My travel schedule became quite intense following a promotion I received a few months prior, and both I and my family were struggling with my lack of physical presence at home. I found myself the evening of Memorial Day packing my suitcase for another business trip. At the same time my four year-old daughter refused to listen to one of my requests and as a result, she was in her bedroom for a timeout. While this method had worked with my son, my daughter wanted nothing to do with it. I was still in search of effective consequences, but tonight I was going to stick with my decision, stay consistent and require her to be in her room for a four-minute timeout.
With her door open I could hear screaming and crying. I ignored her. More screaming. I still ignored her. But now I could hear something landing in the hallway. She was lobbing each and every stuffed animal out her bedroom door. Over and over again I could hear the bounce coupled with her screaming and crying. I was now the one bursting into tears!
Suddenly I had an epiphany… I may have figured it out! In my daughter’s eyes, I wasn’t disciplining her, I was TORTURING her! Her outburst wasn’t just because she was in timeout. Her ultimate punishment was to be removed from us, more specifically, to be removed from me. And here I was forcing her to be away from me! I was hardly ever physically present at home. And when I was home, I was stressed and exhausted so I wasn’t mentally present.
With tears rolling down my eyes, I went into her room and without a spoken word, I simply knelt down and hugged her. She pulled away and said, “Mommy, are you crying?” I told her I was sad that we were fighting and that I loved her with all my heart. She grabbed onto me so tightly I could feel her chest expanding with every sob. We lay together, snuggling in her bed until she fell asleep.
During this moment of clarity I realized that I needed to reduce my stress and be in the moment for my daughter, my son, my husband and for myself. Nearly two years later, my Relationship “Balance Point of Life” has considerably improved.
How did I make this happen? What do I practice every day to continue improving?
1. Choose Positivity: My reactions to the events in life determine the outcome I will experience. I can’t control that I’m trapped in traffic but I can control my response. I can choose to be irritated, but that won’t change the situation and will ultimately lead to a stressful evening at home. Instead I choose to find something positive, such as listening to an audiobook or calling a friend. I make this choice because the quality of my family’s evening depends on it.
2. Practice Meditation: Schedule some quiet time to meditate, reflect, or just be still in the silence. It could be a three minute guided meditation on YouTube or a ten minute session in deep reflection searching for an answer to a meaningful question.
3. Prioritize: You can’t really manage time, time moves on; it’s our only nonrenewable resource. But what we can do is prioritize. Declining an invitation or postponing a task can make you feel guilty, but saying no is an art that working moms need to become brilliant at.
4. Delegate: Striving to be “Super Mom” isn’t always the right choice and we often fear being viewed as inadequate or that someone else just can’t get the job done as well as we can. I’ve learned to let go. Who cares if my husband doesn’t fold the laundry the same as me if it means I have time on a Sunday afternoon to enjoy the park with my children?
5. Stay Healthy: I thought I could survive on as little as four hours of sleep and little to no exercise but that’s just not sustainable. I use tools, such as Jawbone, to set sleep goals with alerts for bedtime to maintain my mental health. I use My Fitness Pal to track my food and exercise to maintain my physical health.
I discovered this all takes effort and diligence. This takes a conscious awareness and decision. This takes time and energy. Much of this we, as working moms, feel a lack of. But to lead a happy, healthy, balanced life, we MUST decide and take action!