Parenting & Business in a Pandemic

Two years ago I was having conversations with my midwife about the likely impact of this virus that was called Covid 19.

She was rapt I was planning a home birth and could avoid hospital. I was a bit confused about what the impact on us would be. But, truth was, I thought I was all set, with a fully stocked pantry, a nicely cleaned house (nesting much?!), looking forward to time in my newborn blissful bubble. There were SEVERAL shows on the Netflix wishlist to binge watch. I had my delicious, empowering and beautiful home birth, and was surrounded by love and happiness

A week later, we were in a full scale lockdown. My newborn bliss bubble turned into the beautiful chaos show.

A two year old home full time with his newborn brother, Dad now working from home, and Grandma staying for the duration.

It could have been a shit show. It definitely was in places. It was also full of beautiful and very memorable moments (ask me about the story just after this pic was taken about Peter Rabbit, the Toddler and the Kelpie X in the bath….).

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My business journey has been similar in so many ways.

Logically, I knew the steps to take, the paths to take, the progress markers of success. I knew to surround myself with the best people I could find. I didn’t expect the emotions of the first two years to hit me as personally as it did. For the “failures” (first attempts in learning – I’ve got jars full of lessons) to hit me as hard. It was beautiful in places too, and has grown me into a better person every single day of the journey. Just like motherhood. 

I thought I’d share a few of the insights that I’ve gained from parenting and business in a pandemic over the last two years!

Forget day by day, take it hour by hour

Plans go out the window regularly when working with children, animals or in times of turbulence. I stopped thinking “let’s take it day by day” in favour of “how’s this hour going?” The smaller time scale of an hour to help me realise how finite moods were, how much can be shifted quickly, and how we don’t have to stay trapped in a funk.

If I thought the baby would cry all day, I’d have cried myself. For an hour? I could handle that.

If I thought (or think!) business was (or is!) challenging, I’ll focus on one thing I can do to feel I’ve made progress in the next hour. 

Teething baby up on the hour in the night? Hourly is the only way to handle that next day. The thought of a second night of the same could debilitate, so I just don’t. 

Compressing the time scale, helped me remember the power of each moment. 

The power to be had in not perpetuating a mood / thought / state of being by giving it a full day of wallowing in its own misery. That luxury was for a time pre lockdown, a time pre self employed life, a time when a day didn’t seem to have quite as much value as they now do. 

Someone will always have it better than you, someone will always have it worse. Stick to your story.

The game of comparison is one where we will always lose. Parenting, life, business – someone has a different set of circumstances. And circumstances are not some absolute thing which we should try to mirror. You never know what’s woven into someone else’s back story – you know yours.

We also run the risk of taking everyone’s highlight reel and then judging our shitty outtakes by the same standards. Everyone has outtakes too, and I’m learning to remember that.

Someone’s baby always sleeps better, another worse. Someone else does organic everything, someone else does packet everything. Comparison is a losing game. You can’t parent perfectly, but you can be the perfect parent for your child.

Someone’s business hits a market swell and cracks a revenue figure well before you, another folds under the weight of a tourism industry hit hard by border closures. You’re somewhere in the middle, on your path – not theirs. 

Because I practice yoga, the concept of a practice just on the merit of comparison with myself has been something I’ve logically understood.

The last two years have helped me to understand it at a cellular level: my journey is my own.

Who I am now should only ever be compared to a previous version of myself, and I should focus instead on trying to better myself (rather than worrying about being bettered by, or better than, someone else). 

Nothing lasts forever. This too, shall pass.

A favourite saying of my Grandma’s, again, this has taken me the last two years to really begin to understand the finite nature of this game of life. The colicky newborn is now a full throttle, singing, dancing, bike-riding mischief maker. And it happened inside the most intense time warp I’ve ever known.

The days that stretched on for weeks and weeks, and then a month went by in the time it took Tuesday to turn into Wednesday. Times when the to-do list was raced through in a single nap, others when the to-do list was still aching under its load at the end of the week. Regardless of the perception of the speed of time; each week has 268 hours in it. I choose to put in those the things I love best, to consciously construct the mix for what goes in the hours.

The bad stuff will pass. The good stuff will pass. May as well stay in the moment rather than projecting it will last forever. It won’t. 

Pick your attitude, especially in the hardest moments (and, forgive yourself when you slip up)

As much as I’d like to say I’ve loved every minute of the last two years. I’d be lying. I’m not the dalai lama, alas, I’m a much less enlightened human.

I’ve broken down in tears about business, about my cashflow fears, about the kids not eating dinner. I’ve cried because I’ve been so tired I’m dizzy and my teeth hurt. Sleep deprivation is perhaps the hardest part of the early years of parenthood. 

And yet.

I’ve stood back up again, found the support, taken the action, done what I felt was right and made progress. Some days teeny tiny steps that wouldn’t be seen under a microscope, others I felt I’d evolved at a rate of decades. I’d be there at BNI after a 5.30 alarm, even after being up 4 times in the night. How did I do it? Because I cared enough to, because I chose to, because I wanted to. 

I’ve still chosen to show up every day, and the days when I mucked up, I keep trying to own that with a slice of tender forgiveness, just like I would my kids.

Eat as well as you can, breath as well as you can, sleep as well as you can, watch what you consume and ask for help.

Do these ones need an explanation? Allow me to share my version….

Those people who say success starts at 5am when you are in business? Well, they can go jump in with the teething kids or when daylight savings ends. Who cares what time you wake up, get as much sleep as you can (if you can’t get as much as you need)

After sleep, comes drink water and eat as well as you can. One handed baby cuddling snacks – keep them as healthy as you can. On the run to a meeting after negotiations with the toddler around footwear ran over time? Just make it as healthy as is possible. Green food is good. Fruit and veges are good. Also, if you need to inhale a bag of chips or chocolate bar, who cares, you are human, your tummy was hungry. Stop beating yourself up, you are doing so much. You are doing enough.  

Breathing. How do I fit meditation in to this all? How could I not? My daily-ish habit might last two minutes some days or a solid 20 if all the stars and moons aligned. Take what you can, make it a focus and find spots in the day to tie deep breathing too. Getting a colicky baby calmed down helps. Settling yourself back into bed after wake up number 5 that night does too. 5 deep breaths before a sales call or after one are valuable beyond measure. And the best part? It calms the nervous system which makes it all feel less intense.

Stop reading, listening to and watching shit that makes you feel bad. Whether about the state of the world, the spread of a virus, your parenting style or your business strategy – there is good media out there and there is rubbish. Be conscious of what you allow in and, where you can, just stop consuming all together, chill with the kids be at their pace. It’s more peaceful there (well, until the duplo digger gets taken off one by the other)…

Asking for help. This will perhaps continue to be my biggest work on. I like to think that I could and should have all the answers (how TF I think this is a whole other story, I’m working on it). 

So here’s what I know, now. If someone offers to make me a cuppa, I say yes, thank you. If mum comes to stay and hangs the washing out for me, I say thanks rather than feel guilty that I should have got to it first. When my other half gets up in the night to the kids, I’m grateful. When someone has ideas that I could learn from, I listen. Most people have ideas that I can learn from. Everyone is an expert in something!

I have a team around me who help me – my amazing life partner, my amazing business partner, my amazing friends who will listen to me, business connections who know people who can get stuff done, a great physio, a great Bowen therapist, a great therapist, and SO many others who make my life better for being in it.

Their help, makes this journey so much easier. They make this journey so much easier.

If you need help, and aren’t sure where to start, please reach out and I’d be delighted to see who I know who might be able to help.

We don’t have to do this alone.

There you have it. Two years, lots of lessons.

My hope is by sharing some of the inside story of this time with you it may help in some way. That there might be a nugget you can apply. That there is some relatability to the stories.  That your two years have had joy in them too. That if you think back over the time, looking for the treasure, that you can find it.

Remembering, the storms in life create the rainbows.

Here’s to the next two years!

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