I was reminded by my lovely colleagues this week via a stream of kind e-words that it has been 4 years since I teamed up with Firefish, my current agency, and launched The Pineapple Lounge to the world. 4 years?! Mental. I’ve never stuck to anything for more than 4 minutes so am feeling pretty chuffed with myself about that. A team of 10, a client list to drool over and more exciting stuff round the corner, its weird to think there was a time when The Pineapple Lounge didn’t feature in my life. And as Phoenix approaches the grand old age of 5 its a stark reminder of just how much really has happened since I wrote my first (probably crap), post on here, about waiting for a high chair delivery or something as equally unexciting.
I don’t really take time to stop and think about it all, and I’ve never been much into the ‘hey guys, come look how good I done’,- as soon are things are up they usually go down so I prefer to keep my eyes closed to some things. But as I’ve reflected on where the freakin’ heck those 4 years have gone, I did manage to give myself a tiny weeney little pat on the back for one thing, and one thing only….not losing my shit entirely, at any point over the last 4 years. Amen to that.
Being a mum is hard, being a working mum is bananas, being a working mum with a senior leadership role is full tilt, and being a working mum running a business does at times feel like having some kind of mental illness.
Running a business in many ways, I find, mirrors the challenges of running a family, so doing both whilst trying to still keep calm and cool can be a tough old ask. Most notably I recognise the extreme highs and feelings of euphoria spliced with the massive lows and feelings of disappointment that run through both family and business management, and when they’re all going at the same time it can hard to breathe. I have had times where I’ve visited the doctor confused about a pressure in my forehead and after asking me to describe my lifestyle, has looked at me like I’m idiot. ‘Oh right’ I said, shuffling out to go do some yoga, lie down and take a neurofen…. But here I am still smiling, still ‘showing up’ to work and family challenges, leaning in so far I’m toppling over and all that, and generally although yes its hard, its fun, I’m good, exhausted, but good….and so here are a few working mum hacks that will hopefully help you keep your shit together too…..
1. DON’T SLEEP WITH YOUR PHONE
Sex is harder to come by in busy lives but FOR GODS SAKE don’t start romping your bloody iphone! …. no that was a very bad mum joke (which are also heartily encouraged in your quest to keep your shit together), but I of course mean don’t sleep with your phone next to you. For years I did this and it is NOT healthy. You will always be woken in the night as a parent, things just happen and if like me you find yourselves addicted to checking emails you do not want to be reading them in between dreams and wet beds (hopefully not your own). Say good morning to the real humans in your house before you check in with your digital world.
2. KEEP WELL STOCKED UP ON DRY SHAMPOO
It is my favourite beauty product. I spray it on myself, my kids, my husband, passers by…..I bloody love the stuff. And some of the newer ones (like the Fudge one) also smell proper lush so double up as perfume too – well that’ll save you at least 2 more mins in the morning right?!
I spent a lot of time not running. Making excuses for not running. Explaining how I wasn’t build for running. It’s all bollocks. It’s the easiest and most effective exercise for busy working mummas as you can literally do it whenever you can. You go straight from your front door and for however many mins you’ve got. Its not my favourite exercise but there is something very stress relieving about pumping out music and just being on your own. Small children in my experience can’t keep up so you’ll loose them after the first 100metres and then no one can touch you.
4. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS
I’m new to this but my god I’ve been missing out! A few people at the same time recommended the Headspace app to me, I figured people clearly thought I needed it as they kept mentioning it to me so I gave it a go and I’m hooked. It’s basically meditation but not pitched for hippies or weirdos, just clearing your head, no mumba jumbo just brain training to keep your thoughts in check. I do 10 mins a day at the moment and I think its god send for any busy mumma – working or stay at home, because we could all use a bit more head space (plus the man’s voice is so soothing, he’s defo hot in real life but in case of disappointment I suppress all urges to google his face)
5. FIND TIME PLUGS AND FILL THEM
A while back I read a painfully cheesy titled book ‘Time Management for Manic Mums’. My god. What a title. It was, as you may expect, was a bit naff and true to form I ironically didn’t manage to find time to read it all, but it did make this good point about going through your life and spotting the time plugs. These are the bits where you’re not really doing anything and you could utilise them better. As I’m now full time all time is considered and used to the max, I sometimes use early mornings to do homework with Phoenix, I reply to lots of emails on the tube rather than be ‘on’ all day, I’ll take a run on a work from home day etc etc. It’s an interesting way of looking at your week and judging where there are plugs and if you could turn them into something more productive.
6. GIVE UP GUILT
Ah guilt, a mothers best frienemy. We all have it right? So why not just give it up? Just stop being guilty, give your self a break? Sounds too easy? Well it kind of is. Guilt is a self-manufactured emotion that we control, instigate and foster, you can just stop it if you really want. In January 2014 I wrote a post about New Years Resolutions and how I decided that I would just give up guilt for new year. I would stop feeling guilty for not doing this or that, not spending enough time here or there, and just accept the lifestyle I have chosen and created, acknowledge that my kids are pretty rad and that I’ve done an awesome job and just get on with it all. Done. Life on the flip side of guilt I can tell you is SO much easier to live in (there is a weird first bit you have to get through though where you feel guilty about not feeling guilty…god us mums, so predictable. But stick with it!)
7. GET STAFF
Ok without the risk of sounding like Lady Muck here, you’ve just got to get staff – namely cleaning, ironing, childcare. You need those three things wrapped up, locked in and sorted. In my quest to discover if you can ‘have it all’, I have concluded that if you can, then you defo can’t ‘do it all’, while you’re trying to ‘have it all’. Make sense?! I used to feel guilty for not doing all the housework, if this is an issue with you too, then refer to point 6 above.
8. GO AWAY
Living in London is draining. It’s expensive, fast, big and all consuming. If I don’t leave it regularly I actually go a bit weird. Its so much easier to appreciate the greatness of London when you have a break from it. In unbroken doses its bad for my health. I use work travel and weekend breaks to Bournemouth as my escape, I am at heart a beach person (a mermaid of course), living a sham of a big city life and I feel re charged by being by the sea.
9. SLOW DOWN
Its taken me four years to work out that if you don’t answer an email at 10pm at night the world will keep spinning. Amazing! I have had, and still will have periods where I work non stop. I stay up late perfecting work, obsessing over detail and always pushing myself to do and be better. Its part and parcel of having a successful business and an inherent part of who I am, but it is unsustainable. Luckily I have Ben, a man who thrives on ‘slowing down’ to remind me how weird I’m being at times.
10. HAVE FUN WITH FASHION
Might seem like a bit of a random one to end on, but be it shallow or not, clothes and shoes make me happy. Leaving the house feeling like you’re ready to face the world, and couldn’t give a flying hoot if you’ve got baby snot on your shoulder, feels good, in fact your styling that baby snot, your putting it out there, god damn it you’ve made snot cool! I hate the word mumsy, I hate everything it suggests and says about the transformation of women pre and post baby, but more than anything I hate that the mumsy spell does cast its evil woes all too often. There really is no need, you’re still you, just a bit chubbier and with wearing a bit more snot….and my god look at you, you beautiful thing!