People regularly say these things to me (and I’m not even joking, they really do)…
“wow you’re amazing, how do you do it all?”
“you look so refreshed, you never look tired!”
“you’re my hero, I don’t know how you do it all!”
“do you just not sleep? How do you not sleep, your skin always looks so good!”
I do sleep, I’m in bed by 10 most evenings. I’m not amazing. And I do it all because thats just what I do. I don’t think there’s any reason for anyone to say these things, although its incredibly nice of them to do so! But I am not special. I have met some incredibly inspiring mums over the years, battling much harder and deeper challenges than anything I’ve ever experienced. So no I am not amazing, but amazingly I must have developed a knack for surrounding myself with lovely people!! (although note how they never say – ‘wow you’ve lost ALL your baby weight’ …yeah noted people.)
I’m painfully aware people often lump me into the ‘over or high-achiever’ category. It’s not something I totally agree with or feel wholly comfortable with. I’m not entirely sure how I ended up doing all this, I certainly didn’t think when I got pregnant that I would aim to start a business before the new baby even turned 6 months, then when the business was booming I’d just step aside and have another one…it all just sort of happened that way. I’m quite a spontaneous person and I follow my instincts, I’ve made some good choices, but I’ve learnt through making bad ones along the way too.
I’ve always liked to do things differently, my poor mum used to have to take me to every single shoe shop to search for a pair of plain black school shoes until I was satisfied that no one else would have them.
My natural instinct is to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing.
I hate corporate order and I have a rather rebel-ish childish desire to be disruptive and creatively different when everyone else is following suit. I guess it was inevitable I’d end up running my own business at some point. I’m lucky to have had the right support and partnerships to get there quickly and I’m now of course a total business convert and couldn’t live any other way. I love it and thrive on it and I’m not ashamed. I’m a business-mamma and through various groups I’ve met tonnes of mums who feel the same. I know I’ll do other business ventures in the future, because although its a hard slog, it kind of feels like a really fun game. I find it incredibly creative the way I choose to approach things.
I never considered myself a business woman and still don’t really. Even though in the space of 3 years I’ve had 2 children and grown TPL to a team of 9, inside I still feel the same way as I did in my early 20s. I really do. I’m still interested and motivated by the same things, but externally my world has changed (and my bottom has grown fatter). My desire to set up The Pineapple Lounge was born out of a frustration and boredom with the kids research industry, rather than a desire to ‘run a business’, although these days I’m definitely more attracted to the business side of things and I’m lucky to work with the coolest, kindest cats in town.
So anyway I was thinking about these things people are so kind to say, and often that they are said by mums, and it occurred to me that when they say them instead of just blushing, making a joke and changing the subject, that perhaps they are genuinely asking questions and want some tips. And that perhaps instead of just being a bit typically British and embarrassed of having any kind of pride in what I do, that I could actually share some time saver tips for manic mums. Because whatever you’re doing whether your CEO of a company or full time CEO of your own house, we all need to help each other work out how to manage our mumthly schedules. So here they are, I hope they are helpful: tips from this not-so-super mum:
– If you’re juggling work and kids and you can afford it, get a cleaner. Get rid of the stuff which occupies precious time you could be spending with your kids. Cut back on treats to save money for it, it will make a mega massive difference and probably stop you arguing about domestic crap with your man too. Do it and you’ll never look back
– Work out a bank of ‘quick play games’ you can squeeze in on mornings. I tend to try and get the kids ready and then myself as quick as poss and then have a quick play burst before I leave so I’m not just rushing out the front door without them seeing me
– Sleep. 8 hours is ideal, but at least 6-7 hours will do you I reckon. Easier said than done, but you’ve got to get to bed. If we wanted to I’m sure we could all find enough work to do 24/7, but draw a line and get to bed, without it your life is 10 times harder, fact
– Set up a weekly shop online and get it delivered on the first morning of the weekend. Fill your fridge with meals for the rest of the week, do not enter the realms of the supermarket – stressful, time consuming and your likely to waste money, online is your friend
– Don’t feel guilty about using copious amounts of Ella’s Kitchen! Baby food has come a long way, you don’t need to slave over a stove all the time if you don’t want to. Always get the best and the good stuff, but if you’re working a lot, you really don’t want to be in the kitchen puree-ing when you could be playing and cuddling
– You’ve got have your childcare zipped up. Regular, reliable, as near to your home as possible and of course somewhere you 100% trust and you’re kids are happy at. Get this nailed and life will infinitely easier, without this you will continually struggle
– If you’re part time, the dreaded curse of the iphone on your mummy day can be a nightmare. Go swimming and to places with no signal so you’re forced to switch off!
– Use your ‘dead hours’ to do productive stuff. I often have to rush out the office to get back so I spend most commutes reviewing work and answering emails on the train. Any moments where I have dead time like this I’m always trying to be productive – sad as it sounds, I even take my laptop when I’m getting my hair done!
– Fit exercise in around your schedule. As much as it pains me, Ben was right, running is far more realistic to fit into working motherhood. I find it hard to get to gym classes as it takes about 1.5 hours in total, but with running i can just run out the door and I’m off
– There’s rarely time to indulge in a fashion spree so when buying clothes do an ‘ASOS binge’. Over order, get loads and then pay the one off £10 to get annual next day deliveries and then just send back what you don’t want as its free. Its a bit like having a mega shopping trip in the space of an hour!
– Always carry a notebook, but one you like writing in. It sounds silly (and granted I’m a slight stationary freak), but if I have my favourite notebook with me I feel well equipped. I have thoughts and ideas at the weirdest moments and am continually storing them all up and returning to them when I’ve got proper time to think about them
– Acknowledge the things you can’t fit and be ok with that. Last year I signed up to the parents group at nursery because I thought I should. Since removing myself from the email list and accepting I’ll never have time to meet for a glass of wine and chat about planning an egg hunt, I feel a high sense relief without putting my pressure on myself to do everything!
– Say thank you. People around you will be helping you all the time, never be too busy to say thank you and stop to breathe and notice all the people that make your life easier. Respect them, love them, you need them.
– Schedule in fun. Kind of sounds wrong but if you don’t schedule in fun stuff to your diary you’ll end up doing nothing! Even if its something minor like going to the cinema put it in there! Plan holidays as far in advance as possible, Im pretty bad at this and am trying not to be this year!
– Have your hair cut into a style that means if it wet dries it looks effortlessly ‘just got out of bed’. Yes really.
– Take advantage of some of the great beauty stuff out there which can make life easier and keep you looking slightly more presentable – eyelash tinting is awesome as is waxing and shellac manicures
– Be a team. If you have a partner make sure you tell him how you feel and when you need help. I believe every strong woman needs an equal team mate, without a doubt I would not be able to fit everything I do in without Ben. Give each other lie ins without resenting it and take a few mins to do nice things for each other as often as possible
– Get bedtime routines down to a fine art. We have a strict 7pm in bed in our house. You have to have down time and time with your partner in the evening. So its bath, stories at 7pm and then sleep. Both our kids are early risers but that’s ok we have breakfast together and watch TV and have a quick play
Good luck, may the mumma-force be with you and post your own tips below, the more we gather, the saner we’ll all be!