How do you feel about the word 'supermum'; the concept of 'having it all'; or the term 'working mother'?
Are these empowering terms for the modern women, or unrealistic ideals?
We've reached this point in time where we can birth a baby and sometimes go home the same day; where many of us are back at work within a year of the baby's birth; and where the most important question out of people's mouths is asking if the baby is 'good' or sleeping through the night yet.
This is a time in a woman's reproductive life like no other. Take one new mother, who has a brand new person to care for and to nurture (a person that she's getting to know via a lengthy process of verbal & non-verbal communication). As well as this, she's often dealing with the changes of her physical body after childbirth, as well as the complete loss of her previous identity.
Mix that in with a working life, other children, a household to manage, the mental load of being the one that has to remember/schedule appointments, birthdays...
Except Supermum is a mask and every so often, that mask inevitably slips. More and more mothers are dealing with mental health issues. We're being pushed to breaking point, and it's affecting us on every level of our being.
What about 'Self-Care?'
So what's the solution? More self-care? This is now becoming a 'trendy' term for an answer to all the shit (literal & metaphorical) that mothers have to deal with on the daily.
Geez love, go and have a bath or a pedicure.
This is why I've taken my ebook down to change the name - because the more I sat with it, the more it didn't feel right.
We can't just 'self-care' ourselves out of this, because yet again, the onus is on ourselves to solve the problem.
The answers lie not just within ourselves, but in finding support from those around us.
The villages of the past are largely gone - so nowadays, we need to find more creative and practical ways to build our own.
There are a number of ways to get the right kinda people on your team - and one of the best ways to get the support you want and need with no added assumptions or expectations is to pay for them.
'Isn't paying for my village cheating?'
Paying for your village is totally acceptable, and no, it's not 'cheating'.
Paying someone to provide a service such as cleaning, meal delivery or childcare is a really wise and empowering choice. It may seem like quite a jump financially, but postpartum is a time when it’s worth prioritising this help and support into your budget. The value it provides to you, your baby and your family unit is often far beyond the cost of hiring someone for a few months.
Work out who you are and what you need
Although we can often lose our identity when becoming a mother, we usually have a good idea of the aspects of day-to-day life that come easily to us.
For example, if you love cooking, then once you leave the early weeks of postpartum and gain in strength you might want to start making meals again. If on the other hand, you don't enjoy cooking and everyone ends up with beans on toast most nights, this might be an area it's worth looking at to get in some help.
Basically, find your strengths and focus on those - and fill in the gaps with the village you create.
Building your village, with or without money, can require a bit of a mindset shift from feeling everything is your responsibility. The idea of getting help from multiple sources can be pretty overwhelming to begin with, so a good way to ease yourself in is to start with baby steps.
Back to the cooking example - you don't have to go and hire someone to make your meals ( though that would be pretty nice...) but could you get meal boxes/kits delivered to you? Get the groceries delivered?
Once you make a few small tweaks here and there in your lifestyle, you can look at bigger changes...like hiring a cleaner or even a nanny.
Also, when you start with small lifestyle tweaks and build from there, it can feel like less of a financial jump in one go. A lot of us starting out just think about going from zero to a home help team, and that's inevitably going to throw up the 'I can't afford it' mindset.
Check in with your expectations
Getting help from an outside source means giving up control of a small portion of your everyday world. For example, someone else cleaning your home is pretty much never going to do it the same way you do!
Set expectations of what you want, but remember - 'done is better than perfect'. If you try and do all the home things and all the business things, you're going to burn out.
Sometimes we can get hyper-focussed on things that actually, if we zoom out a little bit, aren't that important in the grand scheme of things.
'Shouldn't my business be making more before I pay for my village?'
How are you going to make more to pay for it? Assuming you have a small amount of finite time for working on and in your business at this point, you'll need to either free up more time to get more clients, or put your family on eBay.
I can't recommend the second option, so let's look at the first - making more time around looking after children means getting up earlier or working later.
Easy enough in theory, but after looking after tiny humans all day it's quite common to want to pass out by 8pm. Trying to work on things or serve clients at times when you're brain-fogged and half there is not going to serve either of you.
This scenario is kind of cyclical - in that if you put in a small investment now of village-building, it frees up time for you to work on your business and do things that (hopefully) will bring income in over time.
As that income begins to come in, you can then re-invest some into the next building blocks of your village, and free up more of your time to grow your business.
Now we've looked at some reasons why you'd want to pay for your village and how to go about it, what excuses come up for not doing it? The chicken/egg scenario above with lack of time and money is probably the most common, but here's some other ones:
- Everyone will think I'm a self-entitled bitch - they won't, but I'm sure your sanity is worth more than these people's opinions...
- I'm failing my partner/children/family - also not true, doing what it takes so you're physically, mentally and emotionally balanced is important, and your kids don't want to see you run ragged and burning yourself out. Pretty sure that isn't the example you want to set.
- Hiring help is exploitative - just going to leave this quote by Denise D-T here: "It’s weird — housework is practically the only job in the world that’s supposed to be fulfilling for women to do for free (how convenient) but somehow shameful and exploitative to pay another woman (and it’s mostly women) to do it."
So go make a list right now of things you could delegate. What could be the first building blocks in your village? What's a small, not-too-uncomfortable step that you could take right now?
Don't forget, if you need accountability then join our free Facebook Group and tell us how you started your village!