In Part 1 of this post, I showed you how to start looking at what thoughts you’re telling yourself that are making you feel like you can’t win as a mom and in your career at the same time.
Here are additional tools that will help you manage your mama brain so that you can begin creating more positive results at home and in your career.
Make A Conscious Choice, Every Day
When I coach moms who have demanding careers, I often hear “I have to” and “I can’t” when discussing potential career options. As in, “I have to stay at this job because I have to pay off my student loans/pay my mortgage/support my family” or “I can’t relocate because my spouse doesn’t want to move.”
Clients report feeling trapped by their current circumstances, as if there were no way out.
But the circumstances are not what make us feel trapped. It our thoughts about the circumstances that create the feeling of being trapped.
The truth is, you could walk away from it all today. Many people do. They decide to divorce their spouses and move. They decide to leave their jobs and default on their mortgages or loans. Some people sell everything and go travel or live in a cabin in the woods. Some people even decide to let their kids live with family members.
These choices are just as available to you now as the choices that you are currently making.
You might not like the consequences of those choices but recognizing that it is your choice and owning it is the first step toward taking full responsibility for your life and feeling in control again.
Saying “I choose to work at my job right now to support my family” is so much more powerful than saying “I’m stuck at this job and there’s no way out.”
Saying “I choose to stay in this city and stay married to this person whom I love” is so much more powerful than saying “I can’t relocate because my spouse won’t move.”
Starting today, make the conscious choice about what you want to do with your life and own that choice. Then recommit to your choices every day and notice how differently you feel when you intentionally choose your life over and over again.
If you think the difference is just semantics or that it’s not a real choice, I’d like to offer that your brain is already telling you a story. It’s just a negative one if it’s causing you to feel badly about your circumstances. You might as well turn it around and make it a story that serves you and makes you feel better.
How To Win As A Mom
The truth is, you already know how to be a good mom because you already love your kids fiercely. That’s all they really need.
But there is one thing that I recommend that will help you win even more as a mom. I’ve never seen it in the parenting books, but I’ve been applying it in my own life and have found it to be a game changer: The way to be more loving, patient, and understanding with your kids is to first learn how to be more loving, patient, and understanding with yourself.
If you’re like most working moms and you’re feeling stressed, it’s easy to lose your patience and get frustrated with your kids. Just getting out the door in the morning for school and work can be challenging, especially with young kids who like to dawdle. When we lose our patience with our kids, we usually end up feel guilty or angry with ourselves. But guilt and self-anger don’t really help anybody and or prevent you from getting frustrated again the next time.
What does help is learning how to be patient and compassionate with yourself when you do lose your patience.
Of course you’re feeling stressed when you’ve got a meeting at work and your child is refusing to put on his socks. Of course you’re going to yell at your kids sometimes, like when they make a game of pouring syrup all over the dining room table. You’re going to get frustrated, lose your patience, and even yell sometimes because you’re human.
Telling yourself you should never do those things isn’t going to help if you find yourself doing them anyway. Being compassionate with yourself when it does happen will allow you to quickly recover, apologize if needed, and move on.
It will also allow you to become more patient and compassionate with your children: Of course your toddler is going to think pouring syrup on the table is fun. He’s curious. He wants to know what will happen. Of course your pre-schooler isn’t going to want to stop playing with her toys and put her shoes on for school. Nobody likes to stop playing.
The feelings of compassion and patience will be much more readily available for you to apply to your kids if you’re already applying them to yourself first. And when you do that, you’ll notice that you show up more consistently as the mom you want to be.
Consider Whether You Want to Change Your Circumstances
If you’ve done the work of managing your thoughts, owning your choices, and cultivating compassion for yourself but your circumstances still don’t feel right for you, it might be time to make a change.
This happens for many moms who experience a life-altering shift in core values and priorities after having children. They find that they want different things now than they did when they chose their careers. This is especially true if you have a demanding career that requires a lot of travel or late nights at the office.
If you find yourself wanting to do something different, consider what would help you thrive as your very best self. Maybe you’d like to slow down but continue to work in the same industry. (Research shows that people are happier when they choose to have more free time, rather than make more money.) Maybe you want to change careers completely or move to be closer to family. Maybe you want to downsize and live more simply. Maybe you want to be your own boss.
It all starts with getting crystal clear about what is really important to you and what you really want now (as opposed to what you wanted when you were 22 and single).
Whatever you want is available to you. Feeling better about your current circumstances is an option for you. Choosing new circumstances is also an option for you. You get to decide to flourish—as a mom, as a professional, as whoever you want to be.
Go forth and bloom.
P.S. If reading this made you realize that you could use some help seeing what options are really available to you and you’d like a fresh perspective, let’s talk. I offer free one-hour strategy calls, designed to help you see your circumstances differently, so that you can get unstuck and start taking action to create the results you want for your career and your life. Are you ready to flourish?