#MoreThanAMutha is all about celebrating the things that women are, as well as being amazing mothers. In a world where many women feel like they lose their identity when they become a mum, it is important to celebrate and shout that we might be mums, but we are not only that and we are still a force to be reckoned with.
What makes you more than a mother?
First of all, I believe that all mums are more than a mother! If you’re a mum and you choose to give up your work to be there 100% for your kids then that is great. And if you choose to work full time to help support your own dreams and a great life for your family, then that is also wonderful! Being a mum can be considered a full time gig on its own and I applaud all mothers because we’re all simply trying to do the best for our families with the skills, resources and emotional reserves we have!
What makes me more than a mutha? The decision to act consciously throughout my parenting journey. Not to do whatever others are doing if it’s not right for our family. Looking at the pros and cons of each decision and working out what is right for us (even if there is a lot of trial and error along the way and we are working it out as we go!) We make conscious, intentional parenting decisions, and even though they may not be understood by mainstream thinking, they’re the right ones for our family.
We have decided that travel can be a part of our family lifestyle and we want it to be a BIG part of our lifestyle. We also decided that we wanted to spend as much time as we can with our daughter and not wait until school finished or be tied to a system that might not fit in with what we really wanted. Therefore we made the decision to begin a location independent lifestyle just over 18 months ago. This means we “world school, unschool or life school” our daughter (there could be many terms used to describe it). Our daughters educational journey is led by her and we aim to help foster her curiosity and help her pursue things she is interested in. At the same time we gave up a traditional lifestyle, sold our houses and cars and are working on creating sustainable online businesses. Our businesses reflect our passions and values and that helps our daughter to realise that she is unstoppable and she can follow her dreams too.
Are people surprised when they realise you are more than a mum? Does that bother you?
I began the entrepreneurial journey before having my daughter and I’ve never been one to do something just because that’s what others are doing. So I don’t think some of our general choices surprised people. However parenting can produce very polarising views on various topics. And there are certainly aspects of our lifestyle that some people struggle with, especially the decision to be location independent and not send our daughter to school. Because…how will she be socialised?!! Ha! That’s another conversation!No, people’s reactions do not bother me. We make intentional decisions and we don’t want to have regrets. We aim to live our lives fully and completely and we know we’re following the path that’s right for us. It’s not a mainstream path so it’s not going to suit everyone, and that is fine. We just try and encourage others to live their best life and follow their own dreams. And for many, the conventional life is their dream, and that is great. If people can’t accept that we’re happy on the path we’re on then it’s probably more their problem than ours.
What challenges do you face when you’re juggling motherhood and being more than a mutha? (childcare, judgements of others, time etc)
The challenges always evolve as our daughter grows. Her needs change and the way she challenges us changes over time! Because we’ve decided not to put our daughter in care or in a school, my partner and I tend to tag team the work time. One of us is always with our daughter and then the other is working, or we’re having family time. So we often have less “work time” than we would have if we chose to send our daughter to school. This means we need to ensure we are as effective as we can with our work time.
It also bring with it the challenge of time together. Although we’d like more time together as a whole family, we’re doing ok on this front. We don’t need to rush out the door early in the morning or stay late at work. The thing that tends to get a bit more neglected is time as a couple. We’re still at the stage where we’re pushing forward with business so my partner tends to stay up very late and work most nights. Our daughter isn’t a huge sleeper so I tend to go to bed when she does, which means we don’t get evening couple time. The “couple time” challenge gets added to by the fact that we’re on the road so we don’t have babysitters to call on. This is something we’re aware of and we make the most of it when grandparents come to visit. We’re also going to look at staying at our next location for a year or so. This will help us to get a regular baby sitter on board so we can go on regular dates!
How long did it take you to remember you were more than a mother after you had your child(ren)?
I didn’t really make the decision to “go back to work”. I did decide that what I was doing wasn’t going to fit into my vision of mum life. I was previously personal training and teaching group fitness classes. With this comes a lot of planning and contact time. I wanted to figure out how I could create more of a work from home lifestyle but still follow my passions. My desire to push forward and continue with my passions and career didn’t stop when I had a daughter; the nature of how I did it simply changed.
When my daughter was born I started writing my first book. I wrote this over the first 6 months of her life. I simply took out a pen and paper (not even my laptop) and wrote a bit each morning while I was sitting with her at the table after breakfast. A year later my book had been published. Since then we’ve been discovering our new pathway. It involved a failed attempt at a family business for 18 months or so. After that (when my daughter was almost 3) we stepped back, simplified our lives completely and started on our online “youpreneur” journeys when we left NZ just over 18 months ago.
Who, or what, helps you to make time for yourself? What do you do to escape the stresses of motherhood?
Haha this is something I’m ok at but not great at! It’s a fine balance helping to support my family’s needs whilst also honouring my own. One thing was that we made a conscious decision not to have kids close together in age. My daughter is almost 5 now and we have number 2 on the way (eek!). But the way our family dynamics stand, my daughter now has the skills to play by herself and let me nap or get something done for 30 minutes or even over an hour if needed. I also tend to get up an hour or two earlier than anyone in the house if I need time to myself. I know I’m much more of a ‘morning person’ than a night owl so this helps me to push reset if I need to.
We’ve also drastically simplified our life since we left on our location independent mission. We have two checked in bags as a family and that is it! We don’t have pets, a house or a garden to take care of, unless we choose to do so as part of a house-sit. My daughter is a competent swimmer so we spend a lot of time chilling and recharging at various pools and beaches around South East Asia. We don’t often have to worry about cooking and cleaning, depending on where we’re staying. I’ve let go of having to cook a perfect meal from scratch every day because those sort of expectations weren’t serving me well. They were just adding to stress in my life which ultimately led me to a period of burnout. We don’t sit in traffic and we don’t ferry our daughter around to lessons. By choosing a simple, minimalist lifestyle we have effectively removed many of the stresses that can come with motherhood. Instead we have time to relax, focus on each other, and on building our online businesses.
What advice would you offer a mum who might not be feeling like they are more than someones mum right now?
I’ve been there and I think most mums have. I know it’s hard! Just know that things will change if you want them to. My partner and I refer to the different stages of life as “seasons”. You might be in a “winter” season right now, but spring could be just around the corner. I’ve been through severe postnatal depression and that certainly sent me into the depths of winter. A stressful “lifestyle” business that basically destroyed our lifestyle then sent me into complete burnout.
Spring felt like it was a long time coming but we’re right in amongst it now and it’s beautiful. We’re not quite into “summer” but we have the optimism that comes with the spring and we know summer is on its way. When I was in the depths of my winter the main thing that saved me was knowing that things would change. At the time it was horrible and I didn’t know how things would change…but I knew that they would. They will for you too.
Any advice for someone who is going through the same things as you are right now in their quest to be #MoreThanAMutha?
Go for it! Sit down and plan out a vision for how you want your life to look and start to figure out how your business idea or goal to return to work will help you achieve that. Figure out what you’re willing to let go of and what is non-negotiable for you. Be prepared to adapt and change as things evolve and change direction completely if you need to xx