I’m excited to feature several guest contributors today as part of our quarterly ‘Motherhood Blog Series’. In my classes, we talk a lot about ‘role overload’ as women as well as developing a support system. I think this post can help with both. Role overload refers to the many roles we play as women and the difficulty in managing and attending to them all. I know I feel pressured at times to be a superwoman! Also, if we don’t develop a circle of support, we can sometimes feel alone in all those responsibilities. Although all our situations are different, by sharing our experiences and supporting each other we find common ground and our days are a little easier! For today’s post I asked my contributors two questions,
“How do you balance all of your roles as a woman? How do you find gratitude everyday?”
Finding balance within your life as a woman is a struggle. We wear so many hats and truly demand a lot from ourselves. Once we find some sort of balance, things may only stay in place for a moment and then we may find ourselves back at square one again. Balance can also look so different for each and every one of us. What may work for one woman, could possibly never work for another. Balance for the most part escapes me, and that is OK. I love finding beauty in the chaos of life. Balance comes in waves and the key is to stop seeking it . . . just let it find you.
It can be very hard to feel grateful each and every day. I have a lot of people ask me, “How do you find or feel gratitude after losing your son?”. Most might think I should be a walking angry time bomb. Honestly, some days are hard and feeling grateful for my life is difficult to come by. However, gratitude is an important thing to recognize and truly feel. To truly feel gratitude is a life saver while I navigate my loss. On my hard days I try to list all the reasons why I am grateful before I even roll out of bed; my son, the three years I was able to spend with him, the activities I did with my son that helped us bond, my husband and how we have banded together through our journey, my beautiful family and our daughter on the way. Taking a deep breath and making myself realize that I have a lot to look forward to helps get me going each day. Gratitude gives me hope and helps me see that this life is worth living. Letting myself feel grateful lets me continue to live in honor of my son. I’m grateful I get to lead this live I was given, I feel I was chosen for it.
I’m clearly a work in progress as most of us are, but as I mentioned before there is pure beauty in finding balance and gratitude within your life. As mothers, let’s support each other as we each strive to find ours.
~ Jacqui, Baby Boy Bakery
Jacqui runs a blog where she shares all things sweet, including kid-friendly recipes as well as the sweet moments in life! She inspires others to live fully and joyfully through life’s rocky roads. She shares daily snippets on instagram as well as her blog. Her latest project is ‘We Cook‘ – a monthly subscription that delivers an original recipe and coordinating tools to help Moms cook with their kids. (Can’t wait to get my first box in December!).
As a perfectionist and perpetual over-doer (read: taking on too much) balance is not something I find easily in my life and by writing this I’m not claiming to have figured it out; because finding balance is a continual struggle for me; day-by-day, minute- by-minute. A women’s role as wife, mother, friend, daughter, businesswomen or boss (in my case, all of the above) knows no bounds and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and consumed by the details and responsibilities. For me, one of the most important parts of “finding balance” is first, figuring out what balance means for you. For me, it meant not trying to give 110% to everything, all of the time (to the point of being spread too thin.). A balanced life for me is being able to look in the mirror and recognize myself as someone I’m proud of- not someone who always gets it “right” or is “perfect”, but someone who makes an effort to follow my heart, do what I love, make the things that bring me the greatest joy a priority and LET GO of other things. Let go worrying about what others think of me, let go of the idea of “perfection” and the worry that I’m doing it “right” – whatever “right” is (dinner every night, a clean house, crafting with the kids, looking “blog” worthy all of the time…). Most of the time, its letting go of the unreachable expectations I have for myself, the feeling of never being good-enough, doing-enough, achieving-enough.
I’ve had to understand and accept that I’m not a superhero (except to my kids) and life is not a pie chart- I cannot fulfill ALL needs, ALL the time (including my own.). Balance for me, means making the hard tasks, the mundane chores, and the day-to-day responsibilities an adventure for my kids and me. We may just be at the grocery store or washing the car but to us we are searching for treasure, running from monsters, hunting dinosaurs, or flying to outer space… and as much as I make my children a priority I also make it a priority to find time to take care of myself; whether its an 8 minute workout from home or an hour at the salon getting a “blow out” — if I nurture myself, I’m in a much better place to nurture and care for others. Ultimately, I’ve learned to not take myself too seriously and to forgive myself for my many weaknesses. 2 sayings I keep in my head on any given day are: “be kinder than you feel” (to ourselves included) and “pray to get thru the day” because heaven knows I need grace to make up for my shortcomings.
Finding gratitude is really “practicing” gratitude for me. It’s an activity I intentionally do on a daily basis to help myself see and feel differently. Recognizing the good in our life is sometimes difficult to do; we all have bad days and trials to face. It’s easy to be grateful for the “big” things but if we only see those we miss so many small “gifts” in our life. I make it a priority to find joy in the small things- a smile from my baby, a “you’re my best friend” from my toddler, a compliment from a friend, a positive note from my daughters teacher, my kids sleeping in, or my husband bringing home dinner—our lives are made up of small moments; moments that make our lives easier, richer and bring us joy. If we open our eyes to those tender mercies we will see more clearly how truly blessed we are and how joyful even the hardest day can be. And when we feel joyful, we bring joy to others and that leads to the most contented, happy life.
~Layla Overman, Co-Owner of Poppy and Dot
Layla is a mom of 2 and a co-owner of the popular online boutique Poppy and Dot. This last year, Poppy and Dot launched an original design line of dresses, the “Ooh La Lovely” line that sold out in its first run! Layla shares daily snippets on her personal instagram (@laylao) and you can conveniently shop Poppy and Dot on their website or just by commenting SOLD! in the comments of the Poppy and Dot instagram (it’s that easy!)
Balance! What is balance?? Really though, I think balance is one of the hardest things in the world to achieve. I feel like I find it one day and it’s gone the next. When I decided I wanted to work from home after I had my first baby 9 years ago, I was so excited about it. I thought to myself “I can create my own schedule and just work during nap times, it’ll be totally easy!…” and thats exactly what I did. Fast forward 9 years and 4 kids later and balance is much harder for me to achieve. For me, I love my business that I’ve created. It’s my baby. But I also have 4 young children that need me, a husband who I want to show that I love him like crazy, church callings, being a helpful sibling to my family members.. It’s exhausting when you think about it all. I don’t know if I’ll ever master the “balance” thing but here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.
••• Be a PLANNER. What’s that saying again? If you fail to plan, you plan to fail? Every night before I go to bed, I map out my next day. What will my kids need? Husband? Am I going out to serve anyone that day? I map it all out in my head (and put a million reminders in my phone!) and my day runs so much smoother.
••• Think about what matters most. I know that during the day, my kids need me and they’re my top priority. That means for me, on the days I’m working from home, I need to have my stuff together. If that means I need to wake up earlier than my kids do so I can get my work done or at least prepped for the day, then so be it! (As a matter of fact, it’s 5am right now as I’m writing this…) There’s nothing harder than trying to hit a deadline while trying to get sippy cups filled, lunches made or get kids out the door!
••• Do more of what makes you happy and learn to say NO. Women these days like to do it all. Until they don’t. For me, I’m such a “yes” person. If someone needs something, I’m always will to help out. If I don’t have time, I try and make time and I always end up a stressed out mess wondering why I ever agreed to saying “yes!” Over the years though, I’ve learned that I can’t do it all. I’ve learned to say “no” and it’s been such a blessing. Try it sometime, when you’ve got too much on your plate, you’ll be glad you did!
••• Make time for yourself! Ohhh I love when I get to do this. It’s a TOP priority in my life but it’s also the hardest thing to have happen.
As a wife, mother and business owner, I find that during the day, after all is said and done I am left with little (or no) time for myself and I was over it. Moms, don’t forget who you are! YOU are important too! I schedule a babysitter to come tend my kids all day, one day a week. It’s my “ME” day. It’s my run around kidless day where I get to wander the aisles of Target alone, get my hair done, surprise my husband for lunch… I save all my errands for that day.
For me, I am so much happier when I make time for myself. I LOVE my kids fiercely and I love being around them. But this kidless day where I can focus on myself and get things done quickly and uninterrupted, it does wonders for my soul. If it isn’t in the budget, trade kids with a friend! You take hers and then she takes yours. You’ll both love it and be much better wives and mothers. *fistbump!*
Look for gratitude in everyday! I went on a humanitarian trip a few years ago to Peru. While there, my eyes were opened up to a whole new world. Parents sending their kids out the door, knowing that they have a 2 hour walk to school (without shoes!). Raising families in teeny tiny huts with no electricity. No clean water and very little food. Yet they were some of the happiest people I’ve ever met in my whole life. Even when life is tough, those situations turn out to be some of the times where I learn the most about myself and for that, I’m grateful. Find joy in the little things. Look for ways to show gratitude to others. It’ll make you happier when you do, I promise!
~Tara Thueson, Co-owner of Poppy and Dot
Tara is a mom of 4 and the co-owner of Poppy and Dot, along with Layla. She recently welcomed a new son, Jett, in September. She shares daily happenings on her personal instagram (@tarathueson) and co-manages Poppy and Dot’s instagram, where you can scroll and purchase their stylish and affordable clothing.
How do I balance all of my roles as a woman? I don’t. That sounds like a pretty negative answer to an awesome question but the key for me over the years has been to learn to be okay with not being able to balance things. I am a woman that is trying to do the mom thing on my own, run a business, train for a marathon, attempt to date, fulfill church responsibilities, keep up my other relationships and the list goes on and on. I’ve learned for me that I simply can’t balance everything. Different roles consume me more than the others at different times and some roles don’t even get any attention at times. I’ve learned that I can put my biggest priorities (my three year old) first and do what I can to fulfill my other roles but when things don’t get checked off on my to-do list, my balance is found when I am okay with everything not getting done. There are a few magical days each year when I do go to bed at night and feel like I accomplished everything that I needed to but for all of those other nights… I’ve decided to go easy on myself and to be happy about the roles I was able to fulfill, forget the rest and try again the next day.
I feel like a lot of my gratitude each day is found through running. For one glorious hour (give or take) each day I get to put life on pause. I get to have time on my own to listen to my breathing, feel my body move and to think without any distractions. It is during my runs where I get to experience nature firsthand and feel gratitude for God’s creations. It is during my runs that I think about my relationships and how ridiculously lucky I am to have them. My runs help me to see problems more clearly and to have a bit more hope. A good run sets me up for the rest of the day to pause and notice the simple things that we all get to see and feel each day that bring us joy.
~Janae Jacobs, Hungry Runner Girl
Janae is a Mom, avid runner and foodie. She runs a blog where she shares insight into her training, race times, recipes and delicious food, as well as her adventures with her 3-year-old daughter. Janae ran her first marathon in 2010 where she placed 5th overall for women. After that she was hooked and loves to share her passion with others.
Balance is something I’ve never really been very good at in any sense of the word. My circle consists of my 7 year-old son, my would be 5 year-old son in heaven, a loving husband, 2 year-old triplet daughters, and a full time job; making balance something of a fantasy. I’ve learned to trust myself and to be confident in my capabilities. I’m overwhelmed most of the time and I find that I am unable to meet up to my own and probably others expectations. About 1 year after moving into our new neighborhood, I was outside and I had a neighbor drive by my house. She put her car in reverse and rolled down her window and kindly exclaimed, “Kelly you did your hair, I’ve never seen you with your hair done!”. I awkwardly nodded, thanked her, and laughed about what a mess my neighbors must think I am. I stay away from people that I know don’t want the very best for me–I protect myself. If I’m not protecting myself I’m betraying myself. I can smell the cloud of grief and sadness creeping slowly my way at times and in order for me to be a good wife and Mom I do whatever needed to keep it at bay.
It’s of upmost importance to me that my children know how much I love them and that I get those precious minutes alone with my Husband. I’m selfish with my time I get to spend with them & when I am home I AM PRESENT. Maybe this comes with the territory of tragedy and losing a child or maybe my own insight of being a child. A lot of bad choices I’ve made in my life were the result of not feeling loved. My household duties fall last on my list (maybe my hair a little further than that).
Gratitude comes from being grateful for what you have. Whenever my husband walks around the house in his dirty work boots I cuss him out silently in my head a little bit. But then I think of all the things he’s done right for us lately. I become appreciative of how hard he worked for those boots to become so dirty. If I find myself with a head full of negative thoughts I think of all the things I’m so lucky to have. Happiness is a choice. I have trained myself to not take anything personally, be kind no matter what, take the high road, and to never take life for granted.
~Kelly Pack, Packx7
Kelly is a mom of 5 as well as a master esthetician. She has a a 7-year-old son, 5-year-old son in heaven as well as triplet toddler girls. Her family suffered a terrible car accident in 2013 in which she lost her son. Kelly and her husband also sustained severe injuries that required months of rehabilitation. Kelly is the epitome of overcoming obstacles, forgiveness, and gratitude. She shares life happenings on her blog and instagram. She works at Nordstrom City Creek and you can book an appt with her here.
Balance is BS. It’s something I struggled with for a long time. I just kept thinking there’s some magical secret that everyone else seems to know that I’m missing out on. But here’s the deal: there isn’t! There’s no way to do it all so don’t even try. You’ll end up spreading yourself too thin and feeling like a failure. And a grumpy one at that! Here’s what I’ve learned along the way:
– Don’t be afraid to ask for help. My husband has pulled back considerably on his work the past couple of years to help me with my business, but even then, we were still too busy. We were reluctant to hire help initially because we are frugal with our spending, but it made such a huge difference! Do what you do best and hire out the rest.
– Schedule. Every evening my husband and I make a priority list of what we need to accomplish at work and at home. In the mornings, he sits at the bar with his laptop while I make breakfast and we help the kids with their homeschool. School and emails are checked off first thing. Then during nap time and play time, we both tackle our to do lists. My boys are getting old enough now to have simple chores like feeding our dog or taking her outside and they help me with the laundry and tidying. I like to have them involved because they learn to contribute and that cleanliness is important. Plus, it’s a way we can accomplish something while spending time together. We also try to have all of our meals together. We have family game night, family movie night, go on daily walks together and have a fun outing as a family at least once a week even if it’s just to the park.
– Stop comparing yourself to others. It’s so hard seeing all these posts on social media with these women who seem to have it all together. They’re thin and happy with fancy clothes and perfect children in beautiful homes or on expensive vacations. These posts aren’t real. They’re staged. They’re styled. They’re edited. It’s not real life. Everyone’s situation is different. There is always a mess that you can’t see. Stop judging, stop competing, and stop comparing. You’ll be so much happier. I promise. Like Dr. Seuss said: ‘Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.’ Be yourself! Do your best and be happy!
– Prioritize. After this life I highly doubt people are going to be sitting around heaven talking about how awesome their baby carrier was. It won’t matter how many sales we made or how many followers we had on social media. What matters is the time we spent with our loved ones. Did we make happy memories? Did my children feel special and loved? Was I a good example? I want my children to see that my husband and I work hard. But I also want to show them that they are more important than any material wealth. Remember, work will always be there, but babies don’t keep.
We struggled for a long time with infertility and loss so it’s tough to forget the blessings in my life. With every hug and snuggle, with every burst of bubbly laughter, I see the rich blessings in my life. I see it in the big things and the little and I am deeply and eternally grateful.
~Beth Young, Happy Baby Wrap
Beth is the owner of the wildly popular baby carrier company Happy Baby Wrap. She describes herself as a designer, a foodie, a runner, a mother to 3 sweet babes and a #girlboss. You can shop her carriers on their website and see what they’re creating daily on instagram.
I LOVED all these submissions and I gained more strength as a Mom by reading them. I hope you loved them too. Come say hi on instagram today and let me know how you find balance and gratitude everyday. I started Lactation Link to be a source of support for women – that is available through our in-person classes, online video classes, in-person consults and e-consults. Our instagram has become a support forum where you can get research-based tips as well as support from other Mamas!
Thanks for coming by today,
Lindsey Shipley, RN, IBCLC