It began with my kids.
When I was pregnant with my twins, I knew I wanted to keep working after they were born. I knew that I wanted to keep running my successful yoga training and personal 1:1 yoga coaching company. Though I wasn’t sure how, I was clear what I wanted.
Being an older new mom, I had seen many friends and colleagues figuring out the mom-work dance. Their successes and challenges informed my “figuring it out”.
And, having been a twin myself, and with two of my sisters raising multiples, I was well aware of what I was getting into.
Twins are different than two singletons. Not harder or easier. Different. Parenting two is different than one. Parenting two the same age is different than two of different ages. Each scenario is unique and each requires different considerations and strategies.
So while I had some context for what I was getting into, I still had to figure out how I was going to do it. I also knew this wasn’t going to be a “figure it out and then I am done figuring it out”. I knew there wouldn’t be a static answer. I would also need to figure out how I was going to keep figuring it out.
I looked to four key areas to help me set my foundation. Yoga, teaching, business and leadership. These four areas were what helped me build, run and scale my company, so I mined them first. Now that I am into the toddler years, I find myself coming back to them again and again.
Here are some key take-aways.
1. What is, without a doubt, most Essential? This comes from Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism, which I first read in 2014. After my kids were born, I asked this question every night before bed, and again each morning. The answer provided direction. Sometimes it was to send an email, other times it was write part of a draft of an article. It was always one thing, and I made sure that it was very doable, and gave me confidence with what I was getting done. It also enabled my business to have one of its most profitable years ever. Which is astonishing given it was also my kids’ first year of life and I worked much less than ever.
2. Put the phone down. For this I thank my daughter. Right from the start she had a strong response to my being on my phone. In the early days of breastfeeding, I would scroll through my phone while she fed. It was very benign. Or so I thought. Sometimes it would be to answer texts, other times posting photos of the kids to social media. Each time she would react as if to scream, “pay attention to me”. As soon as the phone went away, she settled. It was eye opening to see how this affected our connection and so early on in her life. I wasn’t being present and she felt it. This started a new habit of being off my phone and other tech when I was with the kids. My mantra became and still is, “when I am with my kids, I am with my kids”.
3. The pain isn’t where the problem is. This was a key learning early in my career and has become a key principle in my company. With persistent pain, the symptoms that are screaming at us are often not the real issue. This is why we may get relief by addressing symptoms and why sustainable change can elude us. The true issue lies under the level of awareness. We have to become aware of what we aren’t aware of to make a sustainable change. With my kids, this concept was critical for when they were/are screaming and crying. It stops my husband and I from falling into the trap of saying “stop crying” and enables us to be present. It gives us a bit more space to be curious about what is actually going on. As a result we, as parents, feel calmer, less anxious and more confident.
4. Acknowledge what is working. Early in my career of teaching clients how to get out of pain, I learned how vital it was to acknowledge the gains. The things that are working. This isn’t to be Pollyanna, rather it sets a tone from which we work. In my family, my husband and I are consistent with asking each other what is working. It is amazing with how that shifts the tone in the house. And with the kids, meal time is much different if we start off by acknowledging what they are doing well. From how they are sitting, to how they are eating, how they aren’t dumping over their glass of water. To be honest, it still blows my mind how this causes more of the behaviours we want to occur. And moreso, how it’s quite magical that the behaviours we don’t want, stop.
Every working mom’s journey is unique to itself. You won’t know what you are getting into until you are there. Each day is a new and different day. I hope these suggestions support you in your journey. Here is to being a mamma that is calm, steady and strong more often than not.