Behold the master juggler: the working Mum!

For International Women’s Day, Templar’s Kirsty Reynolds celebrates working mothers at Templar, in her friendship group, network and beyond.

Kirsty ReynoldsSince 2016,  has worked at Templar Advisors as a coach and consultant, supporting individuals and teams on their communication needs, from developing executive presence to negotiation skills. She is the lead on Templar’s Women’s Development Series in Europe, where she focuses on 1:1 and group coaching work.

Kirsty is also an accredited executive coach, working with a broad range of clients across financial and professional services, as well as those in the media sector and entrepreneurs. Her specific area of interest is developing resilience, working pragmatically with clients to manage stress and grow through change.

She also specialises in working with women at different stages in their careers, understanding the specific challenges that they may face in the workplace and working with them to create a space to honestly explore and navigate those challenges.

This group faces some of the toughest attacks on their wellbeing in pursuit of high performance, in both a professional and personal capacity.

In my experience, the greatest challenge faced is often the drag towards the glittering star of *efficiency*.  How can we magically make more time?  More time to be a better mother, more time to give more to our work?

We are the master juggler. Life runs more easily when we feel we are running our efficiency to the nth degree:

Getting up earlier to fit in exercise; getting ourselves and the children dressed, fed and watered in the morning (with a maximum of a 5 minute margin for error to get the train on time); dialing into a work call on the school run; prioritising, then marching through, an overfull ‘to do’ list at work to an ‘ok’ standard; skipping lunch break to leave for home earlier, in time to see the children and be a ‘good mum’; working on the commute home rather than winding down, to avoid logging back in later; cooking dinner from a prepared recipe box – healthy and quick (!); putting the washing on overnight so it can quickly be hung out before work; ‘winding down’ in front of the TV (hi, husband!) whilst simultaneously doing an online grocery shop; rushing to bed to maximise potential sleep; lying in bed replying to 3-day old texts from friends/family and scrolling mindlessly through Instagram to remind yourself you have friends.

Now, that was an efficient and successful day! Same again tomorrow?!

But what do we sacrifice along the way in our bid for efficiency? Do we just increase the number of things we can potentially ‘achieve’ as we benefit from the small capacity increases that being ever more efficient provides? And what about when we still have ‘stuff’ we want to do but have squeezed all the efficiency possible out of our routine?

Typically, we start to cut things. And often, the first thing to go is our ‘me time’ – whatever that means to us. Socialising with friends, going to yoga, reading a book, playing hockey, watching sport, playing the piano, cooking and eating for pleasure.

These become superfluous tasks on the ‘to do’ list and ones that yield little visible benefit. They are easier to drop than keep. And so the cycle begins. And it is exhausting!

At some point, prioritising efficiency as the holy grail starts to impact our energy levels:

  • Sometimes this impact is severe and we stop being able to cope with all the demands we and others have placed on us.
  • Many of us experience a constant ‘yo-yo’ between running ourselves dry on energy, realising we urgently need to recharge, taking the time or resource to do so, then going straight back into ‘the efficiency game’.
  • For the lucky few, they are resilient and able to maintain productivity and wellbeing simultaneously; they have learnt the right habits.

For those of us still learning the right habits for long-term, sustainable wellbeing and balance, what steps can we take?

A starting point is going through your regular routine and asking yourself:

How much of your time is spent doing things that have purpose for you?

Purpose energises us. If it doesn’t have meaning for you, why are you doing it? If it is unavoidable, can you put less energy into it and have a less perfect result? If there is a sense of success as you work for your purpose, you feel a sense of achievement in each step. (The Resilience Dynamic, J.Campbell)

How are you recharging?

Where? With who? It does not matter whether it’s an activity, a place or a person, but try to recognise where you feel you are able to reverse the drain on you. Make it a regular habit – not something that you just do in extremis.

What can give?

What is non-essential? What are the consequences if something does not get done/actioned? Be realistic about what you are asking of yourself and how important things are.

Who can give?

Is there someone – paid or unpaid, known or unknown, near or far– who can support you with outsourcing or managing it?

Be bold with where you want to be professionally and the standard of wellbeing, happiness and balance you demand for yourself personally. Most importantly, talk about it. Talk to friends, family or an independent person and make sure you continue to learn what works for you, as the master juggler.


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