MAMA GUILT + THE ELUSIVE BALANCE

People often ask me how I do it all. And the answer is, I don’t. Despite my sometimes foolish efforts of trying.

 

I had known and accepted for quite some time, that my work/life balance was amiss. I fully agree with Randi Zuckerberg’s concept of the entrepreneur's dilemma: Maintaining friendships. Building a great company. Spending time w/family. Staying fit. Getting sleep. Pick 3. I believe that we, as women and mothers, can do it all, but not all mindfully or joyfully at the same time. So, over the past 3.5 years since Luka was born, in accordance with Randi’s theory above, mine have fluctuated. Staying fit has consistently played last fiddle and I have taken what I can get from the incidental exercise of daily life with an active toddler. Sleep has also more often than not, been compromised with many a 2am finish in order to jam everything in. At times, I have neglected my friends. For me, the core balance is always between work and family. The endless juggle. However, in my opinion, I would add one missing ingredient to the equation … “self-care and me time” making the juggle and balance even more delicate.

I recently met with a friend and work colleague for coffee, and we ended up speaking about the challenges we face as entrepreneurial mama's. We are both Mum’s to toddlers who run our own businesses.  I was talking to her about the challenge of fitting in exercise, sleep and me-time. She gave me a great tip and I replied “I just don’t have time”. She of course responded with, “no, you have time for the things you make time for”. And she is of course, 110% right. This is definitely easier said than done but the concept is true. I recently read a quote that said – instead of saying you don’t have time for something, try saying it’s not a priority and see how that sits. It’s actually really powerful. It’s so much easier to say “I don’t have time to workout”, than to say “my health + wellbeing is not my priority”.

One thing I thought I had down pat until only recently was mum guilt. I was super smug that the dark cloud hadn’t reared it’s ugly head and overtly confident I was nailing it. Luka was at childcare 2 days per week (and LOVING it) and 1 day with my Mum, which meant I was working 3 days per week, I had 2 full one-on-one days with my mini and weekends were for family stuff (or more recently reno stuff). Everything was busy but peachy.  Until that is, when my workload got out of hand. Everything was getting compromised including my attitude but I was determined I could handle it. I mean, why wouldn’t I be able to handle a full-time workload in 3 days per week whilst looking after a 3-year old also pretty much full-time (whilst Hubby was dedicating most of his time to our reno), living in the reno and managing a household?! Honestly, why do we do this to ourselves. My wonderful Hubby suggested I put Luka into childcare for an extra day. He was of course trying to be helpful. All I heard out of this, was that he thought I wasn’t coping, which made me even more determined to do so. The worst part is, I was solely responsible for the pressure I was putting on myself. I was the only person who saw it in this twisted light. It wasn’t until my Mum suggested I put Luka in childcare for an extra day, that I considered it might be ok. So I popped L in for an extra casual day for a month and bam. There it is. The Mum Guilt. It turns out everyone has a line. And mine is working 4 days per week. And whilst from a work perspective, it’s been amazing to power through some stuff that’s been hanging around for ages (like this post actually), it’s put my balance out of whack. I long for Thursdays. I miss his face.

But you’ve got to try these things. So you can figure out your own balance, your own thresholds and what works to make your soul happy and your family life harmonious (I use this word with caution around our fierce toddlers). Outsource what you can. And if you can’t figure it out on your own, speak to someone who can help.  We’re so good at adding things to our plates but not so good at taking them away. So for my friend from the café, she finds her balance by getting up super early and doing a meditation, followed by emails and her to-do list so she can start her days fresh and mindful. For me, that’s the end game (but if you know me, probably not the early part). For now, it’s casual days at childcare when required to avoid burnout and more priority on sleep and wellbeing. It's also being more conscious and setting boundries ... PART TWO of this post.

Cause someone wise once said, how you spend your days if how you spend your life x

Images by Tarlie from All Thats Captured @allthatscaptured | @t.andk 

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REFLECTIONS WITH EMMY O'NEILL

In the past words like self-care, wellbeing and digital mindfulness would have sent me into a little bit of tailspin of negativity.  Who has time for all of those things, let along focusing on just one of those things? Life is busy, it is so busy and I feel like all we are doing is trying to find that allusive 'balance'. 

I have brutal truth for you all. There is no such thing as balance. It is not attainable. I don't say this to be negative, but rather to be realistic to those out there constantly searching and striving for balance. I'm here to offer you a new word... a word which has literally changed my life.

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Have you heard of 'tilting'?

Tilting is attainable. I first heard of tilting from Steph @greenandgrowingthings. A very simplistic explanation of 'tilting' means you tilt your life to prioritise different things; depending on the time, what you are doing, where you are etc... If you are a visual person like me, just think of your life like a set of vintage scales; instead of maintaining balance, your life will tilt from side to side constantly. 

Last year I was trying to do it all. The Merge Journal, create digital content for my Instagram @the.oneills and my motherhood blog (www.emmyoneill.com), work as Editor at Brisbane Threads & running all their social media, freelance for other online publications... oh and I still had to be a mother on top of it all!! No wonder I could not achieve balance. Everyday, for hours a day I was on my phone, answering work emails, responding to influencer briefs, working with clients getting content approved; constantly online. There was not break. I was completely addicted to Instagram, to growth, to likes, to comments, to engagement ratios. The more I got, the more I wanted. There was no satisfaction. There was no downtime and there certainly no balance. 

I learnt the hard way, with one of those sitting-on-the-floor-rocking-in-the-corner-aha-moments that balance wasn't attainable.

And I became digitally burnt out. 

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So what does one do when one becomes digitally burnt out? Well like all things the first step is acknowledging the problem in the first place. I think if you had asked my husband he would have told you I had burnt out a long time before the end of last year; however for me I didn't realise until my health took a nastier turn. 

A little backstory on me & my health... I have had Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) since I was born. In summary my CKD is a result of no oxygen at birth. Whilst it has never really affected me as I grew up, it did result in both my babes being emergency C-sec and premature; and my kidneys have slowly declined since childbirth. Towards the end of last year my CKD turned into Kidney Failure and words like dialysis, transplant, end stage kidney failure became thrown around. Suddenly words like engagement ratio, comments, Instagramworthy, followers etc lost meaning. Like they lost of lot of meaning. 

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Within an instant what became important was my family. I became a warrior. Fighting to stay as healthy as I possibly could for my family. Fighting to stay off dialysis as long as possible. Fighting to stay alive. So within one afternoon self-care, wellbeing and digital mindfulness became priorities. They became the why. I needed to look after myself for me and my family. One of the easiest things I could do, was to not do it all. Not try to do it all. Not try for balance. And so I come back to tilting. Now I tilt my life in different directions. If I am holding onto extra fluid (a glamorous side effect to failing kidneys) or if I am extra tired, I take a nap. Sometimes I don't do the dishes. I cut down my workload. We eat a lot of leftovers and I very rarely am on top of the washing. But my family is happy.

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I have learnt that self-care can really only happen if you make it a priority. You need to fight for self-care. You need to ask for self-care but above all you need to give yourself permission for self-care. The same goes for wellbeing. To me they are interchangeable.  

And what of this digital mindfulness you ask? I think I am still a bit of an IG addict. I know I am not alone there. But the difference now is, I don't have so many platforms consuming my life. I have learnt to say no. I don't check my phone every five minutes. And I don't give any fucks about followers, engagement or whether my child's birthday party is #instaworthy.  I love being able to share the daily chaos, the ups and downs of motherhood, my health journey and all the little bits of creative play I do with #theoneilltribe. I am more mindful how I use IG, instead of mindlessly scrolling, I take the time to connect to those around me. Those people who are in my online village.

And I freaking love my online village.

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The Way We Work with This Is Life Wellness

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This Is Life Wellness is such an innovative and exciting concept. Tell me more about how is started and your vision?

The concept for This Is Life came to me after having my daughter Charlotte. Becoming a Mum changed me in the most profound way. It gave a new sense of purpose and complete clarity about the life I wanted to create for my little family. 

I took the challenges I faced as a new Mum and set out to create a haven just for families. I knew that my struggles; juggling mum life with business life, while finding time for myself were challenges that every parent faces. So, I made it my mission to create the place I wanted to enjoy with my family. 

My years of experience in the wellness industry, managing my Husband’s Chiropractic centre gave me insight into the challenges parents face trying to maintain their health and sense of connection to themselves and to each other. 

This Is Life is a haven for families, a place they can retreat to on the lonely days and when times get tough. A place that nurtures little people and their parents, that provides a range of holistic services and practitioners that work collaboratively to support, guide and empower clients on their path to wellness. That makes healthy living and self-care more accessible and achievable. For me, This Is Life is the ultimate wellness destination.

 

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You have a little girl, Charlotte, who is 2.5 and I know at the moment you are working 6 days per week doing the start-up grind. How are you juggling both undertakings?

Some days I honestly don’t know. It’s certainly not easy, nor is being away from my little girl. I miss her terribly when I’m at work, so I make it my mission to involve her in our business as often as I can. She comes in a few times a week and has lunch with my Husband and I. She attends our kid’s classes and she looks after our courtyard garden. I go out of my way to make her feel included so that she feels her contributions are valued and understands what her Mum and Dad do for a living.

She is my motivation, my greatest supporter and my ambassador. I love the fact that she can be involved in our family business. Watching her face light up when she is included melts my heart. She welcomes our customers, knows our staff’s names and gets such joy out of being at “mummy and daddy’s work.” Those special moments serve as a gentle reminder that I’m on the right path.

 

Do you have support? How important is your support team in making your work life mama juggle possible?

My support comes from our Nanny Abbie. She has been caring for Charlotte since she was young and if it wasn’t for her none of this would be possible. I know that Charlotte is happy and being exceptionally cared for while I’m at work which makes leaving her each morning just that little bit easier. 

 

Me-time. Does it exist for you right now and what are some self-care rituals you swear by.

There is not a lot of me-time right now but I’m doing my very best to practice what I preach. Self-care is not easy and I’m the first to admit it. Mumlife is tough and juggling your families needs with your own is very challenging. Mothers instinctively give to their family before they give to themselves. We are all guilty of it, it’s our maternal instinct. But, This Is Life serves as a gentle reminder to parents that you matter, giving to yourself is important and you deserve it.

Right now my self-care ritual right is; I wake up early every morning so I get in some me-time before Charlotte and Ashley wake. I do a short meditation, pull and angel card and then just sit. In total silence, with my coffee. It’s pure bliss!

 

 

This is a beautiful space to work. How important is having an inspiring space to you and how did you create the aesthetic?

Working in an inspiring space is everything. It’s what gets my creative juices flowing and it’s the reason we created This Is Life. 

Ashley and I come from a mainstream allied health setting. After becoming parents our views on life evolved along with our dreams for the future. We were done playing it safe and doing it the way everyone else was doing it. The clinical settling no longer reflected who we were. We found it boring and slightly uninspiring. I very quickly realised that if I felt uninspired working in that environment then how were we going to inspire our clients?

I decided that to create a movement we had to immerse people of a culture of positivity and education. We had to create the ultimate wellness destination if we were to facilitate real and lasting change for people. It had to be an all-encompassing sensory experience from the moment they walk through the door. From the food on offer, to the background music playing, the personality of the staff and colour and theme of the décor. 

 

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Best piece of advice for other Mama's starting their own business or venture.

Follow your passion. Find the one thing that sets your soul on fire and go all in. Juggling business life with mum life is not easy, but when you believe in your vision with every fibre of your being you can move mountains. Every set back makes you stronger and every challenge is designed to make you dip deeper and reconnect with your purpose. 

 

Women can do it all. Discuss.

We sure can. When women are in their power they are unstoppable. Having a child is what made me realise how gifted and powerful we are. Women are born to lead, we do it every day as Mothers, often without even realising.

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What's next for This Is Life Wellness?

The sky is the limit. I have plans for a family wellness destination experience in the very near future. 

The next month will see the launch of my passion project. Modern Mummas; a community gathering open to all mothers seeking connection. This group is all about empowerment, goal setting and manifesting the life you desire. 

The first session is Wednesday 2nd May and every Wednesday thereafter.

Each week we will host a wellness warriors/expert in their field to empower mums on their journey to wellness. The classes will run from 9.30am – 11.30am in our workshop space upstairs. There will also be classes held on designated nights throughout May to celebrate Mother’s Day and to allow mums space to connect to themselves (without their children).

All classes are FREE and bookings can be made via Mindbody app (This Is Life Wellness) or www.thisislifewellness.com.au

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CYCLE SYNC x

By Jasmine from The Wholesome Heart, Integrative Nutrition and Health Coach, specializing in Women’s health.

OK Ladies it’s time to CYCLE SYNC and make the most out of every part of your cycle!

We’ve all been there... high energy, low energy, mood swings, breakouts, hair loss, weight gain, weight loss, insomnia... the list is endless BUT did you ever stop to think that ALL of these could be related to your hormones? I teach my clients ALLOT about hormones, because as women they affect us on so many more levels than we were ever taught. Seriously, why are we not educated on our hormones and cycles when they have such a HUGE impact on our daily lives? Did you know you will have approx. 450 menstrual cycles in your LIFETIME! Woaaaah?! Well this topic is no longer taboo and I am about to let you in on an incredible secret to understanding your cycle AND your hormones.

Welcome to the magical world of cycle syncing!

We are constantly told that we are meant to have bounds of energy 24-7, we should be happy all the time and love life... however with the ebbs and flows of the world, and our hormones that is just not the case! Let’s go back to listening intuitively to our bodies and going with the flow for a change.

So, what if I told you that during your monthly cycle, there were phases... and each one brings out different emotional, cognitive and physical strengths in you... what if I said you could use your cycle as an ADVANTAGE! Think of your cycle as the key to living and understanding, how to live your most vibrant and energized life!

On average, your cycle is 28-days (some women are up to 34 days and this is still considered normal, so don’t freak out), there are peaks and there are lows, and following this simple method, you can also see where your imbalance may lie.

Cycle Days 1-5 (Menstruation)

Day 1 of bleeding is considered the first day of your 28-day cycle. If an egg has not been fertilised (during last cycle) it will disintegrate and your levels of estrogen and progesterone will drop, which causes the uterine lining to shed, thus your menstrual bleed.
During this week, your energy will generally be at its lowest, you will want to hibernate, withdraw from large social gatherings and prefer more time on your own reflecting.

ADVANTAGE: Use this time to slow down, reduce your schedule. Enjoy a few cosy nights in, turning inward, a nice warm Epsom salt bath and limit your exercise to walks, yoga, stretching and more gentle movements. Save your energy.
Most importantly give yourself permission to rest!

Cycle Days 6-12 (Follicular Phase)

It's called the Follicular phase because the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), stimulates the follicles in your ovaries to mature. FYI — these follicles contain your eggs.
As your body begins maturing eggs for ovulation, your estrogen levels start to increase. Wooo finally! You will begin to feel more energised and confidence will be booming!

ADVANTAGE: This is the week to use this extra bounce in your step, extra confidence and assertiveness. If you want a new role at work, as this week! Speak up in meetings! Join new social groups or organise a girl’s night out. This is also a great week for your libido ;)

Cycle Days 13-18 (Ovulation)

This is generally every woman’s favourite week! Your body has been working hard over the last two weeks prepping for some action (love making and baby making, whichever is your thing right now~). An egg gets released from its follicle in your ovary and it will survive approx. 12-24 hours and this generally happens on day-14 of your cycle.

Your estrogen levels are PEAKING! You literally LOVE LIFE! This is the best time for connection, laughing, going out and just having fun!

ADVANTAGE: You go girl! Get out there, have some serious fun! Book a weekend away, a night dancing, even try a new gym class and get those endorphins flowing even more! Take advantage of all this positive energy!

Cycle Days 19-28 (Luteal Phase)

Ahhh what a ride last week was... you’ll start to feel your energetic ways beginning to wind down. Estrogen is taking the back seat and progesterone has taken front and centre. Progesterone is known to have a Valium-like effect on the body, it can cause the mind to slow, even your bowels may be a little sluggish than usual, and overall you would rather slow down and nest than have a raging night.

If the egg is not fertilised, the corpus luteum degenerates after about 14 days. Your levels of progesterone and estrogen will drop. This causes the endometrium to break down and shed, and a new menstrual cycle begins.

If you experience really bad PMS symptoms, it can be a signal that there is too much estrogen try removing things like dairy, gluten, refined sugars, alcohol and coffee - don't stress if you can’t completely remove them, try REDUCING them! Especially around this week prior to your period.

ADVANTAGE: That self-care routine that you ‘accidently’ forgot last week while you were out gallivanting, it’s a perfect week to ramp the selfcare back up! Honour your bodies state, and its need for slower activities. If you do you will get more enjoyment and energy out of your other weeks. Slow down, get that to-do list checked out, ramp up your bubble baths, massages and all things self- love.

What a month... what a ride! See we have huge peaks and trophs, its totally normal to feel the ups and downs every single month. You ain’t crazy GF! This is a way we can understand why our moods, energy, cognitive function differs from day to day. Use this to your advantage and be kinder to yourself. Your body works damn hard and these hormones can be a blessing or wreak havoc if you don’t care for them.

As you can see our hormones can affect quite allot, so this is your reminder to start tuning into your body and what it is telling you. It’s the smarter than we give it credit for, and is forever whispering things to help us.... So, listen to the whispers before they become a scream.

#please note - this article is an overview of your monthly cycle and is not to be used as a ... please consult with your integrative health practitioner for further information.

ABOUT JASMINE

Jasmine Fitzgibbon is an Integrative Nutrition and Health Coach, specializing in Women’s health - here is a little of her story ... "I worked in the corporate world for close to 10years- the standard, late nights, long days, available 24/7, people pleasing and running off sugar and caffeine... looking back now it’s obvious that it wasn’t sustainable! But at the time, I didn’t listen to any signals my body gave me and I worked myself literally to the ground! I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and spent the good part of 2 years bed bound, along with an array of other health issues, food intolerances, anxiety, depression and insomnia. After my wake-up call, I made it my mission to educate and empower women to take back their health, put themselves first and find their version of work-life-balance. It all starts when you begin to love yourself wholeheartedly.... and then The Wholesome Heart was born!"

To learn more and connect with Jasmine follow her Daily inspiration, health hacks and quick recipes over on The Wholesome Heart and Instagram @thewholesome_heart.

FULL DISCLOSURE

In the name of full disclosure, I feel it’s important to confess that as I sit down to write a very honest reflection about my journey to-date with wellbeing, I do so in in my PJs on a Sunday at 10:20pm eating Nutella out of the jar with a spoon. I’m not sure whether that’s more ironic or symbolic to be frank but more on that later.

So if you expected wellness advice and tips to get you from “Fat To Fit in only 7minutes per day”, my friend, do yourself a favour and log off. This is a real life, messy AF account of one mama’s relationship with herself, body and soul. We all have our own demons with our bodies, body image, nourishment, self-care and how (and if) we nurture us. And it’s so different for each of us but the net/net is usually the same … we have rarely reached a place where we genuinely feel we are prioritising our own needs and taking good care of ourselves.

Here is my wayward journey. To make a potentially long, and quite frankly, not-so-interesting story, short, here is a quick recap of my relationship with my body until my late twenties. Fine. Honestly, that’s pretty much it. I never had any real body image or mental health issues until well into my twenties. Maybe in part I was lucky but I think the majority could be attributed to the fact that I was very active, fit and strong and coming from an Eastern European family, ate mostly home-cooked whole foods and very little takeaway or junk food. I was confident, energetic and would have given little thought to my wellbeing because it just wasn’t an issue.

In my late twenties, after years of working myself into the corporate ground and honestly, excessive drinking, my body broke down soley, I believe, due to my mental state. I was so miserable in my work life and its trajectory, largely because I had chosen a path that was such a poor fit. It meant that every day I expended all my precious energy trying to be someone and something I’m not.  My body knew better and eventually gave way and I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue and had more than 3 months off full-time work. During the worst of it, I could hardly walk from the couch to the front yard and I was a shadow of myself at best.  I subsequently made some changes in my work life and some small improvements in my exercise and diet but little did I know how far away I still was from being happy + healthy.

During my pregnancy with Luka in 2014, I had virtually no issues. Honestly, if it wasn’t for my growing bump, I would have hardly known I was pregnant. I did pre-natal pilates + worked full-time (in a big role) until 37 weeks without any issues. I had no aversions, no cravings, no physical ailments, no major weight gain etc. I’m not telling you this to piss you off but rather trying to set the scene. After having Luka, I lost all my baby weight (not necessarily all the jiggle) and left the hospital on the fifth day wearing my normal Zara Skinny Jeans. I tried to get out every day and go for big walks (after about 6 weeks once I could actually walk) and generally felt pretty ok both within myself and with how I looked. I even shot a couple of active wear and swimwear content campaigns within that first year. Easy breezy.

The following year, we made the decision that I would pursue my own business rather than returning to work in Corporate and that instantly shifted my internal happiness to a whole new sphere. Even better.

And 3 years later, I’m by far the happiest I’ve ever been on many levels. I am also the unhealthiest and heaviest. I realise this is a somewhat usual combination. And sadly, it all comes down to lack of prioritizing my own wellbeing, “being perpetually busy” and some really bad habits. That combination alone has seen me put on at least 5kg in the past 6 months and feel generally horrid – sluggish, wobbly, tired. I’m self conscious about my body for the first time in my life and I hate it. And it’s not about “loving my curves” or “accepting my body” for me. It’s about correcting the behaviours and habits that led me here in the first place.

And I’m not here to fuck spiders so here is exactly what the reasons are:

01/ late nights – this for me is the number one reason I have put on weight and feel like shite. I go to sleep REALLY late. I therefore a) don’t sleep enough b) don’t have enough energy during the day and c) eat a lot of rubbish snacks late at night. I actually eat ok during the day but after 10pm, all bets are off.

02/ lack of boundries + priorities – I have failed to set myself appropriate boundries and be disciplined around them around work, life and me-time. That has led to always moving exercise and other self-care practices aside for everything else. I always read and envy people’s morning + night-time rituals but the reality is when you go to sleep at 1am and you have a 3-year old, that all goes straight out the window.

03/ social media/technology – as many of you know, I have struggled to incorporate technology into my life mindfully, which why I’m so hell bent on doing it now and teaching others to do so also.  The type of work I do has magnified 01 and 02 for me.

04/ not being mindful or grateful – because I was always fit and healthy, I have taken wellbeing and self-care completely for granted.  Points 01, 02 and 03 also contribute to not being mindful.

So, there is a few things I’m intending to do about it. I’m keeping it really simple until I make progress. Here they are:

  • Educate myself about health + wellbeing from a number of angles and surround myself with healthy people to soak in their vibes and words of wisdom
  • Go to sleep earlier – easier said than done as this is an ingrained habit. Starting off with 30mins at a time
  • Start Reformer Pilates and aim to go at least twice per week – schedule these into my diary as with any other appointments that can’t be moved (I have my first class on Wednesday so wish me luck!)
  • Try to incorporate incidental exercise more into my day – walks to day care pickup etc
  • I have ordered an organic Fruit + Veg Produce Box weekly from Street Organics for 4 weeks to encourage me to eat more nourishing foods
  • Set boundries around social media – I’m still working out the right mix for me but slowly getting there. I am using an app called Moment to track screen time to give me a better idea of how much time I’m actually spending on what.
  • Read “The Happiness Plan” by Dr Elise Bialylew, the Founder of Mindful in May to learn and incorporate mindfulness meditation techniques into daily life.

My aim is not only to improve and prioritize my own health + wellbeing as a busy mum but help other’s along the way. I believe that in our current world our wellbeing (both mental + physical) is hugely impacted by how we use technology. This is an area we have been doing a lot of research into and can’t wait to share our ideas.

I am learning along the way and will share (mainly via Stories) how I’m going and the different things I try. I have also been fortunate enough to convince some incredible women to share their stories and expert advice with us this month and will finish with an epic “Self Care” Giveaway, just in time for Mother’s Day.

So to finish where I started – the general gist is that exactly what I’m doing right now (working on a Sunday, late at night, eating shit mindlessly) is exactly how I got here. I know it’s going to be hard to shift these behaviours and habits but it’s really, really important to me. I want to look and feel great, be clear, focused, present and mindful and set an example for Luka. I want to live my life with abundance and gratitude and feel great every day. And if I can inspire or motivate even one of you to take better care of your precious self, than I’ll consider that a huge bonus. As always, all your tips and support are so appreciated xx ina

 

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THE RETREAT STUDIO

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Mid way through last year, I dreamt up the idea of a beautiful retreat space to work - to dream up big ideas, to create, to think, to strategise, to breathe. Something inspiring. And quiet. And of course, Instagrammable. 

I was finding that between the daily chaos of motherhood, life and running a business there was little time and space to work "on" my business and "on" myself. All those crucial elements of any great business (and life) like brainstorming, goal setting, creating strategies, planning and thinking big, wild, creative thoughts. These game-changing activities were scattered randomly amidst full schedules + a cluttered mind.  There was just never enough time to do this work properly and I found it difficult to prioritise. And even when I did set myself a half day to do this type of high-level thinking and work - sitting in my workspace at home or in the office just didn't cut the mustard so to speak. There were too many distractions, too much day-to-day right in my face.

 

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So in about September last year, I scoured AirBNB for a property that could provide me 2 days of solitude to focus on this work. I had a list of requirements - not too far from Melbourne (1.5 hours max), quiet, inspiring, beautiful aesthetic, content + photo worthy and above all, affordable. What did I find? Not a hell of a lot. There were many beautiful properties of course, many of them with 3-4 bedrooms etc and well in excess of $600-750 per night. And that seemed to be the issue - I really couldn't find anything small and accessible. So after an extensive search, I finally found something in the Dandenong Ranges and off I went.

I drove up on a Tuesday morning, stayed the night and came back by 4:30pm on a Wednesday to pick Luka up. Was it really worth going away for 1 night and those two days you might ask?? It was a total game-changer. In fact, in that time I did ALL the thinking, creative, strategy and planning for the entire Work.Life.Mama rebrand. Work that quite frankly would have taken me MONTHS to get through at home. But it wasn't just that. It was the joy of having such a considerable chunk of time to focus on my own thoughts without chaos and distraction. I went for bush walks, drank coffee from the cutest local organic cafe, made pasta + drank red wine. Ideas flowed freely and I felt so inspired. And best of all, not rushed. I worked until at least 10pm, had a bath and an amazing sleep, waking up to birds chirping and getting straight back into it at 7am for another full day. 

I came back not only focused, motivated, refreshed and organised for our rebrand ahead but quite determined to create this type of space for our work.life.mama community. A space to stay and relax, to nourish or to work. A space to promote a new way of working. A space that ticks all the boxes.

 

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So when our tiny space in Rosebud on the Mornington Peninsula came up for lease, I had to have it. I know the Peninsula well and it has my heart, I also couldn't wait to incorporate the local community and our fave brands into the project. The timing was horrible and we worked our arses off (collectively) to fully renovate it and have it ready in 6 weeks. And it's everything I dreamt it would be and so much more. It's everything I was looking for that day and couldn't find.

The Retreat Studio is a multi-purpose space suitable for short stays, wellness retreats, location hire for content creation and photoshoots and it's true purpose - a space to work on yourself and your business. We offer a number of packages to support including coaching and strategy add-ons to help you make the most of your time away and get laser focused.

So today, I realised one of my dreams, so that you can realise yours.

Welcome to The Retreat Studio.

3 TOP TIPS FOR THE ENTREPRENURIAL MAMA

There are many different challenges, and joys, to running your own business and being a mama.  Many of them are the same challenges that all entrepreneurs face. But some are unique to mamahood and the delicate balance we weave with work, life and mothering, and these not so easy to nut out with a solid business plan (though this always helps). I’ve been reflecting about my biggest challenges in this journey to date; so here are my top 3 and my learnings from them.

 

01/ say no

One of the biggest traps we fall into right from beginning is thinking we can do it all. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am an avid believer that we can achieve all our dreams, have fun along the way and live a life with joy and purpose. But this does not look like saying yes to everyone and everything along the way. I know only too well, especially in the early days of your business, that you want to grab every opportunity that presents itself with both hands. And let’s be honest, cash flow is often tight so we also feel inclined to say yes to work that may not be the best fit but will provide additional funds. It’s a juggle, no doubt. But where possible, and in context, say no to all the things that don’t a) align with your brand b) build the business you want and c) help you grow as a person. What you say no to becomes as important, if not more so, than the things you say yes to. And at the end of the day, your opportunity cost is higher than ever – because the things you say yes to will take you away from your babes, family, friends and other pursuits, so slow down and choose wisely.

 

02/ multi-focusing will be death of you

Stop multi-focusing. Easier said than done, I know. One of the best tips I have for this is to time block and focus on the scheduled tasks. Set yourself deadlines. Schedule task in correlation to what type of work you like to do when. For example, if you need to do something creative like write blog content, design or create images, do this at a time of day you feel most creative, at ease and have space. I like to get emails and other “admin” tasks done first thing where possible. If you work in a team, communicate to your team what you are working on. This takes a bit of trial and error but it’s worth making the investment to get to know yourself and set your focus accordingly. Be determined and disciplined. Over time, habits will form.

 

03/ shit does happen

As any Mum will know, shit does hit the fan, and often at the most inconvenient time (hello deadline!).  You MUST have a contingency plan of some sort or you will go mental.  When you have your own business and small children, you know that at any time, at the drop of a hat, you may need to stop business activities and put your family first. And that’s a given. Family first always. So try to plan for it, rather than let the anxiety build up.  Have some basic contingency in place. Know your support network. Always have some pre-prepared content (copy + visual) in the bank in case of emergency. Draft an “out of office” email and have it ready to pop on in case you’re not contactable for a couple of days. Where possible, build a proper support network around you. Look into a Virtual Assistant (VA) – can you casually utilise the services of a VA who can pick up some slack if you’re not available? Again, if you have a team, make sure they’re across the business and know what to run with if required.

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But honestly, the two most important things…

01/ look after yourself

Nourish your body and your mind so that when shit does hit the fan, you can be resilient and deal with things quickly and effectively and focus on what really matters.

02/ build real, meaningful relationships with your clients

The kind that will understand if a deadline needs to be moved a tiny bit because you have a sick child. Theses are the things that will add real value to your business.

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MAKE YOUR CHOICES

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It’s that time of year when everyone is setting goals and intentions for a “better” year ahead. I certainly love this time and use it to reflect on both challenges and achievements from the year that was and what I really want to achieve in the year/s ahead.

 

This year that process has involved more soul searching and foraging than usual. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve been writing the content and preparing for our Get Shit Done: Goal Setting Workshop (see more here) and therefore am really digging into the nitty gritty of the process. Or the fact that the desire to live a slower and more mindful life has become overwhelming. Or maybe I’m just fucking tired of making the same promises to myself year-on-year and ignoring every single one of them by January 6th. Most likely, it’s a combination of all of the above.

 

Those of you who know me, know I work hard, play hard, love hard and dream big. I am extroverted, ambitious, driven and I don’t take no for an answer. All of that said, I have discovered of late that I need much more space in my life – to be, to breathe, to create, to mama, to reflect. More and more I seek solitude in my day and my life. I think it’s a combination of over-stimulation, decision fatigue, the relentless demands of our little people, the proliferation of social media and technology in our lives and the CONSTANT noise.

So, whilst I certainly have a couple of killer work goals for 2018, my overall life goals look a little different to what you might imagine. I will be sharing these in detail at the workshop so I don’t want to spoil too much.

 

BUT the one I wanted to talk about was my need to decrease the amount of time I spend on devices + on social media.  I certainly know how slippery the slope is when it comes to working in, on and around digital and social media. And when you are the brand and your entire business revolves around an online “presence” those demands can be hefty and the cost seriously high. Couple that with the ever-increasing pressure from platform changes (thanks Instagram) to be “on” and “engaging”, the demand for more and more better content, online judgement and comparison and the need to constantly evolve and do something new and different and frankly, you don’t have time left to scratch yourself. And I haven’t even mentioned actual life. You know the whole mama, wife, daughter, friend, entrepreneur, cook, tidier, laundry washer, taxi, activist, dreamer parts of life. It’s no bloody wonder we put ourselves last. I’m surprised frankly, we put ourselves any where at all.

 

SO, you guys know I’m not about whining and ALL about action and solutions. In a year, where my unwavering commitment is walking the talk and helping as many women as possible create and live their best life and find a true and purposeful blend of work, life and motherhood (whilst I work through my own and share my learnings), I am making some huge changes in the hope of setting an example.

 

I don’t have all the answers but I do know this; we only get one chance and how we spend our days is how we spend our lives. Whilst I truly love and value our online community, I will never, ever wish I spent more time on Instagram or looking at my phone instead of playing with my son, talking to the people that I care about or looking after my health and wellbeing. Fucking ever.

 

So I’ve made a decision to have offline time every night and disconnect entirely from devices and social media from 6pm until I start my morning routine. I have no doubt that this decision will have a detrimental impact on my business. Around 8pm is my peak engagement time on Instagram. And I’m certainly not going to pre-schedule my posts and leave you guys hanging. When I’m online and engaging with you, I want to do it mindfully and actually connect with you all, not scroll through mindlessly and post content for the sake of posting content (ps - worst strategy ever). But you know what, that’s life. You’ve got to prioritize, put on your big girl panties and make your choices. And something tells me, I doubt I’ll be sorry. And maybe I can inspire some of you to consider what you value most and make some shifts accordingly. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and see you in the mornings so we can inspire each other for a beautiful day ahead x

TAKING TIME OFF

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These days, it seems like most businesses are open all the time. Especially if you have an online store or work in digital. Actually, if you work at all in this highly connected world it seems we never get to take a proper break. But over Christmas and New Year many of us try (or at least should try)and take some time out to spend with our friends and family and reboot for the year ahead. The issue we have is the expectation to always be 'on' and to not lose any traction with social media engagement and following wtc we've worked so hard to garner throughout the year.

So we thought it was timely to bring you 4 tips to manage your workload and social media when you're taking a break (without having to outsource everything). This is designed to help you stay on top of your online 'presence' but still be present in what you're doing during your break. Feel free to use the bits that work for you and your business but basically, this is what we'll be doing;

1.Tell people what you're doing.

If you are closing down for the holidays or taking a break in the new year, make sure you let your followers and business partners know. That way they don't have the expectation that you are going to be posting twice a day or responding to emails during the time when you're planning to break. A number of people are taking a digital detox, feeling the impact of the tech trickle throughout their lives, so it's certainly not unheard of to take a break from your socials - just make sure you're communicating it to people, don't just go MIA.

2. Post less content - but make it high quality engaging content.

Seems obvious, but it's ok to post less. If you do 3 x posts per day at the moment, there's no harm in dropping this down to 1 x per day or even every second day. As mentioned in the first point, over this time period there's usually a lull (with the exception of Boxing Day sales), people are on holiday and spending less time online and on their social media. We'd recommend quality over quantity during this period (and basically, always) - drop the filler content during this time and  make sure what you're posting is genuinely useful or of interest to your followers/customers.

You can also get on IG Stories a bit more during this time - they're quick and easy to post and lots of followers are spending more of their time here than ever before.

3. Schedule it.

Schedule some of your content now before Christmas, so you can take a step back. This way it won't be constantly on your mind. Schedule the content/posts/emails and then set yourself a task to once daily drop in and engage with your followers on your posts and on theirs. We use apps like Plann to prepare the photos and captions in advance, then simply hit post when we're ready to go - it certainly makes life easy, you don't forget to post something at a key time and you don't get sidetracked by social media when you should be spending time with friends.

4. Embrace the out of office.

We'll be switching ours on today for the break. 

And we'll probably be checking our emails periodically for anything urgent, but other than that we'll have the out of office on and the feet up at the beach. We found some funny ones here - you may or may not like to emulate some of these.

And so we look forward to seeing you all on the other side. We've got some big plans for next year, fantastic events and really unique new ideas to help you grow your businesses!! For those of you keen to lock something in to really kick-start your New Year, check out our Get Shit Done goal setting workshop here.

Until then,

ina + chan x

JURLIQUE FARM TOUR

For those of you who followed my Stories a few weeks ago, you will know I made my way to the beautiful Adelaide Hills in South Australia to visit the Jurlique Farm and learn more about the origins of my fave skincare empire. The lovely Maddie from @mystatement_ came along with us to that we could capture the experience on both camera and film and share with you all.

I have been using Jurlique products since I was 19 years old, after being recommended the range from a dear friend who was working with the company as a therapist and couldn’t speak of the brand and the quality of the products highly enough.  That was 15 years ago (you can do the math). And 15 years ago, there wasn’t a lot of options in the market when it came to natural and organic skincare which now seems to be a little more status quo. So, it’s safe to say I’ve been a long time fan.

Two of my fave things about the Jurlique brand are their organic origins and the consistent quality of all of their products. I know with Jurlique to expect the very best and they consistently deliver, every single time never compromising their brand or ethics.

So when they invited me to tour the farm where all the magic happens, I was beyond excited. And much like everything that Jurlique do – it was exceptional.  We were extremely fortunate to have a tour of the whole farm, a whooping 105 acres, and learn about the history of the land, farming methods and see the harvest in progress, as well as seeing the drying process at work.

The full Jurlique Story (which you can read here) is so inspiring and by experiencing the Farm, I really believe that Ulrike + Jurgen Klein achieved their ultimate dream; to reconnect people back to nature.

#mamastyle edit - The Slip Dress

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As Mamas, we wear many hats. There are many tabs open, juggling various commitments and its only amplified this time of year right? What was an already full plate turns to utter chaos, everyone is manic, overload everywhere. And it’s really easy to get caught up in it all, without stopping to breathe and simplify.

The thing is, we, in the proverbial sense, are fuelling the chaos. One of the best quotes I came across recently is “when you don’t have time to relax is when you need it the most” and it’s so true.

So in the spirit of simplifying, I have found you the PERFECT dress to take you through Summer. One dress, so many ways. It’s exquisite, affordable, unique and comes in the most amazing colours.

I love what the babes at She Maternity have created. Luxe fabrics, locally + ethically made and clever designs uniquely disguising that its maternity and breastfeeding wear so that it will seamlessly transition into your post-babe wardrobe.

I have this Slip Dress in both Green + Rust and boy, is it getting a workout this festive season. For more casual daytime looks, like a Christmas Lunch, I’m teaming it with flats (my St Agni woven mules look killer with this number) and a hat. For an even more relaxed day-to-day look when I’m in the office or catching up with clients, I layer with a tee and pop on some sneakers. For colder days, it works with a sweat layered over the top also.

And to dress up, just add heels or ankle boots + a leather or denim jacket and voila! I’m actually wearing this exact outfit to an event tonight.

I hope I’ve provided you some styling inspiration so make sure you go and enter the giveaway on IG as we are giving away 3 of these beauties!

Photography by @mystatement_ x

DAILY RITUALS

I have teamed up with Jurlique to invite you into my home and my day-to-day life and show you how I integrate my Jurlique rituals into daily life.  Working with Maddie from @mystatement_, we spent a day filming this tiny snippet into my day from morning to night-time rituals and all that happens in between, showcasing some of my fave Jurlique products and how I use them.  We hope you love it as much as we enjoyed producing it!

Special thanks to Maddie Gill from @mystatement_ for videography + photography and the beautiful Happy Melon Studios for having us for a meditation. Music 'Evergreen' by Yebba.

MY WHY

“We lose ourselves in the things we love. We find ourselves there, too” – Dale Patridge.

My path to today, a day when I get to follow my own purpose, has been somewhat unconventional – making it all the sweeter.

If you’ll allow me, I’d like to take you on that journey.

For as long as I can remember, I always had an entrepreneurial bent. After finishing a Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Arts (Psych) at uni, I threw myself into the corporate abyss, convinced that I must learn my craft and “do my time” before giving advice to others. Yes and no, it seems. So, whilst in hindsight (a beautiful thing), I would have gone down a slightly different, less soul-destroying path, I cannot deny the wealth of experience gained from my 12+ years working in professional services. Working across HR, Recruitment, Strategy and Planning, Talent Management, Learning and Project Management in Australia and Internationally in top-tier firms came with enormous learning. I had the privilege to sit in senior leadership roles, manage teams, shape strategy and above all, learn from some incredibly switched on, savvy and experienced business professionals. I added an MBA to my toolkit and a 2-year stint working in a regional role, based out of Hong Kong, for the world’s biggest law firm by revenue. But my dream never wavered. Learn as much as possible in order to successfully start my own consultancy with an innate desire to teach and empower others.

The one thing that did evolve was my area of expertise and my perspective. Older? Definitely. Wiser? I dare to think so. Over the past 4 years, as a creative outlet, I commenced a fashion + style blog. In that time, it has grown into a successful lifestyle blog (previously Sneakers + Soul), capturing an audience of over 55,000 followers on Instagram and creating regular content for leading global and Australian brands including Jurlique, Bugaboo, The Beach People, Bonds, Thankyou, The Glen, Harris Scarfe, Ford, Weylandts and most recently resulting in a cover for FETE Life.

Following the arrival of my son Luka in Dec 2014, I launched Project You + Me, an online retailer and community for the modern mama and her mini and there the foundations were laid. In 12 months, the business was profitable and we had grown our Instagram community to 15,000 engaged followers. The cross-section between these 2 experiences coupled with life experience, motherhood, my personality and a need in the market, my consultancy, the The Kindred List was born. I realised I had a very specific set of skills. Working day-to-day as both an influencer, content creator and a running a small business, I experience both sides of the business, client relationships, digital marketing + social media spectrum daily. And I wanted to apply that business experience in an entrepreneurial context.

The missing link for me has always been the intersection or blend of work, life and motherhood.  The more time I have spent in this industry as an entrepreneurial Mama, the more I (and many others to whom I have spoken) realised the need for two things;

  • Tangible skills, resources and community support to navigate this delicate balance
  • A toolkit + roadmap for entrepreneurial mamas to achieve our desired success and lifestyle

Typically, we pursue the self-employed dream after having children to chase a desired lifestyle – one which generally includes working in a business with purpose, a balanced lifestyle and above all, the time and freedom flexibility to spend time with our kids and families. But the result is often the exact opposite – an endless juggle of work, life and motherhood which ends in lack of time, exhaustion, overhelm, lack of focus, mama guilt, an inability to separate work from life and a general feeling that we’re not mindful or thriving in any of the above. Am I wrong? I suspect not.

So, whilst it’s my belief that it will always be a delicate juggle and somewhat blurry blend, it is possible and in fact, essential, to put in place the right structures and develop the skills to manage this. It is my dream to empower and enable as many Mama’s as possible to live their best work.life.mama blend.

So work.life.mama is a modern business and creative agency and lifestyle journal for the entreprenurial Mama. We exist to educate and empower you to grow - in work, in life and in motherhood.  We know that managing your precious time and scaling your business with the support of a like-minded community is key. We offer premium business strategy, social media + digital marketing coaching and services, whilst also taking care of creative elements to provide a holistic experience. Our aim is simple, we strive to help as many of you as possible to live the life you want and achieve your own success.

The most important thing I’ve built over the years, for which I am eternally grateful, is a truly amazing network. Of friends, partners, service providers, press, influencers, advisors and dead-set legends.

It is this experience, insights and network that I wish to share with you to help you grow your own business or idea in a digital world, whilst loving life and being present for the little things.

What am I passionate about? My son, family first always. Meaningful connections. Supporting each other. Collaboration. Coffee. Big Ideas. Bigger dreams. Reward for hard work. Freedom and flexibility. Disruption. A collective conscience. The greater good.

I also happen to think I’m hilariously funny, super creative, on the quirky side of normal and a fabulous coffee (or vino) date. I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Welcome to your best life. Let’s create it together.

With heart + kindness
X ina

Scroll through the gallery below of our website shoot!! 

Photography by Shelley Price | Styling by your truly | Location: The Local, Inverloch | shoutout to all the incredible businesses that dressed up for our website shoot mama; overalls, tee + bag Fabrik mini; Little Urban Apparel Tee + Band Of Boys denim shorts plus twinning sandals from Palmaira x