I recently cut back on my work hours to spend more time with my youngest, but now I just can’t stop saying no to lots of other requests and it feels liberating! More importantly though, it’s also allowing me to be more like the mum I want to be.
I was dropping all the balls
I love working and I love being a mum, but the trouble is that sometimes the juggling act doesn’t go so well. I have a tendency to over-commit in my efforts to please everyone, and recently found myself in a place where I wasn’t doing a good job of anything. Balls were dropping left right and centre, especially on the home front.
I was constantly frazzled. I would finish work only to race around tidying up the house, flinging on dinner, helping the older boys with homework and everything else that goes with being a mum of three children. My youngest boy isn’t far off turning two and growing up faster than the speed of light. Even though he loves daycare (like REALLY loves it), I was starting to get upset about not spending enough time with him.
I knew I had to make a change.
Deciding to work less
After a particularly stressful week I made the snap decision to cut back on work. After speaking with my husband we agreed that we didn’t need the extra money right at that minute and would work something else out later if need be. It was more important that the children weren’t suffering and I had more time for myself.
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A few emails and phone calls later and it was a done deal. The relief I felt was instant! Why hadn’t I done this earlier? I had been so caught up with my commitment to work and trying to help bring money into the household that I had neglected myself and my family.
The universe tested me
After only about a week of my new found ‘freedom,’ rather unbelievably, new work opportunities came up. It was definitely the universe testing me to see how serious I was. My inclination was to take on the new work but then I took a moment to really think it through and said no. I had more than enough work to handle with my mum duties. Even still, it did take a conscious effort to reject the offers, mostly because in my former life I worked very hard at progressing my career and that kind of work ethic can be difficult to shake.
Read more about mum work and life balance:
- Zoë Foster-Blake is tired of being a “half-arsed half-worker half-parent”
- 9 impossible choices all working mums need to make
- 11 simple life hacks to make the day run smoothly when you’re a working mum
The snowball effect
It wasn’t just work commitments I was knocking back either. The more I pushed back on things and said no, the more I wanted to find other ways to streamline my life. See you later subscription I don’t need; no, I can’t help with school fundraiser; I don’t need to attend that function, so I won’t; and lots of other things that were just going to weigh me down while offering very little in return. I was finally being realistic about my time and what was important to me and my family, and everyone was benefiting from it.
The pay off
My new approach to cutting back and saying no, meant I was now paying more attention to each of my children and their needs. The home was more organised, less frantic, happier and relaxed; plus I was now finding time for exercise and other personal maintenance – like getting my eyebrows waxed!
I also felt more inspired to plan more family activities and outings such as going to the movies, working on craft projects, growing things in the garden and even making new recipes in the kitchen. I just had so much more room in my mind to allow these things to happen. In the past I could have possibly squeezed these activities in if I really tried, but mentally I honestly had nothing to give. It just would have been another thing to tick off my list.
Just say no!
I learned the importance of being able to say no. Every time I say ‘no’ to something now it’s a ‘yes’ for me and my family, and I encourage all mums to do the same. Friends will understand if you can’t make a BBQ and you can always help out with a different fundraiser down the track. Even if you feel you can’t cut back on work due to finances, maybe it’s time to explore a different job that pays more for less hours.
So if you’re struggling with the mum and work life balance or just want to be a better mum, then it’s time to stop trying to be superwoman. There are so many ways to cut back when you start looking, and it all starts with one little word: no.
Do you find it hard to cut back as a parent? What are your tips for work/mum life balance? Tell us on Facebook.