I know my youngest two children CAN sleep because eventually, at some point in the evening I walk back past their doors, gently tuck them in and stand in awe of their beauty.

So why is it I wonder that for over 4,000 evenings they’ve tossed, turned, demanded water, screamed blue murder, made excuses, tried to engage me in conversation, fought, sung, read, crafted and… well, NOT gone to sleep when it was convenient for me.

Yes, yes, I’ve tried routine, reading, story tapes, massage oil, early nights, late nights, negotiation, being nice, being nasty, co-sleeping, sitting in and edging my way out, falling asleep with them, going to bed at the same time. In the end I’ve come to realise that the best outcome possible is for ME to remain calm and then the rest happens as it will, in any case.

Sage parenting advice huh.

You see, until very recently I thought there were only three choices I could make in order to have the business and family life I aspire to. Those were:

* To settle for less (work or income)

* To increase my prices or

* To work a glut of weird hours to constantly catch up

In my thirteen years of juggling being a mum and a business owner I’ve tried focusing on all of the above choices to varying degrees of success but my default response has always been to work longer and longer hours. And with a home based office – and/or mobile technology it’s all so easy to form into a habit.

However, in the past two years I made a conscious decision to put my own health somewhere in the equation. An important and rewarding decision but also one that leaves even less time for work.

Yeah I know I could take the kids to exercise with me, and we do that but I really love my hour in the morning to be me, to think and sometimes catch up with a good friend as we walk and talk.

In recent times I’ve started to explore other choices – choices that are as frightening as they are liberating. Some of these might help you too:

* Delegate – for me it’s a virtual assistant, a school based trainee, a bookkeeper AND I’ve suddenly realised that my husband is also equally capable of helping out with the kid equation. He can manage when I travel and without my micro-management he also copes incredibly well when I’m at home – Fancy that !

* Implement systems – once upon a time I was the only person that could do anything in my business. Now there’s all manner of online systems and a growing amount of written procedures to make stuff happen

* Avoid meetings – Living in regional NSW means that attending meetings usually incorporates at least an hour drive each way, that’s on top of meetings that last anywhere from an hour upwards. These days planning meetings is as much of a strategic as it is logistical exercise.

* Manage my limits – It was a wonderful day when I realised I am actually a human (not supermum afterall) and started respecting my own needs accordingly. Like other humans some days aren’t as great as others. So rather than beating myself up I’ve realised it’s actually OK to just go with it (I am self employed after-all) and structure my day accordingly.

So while at times I do still find myself at my desk into the evening I realise that like triple chocolate cake it’s OK as a ‘sometimes’ not everyday habit. Still the girls aren’t loving sleep but at least that’s easier to wrangle from the headspace of the lounge room.

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