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In Conversation with Sam: 8 Years in - What I've learned.

When I first started writing blogs, 34Sevn was called City Mum. I was a long way from my home in the UK, living in Sydney Australia and despite the sun, sea and sand, the lack of family, friends and general support network made for a tough start to parenthood. Add in single mum life and it was all a bit overwhelming. So, here I am 8 years later, trying to help other women navigate what I did while also taking good care of themselves. One thing I found very early on was that our own mental health is paramount to our success as both a mother and in our chosen career. You absolutely cannot run on all cylinders while neglecting yourself and expect to perform for very long. Burnout is real, stress is real and the knock on effects for all those around you are very real!

I thought it only right to do an "In Conversation" with me, to provide some insights with where I am, now my little man is about to turn 8!

One of the upsides to single mum life if I am very honest was the occasional day or night to myself. In no way did I want to be without my son, but circumstances meant that I was, and it taught me something very important: me-time is good for you. As I was forced to have alone time, I began finding things to do with that time, mainly around writing, because it's my passion and something I did before becoming a mum, and also around fitness because it made me feel incredibly good.

This me-time allowed me to stay connected to the woman I was before becoming a mother and I believe that sense of self has allowed me to find true balance and happiness as a working mum. Yes, some times have been incredibly difficult, you can't avoid that, however, the balance I managed to carve out for myself has definitely helped ground me through those more trying periods.

Balance doesn't mean having time off from kids though. It wasn't just on my days off that I have made time to write or keep fit, but those off days did help me form good habits. I started to wake up earlier or go to bed later to ensure I had me-time each day. I began eating nutritious food that meant I was well fuelled to not only do the mum things, but the me things AND the work things. As one of many of us who never truly gets a good night sleep after becoming a mum, I began to focus on the other ways to take care of myself such as food and exercise. Where I could no longer go for a run, I bought an exercise bike so I wouldn't need to leave the house. Basically, I began to form habits that would allow me to do more and live my life without sacrifice.

One thing I notice about many mums who have the traditional family unit set up, is that they never get time for themselves. Perhaps because they weren't forced into doing it like I was, so they feel guilty if they allocate any me-time and instead, push who they were to one side in order to be who they think they need to be for those around them. I don't believe this is wrong, but for the sake of true fulfilment, I think there needs to be balance. You don't morph into a different human being when you become a mum, but you do go through many (often wonderful) changes. This metamorphosis should be akin to a butterfly, you grow into the new you, while still maintaining who you always were.

Fact is, it doesn't need to be all or nothing. I believe you can find balance if you just take time to realise the value of taking care of yourself. So over the 8 years of writing and being a mum to my incredible boy, Thor, I have evolved too, and so has this blog. I have the beauty of hindsight and a career that has had its ups and downs. This last year in particular has been a huge challenge, after suffering some mental health strain related to work, I immediately noticed other areas of my life begin to suffer. It can be incredibly hard whenever one part of your life isn't serving you to see the wood for the trees. Being a working mum means that your often perfectly well-oiled-machine life can fall apart like a Jenga tower, but even when I was at my lowest, I stayed focused on the one thing I knew needed me to be happy more than anything: My son.

And that is the true blessing isn't it?

Being a mother supersedes all other things and it brings so much joy. As the year is rounding off I find myself ready for a new start with work in 2023 and incredibly happy and hopeful. I'm excited for the next chapter and helping other women navigate their career and motherhood and flourishing as they do.

So what have I learned in 8 years of juggling mum life and work life?

External factors we have no control over can be debilitating, that's why it's so important to be taking care of yourself, so that when one thing falls out of place, you're strong enough to hold yourself up. Regardless of the preparation, hindsight, foresight or even insight, there are no days/weeks/months or years that will be easy. BUT you absolutely can be fulfilled and happy by owning your journey and not letting it own you.



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