This week, I was asked by yogi and life coach, Sharon Tessandori, who is also a new mom, a simple question. “How do you do it all – you know, get all your work done with small children?” Here is my best attempt at an answer.
On a regular basis I am asked the same question. It is more like an exclamation! from folks who know me or have recently met me, which is, “How do you do it all?!”
Fellow moms (I’m your biggest fan!) are most bewildered by the schedule I keep, and honestly I have to admit, I am often a bit bewildered (and befuddled) too.
But seriously, as a working mother of three boys ages 7 and under, I reflect, on a daily basis, on whether or not I am doing right by them – or doing right for myself.
I don’t for a second think that I am doing everything right. And I am careful to always question my motives and to realize that I can always be better at what I do and more careful with those I love.
For example, when my first son was born I had taken ownership of a national business that was faltering and in need of urgent help. My husband and I discussed it and felt taking the reigns was the right thing to do. Why? Because we believe in the mission of working to improve health care in America through a compassionate, person-centered, holistic model. And so we dove in, headlong.
Within four days of giving birth to my first son, I was back in the office answering work emails. And I’ll have you know, I was crying over it and carrying a massive amount of guilt “luggage.” I felt going back so soon was a deep betrayal to my son and myself, especially after having struggled with infertility for 10 years and then finally, (finally!) being able to welcome this little miracle into my life after a long, difficult 36 hour labor.
How could I be back at work so soon and truly appreciate the miracle blessing I have been given? Looking back, I agree with myself – it was a betrayal on my part, and I don’t think for a second it was in my best interest to return to work so soon.
Live and Learn
Yet, I perservered. My husband did too. We would both work late into the night, trying to grow the business so it could stand on its own two feet.
And then, 2008 came. The Great Recession came. To keep the business afloat, we poured thousands of dollars from our retirement into covering the business’ debt.
And still, the recession lingers. But that’s not all.
In the midst of the long dark days of the recession, I have welcomed two more sons (both with much easier labors thanks to my use of yoga and physical therapy during labor); one in 2007 and one in 2011. (Read my post on Mothering Resources)
In 2008 I rewrote all the course manuals for the program, totaling over 1000 pages of manuscript. In 2009 my husband and I started renovating our home (while living in it) to accommodate our growing family. We are still working on that. In 2010 I hired an instructional design PhD guru and overhauled the entire continuing education program, Professional Yoga Therapy Studies, and filmed 25 hours of distance learning to help transition the post-graduate certification into the 21st century classroom. In 2012 I got my first book deal, quickly followed by my entry into graduate school to start work on my doctorate in 2013.
And here I am.
I know, I know, this is the point where someone asks, “Are you crazy?” not just “How do you do it all?” (In fact, many people have asked me both questions, myself included).
The craziest thing is I have never used full time daycare or a full time nanny. And until 2013, we had no family in the area to help. My husband and I have held down our full time jobs while raising three boys without full time help.
So my answer to struggling parents who wonder how it can all be done, I say this: You. Can. Do. It. Yes, you can recognize your dreams and plans.
You Can Do It. But it takes recognition of two things.
Someone once said “cherish your dreams and plans, for they are the children of your future and the blueprint of your imagination.” I believe that and have the little proverb posted in my office.
But right next to that proverb is this one, “I am not attached to any outcome.”
I believe in those two little quotes lies the answers to how any working mother or father can do it all. We CAN pursue or visions and dreams, but we have to be prepared to let them go or change them at a moment’s notice.
It Must Be The Yoga
I joke, but as a professional yoga educator and physical therapist, I say it must be the yoga that creates such “go-with-the-flow” flexibility in me. But it isn’t physical flexibility that is important. In fact, as a health care provider, I don’t prescribe yoga for physical flexibility. I practice yoga for psycho-emotional resilience and flexibility.
Here are some posts from myself and other guest authors on how they work efficiently and effectively with little ones around.
- Mother Seeking Work-Life Balance
- A New Simplicity
- The Happiness Inventory: Are you happy? How You Can Tell
Avoiding or Recovering from Work-Life Burnout
- Recognizing Adrenal Burnout
- Yoga without a Mat: A How-To Guide
- Developing Emotional Resilience with Therapeutic Yoga
Learning Life’s Lessons
For Parents Who Travel. A Lot.
Struggling with Weight Management
- The Happiness Inventory, Part 2 (Eat Healthy, Ditch the Diet)
- The Happiness Inventory, Part 3 (Lose Weight for Good)
How to Make Stress Work For You
The Most Important Job Of Our Life
But no matter if we accomplish our life’s work it will all be in vain if we neglected the most important job of our life, being a parent.
The best piece of music ever composed, the most amazing poet, the most galvanizing orater, and the most amazing leaders and philanthropists of our time would agree that our greatest legacy is our children. They are our future and greatest investment.
So if you are seeking the magical balance point between work and life, I would stay, stop the search and hold the phone. We will never arrive at a place of balance because the best balance for our work and life already exists – in the power of our mind.
Ask of yourself each morning before getting out of bed, Is My Life in Perspective? This post I wrote in 2010, reflects on how to have the life you want, so you can live the life abundant.
Put Down the Remote
The first practical step, though, toward realizing your dreams as a parent, is to shut off the TV and never turn it on again. That was the first step I took in radically changing my life in 2004, before the struggle of “doing it all” as a parent wasn’t even a glimmer in my eye.
Being a Mercy Ship
One last post to share though, is how I avoid family tension during the holidays by Being A Mercy Ship.
If we give one another (and most of all our self) grace, forgiveness, transparency, and synergy in life, we can disarm conflict, embrace the present, love our self, and extend that graceful love to others.
My answer then, to how I “do it all,” is rather simple. I meditate. I pray. I keep the faith. I struggle daily. But most importantly, I appreciate the struggle. My aches, pains, and hurts can be used to help others. And in the process, I help myself.
Adversity introduces us to our self. ~unknown
Grace and peace,