I had to learn to be selfish as a mother of seven kids for my own well-being.
Being a homeschooling, world traveling, business-owning mother of seven children is not easy.
No one said it would be.
As someone asked yesterday, “Do you ever get tired?”
Tired of just doing it all? Tired being everywhere and everyone at once? Tired of achieving?
Yes. I do get tired.
But I love everything I do and strive to do, and I’ve learned how to become a generator of energy instead of just a consumer. I’ve learned how to be ‘sustainable’.
But it wasn’t always this way.
There was a time when all I could see was endless sleepless nights and piles of laundry and dishes. I couldn’t even see me because I was lost in the role of mother.
My life was ‘good’. Kids were healthy, marriage was strong, finances were not bad.
But life was busy. Neverending meals to make, laundry and dishes to wash, toys to pick up, errands to run — not to mention emails to send, marketing campaigns to create, bookkeeping to do…
From the moment I was woken in the morning by one of my children until I fell exhausted into bed at night, I hardly stopped or sat down. I sometimes forgot (or was too busy) to eat. I never exercised because I didn’t have time. I never did anything that was for me. It was all for the kids or the business or my husband. But never for me. Who had time for that?
That’s not a sustainable way to live.
The breaking point came when my inner child finally threw a tantrum. Stop! she screamed. I want! I want! I want!
I want to read a book or have a conversation without being interrupted! I want someone else to do the laundry beside me! I want to sit down and eat without constantly waiting on others! I want to do something I want to do just because I WANT to do it! I want to feel peace and calm instead of constant mental overload.
But just because you want something doesn’t mean it will change overnight. My path to better well-being and long-term sustainability took work.
It started by clearing off my brain and closing all the ‘open tabs’. I learned how to collect and store all the things I wanted and needed to do in a system that was ‘off-line’ (not in my mind). This was a complex process, but the simplicity on the far side of complexity became the foundation of true peace. My brain no longer felt like all the lights were on. It actually felt quiet.
Next, I established personal routines. Reading and study, exercise, writing time, and ‘downtime’ (with a cup of herbal tea) became a non-negotiable part of each day. I’m a person too and I treated myself as such.
Finally, I trained my children. “You’re 12! There’s no reason you can’t learn to do the laundry. You’re 14! You can clean the bathrooms. And I’ll do what YOU can’t — build the family business.”
I created charts and ‘training classes’ to teach my children all the things I no longer wanted or needed to do, and used that time instead to improve myself or to grow our business (I’m a partner with my husband).
Just like training employees, it’s a constant tweaking process. But to date (and for nearly two years), I no longer do any laundry, clean any bathrooms, vacuum, or prepare all the meals. I still help with pick up and dishes, and I make some meals… but I’ve trained my children to do the rest. This gives me adequate time to work in the business and take care of myself.
There will always be more to do than can be done. But before I had a system for managing it all and keeping the next thing in que (and the other things out of the way so I can focus on the job at hand), the subconscious awareness of everything I had to or ever wanted to do almost crushed me.
Before I trained my children to act more like contributing adults and less like consuming juveniles, I was forced to be everyone’s maid and cook.
When I finalize realized it was in MY power to create change for the better, my entire life and well-being shifted so that I am now sustainable 🙂
And that means my family is sustainable too.