Blogger and film-maker Vicki Psarias (@honestmum) shares an exclusive extract from her new book, MUMBOSS a no-nonsense guide to getting on with your career without losing your mind
For those at work, childcare is necessary to ensure that you can work either full or part-time. We personally opted for nursery as we lived close to a super one, and we felt that the classroom environment, with lots of outside play overlooking the countryside, would appeal to our kids.
Meet childminders and visit nurseries so you can chat through your expectations and, as with everything, go with your gut. You know your child better than anyone else. Some children are better suited to a more intimate environment that a nanny or childminder can provide, while others prefer a more social environment at nursery.
When starting your own digital business [as I did], succeeding without childcare is possible. You just need to be time-savvy and you will have to work evenings or in pockets of the day when your baby or toddler naps. Alternatively, someone might be able to help out.
I have friends who work full time and rely on their own parents, along with their partners, to be flexible with start and end times at work, or they invest in after-school clubs as we do. Many say they’re tired of trying to meet everyone’s expectations – their kids’ and their own – but ultimately, feel the rewards at work are worthwhile. The feeling of independence, of financial security and doing a job they love makes the daily battles (and often cheese and biscuits for dinner) a small compromise overall.
Top Tips for Happy Juggling
Below are some quick-fire tips on how to handle the balancing act – from reaching out for support to meal planning and letting go of perfection. Whether you set up at home, or work nine-to-five, these tips will help empower you:
- Let go of perfection. Lower your standards. I’m a clean freak, but I accept the house will be messy, and some things are more important than endless tidying. We do a big tidy most weekends, and while we clean throughout the week, we don’t obsess about it. Let that s*** go.
- Co-parenting or reaching out for support from others will help you. Remember, getting downtime for yourself helps everyone. I love a blow-dry to chill out and return bouncier. Split duties and create a rota to ensure all hands are on deck. The home doesn’t have to be your sole responsibility, so stop trying to do everything.
- Shop online so supermarket sweeps and extra spending are kept to a minimum. Look for deals, and cook and freeze in bulk.
- We sort the packed lunch my son takes to school the night before, making only the sandwiches fresh in the morning. This saves time and limits stress.
- The same goes for clothes. I plan out the kids’ clothes the night before, along with my own, as mornings are always manic. I also wash and iron uniforms at the weekend so there’s always enough during the week.
- My children have been doing chores since they were small. Getting them involved in home life allows them to feel independent, and means they can contribute to tidying from an early age. My brother and I did this too as kids, and because of it, settled into university life away from home with ease. Start as you mean to go on.
- After school, and on weekends, allow your kids to be bored. They must learn to use their imaginations. It’s not your job to constantly entertain your kids. Do I look like Mr Tumble?
- Learn to switch off and allow yourself time out, and off. Yes, kids change you, but deep down, you’re still that same person; you just need to find yourself again, so give yourself permission to have fun. You don’t need to be a martyr. Redefine the way you see motherhood. You don’t need to stop being bold when it comes to style and beauty, or have a personality transplant because you popped some kids out. Have fun nights out and enjoy the things you loved pre-kids when you can.
- Try to carve out some couple time, too, even if it’s once a month. I love watching Netflix with my husband or going on a date night once a month, and remembering who we are and how much we love each other, away from the daily grind and bickering that comes with raising kids.
- Get yoga into your life. It’s transformed mine. I watch YouTube videos and often do deep breathing from my desk. A total game-changer when it comes to juggling. Get into the routine of practising on a Monday, which will encourage you to keep it up all week. Remember, you time isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. The more time you have for yourself, the more mental capacity you have for both your family and your business.
MUMBOSS BY Vicki Psarias, Piatkus, £13.99