18 Busy Mamas Reveal Their Biggest Struggles

18 Busy Mamas Reveal Their Biggest Struggles

Ever feel like other mothers have got it together more than you? Wonder how they manage to make it all look so damn easy? I’ve got something special for you here. Proof that even those mothers we tend to put up on a pedestal aren’t perfect and have their struggles just like anybody else.

I asked 18 truly busy mothers to tell me which life area they struggle with the most (Love, Family, Health, Productivity, Personal Growth, Money, Work or Fun)  - and what they do (or try to do) to make things better.

I was blown away by the variety and honesty of their answers. It just goes to show the balancing act we all face. Let’s learn from each other and find new ways take on our challenges and find more happiness.

Busy mamas unite!

JadahSellner

Jadah Sellner 

As a mom, wife and entrepreneur, I find that I can make my physical health lower on my priority list. I drink my daily green smoothies, but sometimes I sadly consider working out a non-essential. But that means I’m saying I am not essential and that’s not true. Without my health I have nothing. So it’s important for me to take care of my body to be able to rock my business and be an awesome wife and mother. So instead of always scheduling phone meetings during my favorite yoga class times, I now say that time is not available. You have to make an appointment with yourself and keep it. Don’t stand yourself up.

To help me commit to my physical health, I’ve asked my close friend (who is also a yoga teacher) to keep me accountable. She calls/emails/texts me reminders to get my butt into yoga class and will make me feel super bad if I don’t make it. I told her I need help and she’s been great. Accountability with others has really helped in this area of my life as well as others.

www.simplegreensmoothies.com

jen_hansard

Jen Hansard

Life can change dramatically once you add kids into the mix. As a mother of two young kids, I  struggle with balancing their desires with my own. And to be completely honest, for the first three years of motherhood I had no clue who I was beyond a wife and mother. I didn’t know what I even liked to do anymore besides driving through Starbucks and grabbing a morning coffee on my way to the park with the kids.

I wanted to find myself again— so I began praying for opportunities and forcing myself to do things that I used to enjoy (like running, traveling and graphic design). The more I did these things, the more I craved it. And the ball began to roll.  I planned more family road trips and began dabbling in photography. My graphic design business was growing rapidly— one client even became my business partner and we launched Simple Green Smoothies!  My life has become so much richer once I took the time to invest in myself.

It is so easy to become content with life as we know it. I still struggle with that. Yet I also want to grow and stretch myself— and that means I need to be intentionally pursing my passions (and discovering new ones along the way!). I know it can be hard not to feel selfish about taking some time for yourself, especially when you have kids. But I can promise you when you are taking time to live out your own dreams, your kids and husband will be reaping the rewards as well.

www.simplegreensmoothies.com

NikkiElledgeBrown
Nikki Elledge Brown

My biggest challenge is balancing it all! I was just thinking the other day…it’s astonishing how many ways I could (productively) spend my time. At any given moment, I could…

  • Try a new (okay, ANY) recipe.
  • Help my little guy learn his ABCs.
  • Write my next blog post.
  • Do something sweet for my husband (grandparents, neighbors, clients).
  • Pray.
  • Take a nice long walk.
  • Find a dreamy accountant.
  • Throw a spontaneous dance party.

I’ve come to accept that this is just LIFE. Some days will feel more balanced than others. Some days I’ll work too much. Some days I’ll play too much. No matter what I’m doing, however, the ultimate goal is to be present + thankful in any given moment. (Easier said than done, I realize…especially when I’m busy checking my news feed.)

www.nikkielledgebrown.com 

LisaGraceByrne

Lisa Grace Byrne

For me, I feel pretty good in most of these areas at this point. It’s taken a while with a whole lot of intention to get here, but taken individually, I feel fulfilled in most of these parts of my life. My challenge comes up when I try to keep all the cups filled at the same time. For a while I had this definition in my mind that to live a whole, healthy, integrated life meant that I needed to be filling each of these cups at the same time with the same amount of focus and attention. That almost always ended up leaving me feeling depleted and disappointed.

What I’m learning now is to honor the natural ebbs and flows of my own inner needs for growth and nourishment in these areas. When I make sure that I’m well-attuned inwardly I can tell when I need more attention or investment in a certain part of my life, and when other parts of my life feel satisfied and not as needy. It’s a dance that I’m learning to enjoy and relax into more and more every day.

Founder, Speaker, Teacher | WellGroundedLife, Author | Replenish: Experience Radiant Calm and True Vitality in Your Everyday Life

 

amylynnandrews

Amy Lynne Andrews

I struggle with keeping firm boundaries on my work time. Working is a huge draw for me because I love it. I do a few things to curb the problem. First, I try not to sit down at the computer without a plan. Having a list of things to do keeps me from whittling away my time on things that don’t matter and therefore pushes me to spend more time later getting real work done. The other thing that helps is to get out of the house. The drive to the local coffee shop or the library marks a clear boundary between work time and home time.

www.amylynnandrews.com

 

 Megan Flatt
Megan Flatt

On any given day, I feel challenged by all of the above things.  I think as a busy mom, wife and person it is easy to get sucked into the idea that we are not doing enough or not doing the right things (whatever that is!)  So, I try to take little steps every day towards improving in each area.  I try not to think I have to be awesome in all the areas at all times. I love the analogy of the plate spinner at the circus. The plate spinner gives attention to the plate that is slowing down, after she gives that one enough attention, it can spin on its own for a bit, while she goes to spin another plate.

I try to spend focused time with my kids, but then not feel guilty when I spend focused time on my business or on my own health and fun. Then, I try to put those things away and remember to connect with my husband. I also use my calendar to plan out when I will be able to focus on each area. I know that if I am working late one evening and miss bedtimes, I have special kid time scheduled the next day. Or if my husband and I have a date night planned for the weekend, I can get out for a workout or some girl time earlier in the day. Motherhood is a circus act for sure!

www.meganflatt.com

Marya Jan

Marya Jan

I struggle with the social demands a lot, but not for the reason you might think. It’s not because I have to give it up – it’s the opposite. I am an introvert by nature so it is quite normal for me to put everything on the back burner and plunge into the whatever project I am working on. And since I can’t do that to my kids, or husband, the social circle is the first one to go. That being said, I am lucky to have the support of few girlfriends who understand me and how I operate. Being mums with kids, they have got issues of their own, it’s just that mine is using work as an excuse to crawl back inside my shell. The only way I deal with it is let people know that I might disappear for a while and also, making up for it (or doing more) when I can.

www.writinghappiness.com

 

HelenButler Helen Butler

I’m pretty together with most things in my home and life but two things still elude me. The first is dinner. I am completely OK with planning all the other meals we have during the day but when I get to dinner it feels very much like Groundhog Day to me! The idea of cooking yet another meal seems to really do my head in! To solve this – or at the very least to help me a little – I have basic supplies in my fridge, pantry and freezer so that when dinner time comes around I can take a peak and decide what I feel like cooking that night.

The second thing that eludes me is switching off from work to focus on my family. Being your own boss is great – but sometimes I put a lot of pressure on myself to complete things when really there’s no rush. To solve this, and to reconnect with what’s important to me, I made the decision to reduce my work hours.  Now I only work during school hours and have scheduled tasks to do each day.

Also for about six or eight months now I’ve implemented “Sacred Sunday” where I am technology–free every Sunday. I’ve even implemented a rule with our son that there is no technology after 6pm during the week – and he’s started pulling me up on it when I don’t follow the rule! I’ve also implemented Sacred Sunday with him and even though he complained at first he now loves it. We spend the day cooking, gardening, playing, watching movies – it’s a great bonding time for us and even though I’ve yet to convince Hubby to drop technology completely on Sundays, we do have some great quality family time together.

www.clutterrescue.com.au

 ClaireMissinghamYoga
Claire Missingham

I struggle the most with balancing what I would like to do with what I can actually achieve. It’s about being able to let go of one area so I can focus on another. I’m appalling at replying to emails – to the point I feel like my teaching career will take a nose dive.

I’m either in creative mode (planning classes, teaching, filming), mummy mode (where I am to be present with my 5 year old daughter and switching off all technology) or I’m cooking, planning meals.

My only window for exercise is between 5-7am, so I need to get to sleep by 9pm! During all of this I need to maintain my house and marriage too. ‘Having it all’ is a total illusion. You just do the best you can. If I was more able to let go I would probably feel less guilty. Guilt and worry are such useless emotions. If I commit to my yoga practice, meditate and breathe, I feel far more connected and able to cope with all of my ‘hats’.

www.claireyoga.com

Beryl Ayn Young

Beryl Ayn Young

I’ve always been a bit of an ‘old soul’ deep thinker type so I struggle with FUN the most. That’s not to say I’m not fun at all, it’s just hard for me to switch off my serious side and tap into the silly. It’s become even harder now that I own a business I love, because I could spend every last minute working on stuff for that instead of letting go and doing something fun instead. Now that I have a young daughter I’m trying really hard to be goofy, and silly, and let loose with her. A friend actually challenged us a few months ago to head out in public for 2 hours in super hero capes and although I had to stretch out of my comfort zone to do it, we had a blast!

www.berylaynyoung.com 

 ErinCoxAuthor

Erin Cox

The biggest challenge I struggle with is always living in alignment with my priorities. For example, my priorities are my faith, my husband, and my children, but it often happens that my business gets the best of my energy, while my kids get everything that’s left. My poor husband is sometimes left on the sidelines, and my spirituality suffers too! I just have to be conscious and work to rebalance myself every day. My morning meditation practice is the surest way to make sure I keep myself living in alignment and spending my time and energy in a conscious way, making life better for both my family and me as my business grows.

www.erincox.com

SamMumazine Sam Mann

I struggle the most with time management. I love spending time with my daughter and can get carried away playing with her. Before I’ve realised – it’s lunchtime and nothing is prepared! I do try to preempt this by preparing meals in bulk so there is something in the fridge that can be quickly heated.

The same goes with work, as I work from home. Fitting in emails and writing when I get the opportunity during the day and after my daughter’s bedtime. I’ll get stuck in and will often work until the early hours. I make myself have at least one early night a week to catch up on my much-needed beauty sleep.

Editor of www.mumazine.com

VirginaWoodruff

Virginia Woodruff

The biggest life challenge for me is trying to balance work, kids, husband, house, myself… life! The only way I manage it is by forcing myself to do only one thing at a time: when I’m with my kids, I leave my phone behind; when I’m catching up with my husband or a friend, I leave my kids behind (with a babysitter of course); when I’m working, I leave home behind (easier said than done when you work ‘from home’). The final part is the hardest: how do I make time for myself? I’m still working on that part!

www.greatmomentsinparenting.com

suzi_istvan_photo1 Suzi Istvan

My biggest challenge is health. As a former yoga instructor and always active person, it kills me that the one area I can never seem to keep up with is keeping my body moving. But when it comes to balancing kids and my growing business, working out is usually the first to go. I’m trying to start a non-negotiable, every other day workout. I don’t care what it is, but I need at least 30 minutes on my calendar every other day when I move my body- usually going for a run since it requires no equipment and very little planning.

Since finding date time with my hubby is also a challenge, we’ve started having active dates together. For example, to celebrate our anniversary this weekend, we’re going for a run and going paddle boarding together – fitness and couple alone time all in one great afternoon!

www.socialsuzidesigns.com

EmmaB Emma B

Being self employed, my biggest challenge is finding that ‘switch off’ moment. I encourage self employed mums – if you can find and afford some shared workspace (hot design, council run shared office space, members clubs) – get your office out of your home. I know it costs money, but working from home is so problematic and the kids get really frustrated having half my attention where they’re home and I haven’t ‘left the office’ so to speak. Maybe you can get together with a few other mums and share the expense… time share a desk? But when you’re home – you’re home.

 www.twitter.com/EmmaBRadio

JanaKingsford
Jana Kingsford

My biggest life challenge is juggling ALL of my life areas to keep them thriving simultaneously. That’s the tricky bit. I do small things daily to nourish each life area. When I say small things I really do mean small things because it’s these that make all the difference when you want to improve an area of your life.

Marriage: When my husband gets home I take a moment before he walks in the door to think to myself, ‘make him a priority!’  This goes against the grain, but the result is that he’s more content, affectionate and more attentive with me.

Productivity: It’s essential that every day I take a moment to plan my day intentionally and use my morning routine to really set the productive tone of the day. Being productive helps me to fit more in and have a better quality of life.

Kids: I spend quality time with the kids daily. When I’m with them, I’m engaged – not all day, but for periods of time when we go to the park, have dinner or sit and read a book.Personal Growth: I love reading about personal improvement as I’m always trying to take things to the next level. No matter how busy I am, I find time to read. I try to give more attention and energy to my strengths – not my weaknesses and limitations. More than anything I try to be present as much as possible. When I’m getting lost I’m in my head, I bring my focus back to the task at hand by stating the activity I’m doing.

Fun: I don’t treat this life area as a big undertaking, but just a choice I make at any given moment. I make the mundane tasks fun by dancing or singing at the top of my lungs in my pretty terrible voice. Fun does not have to cost anything. Fun can just be rolling around on the floor with my baby. When I’m engaged with my kids I end up laughing as much as they do! Also fun is easy to come by if you’re happy, so I keep my happiness levels up by eating foods that promote the production of Serotonin (i.e. bananas) and I also do ‘Smile Therapy’ – just smiling for no particular reason for a minute or two. This instantly lifts my mood even if I was feeling terrible before hand.

My life areas are all links in a chain, so I have to make sure I’m doing small things daily to keep the flow.

www.mumsjugglingact.com

NickyLeonti

Nicky Leonti

Money is my biggest challenge in life. Growing up I have developed some serious money issues about not deserving more and other major blocks. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and reflection about removing those blocks and working on my business which is something I absolutely love! I know this is a common challenge for people especially when you go from two incomes to one like we have. My life lesson that has come out of all of this has been to adopt an attitude of gratitude. I truly am grateful for all I have. It has also lead me down the path of personal development which has made me a stronger and wiser person.

www.nickyleonti.com

Aviva Goldfarb  The Six O'Clock Scramble

Aviva Goldfarb

With a thriving online business with lots of moving parts and a very lean team to help me work on it, my biggest challenge is keeping my work hours to 40 or so hours a week while still meeting all my deadlines and leaving some time to think and plan ahead for growth. I absolutely love what I do, which is making it easier for busy families to come together for a healthy meal at the end of the day with my online family dinner planning service The Six O’Clock Scramble. However, there are other things that I love, like spending time with my family, cooking, exercising, seeing friends, traveling and reading novels, and I want all my favorite things to fit into my very full life. I’ve found it’s a matter of setting priorities and boundaries and finding efficiencies.

 Here’s how I try to fit it all in so I can have a multi-dimensional life that I love:

  • Spend a few minutes every morning and every evening thinking about my goals and what’s really important to me.

  • Exercise first so it doesn’t fall off my to do list

  • Combine exercise with seeing friends by hiking with different friends (and our dogs) for an hour each morning

  • Put the things that I really want to do, like outings with the kids, seeing shows, and going on trips, on my calendar and work around them.

  • Set priorities for what I am going to work on or accomplish each day and start with those, rather than letting my priorities get bumped as I get caught up in answering emails, using social media, etc.

  • Step away from the computer and make myself available for at least a few minutes when my kids get home from school. Usually we have a healthy snack together.

  • Block 6 – 8:00 p.m. every day to stop working and focus on making dinner, having dinner with my family, cleaning up, and spending time with the family.

  • I often work after dinner, but I let myself watch TV, usually silly competition shows like American Idol, the Voice, and Next Food Network Star, that don’t take much concentration, so it doesn’t really feel like I’m working.  But I never bring work into our bedroom, and reserve that time for being with my husband (when we can), folding laundry and reading before bed.

I can’t say that I accomplish all my goals every single day, or that some of my life isn’t sheer drudgery, but amazingly I am able to fit family dinners, friends, reading and my other passions into my life most days and I feel incredibly lucky to be able to have so many things that I love filling most my time.

 Aviva Goldfarb is founder of The Six O’Clock Scramble, an online dinner planning solution for busy parents, is author of the acclaimed  Six O’Clock Scramble cookbooks, and frequently appears in media such as the Today Show, the Washington Post, O Magazine, Real Simple, Prevention and more.

 

What about you? What’s your biggest life area challenge? And what will you do to make things better?  Join in with your comments.  Please share this post with other mothers who struggle with the juggle. Just hit one of the share buttons below. Thank you! 

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Kelly Pietrangeli

Kelly Pietrangeli is the chief Mama Motivator at Project Me for Busy Mothers. She's passionate about helping women learn how to quickly identify where things could be better in life - and taking positive action to make it happen.
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25 Responses to 18 Busy Mamas Reveal Their Biggest Struggles

  1. Jana says:

    Such an awesome posse of mamas here, I’m honoured to apart of it.

    I struggle to organise my cupboards! On the surface my house looks picture perfect (most of the time) but don’t open my cupboards… It’s all hiding in there!

    I don’t feel like it’s a priority to fix at the moment. I chip away at it, straightening things out, but it’s something that I’ll do at New Years, out with the old, in with the new.

    Love Jana xx

  2. Thanks Jana! It’s been a wildly popular post, yet you’re the first commenter!

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head when you said ‘I don’t feel like it’s a priority at the moment’.

    Knowing that you will give it proper attention in the new year, you can now drop any guilt/negative feelings associated with your unorganised cupboards until the day comes when you think TODAY IS THE DAY!

    And I think you know the organising guru who can guide you when that day comes….
    http://www.clutterrescue.com.au

    :)

  3. Solveig says:

    I’m not a mama yet, but working on getting there ;)
    Everyone keeps asking me how I’m planning to do it, so this post is a great inspiration to me.

    • Awww, that’s lovely Solveig. You know what, I wish I’d read more about motherhood before I became a mother so I could have had more of a game plan (beyond the How To baby books on feeding and sleeping, etc.).

      Project Me looks at all 8 areas of life, not just kids – so hope you’ll stick around for more inspiration! Lovely to see you here :)

  4. Hi Kelly

    Wow .. you have collected stories from such amazing women .. I really enjoyed reading how they are coping with various challenges and still manage to shine! This gives me hope that I, too, can do this …

    Thanks so much for including my bit! :)

    Cheers,
    Marya

    • We’ve been really inspired by all of your answers Marya. They prove how important it is to recognise where things aren’t flowing smoothly in your life and to make tweaks and changes to find a better balance. Too many people sit around complaining instead of figuring out how to make things better.

      You’re an inspirational bunch :)

  5. Emily says:

    This was so fun to read! Thank you for putting this together! I’m not a mama yet, but interestingly enough I found myself relating to the challenges of finding balance and doing everything you want to do in a day. All of the mama’s post got me even more enthused about becoming a mother someday :)

    • That’s so great to hear Emily!

      Project Me looks at all 8 life areas of a busy woman’s life and helps you become a pro-active problem solver. Although we’ve aimed this at mothers, there’s so much here for everybody. Hope you’ll explore the Action Sheets and We Love page and find more good stuff you like!

  6. Janine says:

    This is such a great post, Kelly! I’m not a mama yet, but I can relate to a lot of the struggles on those list–especially the one about finding time for self-care/healthy living.

    I get so involved in my work and daily tasks, I often forget to break for a nourishing lunch and some physical activity. I’m trying to carve out time early in the day for the exercise aspect now so it doesn’t get put on the back burner. :)

    • I’m so happy you could relate Janine :) Yes, self-care and putting yourself on the front burner is just so incredibly important, yet something we often forget to do! Hmmm…. think I’ll take my water and fresh air break right NOW!

  7. farah says:

    Hey Kelly- wow! you have put in some great work with some awesome mummas! I’m not there yet, and busy enough, so totally admire and honour mummas. Just the fact they have created a baby and have the gift to care for him/her means they are a total succerss already in my book, way before anything to do with business!

  8. Renee says:

    My biggest challenge WAS taking life so seriously and working so intensely at making everything perfect. After 20 years with my husband, 4 kids, 2 angels . . . I look at life in a different light.

    Now I get that each day lived with intention, is preparing me for the next for the next big thing.

    I can exhale knowing that I’ve earned my few gray hairs and a couple of crows feet.

    My mind still wants everything NOW, but my heart knows flowers bloom in their own time.

    Awesome post! I love hearing all of these women share from the heart.

  9. cassie says:

    I love reading how different mamas approach this topic from their own experience. As a mother of 2 young boys, I find that very often I put myself at the bottom of the list. It is always looking after the family, running the business or maintaining the house. I need to consciously remind myself that I need to take some time out for Me because if I breakdown or ‘lose it’ I won’t be of any use to anyone.
    Thank you for putting all these together Kelly.

    • Cassie, you’ve hit the nail on the head. You need to make yourself a top priority or your absolutely right – you won’t be of use to anyone. Putting yourself first is not selfish. It’s essential.

      I hope you continue to find even more inspiration here and will start creating your own Project Me. :) Thanks for chiming in with your great comment. x

  10. Stacey says:

    Ok, so I admit I’m not a mother (of human children anyway, I do consider my dogs my kids.) But I was interested in this post because I work with a mother who has it all together and it seems like I’ve been comparing myself to her a little too much. As a single woman, I tended to think “well she has it all together because she has a family to support her and I don’t!” but I see that’s not the case. We all have our struggles and I thank you for sharing these stories of diverse women finding their solutions.

  11. What a great comment and insight Stacey. It’s far too easy to look at other people and make assumptions about how easy or hard they have it. We all have our struggles – it’s about whether we become victims and ‘poor me’ about them, or whether we actively make adjustments to improve things.

    Thanks so much for joining in the discussion – now go give those pups a warm nuzzle from their mama! :)

    • Stacey says:

      Thanks Kelly and thanks for this great article in general! It’s an eye opener for me to hear all of their perspectives. I will definitely go home and hug those pups, I love them so much, they really are my kids :)
      Enjoy your weekend!!
      Stacey

  12. I loved hearing other mom’s share the same struggles. It helps relieve the guilt just a little in an odd way.

    I actually sold my laptop a year ago so that I would be forced to not bring work into the bedroom or in the living room when we should be enjoying family time.

    We also just started technology free Sundays… so this means mom (me) and the rest of the family are not allowed to be on any computer, iPad, video games, etc. We do make the exception of TV if it’s to watch a movie or show as a family. Most of the time is spent outside working together on the yard or just playing.

    Next Sunday we signed up for a family 5K hike as a fundraiser for flooding in our area! Our boys want to learn to snowboard so hopefully that will take over our Sundays soon as well.

    I’ve been feeling so conflicted lately because I started my business to spend more time with the kids but I work so much that even though I’m home I’m not spending the time I thought I would with them. So balancing that and intentionally scheduling time away from work activities has been my saving grace.

    • Amanda, thanks for joining in and sharing your own struggles here. You’ve taken some great steps with the tech-free Sundays and giving up your laptop to resist the wrong kind of temptation in the bedroom ;)

      We hear you on the work-life issues that come from starting up a home business! But being aware of the balance you want to achieve will really help you.

      Good luck with your family 5K hike – sounds amazing and so worthwhile. x

  13. Karyn Gorman says:

    It is a shame that it took me this long to read this post. What wonderful testimonies of others trying to do it all or at least attempting to do it all. We are all human and sometimes we let things slip. The important thing is to recognize then this happens and work a little harder on that area.

    For me it is a roller coaster ride all the way. The best is to enjoy the process and know that just like the fun ride, you can never stay up or down forever but you always reach the end.

  14. Georgina says:

    This is a great post! I loved to read we’re all experiencing the same! Thank you for sharing these busy mama’s stories!

    • Glad you liked it Georgina :) Yes, it’s comforting to know that we all share similar struggles. It’s about how we deal with those struggles and find solutions that fit us and our family that’s truly inspiring. Thanks for sharing and hope to see more of you here!

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