Many of us are juggling work with young families, all in desperate need of more hours in the day (extra time we’re never able to find) with frankly, tremendous pressure to be everything to everyone. It can, and often is, incredibly shattering.
We often find ourselves stretched to our limits as we endeavour to fit in deadlines with school runs, social engagements and a million other commitments (supermarket shop anyone?), all while trying to be the best parents, partners and friends we can be. I need a lie down just writing this.
To me, undoubtedly, success means more time with my kids, plain and simple. Doing a job I love of course is vital to my happiness, with freedom and control where possible.
This blog right here, does just that, but some weeks, some weeks feel overwhelming and exhausting.
Half-term this week saw me take three days off and as you can see from my vlogs, all were life affirming, good fun- days out with my two boys or entertaining friends, and spending precious family time with my new nephew and my folks, while keeping my business running with a wide roster of clients, deadlines, shoots and events.
I had no choice but to burn the midnight oil most nights to compensate for the time out I had over the holiday period (I usually only have one day off a week, not three) and here I am, feeling I need another holiday to recover.
I get it, most weeks aren’t this full on. Many feel manageable, structured and productive. Just not this week.
And here’s the other thing, I’m asked, daily, a great many favours. I totally appreciate and advocate the ‘the don’t ask, don’t get’ ethos but it’s felt a little staggering lately. Like twenty emails a day too much. Look, I’m a kind hearted, generous girl, that will never change- I want and love to help others, it’s in my nature, the way I’m built, but I’ve realised I too, must say ‘no’ in order to help myself.
I will always try and make time to answer emails, facebook comments and messages, tweets and phone calls, but I’ve also learnt the importance of saying ‘no’ for self-preservation and sanity because every favour I pull for someone, means time away from work which pays the bills, and most importantly, time away from my little family.
I’d love to help every single pal and/or work colleague with their start-up, blog, business and event but practically speaking, I simply can’t. I have to be reasonable with what I can offer and the time I have to give.
I’ve had to say no to events, awards, big do’s, shoots that just don’t fit my brand or schedule, many paid to boot, and often find myself double booking, or letting others down and it must stop.
I don’t always have the expertise to offer too, particularly if it’s outside the digital, PR or filmmaking world. Sorry to shatter the illusion of being a know-all. I wish!
I do write posts like THIS though to help the best I can.
We women it seems, certainly struggle to say ‘no’- most of us fear we might be judged, thought of as unkind or selfish to some extent- but it’s time to stop worrying and start uttering that word without fear. to rid the guilt, do as men do and simply say, ‘I’d love to help but right now, I’m sorry but I can’t’.
We must collectively reject the jobs that don’t fit, or aren’t worth our time, the engagements we just can’t make, to take control of our time because when we do, when we say ‘no’ we create space and time for things, people and opportunities that require a ‘yes’.
We must of course agree where possible to adventures which push us out of our comfort zone, to helps others who need it most (I’m all for helping charities as much as I can), to be a good friend and partner- but as with everything, there must be balance. We must make that judgement call and stand by it.
To protect ourselves, to not feel worn out, or at worst, feel used.
When you do the asking too, question yourself what you can do to help that person too?
Have you commented on their blog recently, made an effort to be kind and thoughtful, considered how you can help them, first? Often we ask, myself included, without spending time, or demonstrating that we care, ourselves. No grand displays necessarily, just a show of respect, an understanding that small gestures count for a lot.
To summarise, I say, that in life, as with business, simply know your worth. Learn when to say ‘no’ and practice it until it doesn’t feel the worst thing in the world.
Because it’s OK to say ‘no’, you know. It really is.
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Mumboss: The Honest Mum's Guide to Surviving and Thriving at Work and at Home (UK 2nd Edition)