I’m not Superwoman.
You’re probably thinking, “Duh, Becky, no one is Superwoman (except Lois Lane).” True, but it’s still rocking my world to come to terms with the fact that I can’t do it all.
Like many entrepreneurs, and many moms, I try to do too much. I’m running a content marketing business, trying to grow a mentoring business, raising a 1-year-old son who doesn’t sleep enough, and doing my best to be a decent wife and friend. We’ve also decided not to use daycare, so I’m trying to accomplish all of my professional stuff in 12-16 hours a week when my mom (bless her soul) watches my son.
I want to focus on the mentoring business (it’s where my passion lies), but can’t stop the marketing work because my family needs the income. So neither gets my full focus and neither is growing the way it should or could.
I want to work, yet I hate feeling like someone else (even if it’s my mom) is doing a lot of the heavy lifting of raising my child. I want to be fully present for my son when I’m with him, but my attention often ends up divided because I can’t complete all of my work to-dos in the few hours I have each day at my desk.
I want to have a happy, healthy relationship with my husband (and all things considered, it’s pretty great), but I’m just too tired to give it the energy it deserves. The same goes for friendships; I rarely manage to send “thinking of you” texts, let alone actually see anyone in person.
Did I mention I’m not sleeping enough? (Ever hear the word mombie? It’s a real thing.) My kid sleeps with us (that’s a whole other story…). It takes me an hour most nights to get him to sleep (and that’s usually a wrestling match with hair pulling, eye gouging and crying), and then he wakes at least a few times throughout the 10 hours he sleeps.
You may have noticed I’ve said nothing about “me time.” I’m lucky to get a shower every 2-4 days, so there’s definitely no massage or meditation happening.
About a month ago, I thought I might breakdown. Like the kind of nervous breakdown they show on TV but I thought didn’t actually happen in real life.
Basically, I haven’t had more than a handful of decent nights of sleep in two years or so (between the pregnancy and childrearing). Our financial stresses have really piled on thanks to a five-digit IRS bill this year. And my to-do list between client work and business growth activities has gotten completely out of control. There are also 50 pounds of pregnancy (and post-pregnancy) weight tanking my self-esteem, but that’s not going anywhere because eating well and exercise don’t even make it onto the list of things I can manage right now.
When I broke down crying in my car because a fast-food joint got my drive-thru order wrong, I knew things had gotten bad. Something had to give.
I’ve been trying some tricks to reduce my workload for a while, but it hasn’t been enough. I’m finally getting honest with myself that I can’t do everything I want to do.
Many times when we say we don’t have time for things, the truth is we just aren’t prioritizing our time well. But I literally don’t have enough hours to do everything I’m trying to accomplish. That’s a hard pill to swallow for a Type A overachiever like myself.
It became clear I had two choices—cut back or go crazy. I’m not choosing crazy, so I set about making big changes.
I’ve used the Day Designer for a few years, and it suggests following the Rule of 3 where you focus on just three things each day. Frankly, I rarely accomplish more than that anyway yet I was trying to do so much more and ending my days feeling like a failure.
I decided to cut out all the noise and give my attention to just three business-related tasks. First, I needed to keep what pays the bills (client work). Second, I wanted to keep something that makes me happy (my Facebook group). Third, I opted to keep one thing that would help move my business in the direction I ultimately want it to go (that’s my new LinkedIn For Creatives e-course).
Everything else can wait. My business can—and must—grow slower, and the world won’t end. It’s not easy to come to terms with this idea, but motherhood has changed everything and it’s time to admit it.
Oh, I also committed to doing at least 15 minutes of self-care every day, as well as putting my phone down when I’m with my son.
Now when I sit down at my desk each day, I have only three tasks to complete—one from each of the three buckets (client work, Facebook group, ecourse). That’s it.
A month into this new plan, and I’m already noticing big changes. The weight on my shoulders is lifting. That feeling of never measuring up is fading. I’m actually accomplishing more because I’m less distracted. I’m getting more clarity about where I want my business to go and how I can get there. And I feel more present for my son.
There is still plenty of room for improvement (I have a feeling there always will be). I still allow myself to occasionally fall down the rabbit hole of comparing my business to others and feeling like I don’t measure up. There are days I can’t even finish my reduced to-do list. And I’m still not doing nearly as much as I should in the self-care department.
But on the whole, things are improving, even if it’s only baby steps.
Sharing this is really vulnerable for me, but I think my story needs to be told. Too often, working moms are told, “you can have it all.” As if it’s simple to raise a perfect child, run a six-figure empire, maintain a pristine home, cook organic meals, be a size 4, have mind-blowing sex, go out with the girls, and still make time for a bubble bath and a good book. Basically, we should all be Beyonce (but without the nannies, chefs, personal trainers, assistants, and managers).
Maybe some women have figured it all out. And good on them. I hope to someday figure out the magic formula. In the meantime, however, I want you to you’re not alone if you’re a working mom who’s stressed out, overwhelmed, and on the brink.
Too often, we create impossible goals and then beat ourselves up when we inevitably can’t achieve them. Let’s stop setting ourselves up for failure and start treating ourselves with some grace. You are doing the best you can, and that’s good enough.
Becky Mollenkamp is a business mentor for creative entrepreneurs who get stuck in their own heads and need a little push to level up. In her 10-week Own It, Crush It program, she helps business owners get the confidence and clarity they need to make big changes. Learn more about Becky and her offerings at beckymollenkamp.com or on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter.
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