‘I don’t know how you do it,’ said an ex-Olympic Athlete to me once. She meant how I managed to work full-time, go to a running club, bring up three kids, be mostly nice to my husband, organise the house, the washing, the homework, the meals, the cleaning and all that essential but unlisted stuff you have to do as soon as you’ve given birth.
I remember nearly shattering like a defeated cartoon character the minute she said it. ‘WHAT DO YOU MEAN?’ screamed my internal hysterical voice. ‘DOESN’T EVERYONE OPERATE LIKE THIS??? AND SURELY you DO know how To Do It?!’
It seems not. Some people quickly realise that bringing up kids ‘is a full-time job’ as my own mother tells me. Frequently. Others consciously choose to take a career break (of – say – ten years). Yet others still find something that they like doing and then extend that into a small business, some part-time consultancy work – something that can slot into life. I haven’t been quite that smart and have always let work drive the family diary.
I am trying to learn to balance, to do better, and thought it might be handy to share some of my survival tips I have learnt along the way.
- It’s not easy. So sometimes if you’re too busy, just delete something from your calendar (play date/ night out/ gym sesh.) Just cancel.
- Plan the week’s meals in advance. Yes probably loads of you do this already but after a working day with no breaks the last thing you want to do as you step in the house holding you laptop under one arm and a toddler under the other is figuring out WHAT THE HELL WE ARE GOING TO EAT TONIGHT.
- Figure out how a slow cooker works (see point 2) and see if there are any recipes that you could stomach.
- Get loads of help. Your partner. Childminders, neighbours, nannies, friends. Learn to ask for help. I am still learning.
- Go out. Anywhere! To do something that you love. Got for a run, see a friend, go to the cinema, take a book and sit at a bus stop – just get out of the house. It’s allowed, and everyone will still be there when you get back.