Note from Erin and Heather: Today we are thrilled to feature a guest post from our friend – and all-around cool person – Sarah Penna. Sara is the head of Awestruck, a network and lifestyle brand for moms (if you’re not watching the great stuff they’re doing on YouTube, you really should be!); she is responsible for finding new talent and creators to add to the Awestruck network. She’s basically a wizard in the digital space. And to save the best for last, she’s the mom of one child. We are grateful to her for sharing her insight and gifted writing here.
I remember learning the word “stress” at age 4. I used to dramatically flop down on the couch and say I was “so stressed” even though I had no idea what it meant. I just knew my mom felt it, and felt it often. I had no idea what she was going through until I became a working mom myself. She had 3 kids and was running a successful construction company at the time. Looking back, I honestly don’t know how she did it. I never felt like she missed any of our soccer games, gymnastics lessons or birthdays.
Back then, “balanced” wasn’t a popular trend or even something our mothers knew they could aspire to. They didn’t have online communities to support them and let them know they’re not alone. But we live in different times and my peers know the importance of finding time for yourself, your family and your career. It can add a lot of pressure to find that balance, but it’s worth the effort. Below I offer 3 tips for finding, and holding on to, balance.
First, let’s define what that term “balance” means. To me, it’s about looking back on a day or a week or a year, and feeling filled (rather than drained).
- Find Balance in The Overall
I fill three major roles each day: employee, wife and mother. Each day is an opportunity to strike a balance, but let’s be honest—that is seemingly impossible. Rather, I like to look at the bigger picture. Some days, I am a better employee—I come to work early, I network at night, I am focused at the office and devote the majority of my energy to my job. Some days, I’m a better mother—I take the morning without looking at my phone, go into work a little later and come home for bedtime. Some days, I am a better wife—I focus on my husband, take date nights and spend time bonding after the baby has gone to sleep, catching up on work or playing a board game. But doing all of that in one day is hard for me, so I like to look at my calendar and make sure that there is equality in the week, not the day.
- Forgive Yourself for Not Being Perfect
I know we moms hear this all the time and it’s easy to gloss over and say “yeah yeah yeah” but really take the time to let this one sink in. My mom guilt got so bad when I first came back to work that I remember feeling guilty for not feeling guilty….like some kind of horrible guilt-ception. Remind yourself that being perfect is overrated and that energy can be better used elsewhere, like planning. Which brings me to my final point.
- Plan, Plan, Plan
I love spontaneity and think it’s such a great part of being a parent, but if you don’t plan a little, things can go horribly wrong. I remember when my son was 6 months old, my husband and I decided to spontaneously go for brunch after our son’s swim lessons. Turns out, we both forgot our wallets and extra diapers. The brunch ended in a mess and my husband having to leave a set of car keys at the restaurant as collateral for coming back with a card. Never again. I like to have at least one planned activity per weekend (playdate, adventure etc) and leave the rest of the time for outings. We keep a shared calendar with all our activities on it so we can cover for each other if one of us has a work event at night.
Good luck out there mamas—you are kicking ass and taking names and I’m happy to be in the best, but toughest, club in the world.