When it all becomes a bit too much

about me journal entry musings personal shame Nov 03, 2022
A mug sits on a yellow background, overflowing and spilling onto the bench

A personal essay reflecting on stress, motherhood and running a business, and the realisation that I was simply not thriving.

I’ve been a woman on the edge these last few months, and I hadn’t quite realised how on the edge I was until yesterday. I’ll circle back to that in a moment. First I need to recap, to order my thoughts. If you thought this was just a blog about decluttering and organising, you were wrong. LOL. If my posts sometimes read like a journal entry, it’s because they are. Writing these words helps me to process and understand this busy old life of mine, and I share them because I think it would be very easy for my clients to believe that as an organiser, I have my life together. Let’s bust that myth right now – I absolutely don’t. Here are the ways in which I am “failing”, and sometimes even feel like a fraud:

  • I am ALWAYS running late, a minimum of 5 minutes.
  • I have clutter. I’m sitting on the couch typing this blog post, and around the corner is a sewing table that has become a Lego table and a work table, and for the first time in months I feel like sewing, but I can’t get to my machine because of the clutter.
  • My home isn’t clean. Tidy? Yes. Clean? No. Is it gross? In some places, yeah, I guess it kind of is.
  • I felt embarrassed recently when someone came to our home.

How do I feel like a fraud? Well for starters, I preach about why YOU shouldn’t feel any shame about the state of your home when you invite me in to help you declutter and organise. So feeling embarrassed about my home is a great example of not practising what I preach. I also feel like a fraud because I have clutter; you’d expect me not to, wouldn’t you? Am I not a decluttering and organising expert? Interestingly, I feel absolutely no shame about having clutter. If you’ve known me for any length of time you’ll know that I have never claimed to live a minimalist lifestyle; I don’t want to, I don’t need to. Our family’s clutter is at a comfortable level for all of us – I only believe in decluttering when things feel uncomfortable, and the amount of clutter each individual can tolerate is very personal.

So that’s the backstory. I’ve been feeling more and more strung out since Otis started school, and the penny dropped during the school holidays as to why that is. While he was in daycare, I had 5 full days to get everything done that needed to be done. Housework, exercise, some modicum of social interaction, and of course, running a business and caring for my clients. Once Otis started school, all of a sudden my day ended at 2.30. That left me with 12.5 fewer hours per week, and yet I didn’t adjust my expectations on what I could achieve. Guess what fell off the to-do list first? Exercise, then social interaction. Housework was the next flag to fall. I did my client work during the day, cared for Otis in the afternoon, and then once he was in bed would turn my laptop on with a groan and try to keep my head above water with business and household admin. It was not uncommon for me to be replying to emails after 11pm.

This is not the life I want for myself. Something must change.

Now before you get indignant on my behalf about how I shouldn’t be doing this on my own, that I have a husband who should be doing his “fair share”, I’ll save you the energy. Trust me, I have been there, done that, got the t-shirt! My husband also runs his own business and has been doing so for 18 years. He has a business partner and a decent sized team of people that need him throughout the day. The fact is that neither of us have gotten to the point where our businesses run themselves – if we take time out during the day for family commitments, we have to reclaim that time somewhere else. The work doesn’t go away, it just piles up and makes you feel a bit queasy when you think about how much there is to do. The time gets reclaimed on the weekend; both Jamie and I regularly work on the weekend to keep afloat. We are both heading for burnout.

I repeat: this is not the life I want for us. Something must change.

Now let’s put Otis into the picture again. He is adjusting to school, but it is hard. He’s learning new routines, new people, learning actual stuff like the alphabet and reading and writing, and he has gone from his daycare environment in which he knew everyone and had plenty of people to talk to, to a school where he doesn’t know anyone and hasn’t quite clicked with that one special friend. When he comes home from school he wants connection, conversation, and play. Instead, he gets distracted, exhausted, snappy parents. It’s not fair; he deserves better.

One more time for the people at the back: this is not the life I want for him. Something must change.

This week we had a nanny start with our family, a lovely university student who has just finished her first year of her nursing degree. She will pick Otis up from school three days a week and give him what I cannot – time, energy, connection, endless snacks (lol). That gives me the extra time I need to be my whole self. And that’s what it really boils down to for me. I am more than a mum, more than a small business owner. I love my son and my husband and my business FIERCELY but dammit I also love to make things, and exercise, and spend time with my parents, and my friends, and be silly, and sweet baby cheeses I neeeeeeeeeeed time on my own to recharge.

On Tuesday this week: the sun was shining, I had lunch with a friend, had an awesome hang out with another friend, I did some shopping, I met with a new client and did some work in the warehouse, and at the end of the day I went home to my son and was the mum he deserves. That night I sent my own mum a text message that said, “I feel lighter in my heart than I have in months” and I truly meant it. I’m proud of myself for (eventually) understanding what the problem was, figuring out the solution and then swallowing my pride and asking for help. I know that is not always easy to do.

There’s no decluttering and organising zinger at the end of this post. There’s no secret sell coming. I just want to leave you with a question: is this the life you want for yourself or your family? Or does something need to change?

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