Updated: Aug 25, 2019
Getting everything done is every mom’s daily struggle. It doesn’t matter if you’re a stay-at-home mom, working-from-home or full-time, the laundry piles up, the groceries have to be bought, the kids need fetching from school, and dinner needs to get on the table.
But that’s not all.
You’ve got to be parenting your children respectfully, putting home-cooked (maybe even organic) food on the table (sometimes different meals for fussy kids or different tastes), limiting screen time, going to fun sensory activities and on top of that your relationships with spouse, family, friends should remain in tact and you should make time for self care.
Maybe you don’t need data to tell you this but I found one anyway.
According to a BPI Network survey of 2,000 parents in the United States and Canada, 88% of parents say being a parent is harder than ever.
And it’s not hard to understand why when the expectations vs. reality of parenting is so out of balance.
Why are we so burnt out?
It took me a while to figure out why I was so tired all the time. And it’s a simple equation:
Too much to do + little to no rest = eventual exhaustion and burnout.
And society is set up for us to struggle.
We’re isolated. We live in single family homes. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” is laughable - the village is gone and if you want one you’ve got to create your own.
We’re in charge. This is the “mental load” that women bear. We’re the ones thinking of all the things, and either doing all the things or making sure that someone gets them done. Not just with the kids, at home and often at work too. It’s exhausting.
We know too much. The curse of the information age is that we know too much. Our expectations of what we think we “should” be doing is overwhelming. This Forbes article is focused on the pressure on working mothers, but having been at home for more than a year with my son, I know there’s just as much pressure on stay at home moms too.
So how do we get everything done and still have time for ourselves?
This may seem counterintuitive but the ONLY way I know to get everything done and have time for yourself has nothing to do with time and everything to do with your ENERGY.
Now, if that sounds woo and not practical at all I’ve got 3 things to share. I’ll share the first today and the other two will come in part 2 of this article.
YOUR ENERGY CYCLE WORKS BY MONTH
For too long women have been programmed to organise their lives, work, home etc. on the male energy/hormonal cycle that works over a 24 hours. Men’s energy is at its peak in the morning and lowest at night.
Female energy doesn’t work like that. We’re governed by our menstrual cycle, and it has natural and predictable fluctuations that affect mood, energy and your brain.
Society has taught us to ignore our periods. To carry on through tiredness, PMS or pain. To keep working and not rest. But that ignores the fundamental cycle of your body. Our menstrual cycle has 4 distinct phases that if you listen to carefully, can help you manage and replenish your energy.
A quick note here: If you’re not menstruating because you’re breastfeeding or you’re on the pill then you can follow the phases of the moon, which match your cycle.
Here’s a refresher of the phases of the menstrual cycle linked to the phases of the moon (there's a lot about this on Google so you can find more about this if you're interested):
So how do you use this information?
Another caveat here, I’m just ONE mom out of millions. We each have different preferences, ways of solving our problems and different values as mothers and keepers of our families.
I’ll explain how I use my menstrual cycle to help me get what I need done and get space for myself, but this is a starting point, a point of view that I’m offering for you to examine for yourselves. You don’t have to implement anything I’m suggesting, what I hope is that you’ll think about how you can use this in your own life and find YOUR way of approaching it.
Start tracking your menstrual cycle I use the MyFlo App by Alisa Vitti HHC, AADP, a women’s Menstrual Health Expert, Functional Nutritionist. She’s mapped out what your brain and body do best during each phase and if you have symptoms that aren’t “normal” and pain and PMS aren’t normal, she has a program to help you solve those issues. Or you can get her book to help balance your hormones it’s called WomanCode to learn more. I’m pretty type A, so I liked gathering data and looking at my pattern of energy. If you want a cheat sheet to track your energy email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get on my list and I’ll send it to you.
Identify patterns in your energy cycle I tracked my own energy over 6 cycles (6 months) and then used that information to make changes. If that seems like a long time, then track over 3 months and see what you can do with that info. Here’s what I found about myself: FIRST - I get REALLY exhausted during the last 3 days of my luteal phase and the first 2 days of my menstrual cycle. So for that week in the month I: Allow myself to rest. I’ll nap with my son and try my best to sleep earlier at night. I try to complete most important and urgent things before this so that I don’t have to worry about anything.
Get as much help as possible. Maybe I’ll take all the laundry to the shop, we’ll eat out a few nights that week or this is when I’ll use up leftovers in the freezer so I don’t have to cook. I’ll arrange for my partner or a friend to babysit or arrange playdates where all I need to do is sit down! Nothing extra. If anyone asks me to do anything extra, I’ll say no or if people invite me out I’ll defer it to another day in the next couple of weeks. Say no, without any guilt. SECOND - I HATE doing errands and being “busy” out of the home during the first week of the follicular phase and this is when it’s easiest for me to sit down and WORK. So I’ll plan all of my long thinking work now and get it done when my son is at daycare or even at night. I have a TONNE of energy so can work late into the night and would be fine with 6 hours sleep or less. For my son, I’ll make sure we spend extra time outside instead of leaving the house too often so that he also gets the chance to recharge from being at daycare, when he starts to get sniffly I know we’re too busy and will stay home. THIRD - During the luteal phase I LOVE tidying up and organising everything around the house. This is when I spent time kondoing my home. After 4 months of tidying I’m pretty much done with 1 room left to finish (as I haven’t decided what to do with it yet).
I’ll also do meal planning, a big grocery shop for 2 weeks, and get any errands done. Anything that needs organising or finishing, I’ll do it during this time.
I try not to be so particular about what happens on what day and go with what I FEEL I want to do and what needs to get done during that phase.
Ideally, I’ll complete ONE important task a day as that’s what I’ve found to be the most manageable and satisfying (as opposed to trying to do everything in one day and not completing anything). I’ll talk more about this in part two, which is about replenishing your energy and what to prioritise.