When I learned I was expecting my first child I had every grand intention of being my version of a super mom. As a full time Pilates instructor I have the ability to craft my own schedule and I boldly shared that I was going to do it all. My career was at an all time high. I was just named one of Boston’s 50 people “On Fire,” and things were not looking to slow down anytime soon. My plan was to stay home full time with my son and work early mornings, late evenings and while he napped. I envisioned these hours wouldn’t be easy but I was ambitious. Plus, I’d be home all day with him so I could get things done then too. Everyone told me how lucky I was to have such a flexible schedule. How amazing it would be to be able to be both a working AND stay at home mother. I wholeheartedly believed I could not only do it all, but that I would do it well. I was wrong. Very wrong. Motherhood was the most beautiful yet humbling thing to ever happen to me. Every plan I had washed away as I struggled to adjust and accept a new lifestyle where schedules and control seemed to be invisible.
Looking back I now realize that one of the main things I was challenged by was balance. I was stressing myself out trying to do it all, at all the wrong times.
My son wasn’t a great sleeper for the first 6 months of his life. He barely napped and wasn’t sleeping through the night. I’d struggle to get things done because if he was sleeping it wouldn’t be for more than an hour and quite frankly I was exhausted. I felt like I had taken on too much and it was only getting harder.
I was used to being able to respond to my clients right away. This didn’t work so well with a child. I’d feel guilty and even annoyed when I was trying to send emails because my son would demand all of my attention at all times. What would normally take me 5 minutes took 30.
Even when I tried to workout at home with my baby it didn’t seem to work. My son didn’t want to cooperate, my dog was trying to lick my face, I’d yell at her and then my son would start to cry. I was completely stressed because I was a fitness professional with no time to “get my body back.” I was home all day and getting nothing accomplished.
Everything felt like a race against the clock. I was making silly mistakes. I wasn’t excelling. I wasn’t myself.
At some point along the way I realized I was missing one key ingredient in my new motherhood puzzle. Balance.
It was when I stopped trying to do it all that I actually started to thrive.
My new outlook on life is that we all have an individualized time and specific place for everything. For me, my time during the day is now reserved fully for my son. Of course I make exceptions from time to time, but I no longer try to squeeze in work during the day unless he’s napping. Instead I spend my time focused on him. Does this mean I’m slower to respond to clients and that I’m not always reachable 24/7? Yes. And that’s okay. Because during the day my number one job is my child.
When I’m teaching my classes that’s my baby free time to focus my energy on my career. I’ve even learned that for me workouts feel better when I do them on my own. It’s all about figuring out what makes you feel good and sticking with it.
By learning to focus on balancing my dual career as Mom and Pilates Instructor I’ve become a more patient person. I’ve found that I feel much less stressed during the day and that I can actually enjoy all the little (and big) moments of being a Mom because I’m paying attention to it. I now realize you don’t have to be on email or thinking about your career every second of the day to be good at what you do. You just have to give 100% to the moment you are living in. Isn’t that what life is all about?
Jennifer is a nationally certified and award winning Pilates instructor and Nike Trainer. She teaches at Equinox and private studios and homes in Boston. She has experience training Hollywood film actors, professional athletes and pre/post natal women. Best known for her high energy, sold out classes and annual free outdoor events, Jennifer has shared her passion for Pilates with hundreds of Bostonians. www.jenniferphelan.com