there striving for perfection, living in self-doubt, dwelling in comparison and feeling like you’re simply not enough (been there).
After I scanned her schedule, sure enough, it’s just what I suspected: She’s up at some crazy hour like 4:30 (which makes my head hurt to think about) and in bed around 11pm. That’s after she’s put in one more hour of checking emails. By the time I finished reading her schedule, I was exhausted. Mind you, from my perspective, she has a very successful career, she’s an incredible Mom, wife, and friend. She even says she’s happy going at this pace.
I asked her her about her weekends. How does she spend her time? Immediately, she launched into how she had a ton of work, wants to take a yoga class (not enough time), spend quality time with her children, but how every weekend feels jammed packed. What I observed from this conversation, and many more I’ve had with working Moms, is this misconception that if they don’t ‘work’ on the weekend, they’re not doing it right. I’ve heard every rationale such as ‘I left early one day, so I need to make up the time’ or ‘if I want to make partner, I have to put in these extra hours.’
Who can relate? Do you go into self-doubt if you don’t push yourself to work those extra hours on the weekend, attend every Saturday Soccer game or birthday party, so you can get Mom of The Year award? Not to mention the after effects of pushing ourselves from 4:30am to 11pm at night. We can’t act surprised when we feel disconnected from ourselves or our partners. We reek of exhaustion, resentment, and ‘Am I good enough’ syndrome?
Imagine, just this weekend, you entered a social experiment. Just for fun. Your goal is to strive for sufficiency, so you can experience confidence, relaxed and connected in meaningful, purposeful ways. Below is what I’d love for you to try. Have fun and observe how you feel after.
Strive for efficiency, not perfection, this weekend. What can you do at 90% instead of 100%. This might mean delegating some of your responsibilities. It might mean saying no to a Soccer game and staying home and resting.
Stay on your own yoga mat. When you feel yourself starting to compare yourself to others, move into gratitude immediately. Wish them well and then remind yourself of one thing or experience for which you’re thankful.
Embrace the Mess! Try entering into the weekend with intentions instead of expectations. There’s a big distinction there. Intention is something you’re aiming to experience or do. Expectation is a strong belief that something will happen. Unless you have a crystal ball, there really is no way to predict the future.
Trust there is a new way to experience the weekend as a working Mom. You can absolutely show up on Monday and still be considered wildly successful and powerful and not have opened up your laptop at all. You can still be considered for that big promotion, even though you chose to consciously not send emails all Sunday afternoon.
As a social experiment, be a part of the Conscious Working Mama movement in rebuilding the archetype of a working Mom where we allow ourselves to feel whole inside, so we can truly experience self-confidence, self-trust, and the almighty feeling enough. Take ownership. Sit in the driver’s seat. Imagine what can happen when we give ourselves permission to play a little? Or maybe a lot….
We live in LA, and I can hardly remember the last time it rained prior to yesterday. This is bizarre for me because I grew up in Seattle, where it rains all the time I have been nostalgic for seasons, particularly the rain, absolutely craving every element it delivers: grey sky, sweaters, wet grass, and, most of all, the puddles!! So, a few days ago I woke up to a downpour. I could barely contain my excitement. My boys were parked in front of the TV on an early Sat morning, and I hustled them into whatever rain gear I could find since it’s a bit like Christmas decorations, we pull them out once a year. After a mad scramble, we got all three boys dressed and headed out in the rain to pounce in the puddles. At first, my intentions were strictly for the boys to absorb this event. However, once I got out there, the familiar feelings all came back to me. I found myself as excited as they were to explore the rain. Any worry I had disappeared, any to do list I had faded away, and all I could think about was skipping along with my boys, bouncing in and out of the puddles, and being one of them. Time stood still. For a few moments, I felt free. Free from all my motherhood responsibilities, free from my job, and free from my own worries. The little Sarah in me had come out to play and make no mistake about it, she was loving it. It was like she was celebrating right along side of my sons; the joys of being a child.
I also had time to reflect on motherhood and how it’s layered with opportunities for new beginnings. By getting in touch with “little Sarah,” I was able to tap into a new way of experiencing joy that stayed with me all day. How about that?!
I ask you, what does the girl inside of you love to do? I invite you to take her up on it!
Have fun and play hard,
PS: We’ve given CWM a few updates, so make sure to check it out!
I use to LOVE getting on planes. It almost didn’t matter where the plane was headed, I would settle in to my seat with a People magazine and away I’d go. Fast forward to life as a working mom with three boys at home, and I now have very mixed feelings about it. Can you relate? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look forward to a few nights of uninterrupted sleep in a hotel, and, I’ll go ahead and say it, some time to myself! I’d also be lying if I said it’s easy to leave my children and my husband, even if I’m only gone for one night. Something happens to me leading up to a trip, regardless of whether I’m leaving for 24 hours or 5 days. The caretaker in me goes into overdrive, and I feel the need to over–organize, plan and prep in effort to keep everything running as smoothly as possible. My inner-voice starts mumbling things like, “Can my husband handle all the extra work? You sure you want to leave town because the boys really need you? Who’s going to pick up the slack if you’re not there?”
Travelling for work would stir up all kinds of issues for me. First, I would feel guilty for leaving my children and my husband with all the responsibility. Second, I would go into worry overdrive that things wouldn’t get done the right way. Third, I would have anxiety over my return because I always felt a sense of disconnect from my husband and children, despite being very excited to see them. Finally, I got fed up. It didn’t make sense to me how travelling for work could stir up so many of my issues. I started to look at the choices I was making and the pattern I was living out each time I travelled. I had an epiphany: I am in charge of my thoughts and, ultimately, my experiences. I can make different choices, some inner and some outer, to change my current experience when I travel. These different choices make the travel a more positive, guilt and worry-free. They also make the return an easier, love-laden re-entry.
Here are my tips for when you travel for work:
INNER CHOICE – In your mind, trust your partner, their capabilities, and the love they have for your children.
INNER CHOICE – Surrender to the requirement of travel and let go of the need to control every aspect of the children’s experience while you’re gone. They will be just fine in the hands of others you trust.
INNER CHOICE – If you’re feeling guilty about leaving, practice compassionate self-forgiveness (if you’re not familiar with this skill, sign up for my newsletter to receive a complimentary video on the 5-step process; it’s life-changing)
OUTER CHOICE– Compliment your partner BEFORE you leave town on their ability to take care of the children and all of their needs as well as manage the house duties
OUTER CHOICE – Be transparent with your children about your upcoming travels – talk to your children about your trip 3 days prior and share details (where you’re going, why you’re going and when you will return
OUTER CHOICE – Take care of basics – stock the fridge, set up playdates and communicate with caretakers about your trip details
OUTER CHOICE – Let your children know when you will be calling or video-calling them, so they have something to look forward to. Remember, even 2 days can feel like a long time to children.
OUT CHOICE – Leave a love note for your partner – either on the mirror in your bathroom, under their pillow or slip it in their work bag. Just something to remind him you LOVE and APPRECIATE THEM.
Even when you think travelling for work is going to include me time, inevitably it doesn’t. So it’s time stop relying on it for that. Make time in your regular day-to-day life to building a pattern of me time. For the next three days, I’m going to take 15 minutes for myself and spend it doing something that brings me joy (reading, power nap, walk around my neighborhood, cup of tea). I know it doesn’t sound like much, but patterns (especially mine) are deeply rooted, and it’s important we be realistic and take baby steps to establish new ones. I’d love for you to join me!
I know this might sound wackadoodle, but I don’t bring presents back for the children and they have stopped asking! My main reason for doing so is, I don’t want my homecoming to be tied to receiving a physical present, but rather focused around the excitement, hugs, conversation we have when we first see each other after being separated. In my experience, it makes for a much more authentic, exciting, lovely reunion.
When I was 7 months pregnant with my 3rd son, I decided I wanted more out of my life. I was feeling very stagnant. On a bit of a whim, I applied and was accepted to the University of Santa Monica. Two years later, I’m on the tail-end of receiving my Masters degree in Spiritual Psychology. The reason I’m telling you this is because, up until two years ago, I had no idea what it meant to live a ‘conscious’ life, let alone a ‘Conscious Working Mama’ life. I was 98% focused on satisfying my ego, until finally, I arrived at a place where I realized that that is an unattainable goal. Regardless of how idealistic my life might have seemed, I felt that something was always missing, and my light was dim. I was ready for a change, and I knew it had to happen inwardly, no more chasing outwardly experiences to drive happiness and fulfillment.
Fast forward two years and, for the first time, I feel awake — I feel conscious. I’m evolving on every level: spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Interestingly enough, my day-to-day routine hasn’t changed much, but, when I reflect inwardly, there are 3 practices that I now incorporate everyday that support and honor me as a Conscious Working Mama. They include:
Acknowledging and embracing that, as long as I’m alive, school is in session, and life truly is about learning.
If something is upsetting me, it has nothing to do with anyone else. Since I’m the only person who has dominion over how I choose to react, it’s up to me to explore the judgment that sits beneath my initial upset.
Assuming that every person I come in contact with is a loving, compassionate soul. This has completely changed my reactions to potentially upsetting situations.
Being a Conscious Working Mama has no end. It is the longest days, shortest years; its an ongoing exploration. I invite you to wake up your consciousness’ and examine all areas of your life with this question in mind, ‘Where can I make small changes to experience more joy and meaning in my life, regardless of how many hours I work and how many children I’m raising?’ Keep checking back with CWM for easy tools and processes to help get you started.
“Just this morning, I was thinking about all that I accomplish in 24 hours. Most of the time, I’m incredibly thankful to be a working Mom in the 21st century for one main reason: flexibility. But with flexibility, I found, comes this crazy idea that I can cram in even more into my day because, well, I just can! My work day is no longer a set day of 8 hours, but rather as 16 hour days that intertwine work, personal errands, self-care, and whatever else comes up throughout the day all with the intention of keeping my personal and professional life on track. While this system worked beautifully when I didn’t have children, and truthfully it worked okay with one child, it completely short-circuited when I added three kids to the mix. I started dropping the ball in all areas. I would begin tasks, but not complete them. I would find myself physically present with my children, but not emotionally or mentally available. I was often grouchy because I was running myself into the ground. I realized it was time for an intervention. I became open to the idea that I needed to update my own operating system when it comes to getting it all done. So, I took a new approach. I played with the concept of setting boundaries between work, motherhood, marriage, and personal care. Just when you think it isn’t possible to set boundaries as a working Mom, I invite you, for one
week, to experiment with these tips:
1. LIST OUT PERSONAL PRIORITIES NIGHT BEFORE – Keep this to 3 items so that it’s realistic. This will help you really get focus on priorities. Ideas can include: setting up doctors calls, setting up summer camps, ordering a gift, dropping off dry cleaning. (hint: What will give you the greatest relief if you can cross it off your list?)
2. SCHEDULE 1 HOUR OF ‘PERSONAL TIME’ DAILY ON YOUR CALENDAR – This time is to be used for your 3 personal calls and errands. By grouping them together, you’re going to be way more efficient in taking care of personal business, and this will be much less disruptive to your paid job.
3. BE TRANSPARENT WITH YOUR COLLEAGUES ABOUT YOUR FAMILY TIME– I strongly encourage you to be upfront with your manager and day-to-day colleagues about your needs. This honest communication builds trust and loyalty. For me, my team knows that between 5:00pm and 7pm most days, I’m with my children and I do not answer the phone. I’m available before or after if they need me.
4. REMOVE OBSTACLES – When I’m with my family I’m starting to carry my phone less (gulp!). I’ll admit, it’s not easy. It means I can’t Instagram in that very moment, but my whole intention is to set boundaries so I can feel more present. I encourage you to remove any and all obstacles, and start with your phone!
I’ve implemented these tips and I’m starting to feel human again. I feel a sense of calm, and I’m not running around with so many incomplete tasks around me. I also feel like I’m accomplishing as much as I use to under my old system, but I’m more connected to family, and finally have a few minutes to myself. Give it a go, and let me know how you get along with it.
I get asked this question at least twice a week, and it goes something like this, “ How on earth do you get anything done from home?” Now remember, I’m an extreme case, because I have 3 boys, 5 years old and under, two of whom are still at home. We live in a modest size house and, while I do have an office, it also houses the boys coveted train table. So, I have lots of visitors throughout the day. My husband continually questions how I get anything done too. Like most of you, I work for a corporation, so with that comes expectations from the HQ offices and my fellow colleagues regarding my quality of work. Because I work from home, I do find that I hold myself to a very high standard of work, in effort to demonstrate that working from home can produce results. So, the answer is Yes! Before I share my tips as to how I’ve found success in working from home, I just want to share why I’ve chosen this route. First, let me start by saying I’m incredibly thankful for the gift of being able to work from home. I recognize that not every working Mom has this choice (yet), but I believe the world is waking up to the need of offering more flexibility to parents.
Because I’m able to work from home (incredibly appreciative), I still think its better than the alternative of spending time commuting to and from home to an office and then being away from home all day, is not a good use of my time and ultimately would leave me feeling disconnected from my children during the week. As some of you working Moms with children who are in school have already experienced, we still live in a world where it’s not necessarily conducive to a dual working parent household, so having one parent work from home, I feel also helps with stability and continuity.
Pre-schools end at 1pm, grade schools get out at 2pm, so not only does it help on a practical level, but it also allows me to be involved in the day-to-day experiences of having children. That being said, I’ve absolutely had to refine how I work from home given the addition of children (multiple) and the various ages. Here’s what I’ve found that works, and I welcome hearing your ideas too!
1. SET UP SOME SORT OF CHILD CARE – I have a nanny that arrives at 8:30 and leaves at 5pm (this is a luxury). It’s extremely important you have someone to watch your kids albeit for as many hours as you can afford and someone your children trust, like and want to be with even if you’re present. Trying to work from home without any care will result in major frustration.
2. SET EXPECTATIONS WITH YOUR CHILDREN EVERY MORNING – I talk to my boys about my ‘work schedule’ each day. While they may not know exactly what I do, it’s important for them to understand how to be respectful of Mama’s time when she’s working. They also know when they will see me, which helps manage their expectations (often we have lunch together if I’m at home for the day, or I’ll read to
the younger ones before putting them down for nap).
3. BE FLEXIBLE IN HOW YOU STRUCTURE YOUR DAY – I always start my day with a short list of 3 – 5 intentions or actions for the day. Sometimes, based on the children popping in and out of my office, I have to rearrange the priority of them. This regular set of interruptions use to frustrate me, and then I realized it’s okay. By being less rigid, the children actually pay less attention to me, and I’m able to focus on my actions for the day.
4. PLAN A 20 MIN BREAK TO VISIT WITH YOUR CHILDREN – After all, isn’t that a perk to working from home? I usually do this over lunch or I read to them before nap. It’s amazing how just 20 minutes of undivided attention fills their tanks up, and it fills up mine. I find my children are less likely to interrupt me when I’m working if I’ve communicated when I will visit with them. Knowing what to expect puts their minds at ease.
5. WORK SMART – If you have children that nap like I do, use that time wisely. Often, I do a lot of my work that requires critical thinking, difficult phone calls during those hours because I’m guaranteed silence. Look ahead at your day and plan accordingly.
6. HAVE A BACK UP PLAN – Sometimes none of the above works, and you have deadlines or phone calls to make and can’t be interrupted. I get it. So, have a back up plan that’s in a mile radius. I often walk up to my local library or coffee shop and set up office (side note: just make sure you bring your laptop charger!).
We all know being a working Mom is not for the faint of heart. I would argue that the challenges that come from working from home far outweigh the feeling of being isolated from your children all day and wasting time commuting back and forth. Again, I’m very thankful to be in a position to work from home and to have the opportunity to be a fly on the wall and hear my children play in the garden and squabble over toys throughout my work day. It keeps me connected to one of my greatest purposes in life: motherhood.