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Working life

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

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.

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

What We Stand For…

Today I thought it would be a great time to remind our new followers of the five core beliefs of the Working Mum Association, and why it was set up in the first place… x

Support and Friendship
We’re here for you as you juggle being a mum with working life. We will encourage and support you every step of the way. We are here to connect you with other mums who are going through the same things as you. Together we are a community.

Inspiration
We want to inspire you every day, so you feel you can take on the world no matter where you are on your journey as a working mum.

Possibilities
Everything is possible — there’s no such word as impossible — I’m possible says it all. Through learning new skills, dreaming big and working on your mindset we aim to help you feel and be positive about all of the demands that are placed on you.

Celebrate!
We want to celebrate wonderful, unique, multi-tasking you! We want to applaud the amazing job you do juggling being a mum, your job, and still finding time to be you. We’d like to raise a well-earned glass to toast the constant tricky balancing act of being a working mum.

Learning (to Have A Perfectly Positive Year)
We would like you to look back on when you joined the Working Mum Association as the moment when you found a special community of like-minded, friendly and approachable women who you can learn from. Whether it’s tips to make your life easier or better or hacks that other members have found work for them — this is the place for education on a weekly basis. The Working Mum Association helps you to stay happy and sane at the same time!

Believe in Yourself…

I have to say though that this wasn’t always the way I used to feel.

I wasn’t getting up at the crack of dawn, publishing children’s books, photographing weddings and exercising whenever I could.

Mondays were always the hardest and the most heart-wrenching.

And there’s no easy way to describe how close I came to being at rock bottom. I couldn’t see my way out of what seemed like quite a hopeless place.

I was missing my little one, and only getting to see him for half an hour a day. Now I know that all of you here will get it. Will get that it was no wonder I was feeling low, and that nothing was clicking at the time. Because at some stage as you have been juggling work and looking after the little people in your life, you have faced this too, or maybe you still do.

Maybe you work in an environment where it’s just expected that you stay late on certain occasions instead of heading off when you usually do. And it’s frowned upton when you do walk out even though if you don’t, who will do the nursery or school pick up?

And some describe it as guilt. I’ve never felt guilty, it was more a sense of loss because this time is so precious and each and every moment counts. Before we know it they will be taller than us, earning more than us and going out into the world on their own.

But here’s the thing that changed everything for me.

I started to look at things in another way. I chose to focus on the time I did have and I made every single moment count and I still do.

And I changed my mindset. I decided to be positive, to view the world in a different way. And lo and behold things started to change. Opportunities appeared, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, and I became an award-winning children’s author and copywriter for small business owners and I started to help other authors starting out on their own journeys.

And then I launched the Working Mum Association because I looked at what I could do, and I went for it. I set goals, I strategised and I believed in myself and what I could achieve in terms of helping others. And not wanting any other working mum to go through what I did.

And when you hear at bedtime, “Mummy I love you, you’re my best friend,” then that’s what makes everything worthwhile. Because you know that you’re doing something right. Somewhere in amidst the hustle, the juggling and the crazy hours – that little person really does appreciate everything you do. Even though sometimes it can feel as if they don’t.

I Used to Wonder…

Becoming a mum really gave me a new found respect for everything my mum had done for me.

And then trying to balance work as well, it made me realise that time was even more precious than before.

But I was really struggling to fit in time for me. Time to think. Time to exercise and time to focus on where I wanted to be.

And then I read a book that helped to change everything. It altered the way I looked at time, what I could achieve, and what would be possible if I gave it a go.

It’s called The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, and right from the very beginning I loved it, in a I can’t wait to turn the pages kind of a way.

I think as mums we’re now hard-wired to early starts anyway, so getting up just an hour earlier every day, gave me back a bit of me time.

And so now I do a quick-fire 10 minute exercise routine every morning and I also make time to think about my day ahead and what my priorities and dreams are and how I’m going to achieve them.

It’s given me a clarity that was definitely missing and is now very much appreciated.

If you have read something that has helped you on your journey as a working mum, please do share it below.

We can create a resource of the most highly recommended books, and you never know you might be helping out fellow mums without even realising it.

One Step At A Time…

This morning I really struggled to get out of bed and head out for a run.

Something was telling me that it wouldn’t be a good idea – probably the need for additional sleep and the warmth of the duvet. But I forced myself to go out and run the 5k anyway.

You see, I had mentioned to someone last week that no matter what the weather, every Friday morning I get up early and I run.

And then they sent me an email yesterday about work and ended by saying, “I hope you have a good run tomorrow morning.”

Knowing they would probably follow up on this next week, it spurred me on.

Accountability is a wonderful thing.

Having someone or a group of people who can encourage you to get to the next level, who will call you out when you don’t do something is so important.

So what one thing would you like to do, and what steps do you need to take to get there? Even if it’s the dream of booking a family holiday somewhere totally amazing or you’re planning to write a book, or you really want to ditch the day job and find something else.

One step at a time, what is it that you need to do? The more you write down your intentions, the more likely you are to follow through on them. And the more likely you are to achieve them. And this page can help with the accountability too.