‘How do you do it?’ – I get asked this a lot. How do I do what? Run a business with 4 kids and a busy house? It’s not easy…….and that is the honest answer. I don’t just glide through every day – far from it in fact. Like any other mum out there – and I’ve talked to lots of other mums about this subject – simply keeping a lid on the madness is bloody hard work. It’s beyond exhausting at times and there’s always a little curveball thrown in to just keep you on your toes. Being a working parent (dads are included in this!) when your kids are young, or school age, has its pros and cons. I look back to the days when I had no children and I could get out the door in the mornings in a half hour max. Seriously, I feel some days like I’ve done a full day’s work by the time I’ve dropped the last little person to playgroup 3 hours after the alarm has gone off!!!
When I started Heavenly I was a single parent to my two older kids and my house ran like military precision – it had to – so things would run somewhat smoothly every day. Now I’m lucky to have the help of my husband James in the house but we also have 2 extra little people to see to and they’re not at the stage where they can get themselves pretty much sorted in the mornings – but we’re working on it!
I’ve seen motherhood from two different sides. One as a full-time stay at home mum with my older two children, and now one as a working mum running my own business. Both sides have pros and cons and both are exhausting and enjoyable in equal measure. As a stay at home mum I was there for everything. All the first steps, words, everything. On the wet and cold snowy mornings we didn’t have to rush out the door to be anywhere so could just spend the day as we wished. I loved it. But it was also challenging. Any stay at home mum will agree – you literally never sit down. It’s just so full on. There is no adult conversation, kids TV all day, teething babies, tantrums, endless nappy changes, it can be somewhat isolating, and you can lose your sense of self to some degree. And there is also the added fact that you are not earning any money of your own so all the things you once loved, facials, nice clothes, little treats – all need to take a back seat for a little while. But it’s worth it as you can never get those early years back with your little ones.
Now as a working mum I really cherished my time with my first two children, as this time, there hasn’t really been any dedicated maternity leave as such, although I took a little bit more time off after having Lily last year because I had to. I literally HAD to. I was no good to anyone trying to do it all. I had to take that time for me, for Lily, and for the rest of the family. And it has been worth it but I’m back to work although not every day just yet. I feel very lucky that I can decide my days and work around my family. I know not everyone can do that. For the days where I’m at work I really need to remain as organized as possible and my top tips here should really help anyone who is working and managing a busy home too.
I can’t emphasise this enough and yes it puts a little extra pressure on but you will reap the benefits. Leave as little as possible for the next morning. You do NOT want to be searching the house for that other missing shoe at 9am when you are supposed to be out the door! Get everything organized the night before. Lay out your clothes, the kids clothes and shoes, bags, lunch, even set out the breakfast table. Be sure you have enough school uniform shirts and socks etc so that you are not constantly washing clothes.
I love nothing more than having something in the fridge that just needs popped into the oven when I get home from work. Cottage Pies are one of the absolute winners of dinners in our house. Or even better, coming home to the smell from the slow cooker already having dinner ready. Slow cookers are one of the best pieces of kitchen equipment any busy parent can own and I use mine regularly. Just bung everything in before you go to work and dinner will be perfectly cooked by the time you get home.
3.Get help and don’t be afraid to ask!
I have learned to ask. Following being a single parent, I felt many times that I had to do everything myself, and maybe at times put too much pressure on myself, but I have learned over the past number of years to ask for help when I need it most. I no longer feel like I can and should be, all and everything to everyone. I am only human and can only do so much.
4.Give yourself a break
Asking for help leads me onto this point – give yourself a break. Sometimes we just need to be less hard on ourselves. As mums we constantly feel guilty. Guilty about everything – should I be here or should I be there – are the kids happy, are they seeing me enough, the list goes on. We are no good to anyone else if we don’t make time for ourselves. Time out to get your hair done, have a massage, even just 20 minute to get out for a walk on your own without someone tagging along, or a long soak in the bath. Time for you is good, so never feel guilty about making yourself a priority. And who really cares if your house is a mess??
5.Grocery shop online
Online grocery shopping in my mind is an absolute LIFE SAVER!!!. I look back to the days when I used to go and do my weekly shop with my older two, and it literally took us a few hours. There was sure to be a few nappy changes required or tantrums thrown in for good measure! Now I mostly do my shopping online – its SO much easier! No more lugging babies, trolleys and heavy shopping bags in the rain! Plus it never costs as much as it would if you shopped in store. I do my shopping on the sofa in my pj’s at night when the kids are in bed.
6.Draw a line between work and family time
For us at home, this is crucial. As a family run business we can easily find ourselves slipping into discussing work in the evenings over the dinner table and we have to remind ourselves to stop the work for a few hours and dedicate it to the needs of the children. They will thank you for it and you will feel better as you won’t be trying to multitask or keeping asking the kids for ‘just one more minute’ so you can send another email! It can wait!
7.Enjoy your time at work.
Apart from the fact that it helps pay the bills - It’s time for you to do your thang! Whatever it is – it’s you. It’s your identity. You are working to provide all those little things your children want and need. Enjoy your commute, listen to your favourite music, use the time to plan your day. Enjoy your uninterrupted cup of tea, or ability to have lunch without having to get up a million times to see to a little one.
Hopefully there are a few little tips in there which might make life a little easier for you and as always please feel free to share your own tips with us!!