Nothing has reaffirmed why I am passionate about a slow lifestyle more than Wednesday evenings.
Every Wednesday at 5:30, a dozen mamas sit on the sofas outside our 5-year-olds ballet class. Over the year that our daughters learned to plie and jete to Aretha Franklin’s RESPECT, it was fun to get to know so many of these amazing mamas.
All of my fellow dance moms were working women (it’s a 5:30 class for a reason!) who do it all for their families. Chauffeuring kids to ballet, soccer, and baseball. Running home to get dinner on the table.
By the time they finally tucked their littles into bed – most of these mamas had a full 12 hour day of hustling to take care of everyone.
And Wednesdays can feel like the LONGEST day of the week when you’re racing straight from work to ballet. We’d all had days when we are running late, trying to get a 5 year old to cooperate so you can get her to class on time. Days when we were ordering pizza to be delivered right when we’d finally walk in the door.
What amazed me was watching how each mama managed the level of crazy that was Wednesday evenings. Some high-energy mamas seemed to love it – a game of juggling schedules and encouraging her kids to be active. Some mamas seemed to be in a perpetual state of frazzled and slightly overwhelmed with this new stage of adding kid activities to mamahood. And laid-back mamas just took the entire weekly routine in stride.
By the time we were halfway through our year together, some of the mamas started asking who else was continuing dance next year. Ballet burnout had set in. Some of the little girls were needing more of a break between school, daycare, and ballet. Some of the girls were in too many activities (as many as 3-4 a week) with no time to just relax. Some of the mamas looked like they just needed a good hug trying to juggle it all!
One of the biggest reasons that I launched my business in 2008 – even before I had kids – was I knew that I wanted to design my lifestyle around my family.
I wanted that freedom to throw away my alarm clock (obviously I didn’t realize the alarm clocks are now little humans), work in my yoga pants, and cancel everything to enjoy a gorgeous day outside.
Ballet Wednesdays were such a beautiful contrast for me to witness. Each mama was hands-down amazing at how she was juggling her work and her family. And I was insanely grateful that I had listened to my intuition in designing a lifestyle business that allows me more time to savor slow.
My entire lifestyle is designed so I never have to feel rushed or overly busy. Yes, there were a few times when we rushed to get out the door on Wednesdays… but then I realized that redesigning my day to create more white space made ALL the difference. No calls after 1 PM on Wednesdays meant I could take a couple of hours to recharge, move my body, and pick Juliana up early so she could also get a longer break between school and ballet.
It takes a LOT of conscious effort to break free from the culture of busy.
Especially for mamas. It often feels like if you don’t have your children enrolled in every single program or activity, you are a complete mom fail!
And if you’re a mamapreneur… forget about it! Most mamapreneurs are drowning in busy in every single area of their life and business, multi-tasking everything, and never letting 5 unscheduled minutes going to waste.
So when my dear friend Shawn Fink sent me an advance copy of her book Savoring Slow, I knew this would quickly become one of my favorite new books to share with my mamapreneur friends.
My hands-down favorite message of the book? Do Less.
Doing less doesn’t mean lazy, even though sometimes it might feel that way.
Doing less doesn’t mean doing nothing, even though that might be nice sometimes.
Doing less doesn’t mean giving up on life, even though you probably feel that way right now before you even start this habit.
Doing less will actually make you more productive.
Doing less will add energy back into your days – not to mention many other positive emotions, too.
Doing less is a way of life, a practice and it begins right here, where you are right now.
Doing less has been the #1 habit that I’ve practiced over the last 8 years that has made it completely possible for me to build a meaningful life and a meaningful living. I no longer lead a busy life – I lead a beautifully full life (with LOTS of white space).
So when Shawn invited me to celebrate the launch of her book by sharing some of my favorite Savoring Slow tips, I was thrilled to be sharing my insights alongside like-hearted mamas who embrace doing LESS to be more! (Follow along with the entire Savoring Slow blog tour here!)
Ready to say no to busy and say yes to slow – in life and biz?
1: Simplify Your Days
The number one reason for mamapreneur burnout? Trying to squeeze 25 hours worth of to-dos into a 24 hour day.
I’m no mathematician but I’m pretty darn sure we’ve all got the same 24 hours to work with. 168 hours a week. No more, no less.
If you want to build a meaningful life and living, you’ve got to consciously make time for what matters most. And that means saying NO to the things that aren’t in alignment with what’s most important to you, your biz, or your family.
What can you say NO to?
- All the birthday parties your kids get invited to. Seriously – just pick the best friend parties and not all 22 birthday parties in a single school year. With twins in two different classrooms, we quickly realized we were booked almost every weekend! Trust me – they will be OK. We decided that one weekend a month was enough.
- Too many classes + activities. I’m not saying don’t let your kids pursue their passions – our nanny just left to join her first professional ballet company, something she’s been working towards since she started her first ballet class at 3 years old! But there are a lot of parents and kids burning out and missing out on quality family time. Make sure you’re signing up for the right reasons. And only add more when you know it’s the right fit for you and your child.
- Extended family obligations. Family is important – but there also comes a point where you can’t make everyone happy. Once I had my twins, I learned pretty quickly that I needed to prioritize MY family’s needs over everyone else. And sometimes that means not traveling 8 hours in the car for a 2-day visit or changing the rules to fit your needs (we only have Christmas at home – no more traveling)! One simple rule – no more than one weekend away from home each month.
- Over-planning your kid’s days. With sites like Pinterest full of millions of kids’ activities and crafts and games… it’s really easy to think that every day, you’ve gotta become Martha Stewart to keep your kids occupied. I love Pinterest as much as the next mama… but seriously, my kids are entertained by a cardboard box. Why am I stressing myself when they have hours of fun coming up with their own entertainment? This summer, we’ve been playing most days by ear – as long as they get some time outside and some time reading, they are pretty happy campers (we also don’t have a TV so they are good at entertaining themselves).
- Putting everyone else’s schedule first. If you are an entrepreneur, you will do a happy dance once you create and use a model calendar. Too often, we’re planning our days based on someone else’s schedule. But if you want to make space for what matters – it’s up to you to protect your calendar! I block out time for myself (this introvert needs quiet time), my family, my hubby, my self-care + fitness, and THEN my business. And within the 20-25 hours a week I dedicate to my business, I block time for the tasks that I KNOW move my biz forward.
2: Simplify Your Home
Are you a highly sensitive person? I am. And finally understanding my highly sensitive nature was the key to me creating the peace and calm I require on a daily basis.
My number #1 trigger for anxiety and panic has always been my environment. If my environment is organized and serene, all is right in my world. The moment I start to feel anxiety creeping up… I know it’s time to de-clutter and simplify some area of our home. In fact – the one room that MUST always be organized daily is my home office.
When I talk with my mama friends, I know that simplifying your home is incredibly challenging when you’ve got little kids running around. It can feel like you’re ALWAYS trying to reign in the chaos of kid stuff. But I’ve discovered that less is better for everyone in my family (and makes cleanup a snap)!
How can you embrace less at home?
- Get rid of your TV. A little extreme? Maybe. But we got rid of our tv in 2010 when my twins were born and have never looked back. It started as an experiment, but then I realized how much of a difference it made for me. My husband and I were both much more productive. We replaced TV after dinner with long walks. We read for at least 30 minutes each night with our kids. And honestly – everything we do want to watch is on Netflix anyways! Just think about it – if you’re struggling to find time for real connection – replace that hour or two of TV with something on your family wishlist.
- Embrace a capsule wardrobe. I’ll be the first to admit – I love sitting around in yoga pants as much as the next girl. But nearly 8 years of working from home has taught me 2 things – 1) Jeans don’t lie. You might feel like wearing your yoga pants makes you sporty, but if you’re not doing yoga, they are deceiving you! and 2) Dressing for success makes a difference in how I feel about myself. When I sit down to work, I want to feel like a polished and pulled-together mama CEO. And with a capsule wardrobe – everything in my closet fits great, looks beautiful, and is easy to mix and match. I only have about 25-30 pieces per season. If you’ve ever had a post-partum crying in the closet trying to find something to wear moment – do yourself a favor and box anything that doesn’t fit up. Knowing that everything makes me feel and look good makes my life and my mornings a million times happier.
- Hack your meal planning. I’ve had this trick up my sleeve ever since I was in college and cooking for one. Turns out – it works just as well for a big family of five too! There are a few staple ingredients that I get every single week that can go into 4-5 different dishes with just a few tweaks. Just prep them all once, and then you can whip up dinner without stress. Between a purple onion, bell peppers (yellow, orange, and red), baby spinach, carrots, asparagus, fresh or canned tomatoes, and avocados – I can make burrito bowls, vegetarian chili, veggie stir-fry, salads, or marinara on zucchini noodles. Simplifies your shopping and your dinner!
3: Simplify Your Business
I hear all the time from entrepreneurs who are drowning in overwhelm attempting to do ALL. THE. THINGS. to grow a successful business (that’s why I created the Fired Up & Focused Challenge). But my not-so-secret to success? You’ll do better when you do less!
There are a million ways to grow your business but I’ve found that when entrepreneurs are focused on their Business Sweet Spot, then they don’t have to try every tip and trick and tactic that comes their way. Instead of throwing spaghetti chasing shiny object after shiny object, they know exactly which strategies produce results for their business. Instead of flying by the seat of their pants with no clear direction, they keep it KISS – keep it simple and strategic!
But how do you know which strategies will work best for you in your business?
Most entrepreneurs go through such a huge learning curve trying out every idea until they land on the right fit – but after working with hundreds of my Conscious Business Designers, I realized that most of us fall into one of 4 Entrepreneur Sweet Spot Themes (occasionally with a secondary theme too). Understanding your Entrepreneur Sweet Spot Theme has made such a huge impact while helping my students do LESS to grow MORE.
What is your Entrepreneur Sweet Spot Theme?
- Are you a Maker? If you’re a maker – you get it done. You implement. You follow through. You like to see something from start to finish. I tend to see a lot of makers in ‘behind the scenes’ type businesses – like project managers or event planners or makeup artists or photographers. When you focus on making your CLIENTS look amazing, you will thrive.
My go-to KISS marketing strategy for Makers? Delivering a stellar customer experience, showcasing your work and asking for referrals (in fact if you’re work is AMAZING, those referrals will come without asking because you made your client look incredible).
- My go-to KISS marketing strategy for Mavens? Invest your marketing energy into getting on bigger platforms to build your own via interviews, speaking on stage, and contributing to major sites… then nurture those peeps consistently via video or audio. Your peeps want to see and hear you!
Are you a Mentor? If you’re a Mentor – you are everyone’s BFF. You’re warm and nurturing. You’re lovingly encouraging. You are here to help people make a deep transformation. Many Mentors are naturally drawn towards healing and helping professions – yoga teachers, life coaches, health coaches, doulas, massage therapists, holistic health practitioners. When Mentors focus on a deeper connection with their clients, they can facilitate amazing results.
My go-to KISS marketing strategy for Mentors? It’s all about connections and relationships for Mentors. Focus on high touch, community focused strategies. You’ll thrive connecting and collaborating with like-hearted entrepreneurs. Those relationships will help put you in front of more of the right people!
- Are you a Mastermind? If you’re a Mastermind – you are a strategist. You love sitting in a pile of new information. You can put all the puzzle pieces together. You’re meant to teach the world how to make sense of it all (did you guess that this is my theme?). You can bring order to chaos, then hand over the checklist so others can do it too. Masterminds are everywhere, developing new processes and systems to uncomplicate our lives and solve our problems.
My go-to KISS marketing strategy for Masterminds? Always be teaching. Your peeps look to you as a subject matter expert – they want you to do all the research, then give them the bite-size insights and inspired action steps. Of all the themes, you’ll do best when you’re consistently publishing content across multiple platforms (blogging, video, podcast) to facilitate multi-modal learning – but find ways to do the work ONCE and let it work for you multiple ways (like making a video, then turning that into an audio podcast + transcribe into a blog post).
Being a modern mamapreneur doesn’t mean you have you accept that you’ll be exhausted, overwhelmed, and on the verge of burnout until your kids leave for college.
When you start savoring slow, you’ll find calm instead of chaos in all areas of your life and business. You don’t have to do ALL THE THINGS to create a life and business you love. And you’ll open up the white space you’ve been craving to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
I’d love to hear from you – what are your favorite ways to do less to live more?