Don't you just love September?
I do. As I've worked in or with the education sector all my working life, it's like another new year. A new start. Now I'm a working mum, a self employed working mum at that, it's a time to rev the biz engine up again and get back into 6th gear. I've loved spending the summer with the girls and having the flexibility to work around our trips away and days out, but I must confess I'm looking forward to having 6 hours a day to work in peace and set my own agenda.
Is it selfish that I need this for me?
I don't think so, but as a mum you are constantly torn meeting the needs of your children and making sure there is enough left in the tank. You have a guilt if you don't, a resentment if you do. (Only me then?) Don't get me wrong this can be the case for women without kids too. I know I had this pull before children. It might be parental carer duties, work family demands or network of high maintenance friends that leaves your tank empty. Society has left us in a strange situation where as women we are more educated and have more options than ever, but it seems to me that having it all comes at a price. Burn out is rife. Trying to have it 'all', in the way it is presented in magazines, by some coaches and on the t.v. is exhausting everyone, and doesn't appear to be making many people that happy about themselves in the process.
What's the answer?
I'm on a mission to work it out and I promise I'll let you know when I find out. What I do know is that if I don't consider my needs for long periods of time I stop giving from a place of love and it starts to come from a place of resentment. I start to feel sluggish and stuck. I can't get into the flow of creating or taking action. I will always be giving, I can't help myself, but in that moment it will be from a place of resentment, which isn't me at all.
So, how do you prioritise you without feeling selfish and guilty? Does it mean you are neglecting your kids, spouse, family, work or friends if you take time for you or arrange time with your needs in mind? With this in mind I posted a series of questions on my Facebook page this week:
Is it selfish to stop and eat when you are hungry?
Is it selfish to consider carefully how you are fuelling your body?
Is it selfish to sleep when you are exhausted?
Is it selfish to find time to exercise your body and maintain its health?
Is it selfish to find time for a quiet 10 minutes in the day?
Is it selfish to want to spend time alone with your partner or friends?
If you can't answer for you, imagine you were asking a best friend to answer. What would you say to her if she said yes to any of these questions? Apply the same thinking to you.
What do you think when you read that? 'Of course the answer is no Michala'.
I agree, but so often this is what happens in reality, in the trying to have it 'all' like the adverts, in the pleasing everyone else but you and it's only when you become ill or are so exhausted you have to stop that you do, right?
I'm on my mission to help women change this. September feels like as good a time as any to create change, so if this is you then I hope the following lessons I've learnt, from practising all of the above in the past, can help you in the future.
Listen to your body. It is good at telling you when it has had enough. It might be a headache. It might be a loss of voice. (My message of choice, my hubby loves it! LOL) It might be you just feel annoyed at everyone around you for no reason. Listen for the action signal that is telling you something needs to change.
What is the sign telling you? Is it something simple like you need to improve your bedtime routine? Do you need to eat better? Drink more water? Get some exercise? Have a night out with friends or your partner? What is the feeling, or symptom, letting you know is the cure?
Respond to the action signal quickly. Don't leave it for days, weeks or months. Do something about it now, because you are as important as anyone else you are looking after.
Ask for help. You don't have to be a one woman show. Give up some of the things you are holding on to in a bid that they are done 'your way' (aka 'the right way)!! Ooh may have hit a nerve with that one. LOL
Manage your mind set. How you are looking at this is influencing the outcome. If you ignore the signs you need to look after you, and plough through, you will end up either on your knees, or angry at everyone around you. Become solution focused and think in a clear, positive way about how to move forward. Ask questions that demand action and take it.
What can I do to improve my energy levels? How can I include exercise in my day with children around? How can I schedule prompts in order to drink more water? When can I organise a night with my partner/friends?
If you come up with barriers to taking action find a solution, be creative. For example, you've no one to babysit. Ok, then create a candle lit carpet picnic for you and your other half when the kids are sleeping, romance isn't dead (but mind the fire hazard!! LOL) . See, there is always a way if you want to find it.
If it's the feeling of guilt that's stopping you, question your 'mean little cow' (inner negative voice) as she is the one who is making you feel guilty about looking after yourself. Also ask yourself what you'd say to your best friend if she was saying she felt guilty for exercising or having a night out with friends. Say the same to you. If you don't look after you, who will!!
By doing this you'll immediately feel better that you are loving you a bit more by thinking of your needs too. You'll see the difference in how you are giving to those around you as it feels lighter and less resentful.
To get us all off to a flying start I'm going to revive the FREE 15 Day Think Different Challenge to those who are new to Solution Focused Thinking. If you want to join me click this link and sign up. We'll be making our minds work for us not against us
So, as you can see I'm not suggesting you become some evil lady who never helps her family or does anything for her kids. That you fly off to the caribbean for a two week break without your family (although..) I'm suggesting that you are as important in your life as all the other people in it. If you pay a little bit of attention to what you need, then you will find you can give in a lot more loving way to the people around you, so everyone is a winner.
What little change can you make to look after you today?