Because I’m important too!

I jumped at the opportunity to attend a two-part coaching workshop facilitated by an ex-colleague and her coaching partner! The first session of Playschool 4 Moms was simply brilliant! It was a small group of moms, which made for an intimate and ‘safe’ space in which we could share our thoughts, our struggles, and our hopes and aspirations. We were moms from different racial, religious, and likely socio-economic backgrounds, but shared many of the same parenting challenges and dreams. One of the things that was mentioned was that we often look at other moms and think that she has it together and that the grass is greener on the other side. We think that our struggles are our own – we don’t realise or acknowledge that we all have struggles; that what might be a challenge for us is well dealt with by another mom, and vice versa what another mom struggles with might be a simple matter for us. But the point is that we all have our challenges we deal with and need to find some ways to manage our own sets of struggles.

Playschool 4 Moms is set at doing just that – providing the tools to help manage the struggles and deal with things better; to help put things into better perspective. The first session this past Saturday was all about the moms sharing their stories and using the exercises presented during the session to help us channel our thoughts and put things into perspective for us. One exercise I enjoyed was called the Flower of Focus. We were asked to note areas that were important to us, each area being a petal of a flower. We then needed to score those areas in terms of our satisfaction levels with that area, before going through a series of reflections on our areas and ratings of each area. My areas included my children (of course!), my husband, work and so on. Before we proceeded with ratings and reflections, we were asked about our areas of importance or focus. I commented on how I added ME as an afterthought! I didn’t think to list myself anywhere until I had my areas filled. The mom to my right said she did not even add herself, period! Why is that? Why do we not create an area of focus for ourselves? Is it because society tells us that to be good moms and good women we need to put our children and husbands first? Is it because we get judged by other moms when we take time for ourselves (and I could write a whole post on this, on the “I would feel so guilty if I left my kids all day” judgement, but that for another day…). Whatever it is, as women and as moms we need to STOP telling ourselves that it is too selfish to spend too much time on ourselves. We need to START telling ourselves that it is okay, even vital, that part of what we focus on is us.
So my petal that I want to focus on is ME. On creating a space for me – it’s more than just spending time or money on me, it’s about creating little pockets in which I can feel like I am important. So I go for a monthly facial, and its heavenly, but after I often have to get back to the kids or get some shopping done (not really the Retail Therapy type that includes buying new shoes and accessories, but more the toiletries and groceries kind).

So as part of making ME an important part of MY life, I’ll be creating space for myself to do the things I enjoy. I enjoy reading, crochet (oh yeah, I went through a stage of checking YouTube videos and downloading patters, and I love yarn stores – oh, the colours!!!), cooking (definitely no Nigella, but I get by), blogging (my poor neglected blog that I started years ago), and I really do enjoy spending time with my family!
I’ve given some thought as to how a working mom of two (how any mom for that matter) can go about creating space for herself to do whatever it is she wants to do. I think it’s all about committing to creating those spaces, so I’m thinking along the following lines as good places to start for focusing on ME:

Wake up early: Muslim prayer times vary, with current morning prayers being before 5am. So I figured I may as well stay up early. I’ve been getting to work early which has been great! I get into the work zone with a coffee and something to eat (at my desk, but that’s okay) before the full team arrives and things get crazy. I used to arrive at work at 9, and then before I can even breathe I’m just inundated with one thing after the next. So getting to work earlier definitely helps to start the day off on a good note.

Switch off at lunch time: I almost always work during lunch, eating at my desk. So it’s working away while chewing my food. I avoid foods that I need to eat with my hands because I need to type or use my mouse. Then one day I reminded myself that I am entitled to my lunch break – so while I wish the client site had a nice canteen, I have my food at my desk but instead of work I catch up on Kindle! So I get to eat while ticking the box for catching up on a good book – gotta love Apps! 🙂

Leave work on time: I still need to work on this one. Even when traffic is not a complete nightmare and I’m at the office shortly after 7, I don’t leave after 4. It’s at least an hour after when I should leave that I’m heading home. I make a special point of leaving on time when my girls have their swimming lessons, but other days I am just so bad with it. I’ve been telling myself that I cannot allow work to eat into time with my family like this, and that I need to leave work on time – I can always catch up after they’re asleep if there’s something really important. So my resolution is to make leaving on time a priority – on the few occasions I’ve managed this I was home at a good time and could spend time with my children without feeling the rush of getting things sorted before bed time. I get much needed mommy-time with my girls and feel so damn great about it!

Exercise: I am in need of those happy hormones that release during exercise!! So as an extension of the first point to ‘Wake up early’, I am planning to keep with my wake up times on weekends as well. I can use the time while the house is still asleep to get in a quick cardio session or something! I can have a cup of coffee and relax and click away at my keyboard while putting together my next blog post. Blissful… in my mind anyway. This one is still in the planning stage as need-for-sleep has been a very dominant player over weekends. But I’ll definitely need to give this a better try. Watch this space…

Communicate my needs: I often feel like I need a break (I’m sure you share the feeling!), but I take that feeling, pop it into a neatly wrapped box, put a bow on it and tuck it away somewhere. When I say a break I’m talking about alone time, just for me, not time with kids or hubby or anyone, just me – and maybe the masseuse. My husband has before told me to tell him when I need a break (sweet, isn’t he), but I just haven’t cashed in that voucher. So next time I need that bit of space to breath I am going to take him up on the offer. If your partner hasn’t made the offer, then ask for it – sometimes all we need is a little space to just breathe.

Build bonds and strengthen relationships: I have many people in my life, who play many different roles. I feel I’m bad with keeping in touch though – I see my parents and siblings and their children quite often, but I don’t make time to pop in and say hi to aunts and uncles I don’t often see. I don’t see many of my cousins except for Eid or the odd function. And making time to see friends takes some coordination. Although I see my immediate family often, I feel like I should make a point of paying closer attention to the sides of my relationships that don’t get dedicated time but that are really important to me and my well-being, like making special time with my mom and sisters – it should be easy enough to catch a movie with them every now and then. So as part of focusing on me I need to focus on my heart and those people who really make it beat.

I’m slowly working on implementing these ways of creating a space for me to be an important part of my own life. I am not going to feel selfish or let anyone tell me I am or make me feel guilty. Selfish is ignoring everything else that is important in favour of trying to be a superwoman. What I’m trying to achieve is finding a way of bringing my own growth and happiness into everything else that is such a vital part of my life. I’m trying to integrate me back into my life. This won’t be easy and I’ll need to work on the ways to get closer to this ideal, but it is most definitely worth a try. If you’re already a focal point in your life then kudos to you (and please share your tips for making it work). If you’re not then it’s high time you add you as an important factor in your life, for in the legendary words of L’Oreal, Because you’re worth it!

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