As a businesswomum, I am constantly spinning plates. I dash between being a mother, running my business and looking after myself (last one has a tendency to get forgotten). Obviously my children will always be my top priority. But I need to work to earn money to provide for them, and I need to be healthy and of sound mind to even do that. Thus the notorious trilemma between kids, work, and myself arises. What should take priority and when?
Trying to give my all to all three priorities all of the time often felt impossible. I would chastise myself for not being some freaking superwoman with 2 clones. But of course it felt impossible – it is! I found that I was working so much I was unhappy, and had FOMO (fear of missing out) on watching my children grow up, or constant worry that they would later resent me for not being there. Or even worse, I would get ill – I would work myself into the ground and mental health issues began to arise.
I realised I needed to take control of my work-life balance. I needed to find a healthy way to have time away from work and invest in myself and my family without feeling guilty that something was being neglected. And I have found that the more I nail this work-life balance, the more each aspect actually improves. I feel healthier, I am in a better headspace, the work I do is of a better quality, I make better decisions and actually feel as though I am enjoying work again without feeling guilty about it. I can really indulge in time with the kids rather than finding myself mentally writing an email I need to send. Although us mums pride ourselves on multitasking, the biggest improvement I have made in my life is to draw distinct lines between the three. I can actually give my undivided attention to each, rather than doing two things at once badly.
Achieving a work-life balance is the spark that lit the touchpaper on KeriKit. I used to spend my life on the move, carrying a huge oversized bag to fit in everything I may need for work, often having 3 of everything because I couldn’t ever find anything in its depths. The burden of my bag made my career feel like a burden too. It began taking a toll on my body, and it wasn’t just career stress – carrying such a heavy work bag ruined my spine and my right shoulder was two inches lower than my left to compensate for it. I switched to a hideous trolley bag on my chiropractor’s orders, and felt like a frumpy Disney witch rather than the young businesswoman I was.
Something had to give, and so I quit my job and started KeriKit. I could work from home and build a life as well as make a living. And every bag I designed had this work-life balance in mind. Each piece epitomised organisation and ease of use, whilst remaining stylish and beautiful, so businesswomen like myself could feel amazing and empowered. (It literally balanced me too – a lighter, more organised bag straightened my spine and my chiropractor is now KeriKit’s biggest fan).
Put Yourself on Your ‘To-Do’ List
The first step to achieving a healthy work-life balance is acknowledging that your wellbeing matters too. You have to be the best version of yourself for you to work effectively and be a good mum, so don’t feel guilty for thinking about yourself every now and then! Make sure you’re eating well and taking time out from things when you need – anything else is a bonus. And don’t be afraid to indulge yourself; I have an obligatory monthly massage at Clarins and girly shopping spree to make sure I get some me-time. And yes it is obligatory – its basically therapy!
Make a Vision Board
A vision board is a great tool to concentrate and maintain focus on your life goals. Comprise a wall of images that represent what you want to achieve in your life. That way you can have a look if ever you feel you are straying from it. I have often looked at mine when I feel like work is going badly, and am reminded that it isn’t all that matters. So I ease off for a few days, and concentrate on another aspect of my vision. And when I return to my work with a bit more perspective it seems much less scary and more manageable.
Colour-Code Your Calendar
Whether its in different fonts on your phone, or just a case of keeping 2 different pens in your Filofax, it is really useful to have a distinct line between your work commitments and your private life. I can see at a glance if my page is looking too green and work heavy, so I balance it out with some time with the kids or me-time in red.
“It’s not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life, it’s what you whisper to yourself that has the most power.” – Robert Kiyosaki
Now you have your vision, you need to constantly remind yourself of it so you don’t lose sight of the work-life balance you want. Its very easy to get caught up in the social expectation that you should always be busy, but remind yourself that busy doesn’t mean productive! So one of my favourite daily affirmations is ‘I can do anything, but not everything’. I repeat it like a mantra and it drives my assistant mad. I also remind myself not to compare myself to others and focus on what I am doing, so I don’t put unnecessary pressure on myself. Subscribing to Damsels in Success has been great for these. I receive a daily affirmation in my inbox every morning and they really do help me achieve a better mental outlook on my career and on achieving a healthy work-life balance.
Do Yoga and Practise Mindfulness
Yoga and mindfulness are great for your well-being, as well as a useful tool in achieving a healthy work-life balance. Why are you so busy? Could it be a form of avoidance? Its really common to overload yourself with errands to distract yourself from whats really upsetting you. It sounds like such a load of rubbish, but then I downloaded the Headspace app and started doing daily meditation. I thought it was so unfair that I was working so hard. But when I stopped running on adrenaline and paused for breath I became aware of feelings I was suppressing. I was working so hard because I had an underlying fear of failure and an overwhelming impatience to succeed. Once I realised this I could address irrational thoughts with daily affirmations. It was okay to take my foot off the pedal. Now I do yoga twice a week to check-in with myself and how I am feeling. Its also really relieving to get out of my mind and into my body.