4 Life Lessons I’ve learned as a Working Mum

Libby O'Sullivan
Some of you will know that I started GLOW Physio with a 4 month old breastfeeding bub and a 2 year old… Maybe it was hormone-driven motivation, or maybe just sleep-deprived craziness, but I figured there was no time like the present, so found myself diving head-first into what has been an incredibly rewarding learning experience.
I have learned and continue to learn countless things about the different facets of running a business. But some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned have been life lessons. Here I sum up the top 4 life lessons I’ve learned since becoming a working mum.

1. Feeling guilty is inevitable but not productive

It doesn’t matter if12011343_782364161885734_5133934874819453763_n you’re self employed, working part-time or working as a stay at home mum, mother’s guilt seem to escape nobody
. Despite this, I was completely blindsided by it! I just didn’t realise that adding more to my plate would make me feel so bad about the things that were already on it. I’ve felt guilty about leaving my kids while I’m
at work, not cooking dinner, not having a cleaner house, not spending more time with my husband, not walking the dog, not being more available for my clients, not being more ‘present’ for my children, not doing enough exercise, not eating well enough…. you get the picture. I really believe mother’s guilt is inevitable to some extent. But I have learned that it does nobody any favours! Whilst still a work in progress, I have learned to combat mother’s guilt by:

  • setting more realistic expectations for myself and on what I can fit into a day
  • not overcommitting and learning to say no a bit more
  • being clear on what my priorities and making sure they’re always at the forefront (i.e kids, husband, health and wellbeing)

2. I don’t believe in work-life ‘balance’

worklifeI heard Lisa Messenger (CEO of The Collective Hub) speak at an expo last year. One of the most powerful things I heard her say was that she doesn’t believe in the concept of ‘work life balance’ because it makes work out to be the enemy of life. She prefers to think of it as a work life ‘blend’ or ‘integration’. I must say, I completely agree. I love working. I love the challenge, sense of satisfaction and balance it brings to my life. For me, because of the nature of my work and life with my family, it is not realistic for me to be 100% at work between the hours of 9am-5pm and 100% with my family during all other hours. The ways I ‘blend’ my work and life is by:

  • Allowing myself to do work at times I know I am most productive and choosing not to feel bad about it. This is often between 8pm-10pm and during my toddler’s midday nap (while my 3yr old’s having quiet time on the iPad!)
  • Realising that one of the many advantages of working for myself is having control of my own schedule. This means I will often block off time in my ‘work diary’ for things that make me feel good like exercise and child-free social catch-ups with friends
  • Acknowledging when I’m losing concentration and choosing to do something instead, like taking the dog for a walk, doing some laundry or cooking a healthy lunch.
  • Limiting the work I do while l’m with my kids so I’m not too distracted or impatient with them
  • Talking positively about work with my kids rather than saying it’s something I have to do, because I want them to see work as a part of life, not it’s nemesis!

3. I have to look after myself

runner

For me, ‘looking after myself’ comes down to three main factors; eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep. When one of these is out of kilter, I am not my happiest, most productive or most tolerant. And I don’t know about you and your family, but when I’m not feeling my best, my whole family seems to suffer! The good news is that each of these seems to facilitate the others; for example when I sleep more, I am more likely to eat well and have more energy to exercise. Some of the most useful strategies I’ve found are to:

  • put exercise in my diary, normally in the morning when I am most likely to do it
  • plan for healthy lunches and weeknight meals and meal prep as much as possible
  • turn off screens an hour before bed to allow myself to wind down a bit (although I still struggle with this one!)

4. Choosing the right support network is key

friendsOk, some of my support network I haven’t exactly chosen…I just struck it lucky in the family department. And whilst I did technically choose him, I have been very lucky in the husband department too! Together, my family and husband give me love, support and limitless confidence. But it is the third part of my support network that I have come to value more than ever before; my friends. There is no doubt about it, I just function better when I’m surrounded by supportive, positive and motivated women. This means I have become particularly picky about the friends I choose to spend my time with, and I am now very lucky to have a number of special women in my life. They are strong, supportive, positive, intelligent and funny. All qualities which I find contagious. Like work itself, my network also remind me of who I am outside of being a Mum, which is so important in maintaining my sense of identity.

 

Now I am most certainly NOT a master at all of these life lessons! But I can say, when I commit to each of them, life seems brighter, I feel more at ease and everyone around me seem happier! Do you have any other life lessons you can share?