Sorry, but it’s time for yet another New Year’s post! Hope you’ve not got January fatigue already?
I’ve been struggling for a while to think of what to call this blog. I’ve never been a fan of ‘New Year’s resolutions’, because they just seem doomed to failure with their grand and showy statements, and all too often focus on stopping doing something which may not be good for you, but sure is fun (drinking, eating chocolate, that kind of thing).
I thought about calling it ‘New Year’s aims’ but that sounded too corporate and defined, and my life isn’t at all like that, and neither is this blog. Then I toyed with ‘New Year’s promises’, but that is more suited to my 4 year old ‘promising’ not to get out of bed in the middle of the night, or not to clip a compass to his older brother’s ear in the back of the car. Yes, that actually happened yesterday.
So, I settled on ‘whatevers’. My list of things I’m trying to keep front of mind as we head into this new year of 2018. By committing these ideas to paper, I’m hoping they’ll stick their heads out and wave at me every so often, to remind me what I wanted to focus on in the bright and shiny days of this, as yet, unblemished year.
Be more brave – Last year was the time when I made lots of decisions about work, home life and the kids. Lots of quite scary adult type decisions. Mainly that I was going to make a go of this freelance writing/blogging/social media thang, retrain to a professional level with Digital Mums, work from home, juggle the kids and see where the year takes me. Scary shit, right? I must be quite brave, no?
To be honest, I’m terrified! As an example of my pathetic fears, in the summer somebody approached me in the park with the kids and asked if I was a writer because she recognised my kids from one of my blog posts. I nearly passed out with embarrassment, and the words, “yes, I am a writer”, got stuck in my throat and sounded all weird when I finally released them out of my mouth. She must have thought I was more than a little odd! That was the first time I’d ever spoken the words, and even now, I very rarely talk to friends about what I’m doing, because it just feels strange.
Any small successes I have, I whisper quietly to my partner, my Mum, or my bestie, as if they are secrets never to be spoken of again. Well, no more! From this day forwards I commit to being brave. To puffing my chest out, looking people in the eye and being proud of what I’m doing. To ‘do the hustle’ to get more clients on board, to put myself out there, to say I can, and I will.
Back myself more – Not wanting to brag or anything, but I’ve been winging this Mum thing for nearly 10 years now, and nobody has died. Totally winning. And for almost 2 years there’s been 3 of the little creatures running around the house, slowly trashing it from the inside out. And yet not a day goes by when I don’t doubt myself and my ability to parent. I seem to lurch from one meltdown to the next near disaster and back again several times a day, wiping up spillages from eyes, noses and cups, juggling all the plates and regularly dropping at least one of them.
And I know I’m not alone in this. That sinking feeling when you look around the room to try and find somebody to make an adult decision before realising that’s now your job, so you make your best guess at the correct thing to do, and keep your fingers crossed. We all do it. I still have to resist the temptation to call my Mum to ask what she thinks I should do. And I turn 40 later this year.
So, at home, and in my new career, I pledge to back myself and my abilities more. To have confidence that I’ll make the best decision most of the time and be able to deal with the fallout later if I don’t, rather than spending ages deliberating what to do and berating myself if it all goes wrong. I have faith in my abilities professionally, heck, I even think I’m a little bit good at what I do. There, I’ve said it. So, I am determined not to undersell myself to new clients, but to value the work that I do for others, and charge accordingly, rather than working for peanuts and adding to the stress at home for little return. This Mama ain’t cheap!
Keep the balance – Aaah, a problem all freelancers will identify with. When there’s no natural start or end to your working day, and work takes place at the same table where you referee fights between your kids and try to persuade the toddler to eat anything that isn’t beige, then boundaries between work and home soon become virtually non existent. When your work demands that you engage on social media on and off throughout the day and into the evening, then it’s not hard to find yourself trying to supervise reading at bedtime whilst scrolling through your Twitter feed for content to use the next day, or writing a blog post with a toddler on your knee, who keeps taking your glasses off rendering you almost blind (yes, that’s what’s going on as I type!)
So, that elusive balance and how to get closer to it? How to switch off from work, in the way that many people do as they leave the office for the day. School holidays are hard – evening and weekend working becomes the norm, and squeezing half an hour here and there into the day when the kids are not at each other’s throats, as all parents who work from home in some capacity will know. And there’s a lot more TV going on than I’d like. It’s a constant juggle and state of flitting from one thing to another, not paying enough attention to either most of the time.
But back to school and nursery is so close I can almost sniff it. That promise of a hot cuppa, drunk in total silence, that only comes with no children in the house. 13 hours. That’s what I get each week when the big two are at school and the toddler is at nursery. 13 hours in which to cram as much work as possible so that the rest of my week feels more balanced and I can be more present in the everyday stuff of family life, less chained to my phone.
Finding and keeping some balance in my life is definitely my biggest challenge for the upcoming year. How about you?
What are your ‘whatevers’ for 2018? I’d love to hear from you!