Thursday, 21 May 2009

Cleaning lady brings harmony back to Blackfen Road!

One of the sections on my website is headed up 'Are you a Happy Mum?'.

It goes on to talk about how being a parent is the most important job in the world. And for the many challenges and demands mums deal with on a daily basis they deserve an award (I'm not leaving out the fact that dads do an amazing job too but for now we're talking about me and I'm a mum). I go on to ask the question, 'so why do so many mums feel stressed-out, guilty and inadequate?' And then I help these mums (and dads too) see that it doesn’t have to be that way, that they can find a balance and enjoy all elements of their life.

So why then did I think that I could do it all without any help?

I look after Evan from 6am in the morning to 6pm at night. Taking her to Mums & Tots, Sing and Sign and Swimming. I cook the dinner, do the washing, the ironing (well not Jim's shirts - I'm not that great and I don't even feel guilty about it) and all the housework (although the floor hasn't been mopped for weeks and I don't feel guilty about that either). Although I should say at this point that Jim is always happy, well maybe not happy, willing though to help but I thought "no, I'm at home so I might as well do it so we can have family time when he gets in from work". But I've been too tired to enjoy that time! I see clients most weekends, Saturdays and Sundays and often 2 or 3 evenings during the week from 7pm for a couple of hours and always put 110% into this wonderful work because it is my passion and I love every minute of it.

But I am not superwoman - quite a shock for me to find that out I might add.

And lately I've been feeling guilty (ah! so there is guilt) about the amount of time I've been spending on my laptop working. I've been feeling overly irritable (and yet more guilt rears its ugly head) with Evan just because she is being a typical nearly 2 year old. I've been really having to work hard at not showing that to her and not always achieving that (yep more guilt!). I've been feeling lonely and missing Jim because we haven't been getting to spend any quality time together (and I've even been feeling guilty about that - though not so much - just p'd off cos I miss him).

Was I surprised then to find myself blubbing at the kitchen sink the other day when Jim having seen I needed a break had whisked Evan off to the park? No, I was exhausted!

So I looked at the typical benefits that I say women can gain through working with me and I decided to do some work on myself. Here's what I did:

  • More time for yourself - Definitely feeling like there wasn't enough time in the day. So I took some time (yes even though there was an apparent shortage of it) to recognise when during the day I did have some time to myself. I was quite surprised that there was quite a lot of opportunity for me to have some space. So then I set the intention to appreciate that whether I worked or relaxed during this time was my decision and to enjoy whatever I chose.

  • Improved relationships - As soon as I recognised things weren't working things improved. I had a chat with a good mate and asked Jim for more help and I felt loads better. Jim and I have been laughing more and I'm loving my time with Evan again.

  • Better work/life balance - the scales definitely needed addressing. I've been leaving my laptop in the study so when it is Evan time - 'it is Evan time'. Then when she is having her nap or Jim is home and looking after her I go upstairs and have a break and enjoy spending time doing some work instead of feeling guilty about it.

  • Feeling comfortable saying 'no' - I'm so used to helping people it is really hard to say 'no'. Particularly as part of the reason why I do it is because I get a great pleasure out of knowing that I am making a difference to that person's life. However, realising when you have to help yourself is important too because a burnt out Dany is going to be of no use to anybody. For probably the first time ever I booked a client in a day later than I could have done. I recognised that she would be fine and that I needed a night off. I am sure we both had a better session because of it as I was fresh and re-energised.
  • Feeling 'in tune' with yourself - I knew I had to do something because I definitely felt out of sync and I'm pleased to say that I'm now all tuned in again.

  • Reduced feeling of guilt and stress - All of the steps above have enabled me to feel like I'm doing the best by Evan, my work and me again so those feelings of guilt have almost gone. Looking forward to tomorrow night and having a date with my husband and this is the start of redressing the balance within our relationship too. And when I need an extra boost I'll do my own Stress Buster and Progressive Relaxation mp3 (I tell everyone else to).

And the best thing of all......

I got a cleaner / ironing lady. It took me weeks to get my head round it but once I saw that it gave me a whole morning back to enjoy being with Evan I knew my decision was made.

Inga starts tomorrow and I am so excited I went out and bought her a new mop, bucket and cleaning cloths :-)

It really is the simple things in life that make us happy!!

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  1. Thank you Dany- I think you have summed up how a lot of us mums feel. Simple when you break down your day- I'm going to do the same- I spend a lot of time with Hannah but often feel guilty about the quality of activities that we do together as I always seem to stop to put the washing out, cook dinner, hoover etc- time to address that.Good idea to set some Hannah and I time aside to have fun! Clare x

  2. What a great post. That is exactly how I feel. I work four days and trying to fit quality time with my 1yo and 3yo, not to mention housework, washing and spening time with OH isn't easy. I feel like I am constantly chasing my tail and the guilt, oh the guilt is unbelievable. I am so glad I am not alone.

    Thank you x