Overwhelmed: A Book Review

I am reading Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play when No one has the Time by Brigid OverwhelmedShulte. Well, reading assumes a more peaceful process, I keep finding sections I adore and then either write them down or Google search something related to it.

You see, the concept of slowing down and looking after yourself is something everyone could do with, but especially a person with chronic pain and fatigue.

“She herself [an assistant professor of psychiatry] works hard at not feeling stressed. Among other things, she gets enough sleep, eats right, exercises, stops to breathe, meditates, sets realistic expectations, and makes constant adjustments to her goals and schedule – as life around her shifts.” P56

She sounds amazing. And like she has no children.

It’s the perfect time to read this book as I contemplate my new work/life balance as a mama.

Shulte explores the current employment law in America (very limited and not at all employee focused) and some of the innovative companies who are incorporating more employee focused measures. Things like flexible work hours, part time hours and less face time, surprisingly, lead to higher levels of productivity and retention of good staff.

I devoured this book.

I clung to it as if it could give me the answers I so desperately need about how to balance motherhood with work with a chronic illness. And it did give me a lot of guidance.

Shulte explores the concept of time and how gendered expectations can get in the road. She weaves memoir with research in a seamless story, leaving you feeling like you’re reading a stream of consciousness as it’s happening.

My learning highlights: Time is power; work smarter not longer; balancing work/rest periods; choose your most important goal and tackle that first; dads are as capable as mums; help kids develop resilience, perseverance and grit; play; meditate.

Changes and a Family Home

We have been looking for a house for a while. We have tried different neighbourhoods and different counties. We even considered buying a house for someone else to live in, as an investment, in an area we couldn’t live in.

But we have finally found a house in an area close enough to where we currently live and work. It has plenty of indoor and outdoor space for our growing boy. The neighbourhood is “up and coming”. But there are good schools around.

Now I’m excited to get to work with “cheap chic” decorating ideas. I’ve been waiting to decorate baby’s room and have made do with his scrapbook so far.

Of course, my first stop was the library. They have some great books on the subject. The next will be scouring the internet for ideas.

Last week baby started three short days per week with his in-home carer. I’m so thankful for this option of childcare. He will know and bond with his fully qualified early education teacher/carer, who will have no more than one other baby and no more than four children total at a time.

So the time has come to get back into my business and set up some work. Which is a bit exciting and scary at the same time. Will I have enough energy for work and my baby? Will I be able to find a good balance, physically? Will I have the energy to do other things? Will I be able to generate enough work to help is pay this mortgage? Will my neck pain skyrocket?

These questions can only be answered with experience. Please send positive thoughts my way!

Jobs

Being a mother is a job. A challenging, exhausting, 24/7 job that pays only in smiles.

My baby is 9.5 weeks old and I have been asked many times already if I am back at work yet! It’s also been assumed many times that, because I work from home, I don’t need childcare.
I’d like to set two things straight. First, work at home is still work. Second, the baby needs so much care there is no way I could get any work done.

My baby sleeps very little during the day. If he does sleep it is in my arms or in the pushchair – continually being pushed. In the night I am still being woken every three hours for a minimum of 45 minutes at a time, if I’m lucky. If not, like last night, we barely slept from 1am.

I’d like to encourage mums to stand up for themselves. As the amount of pressure I’ve already begun facing is huge. And I already have chronic pain and fatigue to deal with.

It will get worse. No wonder there is a vast (and growing) number of women dealing with chronic fatigue and other lifestyle related illnesses.

I will be trying to fight for balance. But gosh it is hard! In a world simultaneously dealing with increasing lifestyle related illness and increasing expectations – how have we not learnt? And how do we expect mums with tiny babies to be doing double shift? Even if the child is at daycare during work hours, the woman is still working two jobs!

So, mums, please fight for yourselves. Dads, please care for the mother of your children and help them to balance the responsibilities wisely. Families, support your mums and help them fight for balance. Let’s fight for new norms!