Family Matters: How Moms Find Balance
Friday, May 18, 2012
Balancing motherhood to me is about managing everyday life (including home and work) while still finding time to share important values with my children, have fun, learn, grow and take part in things that are important to us as a family and as individuals. One of things I find most helpful in creating balance in my life is knowing there is not a one size fits all definition or solution.
I know I work well with a schedule but it needs to be flexible. I am a night owl not a morning person and sometimes I have trouble staying focused. I know I cannot do it all or at least not do it all “well.” I am learning to say “no” and avoid the pressure to “overcommit” leaving time for the things that are most important to me. I want quality time with my kids but I also love my work and need time away from my kids to be alone, with my husband, or pursue other interests. That said I find my friends and family a huge source of comfort and inspiration – helping me stay centered and reminding me of the big picture when I feel overwhelmed.
One of the reasons why I started Kidoinfo was to centralize parenting information – making it easier to find interesting things to do with my kids and connect with our community. Thanks to my readers it has grown into to a place for many voices and a myriad of ideas. I hope by reading or listening to the stories of other mothers or caregivers you find something useful or make a connection that works for you.
How other women balance motherhood
I was honored to have four awesome women speak about what balancing motherhood means to them at the Kidoinfo Mix + MIngle event last week. I was inspired by their honesty, humor, and lack of pretension when sharing their stories.
If you missed the event, here's a bit about these women.
Candita Clayton and I know each other from our work together at GoLocalProv. She is a nationally known eco-organizer and entrepreneur. She founded Your Life Organized in 2001, following the birth of her second child. Her work has been featured in print and television media nationwide and she is the author of Clean Your Home Healthy: Green Cleaning Made Easy published in 2008. She is the owner of Candita Clayton Studio, where the event was held, located in Hope Artiste Village, dedicated to showcasing eco-friendly, local style. This Spring Candita initiated her "Better Living Challenge," an 8-week program to encourage healthy & mindful living. Throughout the challenge Candita has appeared weekly on the radio show "Social Women" and wrote about it for GoLocalProv.com. She lives in Rumford, RI with her husband two kids; age 14 and age 11.
I first met Kathy McGuigan at a new moms event at Mod Mama a few months after I launched Kidoinfo where she shared her idea of launching a new business of connecting new moms. She is a social worker and co-founder of Rhode Island New Moms Connection. She has been working with women and children for 16 years. As a social worker, she has provided services for women and children in a variety of settings including shelters, community health centers, and schools. The support Kathy received during her pregnancy and as a new mother inspired Kathy's work with pregnant and parenting women. In 2007 Kathy co-founded Rhode Island New Moms Connection and since then has enjoyed facilitating New Mom and Pregnancy Support Groups which combine her passion for supporting new mothers with her professional skills and experience. Kathy received a BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Fairfield University and her Masters Degree in Social Work from UC Berkeley, but she is currently receiving the best education of her life from her two kids, ages 6 and 3.
A friend introduced me to Jessica Jennings a couple of years ago so we could connect around the shared interest of parenting and education. Jessica is a two time Emmy® Award winning producer, director, cinematographer and editor based in Rhode Island. Along with making films, Jessica teaches film lighting and filmmaking courses at the Rhode Island School of Design. Her work in documentary, commercial and feature films has been broadcast and shown at film festivals around the country and internationally. Her company Vision Wink Productions most recently produced Home Across Lands, an exploration of how a small group of newly resettled Kunaman refugees find support and reestablish community in a small New England state, and Boy in the World, a documentary about the inclusion of a boy with developmental disabilities in a regular education classroom and in his community. Jessica received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BA from the University of Chicago. Current work includes directing and producing a film examining efforts to improve public education in Rhode Island from the perspectives of its myriad stakeholders: students, teachers, parents, community groups, educational and political leaders, and reformers. She lives on the West Side of Providence with her husband and two-year old daughter.
When Grace Welch moved her family here from the West Coast, a mutual friend introduced us since our kids would be attending the same school. She is the inventor of the patented, award-winning patemm® pad and founder and president of patemm inc in Providence, Rhode Island. Grace and her patemm® pads have been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, Evening Magazine, The Boston Globe, as well as many other national and international media outlets. Grace's story of her "simple" invention, how she started her business, and how she marketed and promoted her patemm® pad while raising her children has enabled & inspired entrepreneurial-minded mothers (and fathers) across the country to start their own businesses. Audiences have applauded Grace’s ability to start her own business based on her invention, on her own terms, and more importantly, the choices she made for her family and her business. She currently resides in Providence with her husband Marty and their 4 children: Patrick, 11, Emma, 9, Jack, 6, and Lucie, 4.
Some common threads shared about Balancing Motherhood:
1. There is no one size fits all answer.
2. We cannot do it all (work/home/school) - prioritize what's important and do not feel guilty about what's left undone.
3. Teach children independence and invite them to become part of the family routine including chores leaving time to be together as a family and for us to pursue individual activities.
4. Be present. Even if you have a million things to do - when you are with your kids be there reading (not checking email) and when you are resting, working or doing something with a friend or partner, put your phone on mute and engage with the people or activity in front of you.
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