When I feel like a failure as a working mom, here is what I remember

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Some days I feel like I have it all together.  And some days – as a working mom – I feel like I’m a failure as an employee, as a mom and as a person.

I debated for a while whether to post today – I let a few things really get to me, and because of that, it was not one of my best days – but I think it’s important to be honest, so here I am.

I had a sick kid today and a full day of work that I needed to get done and limited time off to spare.  My solution was to take my sick kid into work – not the best for the kid, my co-workers or myself.  But when you’re trying to make it all work, sometimes you come up with crazy solutions (that maybe don’t always make sense!).  The end result ended up being fine and I was able to best help my kid and get my daily work done, but it wouldn’t have happened if I’d been left up to my own solution (which, let me repeat, was not a good solution).

You can’t do it all by yourself.  Believe me, I’ve tried again and again.  And I’ve failed again and again.  I can do a lot of things.  I’m proud of my successes and confident in my ability.  And I know that as I continue to learn, I continue to grow.  Here’s the important lessons I was reminded of today:

Remember, you have others to help you. Let them be kind.

I never ask for help.  I hate asking for help.  I want to be able to do all things and do all things perfectly.  And I know that isn’t realistically possible for any human to accomplish – much less to try to maintain on a regular basis.  But I still want those things, badly.  So when I need help – really need it – I have to mentally psych myself up to ask someone to help me.

And guess what, when I ask others for help it’s usually no big deal to that person and I’m better off for having involved them, letting them help me, and building a new part of our relationship.  Ask for help when you need it.  Ask for help more often.

And if you’re having a hard time asking for help (like me), accept the help when it is freely given to you.  In an important conversation today, I was offered help.  And even with the 1000 things running through my mind – my response was, “Thank you for helping me, I appreciate it.”

Figure out what works for your energy or emotional release. And do that thing.

When I’m starting to feel my stress build to the point that I’m not sure I can take it, I try to find something to help exhaust me.  Now, I’m not talking about mental exhaustion – I’m usually already there by this point! I’ve found what helps me calm down is something that can take my mind off of my stress, release all of the extra (stress) energy that I’m internalizing, and something that is good for me.  I usually will exercise – and it seems to work.  Today, I went to the gym after work and focused on the workout. About 15 minutes in, I decided to add some extra weights during my weightlifting class and by the end of the routine – I was exhausted and REFRESHED – because I was thinking about the exercise and not my stress.

Keeping the stress with you is only going to do damage to you.  Get it out in a healthy way that actually eliminates the exhaustion – it could be talking to someone, it could be running, it could be getting enough sleep.  Find what works for you and make it a priority to make it happen.

Tackle things in small pieces. Remember small progress is still progress.

I often wake up in the middle of the night when I’m stressed and think about all of the problems of the world. I need to fix everything and I’m too sleepy and disoriented for anything to make sense, so I spin my wheels and make no progress.  I’ve started forcing myself to write down the real things that I’ve developed and send them to myself in email.  Then I do something else until I can go back to sleep (so I don’t think about everything that has ever existed in the world that I need to fix).

When I wake up and I’m thinking clearly, I look at my email and am able to write down my “real” tasks so I can make progress today.  Then I focus only on what I can accomplish today or what I planning I need to accomplish so I can make tiny progress tomorrow.   When I think about the here-and-now, I realize that I’m making progress and it’s making a big difference over time.

There are many times where I have to tell my kids “No” because of something related to work or not take a work-related opportunity because of what it means for my kids.  I realize it’s the balance that will always exist in my life and I’m comfortable with my decisions and my progress. I know they’ll be good days, challenging days and important days in the future.  I’m working to make sure that my days are purposeful and that I make a difference with what I can do.

I’ve learned is purposeful positive thinking makes an enormous difference in my life, and I think it will benefit you as well.  When I’m feeling like a failure as a working mom, I remind myself of the power of purposeful positive thinking, because it works. Instead of thinking, “I can’t do it all,” I remember,  “I’m doing the best I can and my best is enough.”  Switching my thinking is a valuable reminder that gives me strength in challenging situations and makes me continue to do the best I can – to be the best mom, the best employee and the best person. 

I think that’s all I can ever really hope for.  And I’m happy with that. Because my best is enough.

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Focus On What You Want Most

Lately, I’ve been focusing on what I want most.  It seems a little selfish at first blush, but it’s not.  This thought method helps align my focus with my values and makes me realize when I have a decision to make – I can think about what I want or what I want most.  I can’t always have both options, so I have to make decisions based on what is most important to me. It’s added incredible clarity and made me step out of my comfort zone even more.

I encourage you to stop and think about what you want most and let that guide you as you move forward.  Here is the organized strategy that has worked for me:

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How to make progress when you have zero time

I’ve been waking up at 4am regularly again.  This means that I don’t have enough time during the day and my mind wakes me up thinking of everything I need to get done. Our schedule is too packed, I’m too busy and I’ve noticed things are starting to pile up because I don’t have time to make the progress that I normally do.  I’m too busy, have zero time and it’s stressing me out.

I bet you’ve felt like this too – your schedule is full, your place is a mess and your stress level is rising.  I encourage you to take time to make necessary adjustments to continue making progress, even if you have zero time.  If you do this now, you’ll have a better chance of improving your schedule, your stress level and your sanity.

Remove things from your life.

When you look at your schedule, what do you see? I’ve got a packed work schedule and a packed free-time schedule. And it isn’t working for me.  I don’t have time to think if I’m running from one meeting to the next. It made me realize that I needed to start removing some things from my schedule, from my thoughts and from my life.  After taking a long look at what I’ve been doing, I started to make changes.  I’ve removed important, valuable things from my schedule.  Some of them weren’t easy to remove.  All of them were necessary to remove.  I could tell it made a difference as my stress level decreased with each removal.

I encourage you to look at your schedule right now.  How can you get others to help you? What can you remove? What adjustments can you make? The more you choose to focus on the most important things, the more you’ll start to realize how your schedule shouldn’t be filled up with the other things.

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Little things make a big difference

Your life is a series of small actions. When you look at your daily activities – the choices you make each moment – it doesn’t seem like much. But as you grow and develop, you begin to change – to build your character – you look back at your life, you’re able to clearly see the person you’ve become.  The little things make a big difference and it’s more realistic and attainable than you think to make your life change. 

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Professional experience everyone needs

Ever wonder what it takes to be really successful? Sometimes it’s the right experience at the right time. I’ve learned a few things throughout my professional career and the more I speak with others, the more I realize there is valuable professional experience that everyone needs. If you’re beginning your career, look for these opportunities. If you’re where I am – you probably realize your valuable work experience too.

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Family Information Center that works for you

You and your family have a lot of information to keep organized.  Between activities, appointments and tasks, managing your family information can seem like a full-time job.  Keep your family organized by creating, updating or enhancing your family information center into the active storage area you’ve always needed.  With these easy strategies, you’ll be able to keep everything together and just where you need it.

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Find a visible location that works for you.  We keep all of our calendars, newsletters, coupons, notes and items in our Family Information Center located in our kitchen.  Since we’re in this room so much, it makes sense to have this important information stored together right where we see it every day.  Find a place in your house that you can keep all family information and supplies together and educate everyone else to do the same.

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Healthy Eating Simplified

You can simplify your healthy eating plan and still stay on track. Follow these realistic practices to provide you with the greatest opportunity for healthy, enjoyable eating.

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Read Nutrition Labels.

Blindly selecting items in the grocery store is dangerous because there are hidden fats, salts and sugars in many unexpected places. Learn how to read food labels and consciously purchase foods that are healthier options. Because of reading food labels, I’ve now make my own bread, purchase 100% juice canned fruit and no sugar added applesauce, and buy frozen vegetables instead of canned. You can make easy switches like these and easily improve the healthy options available to yourself and your family.

Measure Your Food.

When I’m hungry, I throw caution to the wind and load my plate with food. I’ve learned that by measuring out the amount of food I eat, it’s easier for me to stick to a healthy selection. I allow myself to load up on fruits, veggies and lean meats or beans. But as a general rule for casseroles, creamy dishes or processed sides; I stick to the serving size as my maximum.

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