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Tag: working mother

What’s your morning routine?

What are your mornings like? Are they chaotic and rushed? Calm and serene? Or a mix of the two?

I often read articles where they talk about calm and easy morning routines with a mixture of awe and envy, and think these women are either supremely organised or lying!

As much as it’s nice to have a calm start, it’s natural to wake up with a spike of cortisol, as your body attempts to get you kick started for the day. That’s the ‘jump out of bed’ feeling that you see in children – once they’re up, they’re up!

In a ideal world, I would jump out of bed at 6am, do 20 minutes of yoga and kettlebells, before jumping into shower. Then I would slowly get dressed, letting my moisturiser (I’m obsessed with Egyptian Magic) fully sink in, before doing my hair and make up (RMS is one of the best natural beauty brands I’ve found) over a coffee, whilst listening to Radio 4. I would finally go downstairs, make breakfast for the whole family and then wake up little J, so the three of us could eat together as a family before heading out to work / school / nursery.

The reality is a little different.

My alarm goes off at 6:15am and I lie there in bed for a bit, contemplating getting up and whether I have enough time to snooze a bit longer. You know, sleep math – if I sleep for x more minutes, then I have y minutes to get ready and be out the door on time. Hands up if you do sleep math too? 🙊

After forcing myself out of bed, I grab a quick shower, get dressed and made up, while M goes downstairs to wake J and make coffee and his own breakfast. When I’m ready, we then hand off and I stay in the kitchen with J to get him to eat whilst I make my morning green smoothie and drink my turmeric tonic. I get J dressed and we hustle out the door by 8:00am to get to nursery and then work in time.

I would love to have a gentle morning routine, and probably with a bit more planning the night before, I could. I love the honesty in Veronica Webb’s account of her morning routine: “Of course, this is my morning routine in a perfect world. No matter how disciplined I try to be, I am married and have four kids, and I work as a freelancer—so every day is unpredictable. Sometimes what I want to accomplish by 7 a.m. doesn’t get accomplished until midnight, but a girl can dream!”

What’s your morning routine? What are your tips and tricks to get little ones ready and get out the door on time?

Stories I loved this week.

Beautiful farm vista

Photo by Richard Smith

A sick child for me, usually means, lots of cuddles and lots of down time. I have to accept that I’m not going to get a huge amount done and I have to slow down.

Here’s what I wrote on my Instagram:

“I don’t tend to post many photos of myself on this account, primarily because I want to focus on sharing my adventures in food, health, fitness and wellness. My little boy has been really sick today and I’ve been either holding or laying down with him all day. I’m not really one for resting as I’m always focused on the next thing I need to tick off my to do list – the next chapter to read in my textbooks, the next meal to cook, the next blog post to write, the next outing to plan, the next freelance gig, and so on. Today, I’ve been forced to stop, focus on the present and just be with my son. And I appreciate it. I’m not saying I’ll change because I have a lot on my plate right now. But it’s nice to just be in the moment. #realtalk”

Little J is finally back to his sprightly self and we’ve got an adventure filled weekend – Winter Wonderland, Christmas tree shopping and of course, trimming, visiting friends and the first of a few carol services. What are you up this weekend?

Would you join an alternative book club? I love the idea of a walking book club. (Guardian)

The health effects of loneliness. (The Atlantic)

Have you seen The Man in The High Castle yet? Great television from Amazon Studios. (Amazon)

Could you spend ten days without speaking? This writer went on a 10-day silent meditation retreat. (Summer Tomato)

Can’t wait to see Sisters. (New York Times)

Being mixed race with Afro hair texture, I totally related to this author’s reticence at cutting her long hair. I’ve done it twice in my life and cried / regretted it both times. (The Pool)

We’re also in the middle of potty training (what a fun week, right?!) and I stumbled upon this very funny and true list of thoughts all parents have whilst potty training. (Buzzfeed)

Stories I loved this week.

photo-1442975695135-50b67a821527

Photo by Jazmin Quaynor

O Canada! We’re here! Everyone is so polite and it surprises me every time I visit. Not just polite in an obligatory sense, but in a genuinely interested way. I miss that. We’re here in Toronto for the week and it’s been great to show little J where I grew up and get him to try some Canadian delicacies like poutine!

Stop Googling. Let’s talk. And what kids feel when their parents are constantly looking at screens.  (New York TImes)

Don’t pull out a screen at every idle moment.Boredom is the last privilege of a free mind. (Guardian)

11 foods that help reduce bloating. (Well + Good)

Great point in this article: “These female bosses probably aren’t any worse than their male counterparts. It’s just that the ‘ruthless ambition’ that’s so normal, even admired in men is distorted into an unattractive ‘bossy aggression’ for women – either by the media or societal norms.” (The Telegraph)

I like this part of the Danish parenting approach – no ultimatums. “The cycle of what you give will come back to you. Good begets good, bad begets bad, out of control begets out of control, and calm begets calm.” And it’s interesting that the concept of the ‘terrible twos’ doesn’t exist for Danes. They call it ‘the boundary age’. (Mother)

A great overview on perimenopause. (goop)

What I’m reading: Overwhelmed

 

My summer of reading continues, with the excellent Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte. Chock-full of information, research and case studies about gender roles at work, home, love and play, this book, predominantly aimed at women, dissects why so many of us feel so overwhelmed and frazzled so much of the time.

I have to admit that the first chapter made me feel a bit anxious and panicky as I was reading it. Brigid runs through all the ways she feels stuck in what she calls, ‘the overwhelm’, that state of not having enough hours in the day to accomplish the endless to-list that comes with having a busy work and family life. She describes in forensic detail, how much she has to do, how late she stays up to accomplish some of what’s on her to do list and the endless guilt she carries around with her. It struck me how much she was trying to accomplish on her own and how much long-term resentment she held against her husband for not being more of an equal partner at home.

I could relate to the stories of being a busy parent, trying to fit everything into the day. What I couldn’t relate to was the endless guilt. Guilt about not working enough, guilt about not being there enough for her children – so much guilt. This guilt that mothers tie themselves up in knots about, that creates this endless worry and anxiety. There’s a great quote from one of the expert the book, Terry Monaghan, who says, “so much of our overwhelm comes from unrealistic expectations…and when we don’t meet them, we think we’re doing something wrong.” It’s this unnecessary pressure that we put on ourselves.

A large section of the book is devoted to unpacking the relationship that men and women have with work, how both genders would generally like to work in a more flexible way, but how the the myth of the ‘ideal worker’ – the person who is always available to take meetings, jump on a plane, stay late – can hold people and companies back from making real change. The benchmark, the country that seems to have it all figured out in this area is Denmark, where couples share parental leave, overtime is frowned upon and people maximise their leisure time as much as possible. When I read some of the case studies of American women and maternity leave, I realised how good we have it in here in the UK and in Europe. A strong parental leave policy backed by government subsidised and regulated child care means that women can spend longer with their babies with generally good childcare options to fall back on.

Brigid talks a lot about the ambivalence that American mothers tend to have around work. Towards the end of the book, she realises that she “would never be able to schedule [her] way efficiently out of the overwhelm. [She] had to face [her] own ambivalence about trying to live two clashing ideals at once.”  She realises that she has to figure out how to embrace her own life with passion, in the face of ambiguity. I really relate to this. I admit that I still feel some ambivalence about being back at work, despite being freelance and really enjoying what I’m doing. I feel torn about putting my son in nursery, despite me knowing that for his three days a week there, he has a great time and has made some lovely little pals. Before reading this book, I thought this ambivalence was a natural part of being a mother – wanting the best of both worlds.

It’s clear that it’s time to let go of this ambivalence and start fully enjoying what I have and that I am privileged to be able to make my own choices – the choice to freelance part-time, to study towards my dream career part-time and to have two full days with my son to myself in the week.

 

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