I hear from many mothers who’ve been out of the workforce since starting a family and now feel confused and apprehensive about if or when they want to get back in.
Many make the choice to be a stay-at-home mother when the kids are little, but later wish they hadn’t let their skills and contacts lapse to the point where they’ve lost confidence in their abilities. Others aren’t crazy about returning to work but need or want to contribute to the family income or would like some financial independence.
A big concern is finding work that fits in with family life. [more]
I recently had the pleasure of attending an inspirational talk in Madrid by Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post and author of the wonderful book ‘Thrive’.
The subject of her talk was one very close to my heart: Balance & Mindfulness.
When she asked if anyone had any questions, my hand shot up. Before I knew what was happening, a microphone was thrust into my hand and I was told to stand up and introduce myself.
I’m a huge admirer of Arianna, so my face burned and heart raced, but I believe it went something like:
Hi Arianna, I’m Kelly Pietrangeli of Project Me for Busy Mothers and I help women find a happier balance between the kids – and everything else. (Whew! All of those months of memorising my ‘cocktail line’ paid off!)
My busy mother readers and clients all say the same thing:
‘My to-do list is never ending! There are never enough hours in the day to get it all done.’
They go to bed feeling exhausted and guilty for everything they haven’t managed to get done.
Arianna, what would you say to the mother with the never-ending to-do list?
There’s always going to be your to-do list. But you also need a gratitude list. Every single day, write at least three things you’re feeling grateful for.
The more gratitude you have for all of the people and things you have in your life, the more grace you’ll extend yourself for not ‘getting it all done’. Focus on what you achieved each night before bed, not on what you didn’t manage to do.
Of course, this made my heart sing, and if you’ve been following Project Me for any length of time you’ll know that I’m always banging on about gratitude as a daily practice.
When my cousin and I were teenagers, we were hanging out at my grandparents farm in Minnesota, dreaming about how great our future lives were going to be.
My big plan involved living in California with an ocean view, driving a convertible and working in Hollywood.
I’d never even been on an airplane in my life, much less visited California…
He was going to start a business, be his own boss, and design and build his dream house with his own two hands.
Our uncle overheard us from the other room and came in with a suggestion. Why didn’t we write our dream predictions down so we could see later if they turned out? He then taped our predictions to the back of the picture hanging above the kitchen table where we were sitting.
Fast forward several years. I’m in my early 20’s and I’ve just arrived home from work. Sorting through a pile of mail, I find a letter from my grandmother in Minnesota.
She writes to tell me that while the farmhouse kitchen was being repainted, they discovered the notes my cousin and I had written.
I looked up from her letter and gazed out my living room window. An enormous orange sunset was dipping into the Pacific Ocean.
I’d just driven home from work in my Volkswagen Golf convertible. My job? Working as Johnny Depp’s press assistant in Hollywood.
Meanwhile, my cousin had started his own successful heating and refrigeration business and had just designed and built his dream house.
This woke me up to the amazing power of having a dream and writing it down like it’s really gonna happen!
The second pivotal moment in my goal setting journey came along soon after that.
Johnny Depp decided to leave the TV show that had turned him into a teen heartthrob sensation. I thought he was nuts [more]
This article is also featured in the Huffington Post.
Dreaming about all of the extra hours you’ll have with the kids back in school? Determined to get on top of your to-do list and have space in your day to do more of what you really want to be doing?
Here’s the truth. Those ‘extra hours’ will disappear into the ether if you don’t watch it.
That’s exactly what happened to me back when my youngest began nursery school.
I was thrilled to have three bonus hours a day to get stuff done. I imagined my amazing life with an additional 12 hours a week!
But it wasn’t long before I felt just as busy as ever.
Two years later when he started ‘big school’, I conjured up more images of what my life would look like with all of the ‘extra’ time I’d have.
I’d create filing systems, put photos in albums, finish the baby books, learn Spanish, train to be a yoga teacher, do volunteer work….
But that time evaporated too.
Here’s what I’ve finally learned (and I hope this fast tracks you through the process):[more]
Recently I was interviewed by Soozi Baggs of MaternityLeavers.com about my experience of maternity leave and thoughts of returning to work after I became a mother.
Even though it’s been 15 years since I went through the whole ‘should I stay or should I go now?’ dilemma, it’s all still very fresh in my mind.
Are you facing ‘The Big Decision’ – whether to go back to work, be a stay at home mother or maybe start a home business?
It can be a confusing time.
When I became pregnant I had to decide whether to take the maternity package and keep my cool job as a record cover designer for a major label, or cut the cord (so to speak) and be a SAHM?
My head was in a total spin over it.
Then I got proactive. First, I wrote down the Pros & Cons of each choice. Next, I closed my eyes and visualised what my daily life would look like in each scenario.
My visualisation looked like this:[more]
I often think of motherhood as similar to diving into the waves at the beach.
You have your first baby, plunging head first into the waves from the shore. Whilst you’re under the water swimming and surviving you forget all about your ‘old self’.
After a few months of newborn mayhem, you come up to the surface and take a big gulp of fresh air. You make an effort to wave at your ‘old self’ waiting patiently on the beach.
Then baby two comes and you’re fully submerged in the water again, surviving, swimming, out of control and forgetting all about who you were. Baby three and four, on it goes.
Then all of a sudden your kids are walking, talking, out of nappies, going to kinder and then eventually stepping into the big world of school.
Your little people are gaining independence and so are you.
Slowly you find your feet sinking back into the sand, walking back towards the shore, slightly invigorated, inspired and excited to go and reconnect with your ‘old self’.
As you raise your eyes to focus on the beach, your skin drying in the sunshine – you look out across the sand and your ‘old self’ is no-where to be seen.
Where did you go? Who are you now?
All you’ve done for the past few years is talk about, think about, cook for, wash, dress, pamper, hug, kiss and cuddle your beautiful kids. It’s the way you’re hard wired so it’s no surprise you’re feeling a little disconnected from who you once were. You’ve lost yourself somewhere along the way.
Let’s face it, when your little ones are finding independence and you’re barely able to remember what life was like before they came along, it can be a little scary. How did you spend your time? How did you earn money? What used to occupy your brain?
You could just plod back to the corporate cubicle you used to inhabit, but somehow that no longer appeals.
Something new has been born within you, a fresh perspective on life.
Maybe you’re feeling ready to take some first steps back into work life but in a more meaningful and passionate way. [more]
It’s easy to let the demands of motherhood tip you in one direction, leaving other parts of your life sitting on the back burner.
You don’t realise you’re neglecting your self care – even when you become overwhelmed and short fused. You don’t see that your man needs attention, until you start drifting apart. Without enough fun, friends or personal growth – you get into a total rut. Take your eye off the ball with finances, organising or cleaning – and suddenly you’re in a deep mess.
So how can a busy mama find a better balance in life when there’s always so much that needs attention?
First you have to know, balance is not about giving the same amount of energy to all areas of your life simultaneously. It’s more about being aware of what needs your focus at any given time and recognising the symptoms of feeling out of balance before things get out of hand.
It’s all too easy to let some areas of your life fall off the radar completely while you’re too busy with everything else.
The good news is, I have the key to helping you get back into balance fast. [more]
I’m chained to my desk. Four days have passed without leaving the house and I barely noticed. I ate Saturday’s leftovers for lunch because there’s no food in the fridge. My kids think their mother’s gone AWOL, my husband feels like he’s flying solo (he is) and my friends think I’ve dropped off the face of the earth.
Right now there’s an excellent reason for this – I’ve been giving my all to our new baby – Project Me. (The irony of working on a website that encourages busy mothers to find balance is not lost on me!)
But the patience and goodwill of my nearest and dearest is not unlimited. I know that if I carry on working at this pace it’ll compromise my relationships.
That’s why I’m setting myself some clear rules around work – and reclaiming me time and we time in the process.
Finding ways to drag myself away from work is tough. I love what I do and, if I’m honest, most days I’d rather be writing blogs than cooking the family dinner.
So what’s the key to working from home effectively and keeping everyone happy?[more]