If you’re a busy working mom like me, you know what it’s like to juggle a hectic personal and professional schedule with a never-ending list of things to do. One of the few benefits of the global COVID-19 pandemic is that it has caused many people to pause and reevaluate who and what truly mattered in their lives. I used the time during lockdown to launch my dream coaching business My Life Couch and more importantly – reevaluate how I was raising my children. Below are five ways the pandemic has forever altered the way I parent and why I can’t imagine going back to my old way of living.
Self Care Always Comes First
Gone are the days of putting everyone else’s needs before my own. It’s not unusual for women to make sacrifices for the people we love. It takes a serious amount of effort to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks at work or with our family lives. However, what happens when you’ve given so much of yourself that there’s nothing left for you?
One of the most important lessons I learned when the pandemic started was to prioritize my mental health. Taking just one hour after dinner every day to focus on me and read or dance made a world of difference. I realized that as a result my patience and bandwidth for my professional and family life increased tenfold after I focused on self-care and doing more things that sparked joy. Make sure to dedicate a specific time and space to practice your own self-care that is non-negotiable.
Stop Striving for Perfection and Embrace Chaos
When the pandemic initially disrupted my life I tried to hold on to a semblance of my previous routine as before the global crisis. That included operating at my usual standards at work while also adding homeschooling to the mix, which I knew nothing about. The result? I became more anxious and stressed out when things inevitably didn’t turn out as planned. Eventually, I decided to stop striving for perfection every day and forgive myself more. It wasn’t easy at first, especially since I’m a very ambitious person, but I couldn’t imagine a life where I chased unrealistic standards or expectations.
My current mantra is that there’s no way to be a perfect mama and a million ways to be a good one. You’d be surprised at how quickly you can embrace the beautiful chaos that is life when you let go of the idea of perfection!
Blend Work and Family Life Together
Although I’d always worked from home even before the pandemic, it was a serious adjustment to have my whole family surrounding me and trying to juggle homeschooling my kids. It became harder and harder to keep my work and family life separate and it drove me crazy because I was still holding on to what was “normal” for me then.
Eventually, I had my aha moment when I decided to blend my professional and family life instead of balancing them. So my day may look like a couple of work meetings followed by playtime, snuggling with my little one, or singing to Frozen – if anyone needs a very bad but artful rendition of “Love is an Open Door” send me a note at email@example.com – and going back to a presentation.
Personally, I am much happier blending my two worlds; however, the key message here is to find whatever “balance” ratio works for you and if you have some help available for the kids- spouse, parents, etc. – please take it!
The workplace is more accepting of home life intersection with work-life (kids and pets provide endless entertainment possibilities during zoom calls). When the pandemic is over, I am willing to bet that those pandemic adjustments will probably redefine the way we will work and play for the foreseeable future.
Slow Down and Stop Rushing Through Life
The slower pace lifestyle caused by the pandemic has allowed me to start my own business and still have a corporate job. Now that does demand a few adjustments and I sometimes have long days, I am convinced I wouldn’t have found the time and energy to do both beforehand. And when the lifestyle is paired with my blended work and family life approach, I can bond with my family and kids more.
My challenge to you, should you accept it, is to discover and reconnect with your dreams and DO it! Today is a good time to start doing at least one task that will help you reach your goal.
Be More Present
I’ve always been a good mom, but during the quarantine, I realized I was much more present with my kids. Since I didn’t have anywhere to go, I fully focused on them, became more involved in their daily lives, and learned about their rich inner world.
Whilst my husband and I are always willing to let our children’s imagination guide them, we are also aware of how our behavior and word affects them. When it comes to the pandemic, we made it a big positive adventure for them and let their imagination fill the gaps. Oh, the laughs we have when one of them comes up with stories on how they can lend some of their toys to the virus so it can go home to its own parents! As a result of laughing more often, our whole family is calmer and not stressed out when we are – inevitably – late for work. My advice is for you to let your inner child lead when it comes to family time if you can.
The pandemic has been a challenging time for families all around the world. Although the circumstances were a little difficult at times, I’m overjoyed that I was able to use the opportunity to practice self-care, be present, slow down and grow closer to my family – and I’m confident that you can do the same. If you are a working mom and would like to read more about my adventures or learn how to reinvest in yourself and improve your relationships with others, feel free to book a 20-minute complimentary virtual chat with me.
About the writer:
Gladys Simen is a life coach dedicated to helping working moms uncover their native genius and master career and motherhood with ease. For Gladys, becoming a mother was a turning point that helped her embrace her true self and connect with her authentic voice.
In her corporate career, Gladys often felt like she had to fit into a specific box, specifically at work. In the office, she was quiet, sometimes reserved, blending in corporate style, and not really knowing how to use her voice. As a result, she was virtually invisible to her colleagues. Sometimes it felt like living in two different personas: “Gladys in the office” and “Gladys outside of the office”. The second one loved to connect on a deeper level, loved her hair wild and curly, and her clothes colorful.
Gladys and her husband moved continents. She started a new role in a different country, a different corporate office only to realize the treatment she received hasn’t changed: she was still quiet, living in a box of other people’s expectations.
Becoming a mother was the wake-up call Gladys needed. She realized that the responsibility for being treated poorly, struggling to be seen and heard, lay not on her colleagues, but entirely on her. Becoming a mother made this crystal clear. Even her 4-year-old son saw the truth: when Gladys went back to work after a sabbatical, he lamented how much he missed the ‘old mom’. It was time to stop putting herself in a box and show her kids an example of an authentic living. She knew she needed to start using her voice and own the way people treat her.
Today Gladys lives an authentic life, free to be herself and to use her own voice. She launched her coaching business “My Life Couch” where she holds the space for working mothers. Gladys welcomes these women onto her “couch” to discover how they can live boldly and authentically. Her natural talent for seeing potential in every individual helps women transform their lives: from career to relationships by uncovering these dormant superpowers/inner genius. When she is not guiding women to a more authentic life, she enjoys time with her husband and her fabulous duo in Toronto, Canada.