Do I still need to ‘lean in’ when I am just so tired?

I came across Sheryl Sandberg and Lean In when I was on maternity leave with my first (December 2013). I was planning my move back to work and I was struggling coming to terms with being a mom and how that fitted in with wanting a career as well.

Then…I caught an interview with Oprah and Sheryl Sandberg, and I was blown away.

Here was a woman, a mother, super successful, COO of Facebook (right!) and she was setting the path. I immediately bought the book on my kindle – there was no time to get to Exclusive Books. I had to have it right then and there.

Related PostPart 1: Our Journey Of Equally Shared Parenting

Sheryl was telling me that I have choices.  ‘Hey even if you have a kid, lean in, go for it, allow/ encourage your husband lean in at home,  etc.’

I totally lapped it up and yes it was challenging but that became my motto. Lean in! The world was my oyster. I even had a lean in circle and quoted her in conversations. I loved this woman (and I still do).

 

Now here we are 3 years later, am I still leaning in?

lean in when tired

I now have two kids, we are a  mostly functional 🙂 and happy family. Sheryl was right by the way, ‘leaning in’ has been good for me, it came with stretch assignments, rewards and  sponsors. All good. As I said, I love this woman.

So everything is okay…. but I am so darn tired. So tired. I have two kids now, and I am over thirty, if I have not made it clear already having two kids is really busy and exhausting (yeah yeah I love them and all that).

[bctt tweet=”Lean In to the things that make you happy” username=”cherralle_”]

What I actually am saying is that I will lean in but will lean in to things that make me happy and fulfilled. This is something I started thinking about when I returned to work in February from my second (and final) maternity leave.

Related Post:  7 Things a Working Mother Wants To Tell her Boss

Leaning In: Where to from here?

Leaning in at work too much  takes time, head space and emotional energy. It could leave me with nothing left to give. Time is less of an issue, I mean actual emotional energy and head space. And I need that emotional energy and head space to live my life.

I want my girls and my husband to have me as part of their lives.

This book remains one of THEE books for me and I still find so much value in these ideas and that can be a whole post on its own.

My life has evolved and what I take from Lean In has evolved too. I needed it at a stage of my life, where I needed to understand how to work through being a mom who also WANTS to work.

And it served it’s purpose beautifully as I took exactly what I needed from it. It still remains a truly inspirational book to me.

I still need the concept of leaning in, but in a different way

I still believe there is value in the ideas from Lean In  for me personally as I do still want to work and make an impact through my work.

I like to think of leaning in, as having choices and as leaning in to what makes me fulfilled. It is not about leaning in to climb the ‘corporate ladder’, but it’s about ‘doing me’.

That is why it is important for me that the work I do excites, energizes and interests me.

I like how Cathy Caprino puts it “Let’s just choose what we want, and live that.” Lean in to life, work, family, kids,  whatever makes you feel fulfilled and happy. As life evolves, we evolve and change and that is okay.

Do you have any mottos, quotes, books that you find inspirational?

 

Dear stressed out mom – take care of yourself

Women are 70% more likely to suffer from work related stress than men. Women are also known to be masters at juggling home, work and friends leaving them over stretched.  In that regard taking care of yourself, need to be intentional. Incorporate these 4 practical lifestyle changes right now to take better care of yourself.

I am a work in progress and trust me when I say I do not follow these to the letter, however I aspire and I wanted to share this knowledge with you. I was mostly inspired by Arianna Huffington’s Thrive journey. Arianna Huffington launched Thrive Global with the stated purpose to help companies  and individuals achieve their best through focusing on overall well-being. ‘You do not need to be ‘burnt out’ to have success in life’ is a key tenet of this movement.

Vintage filter, Green lotus leaf at garden.
Image source: i stock

Do the Thrive Pulse Check

On the Thrive website, you may access the Thrive pulse check   which I recommend you complete. It has  10 quick and easy questions about your lifestyle. According to the thrive pulse check I am “Part Time Thriving”.  Nice way of saying “I need to get my it together before I fall deeper into bad lifestyle habits”. There are a range of categories, the lowest being a “Burned out Zombie”. Ouch!

Sleep with your smart phone outside of your bedroom

women in bed with cell phone
Image Source: istock

I have not managed to get to this point! I know its hard, but by leaving your smart phone outside of your bedroom (or in  the cupboard) you are freeing up time for yourself. Consequently, you will have time to either read a book, relax, reflect, or connect with your partner. We are constantly digitally connected and so it is important to build in time to disconnect from our smart phones.

Get 7 – 9 hours of sleep a day

A tall order when you have young kids. Regardless, one of the key elements of thriving and getting it together is sleep…important for moms too, not only for babies.  Seven to nine  hours of ‘sleep’ is being prescribed  to ensure you are well rested.

Work in extra rest wherever possible that suits your life style. The main reason moms do not get enough sleep is not only related to baby waking (although that is a key one). In actual fact the reason is that moms stay up a few hours after their children have gone to sleep, because this is the only kid-free time they have. However, going to sleep soon after the kids have gone to bed and reducing non critical activities in the evening is recommended (easier said than done I know).

Be mindful

Mindfulness is about being present, engaged  and intentional in each moment and interaction.  Its about being human in our interactions with people, and  showing our true self. The  ABCs of mindfulness are:

A is for awareness – Becoming more aware of what you are thinking and doing – whats going on in your mind and body.

B is for “just Being” with your experience.  Avoiding the tendency to respond on auto-pilot and feed problems by creating your own story.

C is for seeing things and responding more wisely.  By creating a gap between the experience and our reaction to, we can make wiser choices.

To leave you with more food for thought, I found this awesome Infographic  which outlines 12 steps to Thrive. Do you have any activities that help you to recharge?

Inspired by Arianna Huffington’s new book, Thrive, we created this artwork to remind ourselves to question what it means to be successful in today’s world.

Arianna huffington 12 steps

Featured image: Source Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Mentoring Is Overrated And Why Sponsorship is Better

A mentor has become one of those things that we are all ‘encouraged’ to have if we want to get anywhere in our career. But, do you REALLY need a mentor?

No.

Mentoring is overrated, however there are ways you can leverage this approach if you apply these 4 career strategies.

A board of directors

It is important to have many mentors, and not only rely on one person. In this way, you have access to a wide range of people whom you may seek guidance from. Example, have someone who inspires you across different aspects of your life . You could admire someone for living a healthy lifestyle, how they prioritize family, how they run their business, etc. Mentors can be more senior than you, junior or even peers. It depends on what you want to learn from them.

Would you like to be my mentor?

Let’s be honest, no one wants this pressure, it’s just too much to ask someone to be your ‘ultimate’ role model. I have never approached anyone to be  my mentor, but I have a handful of people who I learn from across different topics.  I have people who inspire me to:  stretch myself at work, integrate home and family,  look after myself, etc. Labelling the relationship is not required. 

Additionally, approaching someone from scratch and asking them makes the relationship seem “forced” and one dimensional. I believe that a mentor and mentee relationship is beneficial if it is built on a foundation of mutual friendship and is mutually beneficial.

Having a sponsor is better

A sponsor is someone with decision-making influence in your organisation. They attend meetings higher up than the ones you attend and this person ‘leans in’ on behalf of you. You may not always know who your sponsors are but they use their social and political clout to support you. When a special assignment comes up, this person will advocate for you in your absence. A reality of the working world is that visibility of your contributions (not the contributions by itself) is what will get you the recognition. A sponsor plays a key role in helping you achieve this visibility. By being a strong performer, adding value to the organisation and others you will acquire sponsors.

Stretch assignments have a big impact on growth

Let’s be honest, do you really need another company leadership programme or another mentor link up? Assignments with increased complexity have a strong impact on career growth, more so than what a mentor can provide. This is especially true for females, where companies invest heavily in implementing leadership programmes. The impact of sponsorship and growth experiences can have a bigger impact on career growth than a leadership programme.

In closing, have many mentors at all levels and ensure that these relationships are built on a foundation of friendship. Very importantly have sponsors, and ask for stretch assignments. Now go be a lady boss!

Related Post: Working Mom Hack: How to ask for what you want at work, the right way

 Featured Image: istock

 

10 things I miss about my life before kids

I do love my kids with all heart and cannot imagine my life without them. They do drive me crazy  at times. And I will admit to the fact that I do miss my life before kids, if only sometimes. Only a tiny little bit 🙂

Here are the 10 things I miss about life before having kids

#1 Money

Yep, having kids costs a bundle, its child care, school, clothes, medical costs and don’t forget we do need to feed them as well.

#2 Sleeping in

This is the number one thing I miss the most, and I did not realise how precious this was when I had the chance. When sleeping till 6am is considered ‘sleeping in’….the struggle is real.

5 am wake up

#3 When I was done working, I was actually done working

Before I had kids, it was wonderful coming home and having time to just relax and chill out. Now the reality is that when I leave work and I come home I am on duty for at least another few hours depending on what time my kids go to bed (I highly recommend an early bedtime).

#4 Going to the bathroom without having to explain myself

My daughter seems to be fascinated by me visiting the bathroom. Going to the bathroom requires a lengthy explanation to my 3-year-old, why I am going, and I get escorted to the bathroom as well.

#5 Going out to dinner

Man, it was so awesome to just decide to go out to dinner (or movies) without needing to make any arrangements. The freedom of it all was bliss!

#6  Watching normal TV programming that is not animated

How I miss being able to kick back on the weekend and do series’ marathons!! I remember my husband and I watching endless episode of CSI: MIAMI. We did not even need to leave the bed on a Saturday. *sigh*

#7 Free time, so much free time

I miss being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want. Reading, watching a movie, cooking (jokes! it was never cooking).

#8 Weekend getaways…without taking the equivalent of a small flat with you

Going away has changed from just taking a small overnight bag to…a whole boot full of stuff. Its the cot for the little one, enough blankets for the little one, a special blanket for the older one, clothes, back up clothes, food, back up food, towels and back up towels…the list is endless.

#9 Drinking a cup of coffee without it getting cold

I find myself constantly reheating  cup of coffee in the microwave. A very weird fact, but true!

#10 Not having to deal with kids’ bodily fluids

I am not going to explain this.

Life before kids
Source: Giphy.com

 

Do any of these resonate with you? Anything in particular you miss about life before kids? Its okay,  admit it…

 

 

 

 

{Featured in The Rookie Parent Society} 5 Practical Steps that helped us with newborn sleep

New born sleep can be one of the biggest challenges of parenthood.  In my post over at The Rookie Parent Society  I talk about our experiences with new born sleep. I highlight 5 key steps that we took to improve our whole family’s sanity.

 

 

{Featured in SA MOM BLOGS} Why I am okay with being a good enough parent

Being a good enough parent is about putting an end to pursuing perfection and comparative parenting. With constant inputs around what we ‘should’ be doing, and  even FOMO parenting (yes people, it is a thing), we need to draw the line. Good Enough Parenting to me is about letting go and being human. Read the full post here on SA Mom Blogs where I share perspectives about why we need to let go of the pursuit of perfection and enjoy our families.

5 Ways To Effectively Reinforce Good Manners in Kids

One of THEE most important jobs we have as parents is to teach our kids manners.

Pre-schoolers (those between the ages of 3 – 4) are at an age where they should be responding to some of the social graces that they have been taught and shown. I mean, you don’t want your kid to be the ‘rude kid’ right? Understandably, kids at this age are still quite self-centered. However, it is the right time for them to understand what constitutes good manners as this is part of how they learn that a world exists beyond their own needs.

Suggested Post: You Should Try This: Interview With a Toddler

My 3-year-old, is good at some manners and not so great at others. That is okay, she is little and we are working through it together.  You can review this informative list on which manners kids should have by a certain age, however this post is focused on how to reinforce the establishment of these manners.

Child Blocks
Source: Pixabay

Model the right behaviours for your child

Modelling the right behaviours are key, as our kids look at what we do and emulate us.  This at times is quite challenging for me as I am not perfect. I will be honest, I will lose my cool  some times and shout an instruction instead of saying it politely. Or say a ‘bad’ word in front of the kids without realizing when my toe hits the leg of the couch (my toe is a magnet for any hard furniture).

I think if we do the right thing at least 90% of the time, it will be okay. However, does not matter what we do, the best form of learning for kids is through observational learning from their parents.

[bctt tweet=”The best way to teach a child manners is to model the right behaviour yourself as the parent” username=”cherralle_”]

Do not force issue in public

Our children are also human beings with feelings. If a transgression occurs, politely let her know on the spot what is the polite thing to do. This needs to be done very sensitively, as the intent is not to embarrass your child. A follow on discussion in private with your child is helpful to explain further why a certain behaviour is not okay.

Suggested Post: The Side of Motherhood That We Do Not Post On Instagram

Playing games which teach good manners

A cool idea is to make practicing manners a game, as outlined in Games to teach kids good manners. At least half of the games listed can be done from age 3, and the rest from age 4 – 5.  Role playing is one the games listed, that I think could work for at least a 3-year-old. The aim of the game is to teach and discuss a certain behaviour and then role play it together with your child. Your child can display the right behaviour as well as the impolite behaviour and they can learn in this way. Learning through play is always fun for young kids.

Continuously restating good manners

When your child is not displaying good manners, it is good to restate what you want them say. Example, politely correct, and state what the correct term is. Example, if they forget to say “please” and “thank you” you need to restate how they should have said it.

Suggested Post:  Bye Bye Mommy Guilt: Why You Should Feel Proud Of Being A Working Mother

Use positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a powerful way to effect a change in behaviour. This is because kids at this stage, do want their parents’ positive attentions. Recognise and make a big deal about it when they display good manners.

[bctt tweet=”Recognise and make a big deal about it when they display good manners. They want our attention” username=”cherralle_”]

In closing, it is important to be conscious of good and bad manners that your child may display. More  importantly, take an action to correct impolite behaviour however painful at that moment. In a similar vein, positively reinforce and reward good behaviours. And of course, be a good role model as best you can…most of the time.

What do you do to encourage good manners in young children?

Click on a sharing button below and share with a friend.

 

 

 

 

{Working Mom Hack} Asking For What You Want At Work (the right way)

Knowing how to go about getting what you want at work does not need to be a mystery.  As your company invests more in you, you return the favour by being the awesome employee that you are. It really is a win-win. It all starts with asking. Here are 5 working mom hacks you can apply right away, to get what you want.

What do you have to lose?

Related Post: Bye Bye Mommy Guilt, Why You Should Feel Proud of Being a Working Mother

#1 More training / study support

So, you want to study further but HR advised you that the company only covers a fraction of the fees ‘as per the policy’? Here is what you do. Work with a sponsor (your supervisor or mentor) and draft a one page motivation to request an exception. Your motivation should outline costs and acknowledge the policy (this shows you read it and you are not disregarding it).

Finally, it should include why this programme is good of your career and for the company. The fact that you have applied your mind to your studies in the context of your career will count in your favour.

#2 More flexibility

Importantly, be good at what you do when you are in the office, then  ask for flexibility . You want to be in a position where no one really cares about where you work, as you always deliver.  Suggest a trial period at first and show how it helps your employer (i.e. you will be more productive, not just easy for you).  You will often find a manager being more open to flexile arrangements if its positioned as a trial at first.

[bctt tweet=”If you are requesting more flexibility at work, ensure your work output is impeccable!” username=”cherralle_”]

#3 More maternity leave

Your company will probably have a  set policy in place, but if you want to take more time off you need to negotiate your maternity leave with your manager.. This is quite a challenging one to navigate.

Position the maternity leave request as early as possible (immediately after your completion of your first trimester). The critical factor that will be considered in an extended maternity leave is the backup plan. You will be leaving your colleagues behind to take over your work while you are off having a baby (as important as this is, it’s a pain for those left behind).

Related Post: The Other Side of Maternity Leave: The Coworkers We Leave Behind

Come up with a unique way to cover some of your responsibilities. Example, volunteer to train an Intern, you could groom someone for 6 months and you can set this person up to support the team in some activities.  Whatever the solution is, do not throw your hands up in the air. You need to lean in and work with your manager to work out what your backup plan is. This may help towards getting that extra bit of maternity leave.

#4 More professional memberships

If you want to join a professional community, whether your company has a policy or not, you should request your boss to sponsor it.  This reflects your dedication to your craft. It also helps with you remaining up to date with trends (which is good for business) and allows you to network.

Related Post: The Side of Motherhood That We Do Not Post on Instagram

[bctt tweet=”Studying further and professional memberships reflects your passion for your craft” username=”cherralle_”]

#5 More visibility

If you want to gain more exposure to high value projects, or gain more access to senior leadership – ask. Be good at what you do, and then ask for more. Your manager would be willing to expose you to more opportunities, if you have shown your credibility in other tasks.

In closing, an employer will invest in employees who have demonstrated their commitment to the company through their performance. As a valued employee, you can and must enhance your position in the company by asking for what you want. Spend time with your manager, mentor or HR to understand what is available but also be encouraged to lean in and ask for what you want. 

What do you have to lose?

What do you think, do you have any tips for asking what you want at work?

 

 

 

Destiny’s Good Schools Report 2017 is out

Destiny has launched its annual Good Schools Report, a curated list of South Africa’s top private and public schools. Moreover, this report includes school fees, annual and matric pass rates, and other relevant statistics per school.

Updated: 5 Reasons to Check out Destiny’s Good Schools Report Website

“The listings on the following pages shines a light on schools which have implemented innovative teaching methods to ensure the very best outcomes for pupils, regardless of their start in life“, as stated by its Project Editor, Sheena Adams in the July edition.

Related Post7 Things a Working Mother Wants to Tell her Boss

The list largely focuses on schools who take innovative approaches to science and math. Some of the top private schools are St Anne’s, Glenwood house, Crawford College and Reddam House. A few of the top public schools listed are Grey College, Collegiate Girls’ High School, Parkview Senior Primary and Westerford High School.

The Good Schools Report is going online

Destiny is launching a website (www.goodschoolsreport.com) which will provide a more comprehensive review of education in South Africa. Interestingly, this will include submissions by parents to its listings.

[bctt tweet=”It can be challenging to find a good school due to supply and demand (lack of quality schools).” username=”cherralle_”]

The expanded focus of the website, will provide a broader assessment of schools and not just a handpicked few. Over and above that, I hope that it will show which qualities other parents value in schools. As a (fairly) new parent the latter point is important to me. My daughter enters primary school in three years and I will be consulting the new website for insights.

Destiny  also encourages us to sign up for the Good Schools Report newsletter  which I have done.

I will be accessing the website soon after its launch and will share my insights here.

Further Reading: Part 1: Our Journey Of Equally Shared Parenting

 

You Should Try This – Interview With A Toddler

I had such a fun time interviewing our 3 year old daughter, Caitlyn. If you are looking for a way to kill some time on Saturday afternoon, interview a toddler!

Although it was a challenge to get her to focus and sit still. There were way more questions, and this is what we managed to get out! She is growing so fast, and cannot believe the end of her toddler years are approaching.

cute toddler natural hair

 

Interview with a toddler

1. What is something mommy always says to you? Caitlyn, come eat. (I thought it would be something more profound..hahaha)

2. What is something daddy always say? Caitlyn I am going to ‘bliksem’ you

3. What is your favourite thing to do? Swimming

Related Post: The Side of Motherhood That We Do Not Post On Instagram

4. What makes you happy? Teacher at swimming (on this day she had her swimming lessons)

5. How old are you? 3 (showing three fingers), but I want to be 4 (shows four fingers)

6. How old is Mommy? 3 (okay)

Related Post: 10 Things I Miss About My Life Before Kids

[bctt tweet=”Super fun parent and toddler activity is to ‘Interview Your Toddler’. Here are some questions to try out!” username=”cherralle_”]

family photography toddler natural hair

7. How old is Daddy? 2 (okay)

8. Who is your best friend? Mamma (awhhh). Last week it was Eli and Evan from school, but okay.

9. What did you do today? I fell in the water at swimming (yes she did and her dad pulled her out, nothing serious)

10. What is your favourite food? Soup, bread and chicken (that was her lunch)

11. What is your favourite song? When it’s storming… (what they sing at school when its storming outside, I am not really sure?) and second favourite is Shosholoza

12. What do you want for your birthday this year? Rainbow dash (favourite character from My Little Pony, she also likes to be referred to as ‘Rainbow Dash Caitlyn’)

13. What is your favourite animal? Lion – so it can bite daddy

14. What is love? Mamma (awhhh…..too precious)

15. Where do you live? At home (well, what other answer did I expect)

This is definitely something I would want to do on an ongoing basis, these memories are too precious and the ‘interview’ was such fun. Even though I had to chase her  bit around the house. 🙂

 

Related Post:

Bye Bye Mommy Guilt – Why You Should Feel Proud of Being A Working Mom