It’s a shame that women’s biological clocks make having a child a time-bound effort. Whether it is at the forefront of our minds or in the subtle inner voice, we spend our 20s and 30s figuring ourselves out while, at the same time, placing unnecessary limits on our dreams because “what if.” We time our lives in order to 1 | fulfill our dreams, 2 | land that big job title before kids, 3 | find a partner, and 4 | have a child – all before we run out of time. It is like living a lifetime before you hit 40… well, really before you hit 35 according to “advanced maternal age” statistics.
My “life plan” of being married with three kids by the time I was 27 did not pan out, but it gave me an opportunity for exploration, and perhaps, as a result, made me a better mother (not relative to others but relative to my own self). I experimented to determine who I was and what I wanted – yoga retreats, meditation, living abroad, Landmark, traveling the world alone, going to writing workshops, and volunteering abroad. While each of these contributed to myself discovery, it was one thing in particular that made a concrete impact: Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.
How did The Artist’s Way influence my being a better mother?
It helped ingrain what I need in order to be my best self: the importance of a balanced life. This created space for me to best take care of others. Being a mom consumes mental and physical energy and as a result, can, over time, become the only thing we are. That is not good for us or anyone around us.
The Artist’s Way is a 12-week program involving daily and weekly activities that help one explore their inner self. It brings clarity, sense of purpose, and direction. Many who do the program even incorporate the activities into lifetime rituals; I can see why.
A couple of key tools that many incorporate into a lifelong ritual are:
Morning Pages: Every morning, just as you get out of bed, write 3 pages worth of a journal entry. The purpose of this is to have you write without judging that which you are writing. And no, you cannot type on your computer. The idea is to get your hand moving and be in touch with your brain-body connection. If you don’t know what to write, it is better to move your hand and scribble for three pages than to do nothing.
Artist’s Date: Each week, for about two hours, it is recommended that you take yourself on a date. The key here is that this is about you and only you – not a friend, significant other, child, or family member.
So how does one find balance, especially since many of us don’t have staff to outsource our “home management efforts” to? The key is: trade-offs. Maybe the house is not perfectly clean or we don’t work out as much as we’d like or we have to not spend every second with our child or we have Cheerios for dinner. We do what is most important in the best way we can. Sometimes, taking care of ourselves or getting things done simply happens in 5 to 10 minute increments.
Here are ten ideas for recharging that don’t require a lot of time:
- 1 | Meditate.
- 2 | Do a 7-minute workout.
- 3 | Set your timer and write your stream of consciousness until the timer goes off.
- 4 | Take a walk.
- 5 | Have a cup of coffee outside and enjoy nature (rather than your iPhone).
- 6 | Make a gratitude list.
- 7 | Have a solo dance party.
- 8 | Take a power nap.
- 9 | Read one magazine article or one chapter in your book.
- 10 | Do a mini art project.
And yes, your child will be fine for these few minutes, either with someone else watching them or playing in their room independently.
Happy mother. Happy child. Happy world.
And that is badass!