And I want to start by saying that this is a judgement free zone.
I don’t care if your kids are gluten free or only eat organic or if they eat goldfish crackers off the floor.
If they have unlimited screen time or no screen time at all.
I don’t care how you choose to discipline.
If you work or stay at home.
If you breast or bottle feed.
If you vaccinate or not.
We have to start raising each other up and respecting our choices as moms. We aren’t getting out of here alive. We have to stick together and stop being so divisive and abusive to each other. Stop telling other moms that their decisions and opinions don’t matter just because they don’t look like yours.
Before we start, can we all agree that this is a safe space to share and grow together without shame or judgement?
Great! Let’s move on together.
My name is Chelsea Miller and I own the Nanny Miller Agency. We train and place nannies with really great families in the Toledo area. I’ve been a nanny myself for over 8 years, and I’ve helped raise 8 kids. I started my agency 2.5 years ago out of necessity for something better for our community.
I am a new mom with an amazing 7-month-old.
I’m a dog mom to a 2-year-old black German Shepherd. I’ve been married for almost 3 years and together for almost 11. I live in Rossford. I am a board member of Talk tails. And I’m a volunteer at my church.
My mission in life and within my agency is to help moms.
We can do anything but we can’t do everything.
This is one of hardest jobs out there, and it literally never ends. I want to be as helpful as possible so I’m going to start by busting a couple myths here.
The first one is that work/life balance is achievable.
There’s a reason why so many moms are in search of it. And that’s because it doesn’t exist. If it did- everyone would be sharing it like crazy.
Work life balance is BS.
We as moms and women are expected to work a job, raise our kids, keep our house clean, manage our household, and be a good wife. It’s unattainable. Something has to give. And that something is our expectation of ourselves that we have to do it all and be happy about it.
Let’s put an end to that here and now.
The laundry is allowed to be in a mountain. I literally live out of a laundry basket. Clothes never make it out of the basket and into my pretty little IKEA drawers. The dishes are allowed to pile up. I haven’t vacuumed my floor in months. And what is dusting? I don’t even know. You don’t have to look like a supermodel for your partner to love you. And your life doesn’t need to look like Pinterest to be perfect.
It’s perfect just the way it is.
Balance gives us the idea that there is this place that exists where everything gets done and everything is perfect and in its place. That you are killing it at your job and killing it at being a mom and killing it as being a wife. And that’s just not real. That idea makes us feel disappointed and like we aren’t doing our best. The true key to this is just managing as you can and letting go of these expectations. It’s not just balances that’s killing us. It’s our own expectations and ideas of how it’s supposed to be. The minute you let those go, and focus on the really important stuff- life gets way better and way easier.
The second myth I want to bust is about self-care.
That is a buzz word right now and so trendy. And I get it. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of the people we love. Put your own oxygen mask on first, and you can’t pour from an empty cup. All good things. But the myth is that taking a walk, or getting a manicure, or reading a chapter of a book is going to make things better. That you will feel recharged. But what I’ve learned as a mom is that it’s like your whole life is on fire. You are surrounded by it and you cannot escape it. There’s smoke and flames all over and the second you put one fire out, another one erupts. And a manicure is not going to put out that fire. You might look good while you’re doing it. But it sure as heck doesn’t fix anything. Self-care in that form is only effective if your life is not on fire. And I don’t think I know anybody like that. At least not any moms.
So, what I want to do is to give you some real-life advice that is actually helpful in both putting out the fires, and managing all the things you have going on in your lives.
The first one is really hard and you aren’t going to like it.
You have to ask for help.
I mean it. That is such a hard concept for us because asking for help means admitting we can’t do it all ourselves. And that’s one of the lies we tell ourselves. We say “I can do this. Suck it up. Don’t let anyone know I’m struggling. All the other mom’s do this just fine without help. It’s supposed to be hard”. Those are just lies!
So my first big mom tip is to ask for help. Admit you don’t have it all together and accept that nobody else has it all together either. I’ve been doing this professionally for 8 years and it’s still hard. I still struggle. I still have the days when I cry in my car to 90’s rap music.
You are not alone.
And that leads me to my second tip. There is a reason that they say it takes a village to raise a family. That’s because it DOES! We were not meant to live these solitary lives and raise our kids and do everything on our own. We need people. We need others. And that means inviting other people into our mess. It means calling our mothers and our sisters and our best friends and asking them to vent, or drop off a meal, or come over so you can take a nap. It means finding a tribe of other moms who are just as messy as you are and sharing your struggles. The two most powerful words in the English language are “Me TOO”. It’s like suddenly you are not alone in your mess any more. Somebody has seen the deepest darkest pieces of you and they say “I’ve been there too. I have those dark places too. You aren’t alone”. Because we all have them. Vulnerability breeds more vulnerability. If you want to feel like you aren’t alone, then share a struggle. I guarantee you it will encourage someone else to come to you and tell you that they can relate. My second big mom tip is to find a tribe and share your struggles.
My third tip ties into both of these. And this is not a sale. Because I don’t care if you use me, or a website, or the girl down the road. I don’t care if you trade days with another mom you know. But I highly recommend hiring someone to help you because that is what I want for your life. Even if it’s just on Friday mornings so you can get a good workout in. Or Wednesday afternoons when you have business meetings scheduled. Or every Friday night so you can have a REAL date with your partner that doesn’t include take out and pjs. But you have to ask for help, and you have to bring people into your mess. However, you need to do that, I want to encourage you to take that step. You need a break from your kids. As much as you love them dearly, they also can be the greatest source of stress and anxiety. You were a person before you were their mom, and you are still a person now. You have an identity that resides outside of being a mom. And the only way you are going to hold onto that identity is if you step outside and create that life. That means having good quality childcare at least once a week so that you can step away and put your mom hat down and be a freaking person.
For some reason we have this guilt and responsibility that tells us we have to bear this load alone. That it’s a burden to ask others to watch your kids. That you wanted this life and you asked for it, so you deserve the responsibility that comes with that. And I need you to drop that right now. We cannot be the only ones involved in raising our kids. We need other people. And we need to keep our sanity. Be confident in who you are as a mom and as a person. Pick up the phone and schedule regular childcare so that you can show up and be the person you are meant to be for yourself and for your kids.
Okay so those are my mom tips.
Now, TO my entrepreneur moms, or my mompreneurs.
If you think being a mom is hard- it’s nothing compared to being a mom and running a business. This is a fire that nobody else gets but us. Until you’re knee deep in it and you’re drowning and don’t know how to manage everything. You have client calls, and a full voicemail box, and invoices to send out, and marketing to do, and networking. It feels endless. I want to give you my 2 biggest tips for managing this.
They are automation and delegation.
I highly recommend you start using a software that allows you to automate a majority of your work. I’m not kidding. There are lots of options out there and some are even FREE! They can send out emails for you. I learned by doing a time audit that 15 hours of my work week every single week was spent sending the same exact emails over and over and over and over again. Do you know what else I could be doing in that time span? Literally anything else. So, find a system that works for you to be able to automate everything you can in your work. That might be sending the same emails over and over. It might be loading all your packages onto your website so clients can just click and pay without going through you first. It might mean a system that automatically sends out your contracts and invoices. Whatever it is, find your thing and automate it. Now you can focus on more important things.
My second tip was delegating. Stop doing tasks that you hate. I don’t care what they say about doing the hard things first in your day. Or early birds eating worms. That’s just gross. Stop forcing yourself to do things that….
1. you aren’t good at and
2. you dread doing.
There are so many options out there for you to be able to delegate these tasks. For me and my business it’s reference checks. I despise them. I still have no idea how I’m managing to run my business with an extreme social anxiety about phone calls but I’m making it work. But what I don’t do is my own reference checks. Not only do I not have the time to prioritize these, but I have to coach myself into doing them each time. I mean full on, in the mirror- talking myself into making a freaking phone call.
So, you know what? I stopped doing them. I started paying an assistant to do them for me. And I’m not talking about a full time fully paid assistant. I’m saying if I could pay someone for 5 hours a week to do some of these phone calls that I don’t like doing- I’m going to do it! Even when my business isn’t making a profit yet. For the very reason that this task weighs me down. I gave it to somebody else who can do it better than I can, and someone who enjoys doing it, and then in turn GETS PAID extra cash and is happy to be helping. For you this might be your book keeping. This might be marketing. This might be creating content. Whatever it is- find somebody who is willing to help you. If you don’t know anyone personally- They have virtual assistants for exactly these types of things. Freelance workers that are LOOKING to help you in your business where you aren’t proficient. To me, that expense is worth every single freaking penny. Because then I get to focus my time and energy on the parts of my job that I really enjoy doing. Like connecting people and building relationships. I can’t do that effectively if I’m weighed down and coaching myself to make stupid phone calls.
Imagine all the fires in your life.
The kids are screaming.
The dog is running through the house all muddy.
Your partner is asking you what is for dinner.
Your mother is asking you why you haven’t dusted.
Your boss called and says you missed a big deadline.
Or a client calls and says they are furious about a project that went wrong.
Your work task list is a million miles long full of things you don’t even want to touch.
There is a sink full of dishes.
You haven’t showered in 3 days.
Feel that stress and defeat.
Take a breath. And remember my tips.
Remind yourself to let go of the expectations regardless of who it is expecting them from you. Even when it’s your mother complaining about dusting. Let it go. Remember to ask for help when you need it. Better yet, ask for help before you need it.
Now imagine what it feels like to have an extra set of hands. (Not your partners hands because although men are fully capable, they are struggling with finding their roles right now and that’s not our job to teach them).
Imagine what it feels like to have the kids working on a project together quietly with a nanny, or a childcare provider, or a mother in law, or the girl down the street.
The dog isn’t muddy because she already cleaned that up before you got home.
The dishes are loaded into the dishwasher.
She has dinner cooking in the crockpot for you.
You walk into your house and it’s peaceful.
Because you have help. Because you aren’t alone.
Automation and Delegation.
Your boss isn’t calling about missed deadlines because you automated all the emails you needed to. Your client isn’t calling about a project gone wrong because you delegated the hard parts to someone else and got the project done right the first time. You have no fires to put out. So now you can go upstairs and finally take the shower and read your book. You can enjoy your self-care, fire free. Because you asked for help, you let go of other people’s expectations, you automated, and you delegated.
Doesn’t that feel so much better?
Now that we covered some great mom tips and some great mompreneurs tips, I want to cover some of our parenting tips.
I want to give you some practical tools on how to stop a tantrum in its tracks. I am a Certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator, and we do teach full workshops on this.
First, I want to start by saying that kids are not inherently bad. They don’t have these outbursts just to drive us crazy even though it feels like it. They are little people with full blown emotions just like we have. Their feelings are just as valid as ours. The only difference is that we have learned (mostly) how to deal with those emotions and they have no idea. Those emotions are so entirely overwhelming for their little bodies and brains that the best way they can deal with it is just explode and throw themselves on the ground.
Now that we can connect with that a little better, I want to bring to our attention how their emotions bring out OUR emotions. How on earth can we expect them to manage their emotions if we can’t manage ours? Most of the time I feel like their outbursts make me feel angry and out of control. And our natural response is to shut it down and make it stop immediately. Because anything that makes us angry or frustrated needs to end and it’s our job to make it stop.
And I’m here to say there is another way.
The first thing we want to do when dealing with their little emotions is recognizing our own emotions and being able to put them aside. If that means taking a step back and breathing, great. If it means crying in the panty over a Kit Kat bar, even better. But we have to be able to set our feelings of anger and frustration aside before we can ever tackle helping someone else learn how to manage theirs.
The second step in dealing with emotional outbursts is getting down on their level. Speaking down to them makes them feel small, and getting on their level helps them feel equal and respected. You want to make direct eye contact and talk to them calmly, even if they are not calm.
The third step is validating their emotion. “I know you feel sad that you can’t eat fruit snacks for breakfast. That sounds really hard”. Most of the time giving them a feeling for their emotion and them needing to be heard is what they most crave. And it also allows for them to start naming their own emotions themselves.
The fourth step in this process is giving them a choice on how to handle that feeling. Now our parenting classes go way in depth in all kind of choices and techniques you can give your kiddos as calm down strategies. But for here I’m just going to use the example of physical touch. “I know you feel sad that you can’t eat fruit snacks for breakfast. That feels really hard. Would you like a hug to help you feel better?”.
I know this sounds simple, but it isn’t easy. Because it takes time for them to get it. You might say the exact words above and they are still screaming on the floor. But I guarantee you, that you give it a couple tries and it will work.
Give a choice for managing their emotion.
The idea is to connect with our kids before we correct them. It’s our job as parents to raise respectful and independent adults. Shame, guilt, and punishment are just not very effective. By eliminating all of that we are much more effective parents when we connect on their level, treat them like that people they are, and help them manage those emotions instead of shaming them for them.
So that is all I have for you today.
This manuscript delivered by Chelsea Miller on April 18, 2019 with Toledo Talktails group on Mompreneurs: The Struggles of being a Mom and a Business Owner. Connect with Chelsea Miller and her agency here: https://www.nannymilleragency.com/