Serena Williams is a living legend, who seems to balance it all, from a record-setting career to motherhood and pop cultural dominance, with ease. But even living legends like Williams are human, and she is taking the opportunity to remind the world of that.
When questioned about how she gets through her day to day with everything on her plate, Williams, humanly, told Teen Vogue, “Honestly, I don’t know. I go to bed every night thinking, How did I get through this day? I’m sure a lot of people out there can relate, right? It’s like, this day is over, it’s 10 o’clock, I got through it. How did that happen? That’s kind of how I am.”
She manages to wake up the next day and do it all over again by taking each moment as it comes, rather than dwelling on the weight of all of her responsibilities. “I just started training,” she continued, “Yes, I’m still playing… So, that has been… OK, now I’m training on top of running this fashion company, on top of being a full-time mom. I’m super hands-on as a mom. I just take it as it is and realize that everyone goes through the same thing.”
As for how she stays confident, Williams has a trick: It all comes down to perspective. “I think it’s really important to realize that no day is going to be perfect,” she says, “For me, that’s really hard because I strive for perfection, and I feel like everything I do has to be great and has to be perfect, because I am a true perfectionist. But that’s impossible. That’s not reasonable. Then I realize that, OK, I had a rough day today, let’s do something to make it better tomorrow. I think it’s important to expect to have some really rough times when you’re going through something, but always know that you can overcome it.”
Her strategy of doing the best possible without focusing on what more could have been done is tried and true. It’s the same approach that psychologists recommend, as Lynn Bufka, Ph.D., the associate executive director of practice research and policy at the American Psychological Association, confirms to Thrive.
“Some days will be ‘high volume’ days and sometimes they will be that way without any warning,” she writes in email to Thrive. “On those days, do the best you can, cut yourself some slack in your expectations, focus on what’s most important, remember to give your kids and partner (if there is one) a hug at the end of the day.”
It’s not just about cutting yourself slack, though; it’s also about asking for help when needed. ‘When you know a day will be high volume, do what you can to plan for it,” she writes, “by enlisting support of another adult for essentials (such as pick up the kids at after care).” Other things that can help? “Manage the kids’ expectations, prep a meal in advance or pull out leftovers from the freezer (that’s why they are in there!), reschedule non-essential work meetings and other adjustments to the day.”
While anyone balancing work and parenthood knows the feeling of being stretched thin, it’s still important to take time just for yourself so you can be the best version of you to tackle it all. “Afterwards, give yourself some winding down time — whether it’s that evening or the next day but recalibrate, get back to your routines, allow yourself time to just be,” Bufka says, adding, “Always, try to maintain the activities that keep you balanced. Start with regular sleep and activity and good nutrition. Get regular social support. Challenge your thinking to be sure YOU aren’t creating unreasonable expectations or demands for yourself. Build in time or activities that refresh you. If your base is solid, the high volume days are more manageable.” And Williams is living proof of that.
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