“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” Albert Einstein
Before I embarked on this crazy idea that I could be the CEO of a tech company, I lived a very different life.
I was a stay at home mum. Not your stereotype stay at home mum, but a very busy, always-running-errands, seeing-my-friends-often, SAHM.
I would wake up at 7.30am, (10am on a weekend) take the kids to school, go home and walk the dog, attend my favourite pilates class, then meet a friend for lunch before I did some food/clothes shopping and then pick up the kids.
After school, I would ferry them around to their various activities before we all came home, I would throw together 3 differing dinners, then have a glass of wine while I chatted on the phone to my girlfriends, or scrolled social media for hours, watch a tv series with the husband, then hope into bed for more social media scrolling before snooze…..
When I think back to that idyllic, pre-empire-building lifestyle, I look back with a fond, quasi-nostalgia. I have my rose coloured glasses on and I remember it with the same emotion of looking back on old, sepia photos…. Not exactly remembering the feelings that I actually experienced in those days.
I lived by my two diaries, yes, two. Diaries.
My phone diary, and my Collins Debden, week to a view, A4 size diary. You know, to keep track of where everyone needs to go and remember where I need to be…..
I recall some mornings where I would sit with coffee #2 and just stare at the pages of the diary, feeling overwhelmed before I even started get ready to run around like a crazed chicken throwing my eggs in all baskets…
When I received my “calling”, for the idea of Suggesterfy, i knew I had found a unique solution to the problems of having little time and finding trusted information. However, I didn't tell anyone about my idea for two years, not because I didn’t trust them, but because I couldn’t quite verbalise what it was, or is…
I didn’t even tell my husband, admittedly out of the apprehension of being told “your crazy, how can you start a tech company?”
When I did finally tell my Husband, friends and loved ones about this big idea, I was met with more encouragement and cheerleading than I ever gave my people credit for. I think it was my own imposter syndrome, thinking "i could never be a business owner", infiltrating my brain, poisoning my mind with thoughts of “I can’t do this”.
Here I am people. A Business Owner.
“Get up at 6 am, before the children are awake and try and get through some hard work before the day begins”. (It’s currently 6.25am, I am trialling this piece of advice, I’m un-showered, drinking an instant coffee and sitting on the floor typing this blog and all I can think of is I better get time to wash my hair before the electrician comes and I need to take the dog for a walk….)
“Get up early, and be creative”, apparently people are most creative in the wee hours of the morning.
“Do not check emails or plan the diary, just BE CREATIVE” (wtf does that mean!!)
Flesché Hesch, Mother, Author, Entrepreneur and Meditation Evangelist has some great ideas in her article : (these are just a few, that I tried):
I hear this one a lot. I’m not one for meditation. I have tried. I honestly have given it a red hot go, many times. I honestly do not see how sitting uncomfortably on the floor, with my eyes closed and taking deep breathes can help me grow my small business.
In fact, I come out of the meditation and boom! i’ve lost 10 minutes of my productivity plan.
Do a brain dump for your work and home tasks. Just put everything down on paper.
I loves me a list. It gives me a super, powerful, I-am-so-organised feeling.
I also love stationary. Nice pens, pretty highlighters and notebooks. Notebooks that have built in tabs are even more alluring. So much so that I have about 20 sitting on my desk containing my million lists of brain dumpage. So when I need to find my dump list from last Tuesday, as you would imagine, I have no idea which notebook I wrote it all down in…
Productivity fail on my part.
Clutter clear at work and at home. Pretend you are moving…tomorrow. What would you sell or give away? Start with that
Clutter. The very word that makes stay-at-home-parents shudder with disgust. When we moved into our new house, i had one dream; i wanted to have so much storage cupboards and drawers that some would stay empty, so that the "clutter" would never again be an issue.
Dreams are nice aren't they?
“Stop making things look easy. I’ll let you in on a secret…the reason why everyone lets you do everything is because…YOU DO EVERYTHING! What would happen if you stopped covering for your colleague, while changing diapers, while cooking gourmet meals, trying for a perfectly clean house, while compensating for your spouse, while volunteering and carpooling…You catch my drift?”
I do everything. I have created a culture in my home of lazy, entitled people who cannot even get themselves a drink of water. It’s my own fault. I only have myself to blame. I was too competent in doing everything for everyone and now I am left with the shrapnel of laziness to clean up!
I decided to stop doing it all…………
And here’s how it went:
A few days later the husband is screaming and yelling that his t-shirts are creased and appear to have been folded by a heard of wildebeest, and this is unacceptable.
13 year old can’t find her undies:
13 year old : “Muuuuuuum, I have no undies”
Me: “find some”
13 year old: “where do I look?”
Me: “try your washing basket”
13 year old “all the undies in here are yours……."
Me: “FFS child, can’t you see I’m building an empire here, I’m too busy to look for underwear, just free-flap it for today and we can find them later”…….
(Meanwhile, 7 year old walks around in the same pyjamas he has worn for three days. No complaints and no fucks given, from either side.)
Dishwashers were either full or dishes piled high in every sink (yes, even the bathrooms)
Couch was covered in crumbs, and I mean it looked like cookie crumbs had rained down from the sky in a sugar-locust style plague from the biblical times in Egypt…….
Couch also was now a fort of large pillows and blankets, housing the 7 year old.
The water bottles. The damn water bottles. Every. Single. Bench top was littered with water bottles. Used, some full, some half empty, so many water bottles.
Wine glasses, mine.
Coffee cups, also mine.
Rubbish bins full to the brim.
Dog turds piling high in the garden.
Clumps of my golden retrievers hair all over the house (if you have a large shedding dog, you KNOW the pain)
I could go on, but you get it.
Quitting cleaning the house was not an option, for no one has ever been productive whilst living in squalor.
They were home all day, asking me for food, water, portable chargers (plug it in the wall goddamn it!!)
They ran in and out of my study to announce their each and every move and all I could think was “this is my fault, I could have driven them to friends houses, but no, I HAD to go and quit driving them around…..”
Now before I tell you how this one went, I want to prelude this plan for perfection by explaining that I have never been the cooker of gourmet meals. I hate cooking. In my eyes it is the ultimate in thankless jobs. I see no joy in preparing all day a meal full of love for my family members that are going to :
Pop Tarts for breakfast!
Cereal for dinner!
Lunch - I actually don’t even know what was consumed except I did see evidence of candy bar wrappers all over the place and of course, the cookies from the couch!
The worst part about stopping the cooking was when I finally did decide to boil some pasta (coz, nutrition…), the cries from the kids that they wanted to order something from Uber Eats could be heard from here to Timbuktu.
I have to say, that my spouse, he’s a pretty good egg. He’s a doer-type. He is happy to get up early, walk the dog if needs be, and will do absolutely anything for his kids, including taking them to early morning sports or activities. I gotta good man.
BUT, he is still a man. And no offence to all my male fans out there, you are truly lovely folk, but when you have a wife, who has always “done it all” on the home front, there is a certain aspect, of shall we say, complacency, that comes with being all of a sudden asked or expected to do more. And in my home, this is how it plays out:
Scene: house is a frightful mess as wife has quit cleaning, husband gets home from work, I am upstairs in my den of solitude (my home office), answering work emails :
*crash*! *bang*! *slam!*
Male voice: “are you f$%*g kidding me??!! Who left that on the floor, I could have broken my neck!”, “ahhhh, holy hell, why is the bin overflowing, did no one here think to take the rubbish out??” , “WIFFFEEEEE!!! Where are you? Whats for dinner? Did you call the window cleaner? Did you remember to refold the t-shirts? Why is 7 year old still in those pyjamas? Has he showered in 3 days? Where are the 13 year old’s undies? She keeps asking me as if I have a clue?! And WHAT is with all these water bottles? Did you have a football team drop in for a hydration break???” ……..
The final piece of advice of advice, "Embrace grace over perfection. When you accept that you cannot control every aspect of your life and bring trust and faith to your every task…your life will flow in ways you never knew imaginable".
I believe this is just about the best piece of advice that I’ve been given.
It’s the reality check, or slap across face I needed to tell me that if I am going to work long hours from home during the school holidays, then I cannot control anything.
Life cannot and will not be perfect.
I simply cannot do it all in the same way I could before in my former life as a SAHM.
“The fastest way to break the cycle of perfectionism and become a fearless mother is to give up the idea of doing it perfectly - indeed to embrace uncertainty and imperfection.”
*This blog is a huge reason why Suggesterfy was created. Even in my former SAHM life, keeping all the plates in air is a huge mental load, as is keeping small people alive and healthy, as well as taking out a skeric of time for oneself. Throw in the questions and demands from the spouse and its all just too much. So Suggesterfy came about because sometimes we need to arrange and find things, fast.
There were just not enough hours in the day to sit and scroll through search engines to find a restaurant for Saturday night, I had even less time to find the window cleaner that the spouse decreed was “of super-high priority”, and even if I did make the time (by not doing washing etc..) I can’t trust that what I find looking blindly on the internet, is actually a good recommendation. I don’t know the people giving the window cleaner recommendations. I didn’t want to just go and invite the first search result into my home for 4 hours without knowing that they would 1. Do a good job, or 2. Not tie me and my children up with cable ties and steal my golden retriever.
So I trust the suggestions from the people who I know and have a relationship with. Even if its not one of my best friends, when a fellow school mum tells me that her window cleaner was fast, did a great job and was a true polite gentleman, then thats enough for me to stop looking around and book the guy!
Well sure, obviously I tried that many times before. However, in my world, a few things happen with a group message.
I needed suggestions, given to me by the people I know and trust. And moreover, recommendations that I can save into my own bookmarks so when I need to contact the window cleaner, I can easily find the details and just action the booking.
If you're a startup founder worried about not spending enough time with your kids, you're not alone. But there are ways to be more productive and make the most of the time you do have with them. When you figure out the answers, please let me know, until then i'm just going to pour a glass of wine.....
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