Are you struggling to get your own priorities done? Do you find yourself always putting other people first? Do you feel life circumstances take over, months pass and you have not been able to work on your goals and plans?
We women often find ourselves in a situation where life's priorities seem to be other people's lives' priorities, not our own. Especially mothers often struggle somewhere between mother guilt and frustration. Either way, unhappiness follows.
It's like the whole world is conspiring against us. Husband doesn't come home early enough for us to get to the gym or to a networking event. Babysitter cancels last minute and kids get sick as soon as you want to do something for yourself.
I recently talked to Sarah who's a mother of two, went to Oxford and is married to a lovely, kind and intelligent man. Sarah gave up her job as a researcher when she had her second child and has been staying at home since. She has a business idea for a health based concept for pre-school children but repeatedly misses all her deadlines and networking meetings due to the fact her husband only comes home at 8 pm every night.
What puzzles me about Sarah is that she's a smart and a resourceful woman, yet when it comes to putting her own ideas first she keeps failing miserably. The family could afford a babysitter or an au pair to help, or she could ask her husband to come home earlier once a week, but she insists that her kids come first and that she doesn't need to make any changes. Yet every time I meet her she seems more and more unhappy.
Trying to combine motherhood with working on your goals can be frustrating but how is it possible some women manage to accomplish what they set out do to despite the every day hurdles?
There are several mindset blocks that are holding women back who stay at home with children, but who have ideas and ambition beyond motherhood.
My ideas are not worthy
Many women like the idea of having an idea but don't actually believe their idea is worth pursuing. This may be a result of cultural conditioning or they may be surrounded by people who belittle their idea or call it a nice hobby. Make sure to surround yourself with people with a similar mindset who are interested in pushing beyond their boundaries and who can support you.
I'm not a perfect mother
In the olden days children were surrounded by parents who constantly worked (in the fields, making food etc) and children learned to be adults by copying what their parents did. Same is true for the children today. Their parents are their first role models. If their mother puts everyone else first and never spends time on her own ideas it teaches her kids that that's a woman's place. If we want to raise strong and confident daughters and sons who respect women with ideas and ambition we have to be the first role models. Spending time for yourself doesn't make you a worse mother!
Nobody else can look after my kids
As a mother you always have to find a balance between enough time with your kids and enough time processing your ideas and putting your plans into action. I have twin boys but we have no family in the UK so I have had to find childcare solutions beyond grandparents. I'm a firm believer in exposing my kids to many kinds of carers and babysitters. This way they learn that there are many ways to do things and that they can trust different adults. My boys are growing up confident that they are loved by many and that their mother's presence and their mother's love are two separate things.
My husband's career comes first
There's nothing wrong supporting your husband's career, but nobody should do it on the expense of their happiness and wellbeing. I don't believe you can be fully happy and a devoted wife unless you pursue also your own interests and dreams. You must be ready to have a frank discussion with your spouse about sharing responsibilities even if your goals don't bring in money. Start by defining what success means to both of you and if it includes other values than money, then it may be easier to explain why you need to spend time on your project even if it doesn't bring in money immediately.
I have done all I can do
Many women have one babysitter they rely on. If you really want to make your dreams happen it's time to ditch a concept of that 'One Reliable Babysitter' and welcome 'The Roster'. My dear sister, you need a phonebook of babysitters! You need to adopt the 20 babysitter rule. Yes, you heard me. Stop kidding yourself you've done your best if you've booked a babysitter. If she cancels (and she will) and you have no backup arrangements there's only one person you can blame. I'm so tired of friends always cancelling social events or blaming they didn't get to go to the interesting events they had planned to because "the baby sitter cancelled". Honey, you have to do better than that!
My kids can interrupt me any time they want
Mother's love and mother's availability are two separate things. I've been explaining this to my kids from the start. I have a home office and it took me years to teach my kids that they are not to interrupt me when I'm working. They now understand that just because I'm not with them at all times doesn't mean I don't love them. You must set boundaries and teach kids to respect your work. This way they also learn to set boundaries and will expect other people to respect their work when they grow up.
There's no cure for mother guilt
Sometimes I meet mothers who wear their mother guilt like a shiny badge of honour. It's like the quality of their mothering is so incredibly high that there's no way they can never let go of mother guilt. Naturally, if their mothering was lousy it wouldn't be a great loss if they were not available to their children at all times!
I'm not a super mother and never intent to be one. In fact, I'm quite a lazy mother. Perhaps that explains why I have never suffered from mother quilt. However, I believe there's a cure for it: sharing your life.
I constantly involve my kids in what I do as much as practical. I tell them about my day, I show them photos of DrivenWoman events and tell them what is going on and why I do what I do. This way they understand that I'm not absent just because I don't want to be with them, but because I'm doing something very important. One of my son's actually told me that he was proud of me after I told him that Festival Of Doers was a great success. How can you suffer mother guilt after that?
I can't protect my dreams
So my dear driven sister, can we agree one thing here. Please. Let's from now on not put the blame on our circumstances and the lack of support if our dreams fail. We can all improve our support system and stop putting our kids first at all times. Or perhaps it's an excuse, a way to hide the fact that we are actually scared of sharing our ideas and making mistakes? I'm just guessing.
But hey, you shouldn't be afraid. We are your tribe!
That's why Driven Woman is here because we all have those fears, whether we are mothers or not. And by sharing our ideas with each other we get support and we can push through. (But it means first you have to get the babysitter to show up, get out of the house and to the DrivenWoman meeting!)
It's time to get clear what you want out of life, learn to protect your time and start taking small steps towards those precious dreams. And remember, the world will be so much better for it if you do!
If you are serious about protecting and exploring your ideas you are welcome to join a DrivenWoman Introduction event in the London area (Soho, Shoreditch, Wimbledon, Guildford), Helsinki (Finland), Singapore, Zurich (Switzerland) or Auckland (NZ). Sydney and other cities will be launched soon!