As a mom who runs a business while nurturing seven kids, I have often felt defeated by the demands of both 21st century motherhood and a career. I can’t tell you the number of times I have thrown my hands in the air and waved the white flag of surrender.
The image of a juggler, tossing and catching countless balls, captures the mood of modern motherhood. So many moms today are tired, stressed and pulled in a million directions. They are exhausted from handling endless tasks and responsibilities. When they invest more time at work, they feel guilty for neglecting their family. And when they invest more time with family, they worry about letting the office down or missing out on career advancement.
The juggle is real. And sometimes it can feel impossible.
Here’s the thing: hope is possible. Mothering, following your dreams and living your best life is possible—all at the same time.
The reality is we have choices in how we respond to everything in our lives. It might not seem like it all the time, but the truth is we always have a choice—and it’s always ours.
For the last ten years, I have run my own business while raising an increasing number of kids, each born approximately eighteen months apart. Every time a baby arrives, I redesign, reshift, and refigure unique ways to approach self-care, childcare and work. As a result, I have talked to countless women about “balancing it all.”
Mothering, following your dreams and living your best life is possible—all at the same time.”
And balancing it all, I believe, boils down to two central themes: 1. Knowing what is important to you, and 2. Ensuring the activities in your daily calendar actually match your true priorities.
Sounds simple, right? And in a way, it is! But identifying what is truly important to us, and ensuring we act in accordance with this, takes some inner searching and some discipline to carry out.
And I have found one exercise incredibly helpful in starting this process.
Let’s start with a quick definition of priorities. Priorities give rank and importance to things in our lives and often motivate us to action. If health is a high priority, we will make time in the day to exercise. If spending time with your spouse is a high priority, you will ensure that date night is a recurring habit. If our work is a great priority, we will log long hours at the office. But we cannot make everything a priority. You cannot just keep stuffing your life full of things and expect it all to fit.
So what is the key here? How do you avoid an overstretched life? The key is you. You have to decide—and declare—what is most important. Then you must not only let your priorities inform your decision making, but also work hard to keep these ranked priorities top of mind.
Anyone can say family is at the top of their list. Anyone can say health is a priority. But why do so many people struggle with keeping fitness as a resolution, and why do so many mothers lament the lack of work/life balance? Because goals are only as good as the behavior attached to those goals. And behavior takes motivation to become habit. So, are you ready to get some motivation?
One of the most efficient ways to gain clarity on what is truly important to us is to look ahead to the future. Fast forward to your 65th birthday, where your spouse, your adult children, your grandchildren, your friends and the people you have impacted through your work are gathered to celebrate your life.
What do you hope they say? What do you hope your years on this earth will have stood for?
If you were to live your most ideal life, how do you hope it will be remembered?