I started home-schooling last January and recently (after a particularly un-graceful morning trying to leave the house) I decided to ask an old hand (5 kids, all home-ed) about “work-life balance”.
Her response was something like “work-life what?!”
I told her how hard it had been starting home-ed in a completely new community whilst running a business.
We both collapsed in hysterics when she asked me what I do for work. “I’m a life coach, and I specialise in women and mothers“.
I have two choices in this moment: I can be a bitch to myself for not having a perfect life.
Orr I can be honest, real, and let go of some of the shame which comes with the territory of mothering these days, and swap it for connection, warmth and mutual support with another woman.
Who cares if she thinks I’m a shit life-coach because I arrive at home ed group in a state. I need a friend right now, and I’m not going to get one by pretending I’ve got it all together.
So it was interesting to sit down and write a blog about self care.
Do I even qualify, when there is washing spewing out of my laundry shed, my fridge has its own microbiome, and it feels like climbing Mount Everest to leave the house with my (non toddler) kids?
And, what do I have to say that you don’t already know? I mean, you’re an intelligent woman. You know what you SHOULD be doing to take care of yourself, right?
But actually, yes, yes I do qualify. I’m not afraid to talk about where I don’t have it all down, because I know that in a bigger way, I’ve really got this. And so do all the other women working earnestly to resource themselves in the middle of their crazy lives.
And I want to write about this, because my self care practice – like any self care practice that will ACTUALLY support you in a real way – has nothing to do with looking like a guru, advertising spas, interior design or face cream.
I want you to know that you don’t have to look perfect, to prove that you’re looking after yourself really, really well.
If you want to do a good job of anything, you need to be resourced.
Parenting is hard, hard work. Modern life is a challenge. And if you want to do either in a fulfilling way, you are likely going to shovel a bunch of muck to get to that place of ease. It takes rocket fuel in your physical, emotional and psychic engines to keep going and stay dancing.
As I fill myself up with connection, and learn to put myself first more and more, I am more patient, less triggered and more able to connect with my kids in difficult times.
I’m showing up to my work and my life in a completely different way.
Taking care of myself has been – and continues to be – a deep lesson. So what does it look like in practice? Well, there aren’t many rose petals involved, I can tell you.
So here’s the thing. I’m busy.
Eye wateringly busy. I’m juggling home-ed kids, my coaching business, and the Hand in Hand training.
We moved away from our support network a year ago, so we’re also recovering from – and adapting to – that massive transition.
If I’m perfectly honest, I’d say I’m doing too much right now.
Now, I know adrenal burn out, and I am NOT going back there. I now know exactly what I need to be watching to make sure that my body doesn’t go into meltdown.
So self care in my world doesn’t look especially pretty. It’s not a “nice thing”. It’s not a treat. Its a fundamental.
I have had to get brutally honest with myself about what’s important.
I devote (large) chunks of time every day to clearing out the old stuff. This is actually what leads to burn out – the fear, pain and shame which cloud our judgement and take us away from the present.
I work on my emotional triggers with Listening Partnerships, stuck patterns in my body through Kundalini Yoga, and I’m healing my relationship with my kids with regular Special Time and the other Hand in Hand listening tools (more on these to come by the way).
I make sure we eat food that works for us, because I in particular don’t function well if my diet isn’t right. I take a nap if I’m losing my shizzle. And I never work at the computer in the evenings. I find time to laugh with my dearest women whenever I can.
These things take priority over everything else. They are the rules of engagement for my life.
It means that we don’t do much formal schooling right now. It means my house is quite messy (but uncluttered, because, again, clearing out is the priority!). It means that things can feel chaotic because sometime the practicals take a back seat.
My life is not being driven by fear.
And that is the most powerful self care I can give myself. The most surefire protection from burnout.
I’m not the glossy queen-of-the-spa…. Everything isn’t perfect.
It often feels overwhelming, in exactly the way that my yoga practice can feel overwhelming.
Some poses are so challenging, it feels like torture to keep going (“just one more minute”) as the pose breaks up old patterns and forges new ones in the bodymind.
The sense of overwhelm is just this: my current circumstances are stretching my beliefs about what is possible.
I’m deep in my practice. And its working.
I’m fitter, healthier, more relaxed in myself, less anxious, more fulfilled in my relationships and enjoying my kids profoundly.
The other stuff – the practical stuff – is being taken care of, piece by piece.
Because I’m resourcing myself in a deep way, I can think more and more clearly and make decisions about how to organise and run my life in the right way for my family.
That, for me, is the heart of self-care.
If you’d like to go deeper in to your own practice of self care, and support yourself to be the mother and woman you want to be (without burning out) The Real Superwoman is starting soon. 6 weeks of intimate group coaching, online. There are only a few spots left, so get in touch if you’re interested. Is this your time?