outsourcing makes me a happier mum
A few months ago I asked myself: How did I get to this place where I think that I can do it all?
Perhaps this is a question you ask yourself, wondering how you became so overwhelmed and depleted?
Personally, I go through phases where I’m unfulfilled; mostly because I’m trying to do too many things and I’m not doing any of them well – not even well enough. These phases are often related to my children’s ages and stages and I can recall exact patterns where babyhood and toddlerhood challenges me. Starting solids? Messy and time-consuming! Teething alongside trying to walk? Frustrating and loud! Eighteen-months-old and right in the thick of separation anxiety? Personal space non-existent!
The last few months have tested me as I’ve unsuccessfully juggled work and motherhood. Well, that’s not entirely correct. I have juggled it but it’s been difficult and unenjoyable and frankly, not sustainable. And so, to lighten my load and practise self-care, I’ve started outsourcing. And I’m doing so with gratitude, not guilt.
It’s one of those decisions that I procrastinated over for months and yet, when I eventually found the space and energy to organise help, it was an almighty relief.
It started with Poet’s party in July; I outsourced most of the cooking and the cakes so that I wasn’t in a frantic pre-party headspin. As a result I actually enjoyed the party instead of falling into an exhausted heap once the candles were blown out. I did the same with Che’s party earlier this week and in doing so I supported a local business, thoroughly enjoyed my big boy’s day and revelled in the opportunity to devour butter cream and sponge with a big cup of tea.
As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve started taking my work to the library so I’m not attempting to type with Percy banging on the keyboard. Separating my work space from my home space has been beneficial too – for someone that finds it difficult to focus, it’s made my work time exponentially more productive.
And just these past few weeks I’ve made a point of organising babysitters a fortnight in advance. Knowing that I have free days coming up has gifted me a calm that I haven’t experienced in some time. Just today my kids spent the day with family friends; two 14-year-old girls who I have known for the past ten years. Together they made a bamboo teepee, had a tea party and read tea leaves, created a spy game and made up dance routines to the Annie theme song. Subsequently, I responded to emails uninterrupted, made three important phone calls, ran errands, did a bit of grocery shopping and had a very enjoyable business meeting. A productive day for me and squeal-inducing excitement for the kids.
A few years ago I really did think that mothering and working from home and keeping the house tidy and baking cakes and engaging the kids in craft activities was possible on any given day. But it’s not – not in my experience, anyway. And I’m not going to strive for that kind of a lifestyle anymore.
So I come back to the present and start letting go of ideals, honouring my strengths and my weaknesses and asking for support when I need it. It’s reiterating to myself that perfectionism is not sustainable and it’s most definitely not a fast-track to happiness.
Today when I came home, knowing that work was done and the kid’s cups were full, I had such an enjoyable evening with them. Good chats, a yummy meal, heartwarming cuddles and only a little bit of squabbling (maybe a bit more than a little bit but rose coloured glasses are most definitely on).
So here’s to knowing that we’re doing our best and sharing the load with others – family, friends, paid help, cleaners, babysitters, neighbours – no mother guilt attached.