Episode 29: How I Maintain My Sanity as a Driven, Ambitious Mom

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Hi. I'm Victoria Hefty, and welcome to Activate Purpose, where I talk about finding purpose through action while balancing motherhood and career. In today's episode, I'm going to share how I keep my sanity as an ambitious career, and what I call life-driven mom. Whether you're a mom, or a driven professional, or both, you will learn my tips and approach to staying sane while also embracing my undeniable desire to do and be more.

So, thank you for joining me today. It is a Wednesday evening, and my husband is taking the kids out for a walk, so I can record this podcast.

Originally I started, when I started this podcast a year ago I thought that I would record maybe every week, or every two weeks, but motherhood has, motherhood and work has gotten not in the way, but it's allowed me to ... or, I should say, not allowed me, it's rather forced me to say okay, I still want to podcast. I love doing it, but I just can't keep up doing it every two weeks. So, at this point, I'm doing it every once a month.

And so, for those who have been continuing to listen to me throughout my rather inconsistent posting schedule, I really appreciate you listening. And thank you, as always, for welcoming me, and continuing to support me.

So, today's episode I'm really excited about. I can't share all the details, but I had the opportunity to be interviewed recently by a publication, and one of the questions that they asked was sort of my tips and methods to staying sane, or keeping my sanity, as a working mother. I don't think it was actually working mom, but it was around sort of being a mom and also how do I stay sane as a working professional, and so I just sort of combined the two.

As I shared my advice I realized, you know what? I don't know either one, when the article is going to come out, and two, if they will share everything that I spoke about with them. So, I figured why don't I just share my entire perspective on this episode so that hopefully you guys can benefit as well?

I will say, this is not one of those episodes where I'm going to say, you know, I have it all figured out. You know, if you've been with me since the beginning, I do not have it figured out. This is me being candid about, yes, there are struggles, but there are some very real things that have worked for me while also allowing me, I don't think compromise is the right word. I think inherently there's always compromise, but I think allow me to embrace, that's the word I'm using, embrace the things that make me, me, and also maintaining my sanity.

So, I will share the first thing that I told them was how I keep my sanity is one, I have my own version of the term self care. So, I feel like self care, there's nothing wrong with it, but that being said, I think that self care nowadays has, it seems to be more of an external thing.

So, I feel like a lot of people are advertising, you know, if you're a mom, get self care, get a manicure, get a pedicure, you know, or my favorite, like, read a good book while sipping tea at night. But listen, practically speaking, I can only speak for me, and maybe a lot of my friends that I talk to, I feel like most of us are just trying to make it through the day unscathed.

And so, those things often feel like, for me, one more thing that either I don't have time to do, maybe I don't, can't afford to do right then and then, or I just, I don't know, it feels a pedicure would be, I guess, nice, but there has to be other versions of self care, especially when you have very young children like I do.

So, what I say about my version of self care is mental. So, what that means is focusing on what I'm doing well. So, I'll have to figure out what episode it is, but check in the show notes. I had an episode where I talked about a victory log that I keep, that I still keep.

So, what that is, is I write down maybe three to five things that I did well that day. You know, did I survive a meltdown? Did I cook a meal that my daughter actually ate? Did I stop enough to be present during the day? No victory is too small to either write down in my journal, or if I'm, you know, I just don't have the time to mentally, before I go to bed, I mentally acknowledge two to three things that I did well that day.

And the thing is, this has trained my mind to start focusing on the good things, and also to just be like, you know what? What did I do really well when my, even if my day was otherwise an absolute failure?

The reason why I do this, and especially why I do this as a mom, is as mothers we have to be really careful about what we tell ourselves. I think we are unkind to ourselves as far as the ... what we expect ourselves to do in a day. Like, we would never expect a friend to get all of the things that we'd done in a day, both professionally and personally, and yet, for some reason, we think that we have to do it all, and that is not the case.

And so, I encourage you to really think ... Sorry, my phone is going off. That's my husband saying, “How long are you going to be?” Like I said, this is real life, real time.

And so, my biggest suggestion is when you think about self care, really think about how can you be kind to yourself as a mom. Focus only, I [inaudible 00:06:15] going to say only, focus only at night, when you go to bed, on the good things that you did that day.

I don't care if there's laundry on the floor piling up, the dishes are a mess, you don't feel great, you don't look great. Who cares? Focus on at least one thing that you did well that day, and I don't care if it's the smallest thing, but I guarantee you it will start to build, and you will start to really do this without even trying.

So, like I said, I can have a really terrible day, but it's very easy right now, before I go to bed and close my eyes, even though I know I'm going to wake up in like two hours or an hour to nurse my daughter, it doesn't matter. I have something good to say about that day. So, that's just one thing that's worked really well for me.

The second thing is rethink what work-life balance means to you, and I mean two things by that. One is you have to decide what you want to get out of your life, and find time for it. But here's my thing, extend what that time period is.

So, I feel like, back to my I think moms are trying to do too much in one day, I feel like there are these ambitious goals, where it's like I'm going to go to the gym four times a week, or two times a week. And I don't know, with my schedule, that is just not feasible.

So, instead I like to pick things that I can extend, and as you guys know, I have, one of the things that I've started doing that I really like is, as part of my New Year's resolution both last year and this year, again, I'll put links in the show notes to those episodes, I pick three or four things that I want to accomplish that year.

They can be small. They don't have to take up a lot of time. I usually have one goal that takes a lot of time, and something else that might be really small. But it's like extend, give yourself some grace and time to achieve what you want to do.

I feel like we, we as women, put ourselves last, number one, and two, we are picking, one, picking goals unrealistic as far as what we can accomplish for a day. But two, we are not giving ourselves the opportunity to pick things that actually may be fun because we're not saying hey, I don't know, I really want to let's say, I don't know, go to a retreat, or I really want, for me, like I want to learn how to make a dress, or take a quick weekend class.

I have a whole year to do that, instead of having a goal that I have to do this month. If, for example, you really want to start focusing on fitness, start with like I really want to maybe do one spin class this month. That would be good enough. I think that that is, I would rather, for me, have 12 really good spin classes over a year, than go to two, and tire myself out, and be like, you know what? It doesn't fit into my schedule, and now I've lost something that actually brings me joy.

So, I think the first part of rethinking what work-life balance is making time for things that matter for you. Pick three or four things that you just really want to try. Again, they don't have to be big, but they just have to be things that you're curious about, and then give yourself a year to do it.

You know, keep yourself accountable, whatever, but don't give yourself, don't say like you have to do it in a month, or even two months. Give yourself 12 months and you will find the time to do them. So, that is something that has worked for me.

And then the last thing is, and this is really important, you have to stop comparing your situation to others. So, I feel like I'm guilty of this, and I have, actually, I feel like evolved, ever since I actually did ... One, I did two things.

So, I completely cut out I'd say 99% of social media. I even, the other week, actually even deleted LinkedIn on my phone, so I only check it now on my computer. But I deleted all the social media apps. That's been evolving over the last, I don't know, five months.

So, there's nothing wrong, I guess, with social media. This is not one of those rants. It's more about I think that it is very easy to get caught up in what other people are doing, and as I started asking myself, what is it that I want to do? What do I want to achieve? I almost couldn't do that if I was focusing on what other people were doing.

It started out being I thought I was looking to social media for inspiration, but it quickly evolved into comparing. So I said you know what? Enough. I can't do what I need to do, or even tap into what interests me, if I'm focusing on other people. So, I cut out all the apps.

What this also allowed me to do naturally was I didn't have anything to compare it to because I wasn't focused on it, and what that made me realize was, I don't know, I feel like it made me realize that I actually am more put together than I, one, than I realize, and two, I guess I don't need as much validation as I thought I did.

I think that, I don't know, I think inherently people, every mom, every person is different, and I'll give you an example. I have realized that I am just a workhorse. That is okay. You know, I feel like for a long time people are like you're doing so much, how do you do it all?

And I'm like, first, I don't do it all, I just like to be busy. And I first, I thought maybe I had to turn that down a notch or something, but you know what? No. I'm going to embrace it. I am someone that doesn't really have a problem working. If I'm really excited about something, I can easily pull an all nighter without thinking about it, working on something that I love. I can work evenings. I can get up a four AM if I need to without much trouble.

That is just me, that is how I'm built. Obviously, I'm not saying I can do this like every day for years, but in general I have just a really high tolerance for working hard. You know, I am, like I said in the article, I am sort of unapologetically ambitious. Yes, I left, I resigned a corporate world to focus more on motherhood, but that didn't damper any of my inner drive and inner fire, it just said that environment was not the place that was most conducive to bringing it out.

And so, what I've learned is that one, when I was, for a few months, when I was like a complete stay at home mom, so no working at all as far as outside of the home, I still didn't have any balance. Like, I felt like I couldn't get it all done anyway.

And so, the fact that we're looking for this work-life balance, and I couldn't even achieve that without work, or like I said, work outside the home, leads me to believe that there one, is no balance. You just have to embrace what works for you. So, for someone else that might be that they need like 12 hours of sleep a night, and they need to just sort of take it super, super easy, and that is their version of work-life balance, and works for them.

Why I'm saying this is I feel like when you go online and, or even on social media, and you read someone who's like oh, they have it all put together, or this is what they do, I think we're all comparing ourselves to that one person, but we don't know what their personality is like. We don't know if they're the person like me, who, you know what? Can just sort of keep at it and grind day in and day out without too much issue, or if they're someone that really needs to sort of, they struggle with that.

And so, it's kind of like I've stopped trying to read what is working for someone else, and trying to project that onto me, and instead have listened to what works for me. How do I wake up feeling? And if I wake up feeling good, even if I went to bed at three AM, then that works for me. I would not recommend that for someone else.

And so, really, and so I would say this, take everything that you see online, and also including what you're hearing right now, with a grain of salt. So, my tips, and my approach, may not work for you, and that is perfectly okay. In fact, maybe it shouldn't. But you have to ask yourself, what is it that works for you? And don't apologize for it.

I will also say, I think that what I've learned as I'm sort of going fully into, I should say working more full-time. I'm not really full-time yet, but as I transition more into that, I feel like I've talked to a lot of my friends and my peers who have been working full-time, and I think that there's this perception that they sort of have it all. And I'm always surprised to learn that we all struggle with the same exactly things.

Whether or not you are working 80 hours a week, or whether you are a stay at home mom, and you're working 80 hours a week inside the house, you have to figure out what works for you.

And so, that involves, to wrap it up, two things. One, rethink what your version of self care is by focusing only on what you're doing well. Life is going to throw so many things at you, and frankly, life is going to tell you all the things that you're doing wrong. So, be kind to yourself, and you only tell yourself positive things. Yes, there's room to grow and all of that jazz, but I 100% believe that you have to be your strongest advocate, and that involves sending grace to yourself, and then two, stop comparing your situation to others.

And then, lastly, like I said, three, deciding what it is that you want out of life, and finding time over an extended period to make room for that in your life.

So, those are the three things that are helping me to maintain my sanity as a mom of, for, if this is your first episode, I am a mom of a four month old, actually five month old, and a soon to be four year old, and I am up at crazy hours in the morning. I'm still nursing every two hours.

And for other people it seems like I'm doing a lot, but for me, I am right where I need to be. The days are long. I am exhausted at the end of the day, but I have a fire, and I'm driven, and that tells me that I am on the right path. And so, that is what I'm going to listen to.

So, my challenge for you today is to figure out what is one thing you can either start, or even stop, doing to make your life a little bit more sane while also embracing that inner drive that you have.

That drive doesn't have to be work oriented, but that, I think, while embracing you, is, I guess, basically what I'm trying to say, is are you doing things, or not doing things, based on what someone else either thinks that you should do, or whether it's something that you think you should do, rather than something that actually comes from within, and something that feels like it is much more you.

So again, I'll use the example, for me it's embracing my drive, embracing this fire that I have in me, but for you it may be, you know what? Embracing the calm, embracing downtime, and not doing so much if you feel compelled to. And so, that is my challenge for you.

I want to, as always, thank you for, again, listening to me on this crazy evening. If you have any suggestions or questions for future episodes you can email me at Victoria@ActivatePurpose.com. Again, I'll include links to the resources I've used in the show notes at ActivatePurpose.com/Episode28, actually 29, Episode 29.

And lastly, if you enjoyed today's episode, please make sure to leave a review and subscribe to the next episode.

Until next time, bye.

I'm Victoria, your host.jpg
Activate Purpose