The greatest reward to what I do is my continued growth as a woman, mother and wife. My children are Zen masters in diapers and I learn new lessons from them every day about happiness, authenticity and all that matters most about the human experience. Without their input, I would still be living my life with someone else’s definition of career and personal success. Instead they have shown me that joy in each and every moment is an attainable goal, that peace is a daily practice over which I have control and that it is possible, even achievable, to balance career and family successfully. With discipline and clear boundaries in place, I combine my role as mother and my career ambitions into the greater meaning of life: the purpose for all human endeavors in my opinion.
My biggest challenge to balancing working from home and being the primary caretaker to 3 boys is patience. Recognizing that I do not have to be accomplishing everything right now is a skill not taught in the “doing” oriented mentality of modern society. I have learned that as long as I am moving forward in my career in some way every day (be it answering emails, preparing a workshop, writing a blog or another business related job), I do not have to beat myself up for not yet appearing on Oprah! The same goes with domestic duties. We don’t have a cleaner, personal chef or laundry maid. Instead I work every day at teaching my children to put their own clothes away, take their dishes to the sink and put their toys away. When the house is still in need of a vacuum, I schedule “vacuum” into my week and then do it at the appointed time. Otherwise, I give myself the grace to forgive the odd goldfish crushed into the carpet.
In my life pretty much everything is scheduled with a precision and efficiency that makes it all eventually get done. I have had many people comment on my focus when working. Wasting no time, I have my task list, and I set to work accomplishing each item. When I’m done, I leave the office and do not look at work again until the next appointed work time. In this way, when I am with my children, I am able to give them 110% of my attention. I expect them to pay attention to me when I am speaking. They deserve the same respect from both parents. With my book being about what we can learn from our children, it is in my consciousness to view parenting as a two-way street. Their dignity is affirmed when I extend the same behaviors I expect of them. This includes being patient. Learning to be patient with myself is the first step in knowing how to be patient with my children and being justified in expecting patience from them.
During the lean times, I work out a schedule that relies more heavily on my husband and mother (who lives 5 hours away) shouldering child care requirements so that I can drive to my workshops. It helps that I do so much speaking to moms groups where I can bring my two pre-school children and put them in with the children of moms attending my workshops. The lean times mean I work more on the weekend when my husband is home. It also means that we eat at home instead of out and I buy more generic brands from the grocery store. When it comes to Christmas, I tell my husband that the only thing I want is a sitter. Instead of date nights, we sit on the couch holding hands and watch old movies while our children play in the background. It takes us longer to get through a movie because we push pause periodically to deal with some request or other, but we deal with it and move on.
I schedule ferociously and live my life with a precision that makes my husband and friends amazed at what I accomplish. I do not neglect spiritual practices that give me the deeper resources to handle what life throws at me. I wake up earlier than my children and meditate, write and work. I stay up after they go to bed and meditate. We have family rituals like watching a TV show together and all of us getting ready for bed at the same time that take precedence over whatever workload fills my plate. I have sat down and written out the core areas for my focus in terms of business and put them all under my obligation to family. I have taken the time to write out my “rules” and they are posted publicly in my office to remind me daily of how I operate in business. My yearly plan is outlined and I know where and what I will outsource. It is a combination of organization, discipline, commitment and focus. All the while, I trust in a greater power that sees my life from a much larger perspective, ask if I have done my best this day and hold on to an overriding guiding principle of unconditional love for myself, my children, my husband and my life.