Remember how much you accomplished before you had kids? You could make things happen with the force of your will alone. You were certain that there was nothing you could not solve or accomplish.
Then, your children were born and you contracted a serious case of “mom” brain. How often do you “see” the word in your head, but can’t find it when it’s time to start talking? You are forgetful; you can’t focus; and you are tired. You continue to wait for your razor- sharp judgment to return. And you wait. And wait, and wait …
Well, there’s good news!
You aren’t any less sharp than you used to be. You are, however, constantly immersed in an on-the-job training program called Motherhood. As soon as you get comfortable with your new role as a mom, it changes with the next stage of development in your child. And to add to your consternation, your mind is also filled with the logistics of managing your family — physically, spiritually and emotionally.
Your to-do list grows every day, no matter how much you cross off. You feel as if you are on a treadmill going nowhere: You just can’t get ahead. The pit in your stomach grows when you begin to embrace this as the new normal.
But, wait. I have more good news. There is another way.
Are you tired of simply surviving motherhood? Are you ready to thrive in your new role? Below are three secrets to thriving:
1. Get Help
You need a team at home and at work. Build a team and make sure you have the right players in each role. Karyn Smith, former Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Zynga, an online gaming company, and I were talking recently about the challenges of working moms. She is very involved with her two young daughters, but is under no illusion that she can do it all on her own. “You have heard the expression, ‘It takes a village to raise a child?’ I have small metropolis,” she said.
Engage your spouse. Let him know in advance the days or weeks that you need him to step in and help you. Hire someone to clean your house, and delegate work to your staff. You no longer have the time or capacity to compensate for things you don’t do well. I
f you aren’t into the details, hire a part-time assistant who can manage the details for you. If you don’t know how to do something you don’t like to do, find someone to help you. Stop trying to figure it out by yourself. Yes, you are smart and, yes, you will probably be able to handle it, eventually. But why waste your limited time and energy on something that isn’t your genius work. Get help.
2. Get Sleep
If you have the choice of finishing the last load of laundry, sending the last email, diving into Facebook or getting an extra hour of sleep, choose sleep. Getting between seven to eight hours of sleep will have a dramatic effect on your ability to be effective and productive. And being a mother is one of the most physically and emotionally demanding jobs you will ever have. Sleep is your best resource. Stop toughing it out; all
you get is worn out. Commit to getting to bed by 9:30 p.m. at least once a
“But …but …”
No buts! I have heard all the reasons why you can’t go to bed early. If you want to feel a sense of mastery in your life again, trust me, you need to get some rest.
3. Create 30 minutes each day for yourself
Find 30 minutes for yourself each day. What should you do for those 30 minutes? You can exercise, meditate, have a cup of tea, watch the sunrise, sit in silence, read or think about your day. Find the time to find yourself. Remember all the things you enjoy, and then spend some time enjoying them.It is important for you to carve out space to reflect on yourself. This space is where your judgment and intuition live. It is the space that you can stop to prioritize, plan and catch your breath. It interrupts the reflex to respond that runs your day.
How can you find the time? Wake up 30 minutes before the rest of your family. Take a 30-minute lunch break. Go into your bedroom for 30 minutes after the kids are in bed. Squeeze in 15 minutes twice a day. Take a longer shower and spend time feeling the water on your body. Don’t over think it, just take it.
Why are these secrets so effective? They help you hold on to you. When you are tired and overwhelmed, all you see are the things you don’t do. These practices give you the space to calm the chaos so you can hear your inner voice again. You give yourself and your family the best gift ever: a better you.