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Don’t Beat Yourself Up For Not Having Enough Time…

Dear Working Mum, when was the last time you found you had enough time in a day to get everything done?

By that I mean, when you were able to seamlessly tick off all the items on your to do list, to catch up with everything around the home and to juggle a high pressured project or five at work at the same time?

I’d love to know the answer to why we put so much pressure on ourselves to do everything, but for some reason we do. And why do we set expectations that everything will be completed to absolute perfection and that it will all run smoothly?

Rowley the Founder of the Working Mum Association
Nicola J Rowley, the Founder of the Working Mum Association

The fact is, good enough is enough when it comes to so many things. For me, the thing that’s noticeably dropped since I became a working mum is the tidiness of our home. I’m by no means a domestic goddess but I used to at least know where everything was, and there was a semblance of order.

But for now, I think it’s the least of my concerns.

At the top of my list of my priorities is my family’s health and well-being, then work and then everything else besides. Each of us will look at our lives in a different way and try and balance as much as we can. But we’re only human and so if we drop one of those many balls that we’re juggling it’s ok. And it’s also ok to admit when we’re not ok too.

Please don’t beat yourself up over a forgotten PE kit or a missed payment for World Book Day.

These are all things that can be rectified – but your health and well-being cannot.

I’ve found that getting up earlier than everyone else even for just 45 minutes every day, makes a real difference to how my day pans out. I have a chance to sit and reflect, to cram in 10 minutes of regular exercise and to journal.

But I get that it’s not for everyone. And if your child or children have had you up and down like a yo yo in the middle of the night, you’re going to crave all the extra rest you can get.

The other thing is that by the time your little ones are finally in bed, the last thing you want to do is to continue working again. Unfortunately for many of us, this is the reality and the flipside to having a flexible employer or being able to run our own businesses. There’s no choice, additional hours have to be put in so you’re meeting client demands or deadlines. But when you reach the stage when you can outsource some of the work, please make this a priority.

For some of you, that may mean hiring a cleaner, a Virtual Assistant or both. Manage the little time that you do have to make things as streamlined as possible. Doing an internet grocery shop to cut down on the amount of time spent traipsing through the supermarket aisles can be a quick win. Although if you’re anything like me, in those early months and years, if I’m honest I used to enjoy the escapism it provided.

Try as much as possible to get things sorted the night before. Packed lunches should be made at the same time whilst you’re cooking dinner, the washing should be going simultaneously and then drying overnight so it’s ready for the morning. We’re not juggling superstars for nothing!

Working Mum Association image for lack of time for working mums Nicola J Rowley

This way at least, when you finally get to sit down and have that much craved YOU time, it really is that. With no distractions no little niggles in the back of your mind that something still needs to be done.

This way at least, when you finally get to sit down and have that much craved YOU time, it really is that. With no distractions no little niggles in the back of your mind that something still needs to be done.

And in between all of the things you need to get through, being able to carve out just 10 minutes a day before you go to bed just for yourself is really important. It should also become non-negotiable. Set the boundaries, and try and time block any activities so you’re able to effectively do as much as you can, but with the understanding that you time is just as important.

And never be afraid to say no to someone or something that will add to your workload, either in the office or at home.

If you take on too much you will just end up feeling overwhelmed and then your health could suffer.

Hopefully some of the above will help you have some more time in your day.

Please just remember you’re doing a brilliant job juggling everything all at the same time. So be kind, and treat yourself whenever you can, because let’s face it, you deserve it… x

PS if you would like to join a supportive community of like-minded working mums, please visit our Facebook Group for the Working Mum Association

Use the Mummy Guilt to Help Not Hinder You…

The one thing that no one mentioned when you became a Mum for the first time and decided to return to work was the Mummy Guilt.

Each and every one of us will experience this at some time as a Mum. It goes part and parcel with taking on the parenting mantel. But it seems to be far worse for Working Mums, who have to juggle competing demands and priorities around the clock.

Nicola J Rowley Founder of the Working Mum Association on the Mummy Guilt

But the thing is you don’t need to see the guilt as a negative thing that has to be overcome. It can actually be quite positive and here’s why.

You can use how you’re feeling to spur you on to achieve more in your day.

Parking the guilt at the office door is a good thing. Remember, you’re setting the best example ever; you’re helping your children to become independent and resourceful.

Instead of feeling like you’re handing them over for someone else to look after, re-frame it so you make the most of the time that you do have together. And that time becomes even more precious.

It means you will feel more motivated to plan fun activities and days out for when you’re not in work.

You will be the fun Mummy when you’re around, not the Mummy who’s knee deep in chores (outsource everything at any given opportunity for your own preservation).

And you will be the best version of yourself because you will also feel more fulfilled and still have your own identity.

There are so many times when the Mummy Guilt will, of course, make you feel like rubbish. But if you re-frame it and carry on, then at least you will have made the best of it.

There is no magic formula or wand to wave as the Mummy Guilt creeps up on the best of us. It’s at its worst when your child is too ill to go to nursery or school but well enough to be up and about and you have to juggle working from home and looking after them at the same time. But it’s nothing that a small dose of television won’t solve and there’s some great educational content available nowadays which can help you get through any key meetings.

There will no doubt be those who will scoff at such an idea – but then they haven’t had a four-year-old walk up to them, shut the lid of their laptop whilst they’re typing and say, “enough Mummy, it’s my time now.”

Or the other spectacular one I once had, which was “Mummy I don’t love you anymore,” because I dared to be working.

I’ll admit it, that one really got to me and I’m not sure how productive I was after that.

The thing to remember with the Mummy Guilt is that it’s ever present.

But until employers start realising that we don’t need to be chained to our desks from the hours of 9am-5pm and if we work from stupid o’clock in the morning, take a breather and then again until stupid o’clock at night so we can make it all work, it is what it is.

It is though forever a juggle. I’ve switched to working on a freelance basis so I’m able to make the school run, and be there as much as possible for J. But with it comes the uncertainty of earning enough from month to month, and all those things that never bothered me when I was in a pre-child phase.

Whichever path you go down, there is always a trade-off. I have to get up crazily early to be able to fit everything in during the day and to stay on top of what I have to do. Yes I’m tired, but I keep going because he needs me to and hopefully somewhere down the line I’m helping you too as a Working Mum. At least hopefully you will realise that you’re not alone in your journey. And you’re certainly not alone in feeling the Mummy Guilt, day in day out.  Just use it to become even stronger, more resilient and even more fabulous than you already are… x

PS If you would like to feel more support, inspiration and motivation as a working mum, come and join us in our Facebook group. Together, we’re stronger

Being Confident As A Working Mum…

Being confident in any given situation is seen as the key to living a successful, happy life. But there are so many times that as a working mum, our confidence can elude us.

If you think back to those first sleepless nights and the moment when it dawned on you, that little person was reliant on you to survive; it was a big thing right?

Being a mum doesn’t come with a guide book. The first time around, let’s face it you wing it, until you get into a routine of how things should be done. Most of that is led by your child, and them letting you know how they feel; usually by screaming in public. Red faces anyone?

Nicola J Rowley Founder of the Working Mum Association PR Strategist and Author

At the start you’re surrounded by people wishing you their best, making the effort to visit and generally being hands on, which is very gratefully received. But what happens when the door shuts and they have all disappeared almost as quickly as they arrived?

For me, J had bad colic and used to scream the house down, sometimes for hours. He refused to sleep during the day, and was up every two hours at night. Here I was, a new mum – alone for the most part of a day, trying to entertain him.

So when it came to returning to work, having spent 12 months nurturing and caring for him, I think it’s fair to say my confidence wasn’t where it once was.

For a start I’d had a loss of identity. My priorities had also changed significantly; I was no longer the career-focused girl I once was. I’d forgotten lots of what I’d previously done, and whilst trying to get back up to speed the technology had also changed. When you spend time at home, you also get little in the way of feedback as to what a great job you’re doing. You’re just expected to carry on as that’s what you do.

As a result, you can become more self-critical, feel like your life lacks as much focus, and without meaning to, you take things more personally. Does any of this sound familiar to you?

It didn’t take me long to realise that I could turn all of this around by looking at things in a completely different way, which is exactly what I did.

Being Confident as a Working Mum by Nicola J Rowley Founder of the Working Mum Association
Nicola J Rowley, Founder of the Working Mum Association

For you as a working mum, no matter what stage of your journey you’re on, if you’re feeling that your confidence could do with a boost – here are some things that might help:

  1. Take on any situation with a can-do positive attitude. Remember, pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone is a good thing its how you will learn more.
  • Ignore that critical voice that can appear. You have so got this. Listen to your gut instinct it will guide you to do what’s best for you.
  • Write down all of the things that you feel confident about. Think about these things daily to remind yourself that you can do anything you set your mind to.
  • Carve out some space for you to do the things you enjoy. Go for a run, take an exercise class or treat yourself to a massage. Whatever will make you feel good about yourself will really help boost your confidence?
  • Put yourself in the position of someone who believes in you. And if they do, then why shouldn’t you?

And above all else smile. Even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing. You may well need to trick yourself into appearing happy initially, but colleagues will respond far better to it than if you’re miserable.

If you’re feeling that you need additional training to get used to new tech on your return to work, ask for it.

And if you’re asked to stand up in front of everyone and give a presentation and you’re dreading it, channel your inner Angelina Jolie. Give your best performance, not as you, but as you wearing a mask – no one need know how you’re really feeling.

Hopefully the above tips will help you as you navigate any tricky moments as a working mum, but if you have any others that have worked for you, please get in touch as we’d love to hear from you.

And if you would like to join our community of working mums, supporting, inspiring and motivating each other – please head on over to our Facebook group here.

Why Working Mums Need to Know They’re Not Alone

Nicola J Rowley the Founder of the Working Mum Association on Loneliness and Working Five years ago J was born and just like most first time mums experience, my world was turned upside down and inside out. It was far more than just the lack of sleep or that initial lack of routine. Something in me literally shifted. I had so much love for this little person that I immersed myself so fully in his well-being and care that I lost my own identity.

And then there were the tears.

At first, everyone assumed it was the so-called ‘baby blues’ but there is never really a one-stop explanation as to why you feel this way. Why something so seemingly innocent can set you off.

I remember the day that I was waiting in line in the Apple store as my iPad had seemingly given up the ghost. J could only have been about five weeks old at the time. I’d taken my number and had sat patiently for 45 minutes waiting to be seen. Thankfully, this was also the longest time that J had ever slept during the day. But as a new mum still finding her way in the world, after an hour I knew he wasn’t going to last much longer. So when I went to the counter to ask about my number, which hadn’t been called – and was told “Oh that was called half an hour ago, and when no one came forward, we moved on. We’re on to seeing other customers now,” I spontaneously dissolved into tears in front of everyone.

That poor sales assistant probably didn’t know what had hit him and I’ll admit it wasn’t my finest moment but the iPad had come to symbolise, in a very short space of time, a way to stay in touch with the outside world. The world with no spit up, no smelly nappies, no endless walks around the block to ensure there might be some rest from the crying of which there was a lot.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing of course, but the truth was, despite having so much love for this little person, I had never felt so alone.

The mental health charity, Mind says that people usually feel lonely for one of two reasons:

  • They simply don’t see or talk to anyone very often
  • Even though they’re surrounded by people, they don’t feel understood or cared for

During my maternity leave, knowing what I know now – I can identify with both of those.

We’d joined an NCT group, though because I’d wanted to do a specific maternity keep fit class, which was only held on a Tuesday night, I’d had to look at classes outside of the village where we live. I naively thought it wouldn’t matter.

In reality what it means was that each member of the group although not far away was more scattered.

We used to meet regularly on a Wednesday afternoon, the same time when all the local mums to me were going along to the nearby children’s centre and forging those early friendships.

But it didn’t take long before I felt like an outsider.

It didn’t start that way of course, but it became apparent that there was a lack of understanding if I was tearful about something and after the sleep training (which had to happen to safeguard our sanity), myself and J were always the last ones to arrive. Then on any rare nights out, I couldn’t afford to spend as much, and would always be the one bowing out early, mainly because I had work commitments the next day.

I was lucky in that I had a lovely friend who was introduced to me not long after J was born whose daughter was the same age. We used to meet and go for long walks to catch up. But outside of those times, it was very much just myself and J.

And then of course after a year I went back to work.Working Mum Association Supporting Inspiring and Motivating Working Mums Everywhere

Now, this is the point for most mums where they start to feel more isolated. They are no longer able to hang out and have playdates or meet by the swings because they have now swapped mid-week nappy changing for meetings and achieving a decent ROI for their companies, whilst they focus on their KPI’s.

I was talking to a fellow working mum just last week and she mentioned how when she did have a day off, she would go along to the toddler groups and just feel like she was completely by herself. There were the mums who all knew each other, and then there was her, sat on the sidelines with her daughter.

And that’s why I launched the Working Mum Association in July 2017, because I never wanted any other mum to go through what I had done. The massive shift in returning to work, feeling that I was doing a daily juggle whilst missing my son terribly was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do.

And that is why no working mum should feel she is alone. The Working Mum Association provides an online community of like-minded women and mums, who do what you do – the daily juggle. The mums who balance work life and family life and miss their children so much, and some days it really sucks.

But there is also so much to be grateful for. The fact that we’re setting an example by showing our children we’re strong, independent women who work hard for a living. And the fact they will grow up knowing their mum did all she could to give them a better future.

Together as a community of working mums, we’re stronger.

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On Top of Things…

Staying on top of things is the aim of the game at this end at the moment.

That’s not always easy when you’re up at 3am to look after a little person’s needs, and then feel as if you’re pulled in every which way like a stretchy toy throughout the day.

Running on empty is what we as working mums do best – tending to everyone else’s needs rather than our own.

But once in a while it’s great to set aside some time for ourselves. Doing something little that will help re-new those all important energy levels will really help you have a sense of perspective on everything that’s happening in your life right now.

It’s why tonight I’ve made the time to finally book in to get my hair done and to find time for an all important massage. Self care is so important. No one will thank you if you run out of steam and there are no prizes for just keeping on going no matter what.

Hope this helps you if you’re feeling overwhelmed and under pressure to keep going no matter what… x

Never Giving Up…

Never giving up…

One of the biggest and most important things that my mum instilled in me, was never to give up.

It’s stood me in good stead over the years, even when the going has been tough and I’ve questioned whether I could do what I started out to do.

Long before J even entered our lives, I knew that I wanted a child; I had too much love to give for it to not be invested in a little person who could be nurtured and guided. But life has a way of throwing you curve balls and he took at least three years to arrive.

During that time there was plenty of despair, tears and sadness, but above all else an unswerving belief that one day that little person would arrive. And I never gave up even when I was told it just wasn’t possible. Even when against the odds and a severe case of tokophobia later, we then went through a further week of him being in intensive care.

Sometimes deep down, you just know. And you don’t know how you do, but it’s as if it’s your destiny pointing you in the right direction.

Sometimes though it’s easy to ignore the path that is in front of you – and what you originally think you want isn’t where you end up.

But life has a funny way of working out in the end, and whilst it’s hard to see where we’ll be in a few years, let’s celebrate each and every moment of the here and now.

What is the best piece of advice that you have been given and what have you learnt from it?

What’s Your Vision?

At the start of this year, I created a vision board of things I wanted to achieve and I set goals for each month to ensure that I stay on track to get to where I want to.

One of the key things for me is getting a balance between working and being a mum to J. It’s not easy and at the moment, I am like the proverbial stretchy man but I know that I’ll get there.

I said that I wanted to book 12 more weddings in by the end of this month – and I’m pleased to say I’m almost there – having secured eight already. I also wanted to be able to take the family to Disney World Florida and this is also now about to become a reality.

You see the more you set clear intentions, the more likely they are to happen, and the harder you will work to ensure they become a reality.

So what things would you like to achieve this year? Let’s see if we can help and support each other to get to where we would all like to be.

Here is my vision board so that you can see how I set about everything… x

Setting Goals…

The importance of goal-setting…

Have you ever tried to set yourself goals and if so how did you get on?

The reason I ask is that at the start of this year, I began to get laser-focused on what really matters to me and I thought about how I could achieve it.

So I began to set goals for the year and then broke them down into monthly and where I could weekly ones so they became more achievable.

And lo and behold it’s working!

In January, I said that by the end of April I wanted to have booked in 12 more weddings to photograph. By 30th April, I had secured 10 bookings, and have just taken the 12th booking in addition to the others I already had. I’m seriously so excited that everything is coming together as I’d hoped.

When have you become intentional about something and what has happened as a result?

Would love to hear your stories… x

Feeling Bad…

Feeling bad (or not as the case may be)…

Morning ladies and here’s to a fabulous start to the week.

I had a great meeting on Thursday, albeit extremely intensive, with a business coach for a project centred around the WMA and we discussed all things about being a working mum.

What I came away thinking is that there are so many common threads no matter who you are or what your background is.

As a rule of thumb we tend to put the little people first and everyone else we care about, ahead of our needs. Then there is the feeling of constantly being torn between making the right decisions that will impact on others. And then there is the feeling that you’re never quite giving enough in any one area of your life.

But please remember who made these rules and decisions in the first place? And it is absolutely within your power to shift the goal posts to beat any of the feelings you’re currently having.

Please see this as a timely reminder to go easy on yourself and to give yourself permission to just do something for you once in a while.

Whilst there are many days when I’m sure you’re like me and have no idea how you will even get to the end of it, I still believe that each of us, deserves a break every now and then. And if that means that you let up on some of the high standards that we set ourselves as working mums, just once in a while then so be it.

So on this Tuesday morning, let’s make a commitment to doing one thing this week for ourselves. As a starter for ten, I’m going to read some books that I’ve been meaning to start for a long time. Make yourself accountable by leaving your commitment to yourself in the comments below… x

Listen to Yourself!

I started writing a post this morning at 8:30am. I will now finish writing this for you – think it pretty much sums up what I was planning to share with you.

All too often as working mums, we’re pulled in every direction, with lots of people and things competing for our attention.

At the moment at this end, we have a poorly little man, I have a horrendous toothache and work is as busy as ever. But there is so much to be grateful for, not least our upcoming holiday, which I began dreaming about within a few months of J being born.

You see there will always be competing demands on our time and everyone will want things from you as if it were yesterday.

But what matters most is this. You are surrounded by those who care and even the smallest things like getting a car park space should and hopefully will still put a smile on your face.

This is a stretchy man. One day last week he was over-stretched by our 3-year-old and his head came off.

Even though he was just a toy – It’s still a lesson to us all.

Listen to your body (your health is the most important thing you have) and listen to your heart. Doing what makes you happy is so important.

And if you’re surrounded by things or people that don’t put a smile on your face and you feel stretched to the max; then start putting a plan in place so you can walk away or change the situation you’re in.

Lovely ladies, never forget that you’re in the driving seat and no one else. Life is short – let’s make the most of it… x