I survived the day.
In no particular order: I took my three kids to the dentist; I bought groceries for a week; I wrote one unit for a career module; I added 1,000 words to my debut novel; I tended to my baby who is sick and irate (she is purely breastfed). I also finished some surveys required in my full-time job as a training manager.
And there’s more I couldn’t recall.
ALL IN ONE DAY.
Today, I also felt physically exhausted, emotionally-drained, and mentally exacerbated. Fulfilled? Oh, definitely. Will I embrace the same cycle tomorrow or in the ensuing days? Probably not. There are parts I need to fine-tune, repeat, and maybe cross out.
Two of my children are going to school already, another is one year shy of schooling and the youngest is a six-month old baby. Through these years, I have managed to keep three full-time jobs related to training and consultancy.
Motherhood is unarguably the most fulfilling and noblest of all callings for it endows women the sacrosanct roles of bearing, rearing and nurturing children. It is also very demanding in that it may seem like you are asked to fulfill goals that far exceed your human capacity. What more, women who are working in general will need to perform better at organizing, managing time and resources- on top of many skills- if they are to survive this ordeal.
Here are of some of my take on embracing motherhood and career (and staying alive).
1. Schedule your priorities (please, not the other way around).
Focus on wildly important goal (WIG) as prescribed in the book The 4 Disciplines of Execution. Applying this principle is like punching one finger through a sheet of paper–all your strength goes into making that hole. Your plate is already full. Do not be afraid to drop some or all those activities that have little or inconsequential results. By avoiding focus traps like refusing to say no and trying to make everything a goal, you can narrow your focus to one or two wildly important goals for a given day; otherwise, you are putting a strain on the many aspects of your lives. The late Steve Jobs subscribed to the ideal that learning to say no is as important as learning to say yes. Ask yourself: What is the one important thing I will do today? Identify it then proceed to act.
2. Manage expectations.
A lot of things will change on the arrival of the first baby. Both you and your husband will experience a series of firsts. Cut him some slack and always strive to reach a compromise.
I have experienced many a psychological as well as physical changes when I started bearing children. I had a mild postpartum depression with my eldest son. With the help of friends and family, I was able to overcome it soon. I learned to ease out on matters which were beyond my control. I also became more realistic in my goals especially now that we have four children and each of them brings a whole new plethora of experiences to the table.
You will always end up frustrated whenever you nag about how little time you have left to accomplish your tasks. It is a hopeless feat. Give it up. Moreover, the attitude of perfectionism in all things is crippling. Just as you cannot expect yourself to be infallible in your daily decisions and actions, let it be your guiding principle when dealing with your fellow employees and your family.
3. Pursue an interest outside work and home.
This is important for your sanity and the people surrounding you. An empty emotional tank breeds boredom and boredom is fatal. Likewise, an overworked mother is like a ticking bomb. Stress can take its toll on you and you may explode anytime, anywhere, wreaking havoc on the lives of your loved ones and work colleagues. Find ways to release, unwind and recalibrate. Engage in activities that challenge your intellect in a truly enhancing way. One of my favorite thinkers and philanthropists is Bill Gates who believes in the benefits of having a ‘think week’. Every year, Mr. Gates picks a certain week where he would not think of anything but personal development. He guards it with utmost care from people or events that will distract or ruin his thinking. In the same manner, you can avoid being burned out by being actively engaged in meaningful pursuits. There is more to discover about your hidden talents and untapped potential. Keep digging. Keep searching. But do not take away having fun in the process.
4. Listen to what your body is telling you.
I was 25 when I married my husband in 2006. In ten years, I had seven pregnancies; I lost three to miscarriage, and delivered four healthy babies, two of which were thru C-section. I hovered between life and death during these years due to my condition called Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome (APS). When antibodies attack phospholipids, cells are damaged. This causes blood clots to form in the body's arteries and veins. Usually, blood clotting is a normal bodily process. In APS, however, too much blood clotting can block blood flow and damage the body's organs. My doctors explained to me how important that I follow the medications they prescribed, albeit expensive to keep me safe during these pregnancies. But I followed it to the T. Even so today, I go back to my doctor for regular check-ups because my body feels differently now.
There are diverse ways you can destroy your health such as vices, poor mindset, wrong decisions and many more. Steer clear from these tendencies to abuse your body. Extended period of sleep deprivation saps your energy, impairs your judgement, and kills your creativity. You cannot do everything so learn to ask for help when necessary. It is wise to remember that you cannot neglect health and expect to perform at your optimum level. Listen to your body well.
5. Manage your finances
Do you know Lisa Nichols? She is the 6 time best-selling author and world-renowned speaker today. But almost 20 years ago, she was a devastated single mother on government assistance with less than $12 in her bank account. On the outset, one would think that given her dire situation of being born amid warring gangs in Los Angeles bereft of the usual privileges enjoyed by more affluent communities was a permanent disability. Lisa got herself pregnant at 27 and found herself raising her daughter whose father was in prison. The day she could not buy Pampers for her baby was her turning point.
Her story reminds me of thevalue of money in running our earthly affairs. It is such a wonderful privilege to have a job and earn while fulfilling your roles as a wife and a mother. You might be tempted to splurge on material things to reward yourself. That is fine occasionally but I think that this is also the best time for you to build on a solid financial foundation. You may have all the reasons to be busy and occupied but failing to manage your finances well can spell disaster in the future. Pay yourself first. Learn how to save and invest in legit companies that can give you the highest rate of return. Avoid unnecessary debt. And above all, practice prudence. You will never know when emergencies will come so be prepared.
And before anything else fails, go to a higher source for divine help. Whatever is your spiritual or religious background, you can get immense help and inspiration from above. Read your scriptures. Pray. Meditate.
I still have a long road to take before I can claim that I have endured motherhood. Meanwhile, I intend to continue on with a positive note and with a pen and paper on my hand to write my stories along the way.