Here I am again, facing the dilemma that so many working mums have…taking a step back (or maybe sideways move) from my career path to have greater flexibility with work and to be able to spend more time with my husband and daughter.
I don’t begrudge it and I know it’s the right thing to do but I have ambition coursing through my veins and its time I quelled it. Or should I?
I admit I’m never going to be a Helena Morrissey (the thought of 9 children and her punishing schedule bring tears to my eyes ) but as I implied in my previous post on a curvy career, I flourish when learning new skills and taking on new challenges. My work very much defines who I am.
However I need to take stock; as a friend said to me I’m never going to look back on my life and take satisfaction in the amount of hours I worked. Most likely I’ll wish I’d spent more time with my husband and daughter. Plus I do believe if both partners are working full time; something has to give. We can’t have it all. Well we can if we can afford the live-in housekeeper, chef, roster of nannies and our lives are timetabled up to the hilt. But where’s the fun in that and why have children? (sorry my 20s Milly Tant is coming out) And if you read about some of the most successful business women who work full time, invariably their partner is the one who can offer greater flexibility in their work. Again back to Helena whose husband is the lead parent.
Also, as I get swept up into working life I have to remind myself how much I wanted a child and I have to make the most of the hugs and cuddles before it’s not cool to have PDAs with your mum.
However I can’t complain I’ve had a great few months working full time at Spark at The Telegraph. A lovely bunch of people and I now know my Double MPUs from my leaderboards, exit puffs and content blasts, tags, trackers and sticky branding and in return I hope I’ve managed to pass on some of my content marketing wisdom.
So now it’s back to the drawing board and it’s at this point I have to praise my hubby, being the font of all knowledge and wisdom. He so rightly says that I can channel my energies into other things so work doesn’t have to be quite so important to me. And I think that’s true whatever stage you’re at in your career. I can gain personal satisfaction from finally having the time to do some voluntary work visiting the elderly – and maybe I will enrol for that pottery course and pour my energies into moulding a lump of clay.
If there’s anybody out there who needs some content and PR support – let me know. I’m free!
I had a lovely deep and meaninful conversation with a friend last Sunday over a few glasses of Prosecco (but of course), about friendships. I was feeling rather Eeyore that I don’t have one big group of friends who I can hang out with and sometimes I get a pang of jealously when I see on Facebook (darn Facebook) that a gaggle of local mums have gone out and I’m NFI. But the more we chatted I realised how lucky I am. I have a wide network of friends scattered home and abroad who I have accumulated (and lost too) over the years. I may not see them every week, let alone year to year, but we’re always there for each other. And what’s more, like Miranda Hart’s article in The Telegraph – and yup we were at the the same school so I totally get how she feels – you have different friends for different things – I have my foodie friends, fashionistas, exercise bunnies, bookclub buddies, arty farty types, drinking pals, school gate chums, working women and then of course those who have known me through all the good and difficult times in my life. I’m not sure how they would get on if I threw them altogether in a room but each and every one of them is priceless to me.
So I suppose what I’m getting at is whatever type of friendships you have, whether a bit of a loner like me or part of a large gang; embrace and cherish them and also see what other friendships you can pick up along the way too.
So thank you Izzy for making me realise how lucky I am.
This week I have asked my personal trainer James Chandler from Eat Well and Work Out to contribute to my blog. Working full time my question to him is always how do I prioritise my fitness and health whilst being glued to my office chair during the week and spending time with family and friends at the weekend? I’m lucky that even if I haven’t done anything all week, a heavy weights session with James makes me mentally and physically stronger even if it does go pear-shaped on a Saturday night! I hope you find his tips helpful….
“Life has a certain amount of bandwidth. Our physical and mental energy levels dictate how much ‘space’ or effort we can put into all the things we have to do and we really can’t do it all.
Almost daily I have a discussion with one of my clients about how to prioritise health despite having responsibilities pulling us off in many different directions:
There is no one easy answer on how to deal with it all, however, do we actually need an answer? Could worrying or stressing about the things that we REALLY can’t influence be actually taking bandwidth away from fitting in a bit more. Feeling guilty, disappointed or regretful is a waste of mental energy…could we simply channel this back into taking ACTION?
This is where you have to get smart with the priorities:
- What can you sacrifice in return for good health habits?
- When could you do A instead of B? E.g. walk in the woods instead of another episode of [insert box set]. (Pettit Post comment – Or do some exercise whilst watching Grey’s Anatomy in my case!)
Can you try and incorporate any of these habits into your daily life?
- Move well, and move often
- Lift heavy things
- Drink only water
- Eat real food (nothing that is more than two steps from its natural form, ensuring every calorie you consume is the most nutritionally beneficial you can find)
- Sleep well
- Reduce stress
The pyramid image you can see is one I created for my clients to illustrate the excellent hierarchy model created by Alwyn Cosgrove. This one is specifically for fat loss, however you can tweak it for any goal you may have. What is really important to remember is that you can only do what you have time and energy to do.
What I find really impactful is the use of the time available arrow down the side. If that new job, baby or relationship puts you in that 1 hour a week slot and you can only do 1 thing, then it is nutrition you need to focus on. Moving up the pyramid as we get a tad more time shows us exactly what we should apply focus too.
It is simple…fill the space where guilt, regret for yesterday’s ‘not so’ healthy choices or disappointment with acceptance that you are doing the BEST you can at this moment. Simple, yes. Easy, no. However, with practice and putting a bit of time into learning what works best for you can smooth out the journey considerably. Remember, view the long game and enjoy each twist and turn.”
I’ve had a couple of instances this week that people have brazenly asked me for something which I wasn’t expecting.
The 1st ….I’ve had a wonderful girl helping out with the odd day here and there with childcare over the summer holidays. A bright, intelligent girl heading off to uni this September. I had to cancel one of her days working for me. At first she said fine and then a few hours later she asked for more money for the other day. Needless to say at 1st I was abit miffed but in the end we agreed a higher rate. After all she’d done a great job; looked after 2 6 year olds running havoc on a previous occasion and had excelled in her A levels. But the interesting thing was when we were chatting she mentioned that she hoped that I wasn’t upset she’d asked for more money but she’d just read an article about women less likely to ask for more money at work than men. So she thought she’d give it a whirl. Well you can’t argue with that and I was impressed by her honesty. If you don’t ask…
Secondly – the doorbell rang yesterday with 2 strangers standing outside. It turns out that they spent a very happy 5 years living in our house over 20 years ago and haven’t been back to the area since. The husband didn’t want to impose but his wife persuaded him to ring the bell. And I’m so happy that they did. It was so lovely to hear more about the house – how it was when they lived here, the history of it and how our local area has changed since. We welcomed them in and they reminisced as they went from room to room. A short but sweet experience which of course ended up with us all having a photo outside the front day. For me it’s these little things that make me and made them happy.
I think we should all take heart in the above 2 examples. Sometimes it may seem like a daunting task to ask for more money, flexible working hours or be open that you don’t understand how a process or product at work. But if you don’t ask you don’t get and there’s nothing worse than rueing day you never did.
So what have I asked for this week?…An extension to my contract and if I can leave work slightly earlier on a Friday and that’s alongside my daily questioning of “How do I do that”? Not sure if either will happen but at least I’ve asked!
What???? you may be thinking is the title of this week’s post all about. Well I’m going off piste this week on a short and snappy piece about a fabulous charity I discovered this weekend – The Flying Seagull Project.
I’ve just had the most amazing time with family and friends at The Wilderness Festival which was full of entertainment for kids, teenagers, adults, the sane and the downright out-there people. It was a wonderful eclectic mix. And as my daughter called it – mufti day for adults – as we wondered round admiring all the outfits and impromptu performances going on around us. The one thing she adored apart from all the spangles and glitter were the acts put on by this charity – comedy, magic, circus tricks and making up kids games. They were humble, inspiring, uplifting, amazing and thought provoking.
Their mission at the festival was to highlight what they do – visiting war torn and conflict countries to bring some laughter and humour to children. Their current project is to visit the refugee camps in Greece in October. I’m sure like me, you take for granted the laughter and happiness you share with friends and family and how fantastic that this troupe (if I’m allowed to call them that) of professional entertainers volunteer their time to put a smile back on a child’s face.
& what’s more every penny of every donation goes straight to the projects they are working on. Admin costs are covered by the children’s parties you can book with them in and around London.
I feel as if I’m doing a sales pitch and I don’t mean to but I was so bowled over by these people and what they are doing for children around the world. Please do take a look at the work they are doing and if you’ve got a kids party coming up; book them. Guaranteed it will be amazing plus you will be supporting a much needed and worthwhile mission.
Preaching over; I’m stepping down from my soap box.