Only the other week at 3.30 am I was shuffling my kids into the shower, wrestling my 4-year-old to wash his hair because his 1-year brother had projectile vomited into his face.
Between cleaning up vomit and gag-worthy poo-ey nappy, my work plan for the week went straight out of the window.
Although I’m grateful my business affords me the luxury to work from home, I also know being productive and staying motivated isn’t always easy especially when the whole family are coming off from a week recovering from gastro.
Being self-employed for 5 years and being a mum of two little boys, I often get asked how do I manage to do it all. So today, I wanted to share with you the one thing you need to do to stay motivated when working from home.
It doesn’t matter if you’re self-employed like me, have a job that has flexibility or a mum building a side hustle, this all applies to you, so read on.
Creating Structure and Routine
Yes I know, this doesn’t sound very sexy but hear me out.
There’s a misconception that having structure ad routine can feel suffocating especially for those spontaneous and people-loving personalities who will contest that it stifles creative energy and workflow. How do I know? Some of those are my clients.
Yet when we establish structure and routine, we create freedom.
We no longer need to carry thoughts that can weigh us downin our short term memory. Instead having structure and routine allows us to put processes and systems in place on AUTO-PILOT.
In other words, it allows your brain to go on cruise control.
I have a client who blatantly told me that structure and routine just isn’t “her thing.” My response was ahuh. But before our coaching journey was done, she’d become a structure and routine queen and here’s why.
She was doing life haphazardly wondering why she wasn’t able to accomplish all the things she wanted to do. She told me her health was a priority but she didn’t know where to start.
So we implement structure and routine and now she’s meditating, journaling and exercising all before her son wakes up before taking him to school because it’s become habitual, she’s on auto-pilot.
Sometimes it can feel very overwhelming on where to start. You don’t need to pull up a spreadsheet or calendar only to look at it blankly. Often removing distractions and things that cause you stress can help you prioritise what needs your attention first. Download this free Stress Audit to help you discover what obstacles could be in your way and then fill in the blank:
Today I’m going to _______________________________________________,
When it comes to the night-time routine with putting our kids to sleep, hubby looks after our eldest and I take care of the baby. As of late, hubby has been struggling big time with an injury so he’s been on bed rest and I took care of both boys last night.
I ended up falling asleep with them at about 8pm and so of course I woke up at 3am wide awake panicking that I didn’t put my alarm on for my morning run.
So I got out of bed to charge my phone downstairs and not long after that I hear my youngest start crying and my eldest say “what happened!” quite a matter of fact.
When I turned the lights on, both kids were blinded by the light but I was blinded by the sheer fact that my eldest face and hair was covered in vomit. It took me a few seconds to figure out who’s vomit it was.
My poor baby had an upset tummy.
Hubby being a light sleeper came to the rescue and in the early morning hours, we found ourselves showering the kids who were defiant and putting a load on in the washing machine only to find that the vomiting episode came as a series.
So while the sheets got washed and put in the dryer, we carted the boys downstairs to watch telly and keeping them vertical with our fingers crossed.
I left my hubby and still went for my run with my crew and planned to pick up supplies for the family on the way back.
The Importance of Structure and Routine
Driving to our meeting spot, the rain got heavy.
Torrential. I could barely see through the window even though my windscreen wiper was going at 100mph.
I texted Nyree “We’re crazy!”
Next minute I’m running, listening to Mysterious Girl by Peter Andre and feeling amazing.
The thing is, when you have kids and you’re a working mum, life is constantly throwing you curve balls and you can either get hit and complain about it and give up or you can get hit, realised it hurt and focus on a new strategy to anticipate the unexpected.
That’s the importance of having structure and routine with inbuilt flexibility as a working mum. Have a plan but know that nothing ever goes to plan so have a plan B too.
After the run, I popped into Woolies, grabbed the supplies I needed and went home to be a full-time mummy.
My Saturdays morning is when I work on my business, fat chance that was happening today.
However having structure and routine for the majority of the time helps me stay focused on my business, holds me accountable and also allows for wiggle room on the off chance it doesn’t go to plan, like today.
At first, some clients are apprehensive about having structure and routine. Ashley was against the idea of structure and routine because she thought it would be too restrictive.
However after I told her that it’s quite the opposite, she gave it a try.
Having structure and routine is quite liberating and frees up your energy and time from constantly thinking about the future when instead it allows you to put certain things on AUTO-PILOT.
She wakes up to journal, meditate and exercise all before her son wakes up and has the rest of the day to pursue her passion projects and studies.
Why having inbuilt Flexibility is not only Important but Necessary
Once we become mums, our lives are forever changed because we put our children before our own needs.
As a result, we’re in a constant tug-of-war between prioritising their needs and fulfilling ours. This ultimately puts us at risk on the road of chronic stress and burnout.
What I see is more effective is doing the opposite.
What use are we if we are not role models of what it is to be a happy and healthy working mum?
We want to teach our kids that happiness is an inside job and that begins with prioritising ourselves. That isn’t to say we neglect our children, in fact, we actually have more to give.
Having structure and routine is a way we honour prioritising our needs and having flexibility around this is how we can fulfil our children’s needs at the same time.
Here are 5 Ways to Adopt a Healthy Balance of Having Structure and Routine with inbuilt Flexibility that Prioritises You:
Decide your office hours, the number of hours you work every week and block out this time in your calendar so you have a visual representation of your working week, you can do this also with your study commitments. Once set, commit to this and be intentional with the time you do have.
Create appointments with yourself in your calendar for your meditation, exercise and other activities you know that helps with your mental, emotional and physical health – these appointments are non-negotiable.
With the time you are with your children, declare that you will be 100% present and they have your undivided attention – this means no mobile phone so their love cup is full and can learn to appreciate the need to have focused attention when you have allocated time to work. I find timers are particularly useful when your children are old enough.
Have a journal/notepad that you can write in always at a arms reach away, when ideas and thoughts come to you when you’re with your kids, write them down for later. Don’t spend energy remembering things that will distract you from being in the moment.
When planning out your week, decide on your minimum and maximum hours you want to dedicate to work and set S.M.A.R.T goals so that you feel confident and on fire by the end of the week. Sometimes we can set unrealistic goals and set ourselves up for failure if we’re not working towards well thought out realistic goals in the season of life we’re in.
Recently my favourite quote is
Change your pace, not your purpose.
If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed or stressed and don’t know where to start, apply for a stress assessment and we can arrange a time to chat about strategies on your next step forward.
I often get asked by other mums who have kids the same age as mine, how do I manage to do so much?
Honestly, it’s because I love what I do.
2020 was the year the world was turned upside down with the news about the Wuhan Virus aka Covid19 and it was also the year I had a newborn to look after.
So between changing nappies and breastfeeding, when Axel was 5 months old, I decided to get back to work because I felt that it was my contribution to help make the world a more positive place.
The World Needs More Health Coaches Right Now
You would think with economies collapsing, people losing their jobs, businesses shutting down and healthy people imprisoned in their homes, health coaching wouldn’t be a business that would be flourishing right?
However, with the events of 2020, people suddenly took more of interest in their health, they started to realised that staying healthy and building a strong immune system can’t be injected or bought, they learnt they needed to make positive behavioural changes with their diet and lifestyle and make conscious choices to go out for a walk, turn off the TV and eat more mindfully.
In fact, my clients were more motivated to make changes, I saw women change jobs, start a business, end relationships, release weight, start running, move house, go back to study and so many major life decisions amidst the chaos of the political world.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new”
Study Where and Whenever You Want
When I decided to go back to study, my firstborn was 9 months old. I breastfed on demand and we’re also a co-sleeping family. We didn’t follow any particular routine so when it came to studying I needed a way to study that fitted with demands of my then lifestyle.
I found my sweet spot was between 9pm and 12 midnight a few times a week and I had other friends who also decided to study with me, one had a day dedicated to studying and had a family to mind the kids and the other just studied during her daughter’s day naps. Download a free sample class and see how you can work it in your week if you’re curious.
Learning New Skills and Adapting to Change
In a world where there is so much uncertainly and change, one thing that has kept me feeling sane is having routine and structure outside of my primary role of being a mummy. Other than building a career in health and wellness, this journey has been so rewarding as I learn about entrepreneurship and getting to know some amazing people from around the world.
In the USA and parts of Europe, there are opportunities to for a company however the majority of health coaches that I know started by running their own business.
Some work as a health coach while others use their qualifications to write books, create health and wellness products and do other great business ventures but regardless what you discover to be your jam, it’s a deep dive in your own personal growth.
I’ve made some amazing new friends who are health coaches who live on different continents and have gotten to connect with other health and wellness professionals as a result of the work I do.
But what’s been amazing is being able to make an impact and help my clients achieve their goals, become happier and healthier versions of themselves regardless of what’s going on in the world.
If you’re curious about becoming a health coach, you can attend a free webinar with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to learn about the field of health coaching and why health coaches are in demandd right now.
I mentioned in this post that there’s a myth that humans, particularly women are great multi-taskers. Although yes we can multi-task but at what cost?
A study of adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD using a neuroimaging and cognitive testing showed that when our brains are distracted it impacts our ability to focus and reduce productivity.
But you don’t need to have ADHD to know that.
My husband who proclaims he’s such a great driver with amazing spatial awareness says that it’s only when I’m in the car he seems to lose his pizzazz.
As I was saying, I don’t know about you but often when I walk into a messy room or office, I immediately felt overwhelmed and it’s usually because I feel all over the place, I don’t know what to do or where to start.
One of my mentors, Milena would say “what’s the most important thing for you to focus on today?”
It helps cut through the chaos and gets straight to the root of what’s important now.
Have you ever tried to just sit and think nothing?
No matter how hard you try to think absolutely nothing, a thought will pass by, sometimes it’s thought about thinking nothing!
It’s a perfect example of how our brain is continually scanning your internal and external environment even when you’re focused on a task. For example, you’ve decided to sit down and read a book before bed and whilst engrossed in a chapter, you remember you need to turn the light off on the front porch or set your alarm on for tomorrow.
So what can you do?
The ABC Method
One neat little hack you can do to help you maintain focus and prevent distractions is to use the ABC method.
A stands for aware.
When you thought comes into your mind you are aware of your options to either focus on the distraction such as stop reading the book and set your alarm or you can choose to let the through drift by.
B stands for breathe.
Take a deep breath and consider your options.
C stands for choose.
They make a decision; will you stop to set that alarm?