Finding Balance: The October Edition

working mom

Sometimes, in weeks like this, I feel like finding balance as a working mom is this constant, precarious balance that often feels like it’s never quite right. And that’s not the best feeling, because you never totally feel like you’ve reached your goal.

I mean, I love what I do for work. I love having time to focus on just one thing – well, many things within my job, but to be able to sit down, check things off a list and feel accomplished. That’s a great thing.

I also really love spending time with my boys. I know that time apart is good for us – I miss them during the day and really value all of the time we get to spend together.

But when I can’t figure out the balance…when it feels like I’m being tugged too far in one direction over the other (which, quite honestly, is mostly in the work direction), I don’t feel like a very good mom. Not having the right balance makes me feel like I’m not giving enough of my attention to my kids, and I feel so guilty about it. And that leads to giving the whole “bad mom” concept too much headspace, and I basically drive myself crazy.

In reality, my kids get a lot of time with us. Our schedules are flexible, we make time to do fun things, it’s probably just the matter of not spending ALL OF THE TIME with the kids that makes me feel like a crappy mom.

Anyway. This month, I’m focusing on letting that go a little more. I’m focusing on all of the ways being a working mom makes me a better mom to my kids. Because I feel fulfilled, I’m not crabby, I intentionally plan fun activities for us to do together, and I try really hard to be more present.

It’s helping. It really is.

And it’s got me to thinking. Maybe there’s no real answer to work-life balance. Because life is always changing. I can attest to the fact that our life is never the same from day to day. So there’s not a right balance or a wrong balance – the balance has to kind of ebb and flow between where I really need to be in the moment.

Mamas, if you’re going through the same thing – trying, and feeling like you’re failing, to find the right balance between work and family, you’re not alone. It’s a struggle that most moms have.

When you’re having a breakdown moment, remind yourself of all the positive things that come out of you being a working mom – tangible or not – and how it leaves you a more well-rounded mama at the end of the day. It’s tough to manage a job and a family, and it’s ok to let the balance in your life be a little flexible.

xoxo

Moms: Why (and how) to decompress over the weekend

work life balance
Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a mom. I always knew that no matter what I did for work, or where my life went, that kids were part of that journey. And of course, my pre-childhood fantasies were filled with visions of visits to the apple orchard, and adorable Christmas outfits, and perfectly behaved little ones who played quietly and NEVER had tantrums. Because I would be the perfect mom, duh.

And obviously, that’s not reality. I’m lucky if I can get a damn shower in before work, while still getting the kids out the door on time (the latter of which might happen ONCE A WEEK). My house rarely feels pulled together, because no matter how many times I clean up, toys are scattered throughout, seemingly at warp speed. Who knew kids could be this FAST?

This morning, within 10 minutes of thinking I actually had myself, my kids and our life pulled together, I found a discarded pull-up in the middle of the hallway (Ricky), toothpaste smeared across the entire bathroom vanity (Christopher, which also means he ate several bites of toothpaste while my back was turned), a half eaten banana peel in the middle of the living room (Lucy) and a hidden stash of candy in the “shed” (the space between the couch and loveseat in our living room. My 4 year old is VERY imaginative).

By the way, I don’t know where the candy came from. I should probably figure that one out.

Anyway, life is crazy. And I know yours is the same, because I’ve seen it posted all over the interwebs. But my point is, from the moment our feet hit the floor in the morning, moms are running around like crazy people. In my world, I’m constantly running places, changing diapers, pack lunches, picking up toys, kissing boo boos, doing the laundry, grabbing groceries, picking up more toys, and somewhere in between there, you actually have a J-O-B.

My friend Megan pointed this out the other day. “Isn’t it amazing what you can accomplish in a day when you become a mother? And it doesn’t even phase you.”

So yes. Becoming a mother makes you this amazing, super charged, do-anything-on-zero-sleep-as-long-as-you-have-all-the-coffee maniac. Until you hit a wall, and you just can’t anymore. Because that happens, friends. It’s so easy to never take a break to reset yourself. We get so caught up in keeping up with life, kids, work, the house, etc. that we get to a point where we can’t do it anymore.

I’ve learned over the course of the last 6 months how important it is to step back and just take a breather. Regularly. Not every once in a while. Not three or four times a year. But to take a little breather for yourself every day, every week, every month. It doesn’t have to be something big – 20 minutes on the treadmill, taking time to read a book, going to get a pedicure – whatever it is that helps you reset yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually is an important piece of your day.

I would argue that finding some balance between activities that give you peace in all of those areas is really important. Because the truth is, they help you feel like a whole person. It’s true that I feel like a new person when I regularly get exercise. It’s also true that I feel refreshed when I have time to do something for MYSELF that I enjoy, like reading a book. It’s also true that the peace and quiet of the nail salon (or just driving to Starbucks after dropping the kids off at school) is a nice reprieve for me between my life as a mom and my work life.

If you’re struggling to come up with ideas that give you a few moments of peace, you’re not alone. I relate it to that awkward silence when you go out on a date night with your husband, and you can’t think of anything to talk about but your work, the house, and the kids. Regularly taking a little time out of the day for YOU will make that get easier, because you’re actually resetting your mentality, making it OK to do something that’s not actually for someone else.

To get you started, I have a list of all the things I’ve been doing over the last year to get my self-reset time in. Some small, some big.

  • Reading. I LOVE TO READ. I use several e-readers on my phone so that I can grab a few minutes here or a few minutes there with a good book. I use my library’s digital downloads mostly. Ah-maz-ing.
  • Picking up a new hobby. Something you can do on your own, with a friend, or your spouse. I like to crochet from time to time, go to painting classes with friends (ok, that was once), and go to the shooting range with the hubs when we have a few hours to spare + a sitter.
  • Working out. Like Elle Woods says, exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy! My time is limited, any my (old) knees are a little shot, so I like to do PiYo workouts, or hit the treadmill/weights in our basement.
  • Cooking. I have NEVER actually enjoyed cooking before. And I’ll admit, my skills are basic. But for the past few months, I’ve been using Pinterest to find easy new recipes and trying to use that cooking time as a time to decompress after the work day, and help disconnect from my office. It’s actually super relaxing!
  • Binge watch a show. Seriously, just something entertaining that keeps you from jumping on your computer while the kids are napping on Sunday afternoon.
  • Regular date nights. I know, it’s hard. But the number one thing I’ve learned is that my hubs and I are a lot happier and more connected when we can connect OUTSIDE of our house. Regular date nights (or date days) are a must!

So tell me in the comments: do YOU take time out to just enjoy life? How do you do it? 
xoxo

My journey to get healthy again: how I lost 2 pants sizes this year

getting healthy

As a working mom, I’ve always recognized the value of a relatively healthy diet and exercise. I mean, that’s what everyone preaches, right? If you eat better and work out, you’ll feel better, have more energy, sleep better, all of those things.

And it’s true. For a long time, I was diligent about being healthy – going to the gym, packing healthy-ish snacks for work, homemade dinners. I even introduced Rick to some of my more insane healthy snack concoctions back when we were dating – like pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. Delicious, but dangerous for your digestive system when consumed in large quantities (he quickly learned to ask me WHAT I put in my “treats” before consuming entire platefuls, hah!).

I was really good about being active and eating balanced meals during my first two pregnancies. On top of everything else, I suffer from IBS and a sluggish metabolism, so this was always the best way for me to feel good, instead of succumbing to a bloated, sluggish lifestyle.

All of this changed when we lost our little girl. I had no motivation to work out. I wasn’t eating well. All I cared about was managing my grief. When I got through the deepest depths of wallowing, I was hyper-focused on getting pregnant again.

I didn’t take great care of myself when I was pregnant with Chris. As you probably know, it’s hard to change your health habits normally. Trying to do that when you’re pregnant is 100 times harder, because you’re constantly worried about whether something you do or don’t do will hurt your child. So, like many moms, I figured I would just put it off until after the baby came. Once that happened, I would be really ready to get back into a healthy lifestyle!

But for me, getting back on track after Chris was born was a huge struggle. I was a busy mom with two young boys and a business to grow. Rick and I were both super wrapped up in just figuring out the logistics of life. There was no room for a lifestyle change, even if it meant our life would get better and less chaotic as a result.

In July, when I was three months postpartum, I was feeling like crap. I knew that something had to change, and I needed to be the force behind that change. So I dropped Ricky off at school, and went to buy a scale. Seriously. I hadn’t owned one since high school, so this was a scary endeavor. I’m terrified of scales. I was obsessive about my weight in high school, so it felt like a really big deal to go out and make my $12 purchase.

Once we got home, I sat in my bathroom for twenty minutes staring at the square on the floor of my bathroom, willing myself to get on. Finally, I bundled up my courage. And my confidence was totally burst. I hadn’t lost a single pound since bringing Chris home from the hospital. It was a little heartbreaking, but I resolved to get better – to lose 40 pounds by Chris’ first birthday.

So over the coming months, I tried to eat healthy. I re-upped our gym membership, and forced myself to get in some activity three times a week. I waasn’t always consistent, but I was trying. And that’s what matters, right? Trying?

Just before Christmas, I stepped on the scale again. With all of my hard work, I was starting to fit in my jeans again. I was feeling a little better about myself. I was sure that I had lost 15-20 pounds.

Only, the number didn’t move. AT ALL. I was literally the same weight in December that I had been that fateful day in January. While my clothes fit a little better, I hadn’t really committed myself to getting back in shape.

This was a wake-up call for me. I was struggling to eat healthy consistently, which was something I had to face. I was working out, but not enough to make an impact. For me to be a better mom, to have more energy, to be able to keep up with my kids, and feel GOOD about myself, I had to make a change.

My friend Amber was a Beachbody coach. I had seen her posts about how her life had changed by following the 21 Day Fix system. I asked around, and got good reviews from a few friends. So I thought what the heck? I have nothing to lose. I’ll try it.

In February, I did my first round with the 21 Day Fix Extreme. I followed the health plan pretty well (I did have a glass of wine here and there…) and worked out 4-5 days a week with the videos. They’re only 30 minutes long, which makes it really easy to fit them into your day (and the workout goes by super fast!). I loved being able to workout in my living room, changing up what I was doing every day, with my kids home. Ricky would even join in!

I loved having an accountability group. I’m a competitive person, and the support of just knowing that there were other moms just like me trying to get themselves back on track with a healthy lifestyle was really empowering, and helped me stay on track for the three week journey.

Then there was the Shakeology. At first, I thought it was a total gimmick. After all, there are a lot of protein shakes out there. And Shakeology isn’t a cheap investment. But I went with it, because the package came with a 30 day supply of the shakes.

I went into my experience really hesitant. But by the end of the 21 days, I felt better about myself than I had in a couple of years. I had lost 13 pounds. My clothes were REALLY fitting better. My digestive issues felt non-existent, and I wasn’t feeling the effects of a sluggish thyroid. After seeing minimal results over the previous six months, seeing this kind of impact in 3 weeks was incredible.

Over the course of the coming months, I wanted to see if I could find a protein shake that gave me the same results, without the cost. Let me tell you guys, this was a HUGE learning experience. I tried 5 other protein shakes from different nutrition stores in my area. FIVE. All of them cost between $30 and $60 for a 30 day supply. While I didn’t gain any of my weight back, the positive effects the Shakeology had in regards to my energy, digestive system and metabolism just weren’t there.

This summer I decided that enough was enough. My health is worth investing in the product that actually gives me great results. Shakeology is that product. I never thought I would buy into the program, but it’s literally changed my life. I have energy from the moment I roll out of bed. I don’t have that gross, bloated feeling that I used to get every time my IBS flared up, and I feel more vibrant, healthy and alive. I truly attribute that to consistently drinking the Shakeo every day, and using the Beachbody workouts four times a week to keep myself on track.

The Beachbody system has made such an amazing impact on my life. I’m still on my journey – but I think that’s just part of being a parent – a healthy lifestyle is always a little bit of a journey! But I’m down two pants sizes from where I was last summer. I’m comfortable in my own skin. And I’ve re-built a level of self-confidence that has truly made me a better mom, business woman and friend.

I know that I have had amazing results, and that other moms who feel the struggle of leading a health lifestyle need this product, too. Which is why I decided to become a Beachbody coach. I’m not looking to replace what I do – I adore the company I’ve built, and the clients and influencers we work with. But I want to be able to share the amazing things this program has done for my life with other parents in the same position, because it’s changed my health permanently for the better.

If this is you, and you are feeling like I was feeling in February, that NOW is the time to get yourself back on track, I would LOVE to help you. My next challenge group starts October 24th, which means you have the same opportunity that I did: to get yourself back on a healthy lifestyle track with an accountability group of like-minded moms, simple 30 minute workouts you can do from the comfort of your living room, and a healthy meal plan that makes meal planning really easy.

Finding your own version of success starts with feeling confident in yourself. If you want to learn more about how I can help you get there, please reach out via email at cortney@gofindsuccess.com, or on Facebook. I’ve been in your shoes – and I truly believe that this is the way to get yourself back to being the working mom you want to be!

xoxo

Our latest adventure: Basecamp! + family event + giveaway!

new-adventures-on-the-blog

My kids love to be outside. If the weather’s nice (and let’s be honest, even if it’s NOT so nice), my kiddos are ready to don their outdoor apparel and get their buns moving outside the house. And at this time of year, there’s nothing I love more than getting out in the yard, or going for a walk to the park, or chasing after whatever adventure my kiddos have on their mind.

But at this time of year, I’m also looking ahead to that span of months where it’s HARD to get outside. When we’re cooped up, constantly looking for new things to do, and places to go, just to keep the kids occupied.

Winter. Unfortunately (well, FORTUNATELY, given our winter business), it’s always on the mind for a Minnesotan, even when it’s not here.

Because of this, I’m always excited to check out fun places where my kids can let of some steam inside. Places that are fun for adults, too. And when those places happen to teach stronger leadership skills and self-confidence at the same time, I’m all about it.

Through the Northern Star Council (the Boy Scouts!) I learned about a really cool, LOCAL place that offers all of those things. It’s called Basecamp – and it’s an experiential leadership facility geared towards youth, but also made for adults.

Schools bring students. Teams bring coaches and captains. Companies bring entire teams. Families bring birthday parties. And those groups spend their time rock climbing, doing leadership and trust building activities, crossing ropes courses, doing archery (SHOOTING archery? I’m not sure how you phrase that one!) and more. Oh, and they have a LEGIT space station control center. If THAT’S not cool, I don’t know what is!

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And mamas with younger kiddos, you’re not SOL: they offer fun preschool programs for kids ages 2-5. I’m excited to see what they have to offer for Ricky over winter break. I tried to get him into their bug camp over the summer, but we were unfortunately out of town – and he was so bummed to miss it! This time, I’ll do the whole thing a little better and get him signed up before I tell him about it 🙂

So, getting back to that whole self-confidence and leadership thing. And the foundation of why I found myself at Basecamp last Friday. The Boy Scouts.

While September is traditionally the time of year my mind starts pointing to winter (maybe that’s just because Rick’s business starts revolving around snow the second that summer starts passing through my fingers…), it’s also when we’re looking at engaging activities for our kiddos to participate in during the school year. For this mama, looking at fall and winter activities is first about what my kids are interested in, second what I can actually accommodate with my working mom schedule, and third about what’s going to help them learn new skills.

That’s why I LOVE the Boy Scouts. My kids are still a little young to join (Kindergarten is the earliest you should be considering scouting, according to their leadership team), but it’s 100% on our radar for when Ricky’s ready.

Want to know why? One, it’s a wholesome organization. Two, they teach real life skills, and help them make long-lasting friendships, something they don’t always gain out of kiddie sports leagues. Three, they like to have adventures – which is something my boys LIVE for.

If that sounds like something that your boys might be interested in, you’re in luck. This Thursday, September 22nd at 6 PM, you can go to your local elementary school (yes, any local elementary school) to learn about the programming, and see if it’s the right fit for your boys. They’ll have fun treats and prizes, and you can get your hands around what kind of experiences your kiddos can look forward to with scouting, as well as whether the program fits into your busy life.

Best of all, it will be FUN!

So if you’re ready to learn more, go ahead and check out heroscouts.org – Heros Start Here!

AND don’t forget to enter our AMAZING prize pack giveaway below, directly from the Boy Scouts store! It’s filled with super fun gear that every kid needs – boy OR girl!

xoxo

This post was sponsored on behalf of the Northern Star Council and the Amplify Influencer Network. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Work-Life Balance: What does it even mean?

work life balance

Balance.

It’s a daily conversation point in our house. Mostly because we’re constantly teetering on this line of work vs. family vs. obligations vs. free time every single day. And I think it’s like that for a lot of working parents.

Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time focused on how to find that balance. Which has taught me that the more you focus on finding balance, the harder it is to achieve.

Here’s the thing with balance: it’s always changing. The balance I need today is not the exact same balance I’m going to need tomorrow. There’s not this perfect moment of balance we should be striving for. The balance you need for your life isn’t going to be the same balance I need for my life. And it’s also one of those things that’s a little more long-term: we’re searching for more of a balanced life, not a balanced day or a balanced week.

It’s about long-term balance.

Balancing your life isn’t about saying, I’m going to spend 22 hours per week hanging out with my kids, 40 hours per week working, 10 hours per week commuting…. that’s just not realistic. It’s more about figuring out what your priorities are, and finding time to put pieces of those priorities into your week. Your month. Your year.

When you find yourself spending too much time doing one thing, and not enough time doing another, you have to figure out why that is – and adjust. That could mean adjusting your schedule, your expectations, or even your lifestyle. It’s different for every person. The key is to be aware of what you WANT your life balance to look like, and make little tweaks until you get there.

Expectations are key

The problem that many people have with life balance – myself included – is that they set totally unreasonable expectations. They ask themselves to do so much more than they can possible accomplish in a 24 hour period, and then it derails their balance train.

Make sure you’re managing your own expectations as you’re thinking about balance. If you ask yourself to take on too much, you’ll add a lot of unnecessary stress to your life. The three things I always ask my clients when they’re struggling with this are:

  • Can you delegate?: Delegating some tasks – anything from housecleaning to appointment scheduling to following up on pesky emails in their inbox – can be easily delegated. If you find yourself not having enough time to take on what you WANT to take on, maybe it’s time to outsource some of the things on your plate.
  • Is it worth it?: This can mean a multitude of things. It could be compensation related. Or it could be a question of, do you really want to do it? Do you want to sacrifice time and energy for this task that’s throwing your whole week out of whack? For me, this often falls in line with free work requests. I often have people who want to pick my brain, or ask me a quick marketing question. This often turns into them asking me for free work. Or ask me to do a project at a significantly discounted rate. Every time something comes up that doesn’t feel like it’s part of what you want to be doing or should be doing within your work, or life, ask yourself: this is going to take time, and is it time that I’m willing to give up? Is it worth it to be to make the sacrifice of time? This doesn’t mean that you should never tackle volunteer opportunities, or help out a friend. It’s simply a reminder that you need to be cognizant of where you’re spending your time if you want to find a better balance within your life.
  • Is it necessary?: We’re all guilty of taking on tasks – things – out of guilt. The next time something falls in your lap that you don’t want to do, but feel like you must do, ask yourself: do I really HAVE to do this? Is the world going to end if I don’t take it on? Remember, it’s ok to say no. Give yourself permission to turn down a trip to the mall, or put that load of laundry on hold until tomorrow so that you can take a break tonight. Not everything has to be done right now, in this moment. And not everything has to make it’s way onto your to-do list.

Don’t strive for perfection

Like I said, balance isn’t about getting it right, every day of the year. We’re human! Life changes! You have to be flexible enough to let some pieces of life get in the way, and not berate yourself when you don’t get it perfect. Adjust, move on. Learn from it. If you’re finding yourself FEELING balanced overall, then you’re likely moving in a direction that offers a better balance for your life in general. And that’s really the best thing that any of us can ask!

xoxo