Working mum

Working mum woes…

Today, juggling motherhood with work has felt difficult. Balancing my priorities and responsibilities has felt almost impossible and I’m left with the feeling that I haven’t been able to perform either of my roles as well as I’d have liked. I’ve felt tired, guilty, frustrated and overwhelmed.

Poor Little Mister isn’t very well. He’s been fighting a temperature and is so miserable. My usually happy, busy little boy has been floored by a nasty virus. Really, I should have been at home with him.

Working Mum WoesThe problem is that working part-time, Monday to Wednesday, means that missing today would have made my short working week even shorter. With some big deadlines looming and the two recent Bank Holidays having already curtailed my hours, staying at home didn’t feel like an option.

Having only recently returned from maternity leave, I do feel under pressure to prove myself again. My work is important to me and, of course, I want others to value what I’m doing. After almost a year out of the office, I want to show that I can still have an impact and am good at what I do. I want to feel good at what I do again.

But my brain just wasn’t feeling it today. After a broken night responding to the little man’s distressed cries, my thoughts were sluggish. My creative juices just wouldn’t flow and any flourish that I might have had in the past felt totally diminished.

I’d arrived late, thanks in the main to an unhelpful fit of willfulness from my toddler. The persistent rain and traffic that seemed to be conspiring against me didn’t help matters either. And Little Mister was never far from my thoughts, even though he was safely at home being looked after perfectly well by Daddy who was in a better position than me to take the work hit.

I know we probably did the right thing today. That I at least was able to get something, rather than nothing, done and be present among my colleagues. But my inner critic keeps telling me that if I’m going to spend a day away from my sick child then I really should have made it count. I should have been firing on all cylinders, producing dazzling copy. I can’t help but feel like I’ve failed all round.

I know I’m being over dramatic and that I’ve heaped this pressure on myself – why do we do that? I know that my colleagues probably didn’t notice that I was struggling to be productive and that I still have time to ‘pull it out of the bag’ before next week. I know today could have been so much worse on so many levels. That I should, and do, feel grateful for all the good things.

As can be said about so many things in parenthood, I know this will pass. It will all be ok. Tomorrow is another day.

Has anyone else been struggling with the juggle this week? Do let me know any tips

Image: Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Super Busy Mum
Categories: Mind matters, Motherhood, Working mum | Tags: , | 12 Comments

Ten tips I learnt from reading I Don’t Have Time to Write

I Don't Have Time to Write by Nadine Hill front coverThe title of this book instantly grabbed me when I spotted it on Amazon a few months ago. I Don’t Have Time to Write – or at least enough time – is a phrase that’s constantly popping into my head, if not being uttered out loud at least a few times a week. Luckily my clever husband checked my Amazon Wishlist and the book turned up among my presents on Christmas Day. It’s a very quick and worthwhile read but if you’re even more strapped for time then I am then just take a look below at the top ten things I took away from it.

I Don’t Have Time to Write is written by mum-of-two Nadine Hill, who’s also a business owner, writer, blogger and speaker – you can see why she’s so busy! As I said, it’s a whizz to read and as a result can feel a bit rushed in places. But that’s partly the point. The book is written using the author’s time-efficient ways of working. It shows that a busy working mum can put the advice given into practice. It’s clearly not meant to be War and Peace. What it does do is offer useful tips and ideas and, if you want added depth, you can go away and build on these.

The book is aimed at all writers but includes separate chapters for bloggers and infopreneurs.

So here are the top time-taming tips I will be focusing on:

Ten tips learnt from I Don't Have Time to Write

1. Always have an end goal in sight.

It’s pretty hard to move forward without knowing where you want to get! Knowing why you are writing – whatever that might be – gives you focus and purpose.

2. Just get started! Get something written down. Create the skeleton and you can flesh it out later.

On a bad day, I can be a big procrastinator but as Nadine says: “It doesn’t matter where you decide to start first, start somewhere and it becomes easier to see where the next logical place is.” It’s true and I do this all the time now – getting the basics of a post written down first then coming back later to finesse.

3. Be careful with multitasking.

Save the juggling act for the low level tasks you can do without thinking, like basic household chores. Don’t fry your brain trying to concentrate on too many different things at once, you won’t do the big stuff as well as you could and it takes so much longer to get anything finished. This may mean you need to prioritise how much you take on.

4. Keep day-to-day life as organised as possible.

Sometimes easier said than done, I know, but by streamlining the everyday stuff you can create extra ‘pockets of time that are spare’. It’s common sense I suppose. Super-organised Nadine suggests simple things like batching tasks together to avoid duplicating effort, using  a diary and to-do list (aha!) to keep track of it all and spending ten minutes at night planning and getting stuff ready for the following day.

5. Consider batch writing posts.

Initially this felt a bit contrived but actually it makes sense to take advantage when your creative juices are in full flow and get several posts written at once. It takes the pressure off and these can then be scheduled, meaning if events conspire to prevent you from writing further posts – and a busy mum they often do – you’ve still got something to publish.

6. Capture ideas as they happen.

Keep a notebook (I have one by my bed for midnight flashes of inspiration), save them on your phone, email yourself if you’re at work, try using Microsoft One Note or a similar programme or app on your tablet or laptop. I do all of these. I can vouch for it saving a lot of time (and mental torment) later on when you can’t quite think what that earlier brainwave was! Store up all your ideas then you’ll never be stuck for a post.

7. Keep a rolling list for blogger outreach and prioritise.

“Blogging is a marathon!” says Nadine and unlike a book there is no natural end to a blog. “It evolves, transforms, grows and develops”. As any blogger will know, they also need a lot of nurturing, promotion and outreach. This all takes time – so big blogger pats on the back all round! I always regret that I’m not able to do as much of this as I’d like. At the same time, when I’m online I often find myself distracted by the first thing I see and head off in all kinds of directions (Twitter can be a killer for this!), meaning I run out of time to look at and engage with those blogs that are actually most important to me. So I’m going to give Nadine’s suggestion of a rolling weekly list a go and make sure I spend more time regularly connecting with my favourite sites.

8. Don’t waste time overthinking post comments.

I used to do this a lot before realising it’s always better to go with my gut instinct, that initial response, rather than trying to be too witty or clever. After all it’s meant to be a natural online conversation, not a rehearsed speech. As Nadine suggests, if you have that much to say you’d be better off creating a new post and linking back to the original. Not wasting time also creates more time to visit other blogs, make more comments and generally spread the blog love!

9. If something is hard to write it may well be hard to read too.

So take a break from it. If it’s still not working for you then it’s probably not the right approach or subject matter in the first place so move on. Simple.

10. Have realistic expectations of yourself.

An obvious one but always worth remembering. I often compare myself to others and lament the fact that I’m not the kind of blogger who can turn out several posts a day, or even just one every day. At the moment, with my other commitments, I simply don’t have the time. I’m not superwoman, so I need to learn to relax and recognise the good stuff I can get done. The end!

You can visit Nadine’s blog Juggle Mum and buy I Don’t Have Time to Write (paperback or Kindle) here on Amazon.

And if you’ve got any other tips that help you to manage your blogging time I’d love to know what they are.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Categories: Blogging, Reviews, Things I've learnt..., Working mum | Tags: , , , , , | 24 Comments

Word of the Week #6

We’ve had a good week, with lots of things to feel positive about but the word – or emotion – I’ve felt the most, and will therefore choose as my Word of the Week, has been:

Word of the Week - Proud

Of course, like any parent, I always feel proud of my Little Miss but there have been some really magic moments this week that have just made my heart swell and my face beam. It’s so lovely seeing her develop and learn new skills. They seem like such little things – like learning to take her own trousers off – but to her they are so important and the look of pleasure on her little face when she masters something is pure joy.

This week she’s started gathering up her own clothes and proudly putting them in her washing basket each night – completely of her own accord, I swear! She’s also stringing more and more words together – like pointing at a picture in the Bear Hunt book and telling me ‘bear drawing’ and he was indeed. And we enjoyed a lovely day out at Brighton Sealife Centre yesterday with friends and their toddler, where it was wonderful to see her interacting and having such fun with their little girl, as well as enjoying all the aquatic creatures on display. Both my husband and I felt incredibly proud and blessed.

And so as not to be a complete baby bore, there is a small piece of pride I’ve reserved for myself. At work this week I finished the writing stage of three publications, on time and without any major hiccups, meaning I now just have the design stages to work through. It was a task I’d felt pretty daunted by at the beginning of the year, so I’m both relieved and pleased to have got them done without losing my sanity!

I hope everybody else has had a good week and look forward to catching up on your Word of the Week posts.

This post is part of the Word of the Week linky run by fellow blogger Jocelyn over at The Reading Residence. The idea is very simple, every week you come up with one word to sum up your week.

My previous words have been CanRelievedMidnight, Happy and Stickers.

The Reading Residence

Categories: Motherhood, Mummy memories, Toddlerdom, Word of the Week, Working mum | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

Word of the Week #3

It’s been another busy few days and the hours I’ve been keeping are summed up by my Word of the Week…

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It’s a time I’ve seen far too much of lately.

I can’t blame a frenetic social life. These days, as if! Nor is it down to a wakeful toddler. Thankfully Little Miss has always been a good sleeper – a bit like her mum in normal circumstances!

No, it’s an important work deadline that’s seen me burning the midnight oil.

Generally my work/life balance is pretty good. When Little Miss was nine months old I went back to work three days a week. I was lucky to be able to return to my old job on these part-time hours. But sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the office.

I know this current spell of what is effectively unpaid overtime will be short-lived. Calm will be restored once that deadline is hit.

But for now I’ll be trying to channel the positive energy of my first Word of the Week, ‘can’. And by next week I should be back to the feeling of last week’s choice, ‘relieved’!

Are any other working parents out there feeling up against it at the moment? How do you cope when the pressure’s on?

This post is part of the Word of the Week linky run by fellow blogger Jocelyn over at The Reading Residence. The idea is very simple, every week you come up with one word to sum up your week.

The Reading Residence
Categories: Word of the Week, Working mum | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

The Sunday night dash

Some people call it the ‘day of rest’ but I’ve just completed what I call the ‘Sunday night dash’ (although technically it began late afternoon). It’s that time of the week where a whole load of household admin has to get done. I work full days Monday to Wednesday and while my natural instinct is to collapse in a heap in front of the TV, I’ve learnt the hard way that the start of the week generally runs more smoothly if I get ahead of the game.

So on the to do list for the last few hours has been hoovering, stripping beds, sorting washing, packing nursery bags (being sure to remember the new wipes and toothpaste requested), packing my bag and then finally looking at our online banking and wondering just how we managed to put so much on the credit card. The last point is one that’s gone on another of my lists – we must transfer the balance to an interest free one!

Anyway, I’ll keep it short and sweet as I always feel twitchy about getting a decent night’s sleep on Sundays so that I feel on the ball for work! And I won’t be held responsible for my actions if next door’s wind chimes get going in the much-hyped storm that’s due to hit tonight!

Does anyone else find Sunday nights just a little bit stressful?

Categories: Motherhood, Working mum | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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