Top tips for work-life harmony.

The thing I get asked most often is – how do you do it? Being a single mum who goes to uni and runs a business, people always want to know – how is it that I can juggle it all and not lose my marbles.

Well, the short answer is, I do lose my marbles… and it is often the things that I have in my life outside of parenting that help me find them again.

Right now it’s 8.30pm and my little girl is asleep. I’m tired and I could go to bed, but I know that I will sleep easier if I feel like I have had an ‘outlet’. We all need an outlet, and writing is one of mine.

For me, there is no such thing as work-life balance, because my work and my life are not separate entities that constantly compete for my time, in fact they actually go hand-in-hand. I need the different aspects of my life to work not-so-much in balance, but in harmony with each other.

My child, my relationship, my study, my work, my health and fitness, my social networks, my personal development – all of these things are important to me and they are all linked.

I need to feel healthy so that I can have the energy my child demands of me. My social networks fuel my personal growth which feeds into my work. Studying feeds my mind and fuels the amazing connection I have with my brilliant man. All of these aspects of my life compliment and benefit the others.

I am not perfect and there are times when I am not able to focus on some areas as much as I’d like. These are the top five things that I do to make sure that I am giving oxygen where it’s needed.

Radical self care
When you have a lot to juggle, the most valuable thing in the world is energy. The only way you can have energy is to nourish and move your body. Water, clean eating, small regular meals, fresh air, sunshine, exercise. Without these things my energy levels will inevitably drop, so I know I must prioritise them if I am to get everything else done.

Choose your tribe wisely
I don’t spend time with anyone who drains my energy or drags me down. I’m an introvert who needs time on my own, or else I start to get edgy and overwhelmed. Throughout my life I have been drawn to narcissistic people who seem to suck the life from me. As I have gotten older I have started to pay attention to how I feel when I am around different energies. I prioritise time with those that enrich me, and maintain boundaries with those that don’t.

Remember your values
Any decision I ever make is made based on my innate set of values. I have a clearly defined list of the things that matter most to me in my life, and every thing that I do reflects this. I recently had to make a decision that meant giving up a sum of money, but avoiding a lengthy and emotionally draining battle in the process. Harmony is one of my top values, much more so than justice or fairness. When I reflected on my values, the decision was easy. The same goes for prioritising how I focus my time and energy. If I am feeling really unhappy, you can bet that I’ve been living outside of my values and its time for a reset.

Have a system
Planning is a huge one for me. Literally every Sunday night I sit down and reflect on my week, looking at how I’m tracking and planning for the upcoming week. I use a Daily Greatness Journal which makes this very easy and is just beautiful to work with. Each time I do this, I reflect back on my current goals and ensure that I have plotted time for each of them. Juggling so many balls in the air would be impossible if I didn’t plan and organise myself well.

Know your cycle
There are four distinct parts to a woman’s cycle. The first week is our reflective phase, the time for planning and big picture thinking. Then comes the dynamic phase, which is my time to really smash out my to-do list. Third is the expressive phase, an awesome time for networking and communicating. The fourth week is the creative phase, where emotional stuff can come up so not a time for making big decisions. Since I began to honour my cycle and build my workload around it I am so much more effective.

So that’s my top five tips for creating harmony in a hectic life. If you are keen for some support in this area and would like to chat about coaching please do get in touch.

Much love, Carlie xx

To ‘the other woman’; one year on.

A version of this post was originally published on Mamamia.

My daughter’s best friend at day care shares your name, which means it’s a name I hear a lot. I used to cringe when I heard it.

She’s such a sweet little girl though. Whenever my daughter talks about how much fun she has been having with her, I must admit I feel grateful that she’s talking about her little friend and not about you.

A year ago today you hit send on an email that had a monumental effect on several people’s lives. Mine, my husband’s, my daughter’s, both our parents and families, our friends. I often wonder what was going through your mind at that moment, how much of it was revenge against a man who broke your heart and how much of it was you trying to do the right thing for his wife. The level of detail that you went into, felt like it had been curated to inflict pain. You knew what a wife would need to hear to get her to the point of no return in her marriage and you delivered it, blow by blow.

I wonder how much you knew about me. I know that you looked me up online, read my blog, saw my pictures. I wonder whether you knew that I’d be at work that day when I received your email, cryptically entitled ‘Your husband’. Yes, that’s what he was, and technically still is at this point, my husband. I wonder whether you refer to him as your ex-boyfriend now. It’s so bizarre for me to think that this man I know so intimately had this significant other person in his life that I didn’t know about.

And I can honestly say that, I didn’t know. I probably should have. I certainly asked him, but deep down I truly didn’t think that it could happen to us. We were rock solid, him and I. I really thought that. We had a six month old baby and he was away a lot with work. Of course things were tough and we weren’t as connected as before but I needed him to hang in there for me, until things got easier. He would have I think, if you had not come along at that moment.

I am not interested in blame and I don’t seem to be capable of hatred. I don’t care whose ‘fault’ it is. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and there are lessons in this for all of us. I can imagine what it must have been like for you, living in that small town. One night a good looking guy comes into your bar for a drink. He can be funny and charming, my husband. I can imagine how you would have fallen for him. As he came in each night he would have told you about how hard it is with a baby at home, how he wasn’t getting much attention. All you had to do was listen to him, give him what he said I wasn’t, and soon enough he was yours. I get it, I fell in love with him from the other side of a bar too.

Sometimes I wonder how much of it was him trying to find what he had lost in me. I was once a cute blonde in a short skirt behind the bar at his favourite pub. Ten years later I was the mum in the yoga pants with the silver regrowth and bags under her eyes from being up all night with a sick baby. He was supposed to love that version of me too. And he did, but he missed the girl who had nothing but time to dote on him. That’s what you gave him.

In some ways I’m actually glad. I felt bad for him spending all those nights alone in a hotel, away from his family. But he wasn’t alone. He was with you. He spent his birthday with you. You comforted him when we put our beloved dog down. I love this man enough to feel glad that he was able to find love at those times, though it wasn’t from where I wish it had been.

Just like the old cliché, you believed he would leave me for you. But he didn’t. He let you down. Our daughter got older, stopped nursing and started sleeping. He began to see the woman he had fallen in love with all those years ago. He wanted to make it work with his wife, with his family. I bet that hurt for you. You had a choice. You could let him move on and try to make his marriage work, or you could take it all from him. You chose option two.

We tried hard to put the pieces back together but it just didn’t work. I was different. It was the little details that did it. Those words and images etched into my mind. I think you knew that they would. We are both ok now though, me and him. In fact, in a way we are closer than ever. We have learned so much about each other through this process. Though we have each moved on, we still have love and respect for each other, which has a positive affect on our little girl. No one will ever break that.

I hope you have moved on with your life too. I hope that you have learned from this situation and that you can find some peace within yourself, as I have.

Carlie.

To my beautiful, broken-hearted friend.

Everything hurts right now, I know. That person who vowed to stick by you, has let you down.

It hurts to breathe. It’s hurts to remember. It hurts to think. It all hurts like hell.

You feel sick and lost. I know and I’m sorry.

I want to tell you something that may sound strange.

You my beautiful friend, are not broken. Your heart, it is not broken. Its bruised and its battered and its wounded like you didn’t think possible, but it is not broken. It still beats. As long as your heart is beating you can and will survive this. You will heal. I promise you that.

Things will not be the same, you’re right. But that is ok. It’s not supposed to be the same. We are supposed to grow and change and learn and evolve and its not supposed to be easy.

This is the beginning of a journey that you have not chosen for yourself and that you have not prepared for. You have no map, but know this, you are safe.

There is no rush to replace your old plan with a new one. Take a moment to breathe. Take this opportunity to look at all the pieces of yourself spread out on the floor and reflect on how you’d like them to go together now. Don’t rush it.

Take good care of all the pieces. You need to find love for yourself like never before. Dig deep, it is there.

You are multi-faceted. You are powerful and you are equipped. Your inner child, she needs care and assurance. Your inner critic, she needs acknowledgement and boundaries. Your inner warrior woman, she needs permission and freedom. Your innate feminine, she needs to be embraced, held and nurtured. You will learn so much about the different parts of yourself as they work together to guide you.

Listen – and I mean really listen – to what your heart, body and soul need from you in each moment. And give it, above all else.

You are going to be ok. It’s hard to believe that, I know. You are still feeling blind and lost, stuck in a black hole that your limbs can’t seem to climb out of.

But time is your friend. You will smile again. You will feel happiness deeper than before.

There will be love in your life. It may come from places you don’t expect. You will be armed with so much wisdom on the other side of this, and because of it you will make decisions that serve you.

You will be ok my beautiful friend. Your heart will be whole again. Until then, and always after, I am here.

xx

 

Romance, with a side of handcuffs.

Guest post by Sienna Moore. A version of this article was originally published on Mamamia. 

I cross my legs and try to get comfortable… well, as comfortable as is possible when you are about to do something totally new and a little bit taboo, with a group of complete strangers. Looking around, I check out the 25-or-so others. They seem… well, normal I suppose. But that makes sense; I’m pretty normal, yet I too have signed up for an introductory class on kinky play.

I’ve got that feeling in my chest. The one that says both ‘Holy crap how did I get here?’ and ‘This is potentially going to be very cool’ at the same time. The atmosphere of the room calms me a little. It’s warm, there’s big cushions, it feels a bit like we are just hanging out in a big lounge room, rather than a workshop space in the inner city. But it’s not a loose, casual vibe that’s happened because no-one is at the helm; in fact everything about this experience feels like it’s been designed to create safety and ease.

A man – actually, I think he identifies as a ‘person’ rather than a ‘man’ – who introduces himself as Rog sits at the front of the room. He’s not the scantily-clad old creepo I was half expecting. He’s just like any quiet-ish, friendly 40-something guy you’d meet in a café. He looks a bit like counsellor, and as it turns out he is. As he describes his journey into this work it is clear that he sees a real therapeutic benefit in it. He points out that those who identify with the world of kink have been shown to have better than average mental health indicators. He’s rather passionate about how kinky play can be used as a powerful personal development tool. It doesn’t take long for me to see why.

Being a ‘101’ style workshop, the session is a gentle enough mixture of theory and practice. Clothes stayed on, all manner of questions were encouraged and the discussion that ensued was quite fascinating. What blew me away is that kink is actually not entirely about sex. In fact, it doesn’t have to be about sex at all. It’s about personal power, expression and connection. Because of this, it’s also a powerful way to take your relationship to a whole new level. For me that was unexpected; allow me to explain…

Among the principles of kink there is a traffic light ‘safe word’ system which is used to indicate to your partner what you are loving, what you’re open to and what’s not ok. As we tried it out, it struck me as a pretty amazing communication tool which could flow through to other aspects of a relationship. It can be challenging to give feedback to a partner in a way that doesn’t result in tension or angst. Since it’s not safe to do a lot of kink activities without having really good and clear communication in place, kinky play becomes a practice space for better relationship strategies in general. If a person can get comfortable in asking for what they want and in articulating boundaries, a whole lot of things can get better.

If done well, kinky play can be positive and nurturing, even romantic. In my personal experience, being ‘dominant’ is nothing like it’s portrayed in the media. I had thought it involved being mean and even violent. Wrong! You can be a very loving and nurturing ‘dom’ and it can be incredibly freeing to be in the ‘sub’ role. As I wrapped my man in a simple rope chest harness, we both felt a shift in the energy between us. It didn’t restrict him but enabled me to guide and lead him. With this hulking 6ft tall man blindfolded and totally under my control, the power and freedom I felt was truly unbelievable. Far from being a sordid, abusive process, this was one of the most empowering and liberating things I’ve done.

My man later told me that as I gently ran my hands over his body, kissing him lightly and directing his movements, it was a surprisingly emotional experience for him. He could not remember a time in his adult life that he had felt so ‘held’ and so very loved. At no point was his masculinity questioned. He was submissive but not subservient. It is a beautiful thing to offer yourself completely over to someone, even for a moment, knowing they will not abuse it. What an incredible way to build trust. For a man who is in a powerful role professionally, it was a gift for me to relieve him of that burden and allow him to just receive.

In that judgement free, safe space I was able to shed the private-school, dutiful-wife-and-mother, conservative constraints that I carry around and I was able to step into my feminine power. In his words, I came alive. Apparently the sensation of being led around by a capable, powerful, positively charged woman was also a pretty massive turn on. Though much more than just a purely sexual experience, we engaged at an emotional and spiritual level. Rather than just learning some fun and sexy games, what we had experienced was some profound new territory that looks like sex but is about so much more.

As we drove home, both still on a high, we agreed kink is something we’d like to explore further. It’s hard to imagine a couple ever feeling disconnected or neglected if they are able to make the time to be in that space and to ‘play’ like that.

Rog runs regular workshops for any level of curiosity on sexuality and related topics, some of it kinky, some of it not. Check out http://www.curiouscreatures.biz

What to do when you’re having a really bad day.

This article was previously posted at carliemaree.com

Sometimes something awful happens and you feel like everything is hopeless and everyone is horrible and just ‘oh-my-god-this-is-the-absolute-worst-how-did-I-get-here-I-just-want-to-curl-up-and-cry’.

It sucks. I’ve had my share of those days over the last twelve months. This is how I have managed to get through them and come out the other side.

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1. Take a breath
Stop. Take a really slow breath. Don’t skip this one… do it. Count it out. 5 seconds in, hold for 2, and 5 seconds out. Just get in this present moment. Right now, in this very moment, everything is ok. Look around yourself. Get present. Feel the air going into your lungs and out again. Cool as it comes in and warm as it goes out. Just focus on that. Listen to the sounds around you. Listen for the quietest sound you can hear. Not the obvious, louder sounds. What’s beneath that? Focus on the quieter sounds. Ground your feet onto the floor and mindfully acknowledge the present moment that you are in. Come back to your breath, slowly, in and out. If you get stuck as you read on, come back to your breath, get centered and try again.

2. Take stock of what you’ve got
There are positives in any situation. Look for them. Gratitude is such a powerful practice. You are alive. You have people around you who care. You are capable. You are powerful. Remind yourself of what you have to be grateful for. There is so much. The fact that you are reading this article right now means that you can read, you can see, you can think, you have resources available to you. There are people that can’t do those things. It’s easy to forget how lucky we are and feel like ‘everything has fallen apart’. It hasn’t. It’s just that this one thing is not going the way you’d like it to right now. You are still so very lucky to be who you are and have what you have.

3. Be realistic
Put things into perspective. Whats the worst case scenario? Is this really as bad as you think it is, or are your emotions getting away from you and making it all feel much worse than it is. What’s the worst that can happen. Write it down if you need to. Then step back and question it. Is that really likely? If you were an outsider with a clear head, would you predict that those things are absolutely going to happen? And even if those things do happen, what can you do about it? Do you have options that may help improve the situation. It’s much better to channel your energy in that direction. Being in action can often dull those anxious feelings.

4. Forget blame
Don’t start looking for a bad guy. Blame and hate does nothing to improve a situation. Don’t blame yourself, and don’t blame anyone else. And even if the situation appears to be someone’s ‘fault’, don’t waste your energy focusing on some kind of backlash or revenge. You never, ever make your own life better by making someone else’s worse. No one needs to ‘suffer’ or ‘learn their lesson’. They are on their own journey and they will learn the lessons they are put on this earth to learn and that is not your responsibility to make that happen. Focus on your own journey and let go of resentment. Channel that energy into finding the most positive outcome that will make your life better. You are what matters here while there are likely many factors at play, looking forward and being solutions focused is the best use of your energy.

5. Unplug
Sometimes when it’s all too much, the best thing you can do is unplug. Literally and figuratively. Take a step back from everything. Cut it all back to basics. Simplify your life. Shut out anything that doesn’t absolutely need your attention right now and just focus on healing. If you, like me, are an introverted personality type, then this is one of the most powerful things you can do. Being ‘on’ and communicating with other people takes energy and if you can reserve that energy to hide away for a moment you may find that you’re able to build your ‘armor’ back up much more quickly. Plug into only people that inspire and energise you. Those that have nothing but unconditional love and judgment-free understanding for you. Do not feel obligated to allow people to ‘be there for you’ if that’s more about them than you.

6. Feel it
The thing with ‘feelings’ is that you have to feel them. They are there for a reason. Every emotion has it’s place. Sadness allows us to release. If you try to push it away it will exhaust you, and if you try to bury it down it will fester and grow. If you allow yourself to feel it, you can then set it free. Let the feelings come. Let them wash over you. Cry, it’s incredibly cleansing. You’ll often find that if you allow it to come up, it actually doesn’t last as long as you might have thought. Feeling the pain and releasing it can actually be less difficult than trying to push it down. So many of us tend to feel anger instead of sadness, as it’s less painful and we can project it onto someone else. We can lash out and it prevents us from having to feel what’s under the anger, which is often sadness, or some form of it. At some point that sadness has to be felt and released. Better to just let it come rather than trying to push it down and build a layer of anger on top of it.

7. Self compassion
Check in with your self talk. Are you being kind to yourself? Are you talking to yourself in a way in which someone who loves you would? Or is your inner critic running amok right now? Your thoughts create your feelings so if you are not feeling good then the best thing you can do is try to change the way you are thinking. Show yourself some compassion. Give yourself the love that you would want to receive from others. If your mind is saying things to you that you would not say to your best friend, things like ‘you are useless, no one loves you etc etc’ then you really are not being kind to yourself and you are not going to start feeling better until you turn that around. You are doing the best you can with what you’ve got. Forget blame, forgive yourself and tell that inner critic to back down just like a really awesome best friend would do.

8. Remember who you are
In the midst of a difficult period it can be easy to lose your ‘sense of self’ a little. Do something that makes you feel like you. Something that will make you feel good about being you. I often find that doing something kind for someone else can anchor me back in to the essence of who I am. You are complex and unique. Your identity is not made up of what other people think of you. In fact what other people think of you is not your business. And it is absolutely a hell of a lot more about them than it is about you anyway. Forget what others think of you and focus on what you think of you. That’s the only opinion that matters.

9. Look for the lessons
This has been the absolute biggest thing that has gotten me through some of the toughest times in recent months. Everything that life throws at us is there to teach us something. When you are cracked wide open and completely raw you are forced to grow and learn. In every seemingly awful thing, every heart break, every disaster, there is a lesson to be learned. Some way in which we are meant to expand our awareness and understanding of ourselves and our values. It’s not meant to be easy, but if you can try to look for the lessons and allow your challenges to help you develop as a person and improve your situation, then maybe it will all be worth it when you come out the other side.

10. Do a little self care
Self care is an absolute must when things are difficult, yet it is so often the very last thing on people’s minds. Don’t reach for junk food, or drink yourself stupid. It will only make you feel worse. Your body and mind need you to treat it well right now. Nourish your body with lots of water and healthy foods. And most importantly, move. There were moments when I could barely get up off the floor but I somehow managed to drag myself outside and walk to the end of the street. The combination of movement and fresh air and sunshine on my skin was so powerful. A walk outside is one of my ‘happiness islands’. Some others include a hot bath, an early night, watching a favourite old movie, dancing to 80’s music, journaling, buying a new crystal, cuddling up with my little girl. Write a list of your happiness islands and make sure you do one of them every day, or just whenever you know you need to lift your energy.

11. Do something different
Mix it up. Try something new. I have discovered so many amazing new things that have helped me to heal and to stay positive through a difficult time. I’ve discovered healing crystals, journaling and the power of reiki. I’ve taken part in womens sharing circles and I’ve had psychic readings. These are not things I really expected to be doing. One of the biggest gifts has been discovering how much I benefit from mediation. For a while there I was needing to take sleeping tablets, which I hated. As soon as I started using guided sleep meditations I no longer needed the pills, thank goodness. I cannot recommend it enough to simply open your mind and try something that you haven’t tried before. You might just find that it works for you.

12. Look to the future and trust that everything is going to be ok
Life doesn’t give you anything you cant handle. Some say that we come to life, having already accepted a ‘contract’ that entails what we will experience in our time on earth. They believe that we take on a life knowing that there will be challenges but that it will all be worth it. I’m not too sure where I sit on that but I do absolutely believe that everything happens for a reason and that while I’m alive I will handle whatever life throws at me. Right now it might feel hopeless but if you can focus on you and take the lessons along the way then I wholeheartedly believe that you will be a stronger and better person at the other side. Some days are really, really tough but there is one thing that I know forsure. I am going to be ok. I am. And so are you, I promise.

Need a positive space right now? This group is a pretty lovely one. 

Megan Dalla-Camina, my kind of rock star.

about

Megan Dalla-Camina is my version of a rockstar.

She’s an author, speaker and researcher on women, leadership and work.

She runs a successful career coaching business.

She is also a single mum.

You can see why I might find her somewhat inspiring…

In 2011, Megan attended a Hay House Publishing Writer’s Workshop and was awarded a publishing deal. At the end of 2012, she released her first book ‘Getting Real About Having It All’. Ultimately a personal development book, it is written as a practical guide for women who feel overwhelmed by the seemingly impossible task of maintaining a successful career as well as a fulfilling personal and family life.

Having established a corporate career that spanned over 20 years, including strategic management roles within companies such as GE and PwC, Megan walked away from her position as Director, Strategy at IBM in 2013 to work solely within her own business.

Having myself really only discovered a love for writing later in life, I was keen to learn whether it was the same for Megan. It turns out, she has always had a love for writing. She started out with poems and songs, then stories. Articles and work related content were a part of her corporate life before writing her book. She has also blogged for HuffPost and Women’s Agenda among others, as well as writing articles for Elle and Marie Claire. Writing is her very favourite thing to do (along with reading, and dreaming).

Having seen Megan speak last year on my day of graduation as a Beautiful You Life Coach, I can see why she has had such success in her career. She is eloquent, confident, warm and engaging. She also holds Masters Degrees in both Business Management and Positive Psychology, so she’s clearly a very savvy lady. Megan is currently working on her next book, which is a collaboration with another brilliant lady I have a whole lot of respect for, Michelle McQuaid. That is certainly one I look forward to reading.

If you want to check out the awesome things that Megan does, here is a link to her site (not an affiliate, just a fan-girl).

Want more More Than Mum action? This group is the place to be.

Writers make f*ck all.

I was recently at an event called WordCon and was listening to a panel of published authors speak about their experiences. One of the authors said something that stuck with me.

In her words, “authors make fuck all.”

And she’s absolutely right. Based on a recent survey, the average income for a book author in Australia is 62k a year. Most authors in fact earn less than the average national income.

Well, that is not going to buy me my big country property, get my kid into the best school or build my beachside retreat, is it?

Money is not a motivator for me, but freedom is. Space is. Peace is. I want space for lots of animals and for Aria to have adventures. I want to look out in the morning and see nature. Some amount of money will be needed to achieve that vision.

So, the way I see it I am either going to have to write a series of bestsellers and land a movie deal, or I am going to have to be really clever and build a career that creates income outside of my book sales.

I love to write, especially from the heart. I want it to be the way I spend the bulk of my working time. I believe that I can do what I love and create an income from it. That’s my goal. As a career coach it would be hypocritical of me to do otherwise.

So, I have decided that I’m not going to let the stats get me down. Instead I am going to use them to motivate me to become a really, really excellent writer. So, watch this space.

A Letter to my Husband’s New Girlfriend

This article was originally posted on HuffPost.

We don’t know each other yet but as you are now a part of my husband’s life, you are also a part of mine. Its important to me that we start out on the right foot and can establish some kind of understanding as our lives may be tied together for years to come.

That man you’re falling for, he was my big love. I meant my vows when I made them with him all those years ago. I had every intention of spending my life with him, though as you know, it has not worked out that way.

I am telling you this because I want you to understand that sometimes when I come to the door to pick up our daughter and I see you and him together in the home that we made, it is going to hurt. There will be times that I need to just pick her up and leave without the small talk. It won’t be because I dislike you or I’m trying to be rude. It’s just because I need to get back to my car and cry a little.

Please understand that I am glad you’ve come into our lives. I want him be happy. I tried to make him happy but neither of us were prepared for the changes that having a child brought to our relationship and we both ended up with a broken heart. I have never felt pain like I felt when I discovered that our marriage had been damaged irreparably. I’m not sure if he’s told you how our marriage ended but please understand that it was awful for both of us and it is still quite raw, for me at least.

One thing I want to say straight out; I will not try to take him from you. I have come to understand that it is possible to miss something without wanting it back. I miss our family and our home but I also know that it could never go back to the way it was. I wouldn’t want it to. We spent a third of our lives together and a lot of it was wonderful but it was never meant to be forever for us.

I get that I’m ‘the ex’ and you’re supposed to dislike or resent me but I hope you don’t. We have a few really big things in common, you and I. That man you love, I loved him too. Those things you see in him, I saw them too. That little girl who gives you cuddles and makes you pretend cups of tea, she’s my whole world.

I love that she likes you. Please know that. I will never ever try to change that or prevent you from having a bond with her.

My baby has a great father. If you can bring joy to him and in turn to my daughter, that can only be a good thing. He and I, as we co-parent, will inevitably have times of frustration and we may need to ‘have it out’ or he may complain to you about things I’m doing. It’s how we are and the challenge of the situation we find ourselves in. Know that I will never speak a bad word about either of you with my daughter and I ask the same from you. In fact, I may rely on you to be the safe keeper of that at times.

It’s important for me that my baby has a team of loving people who genuinely care for her and want what’s best for her. As a child from separated parents I can tell you that the absolute best thing for her is for those people to get along and work together, even when they may not always agree.

It might sound strange but I want for this separation to turn out to be a positive thing for her. She will always have two homes and most likely four parents. The step-parent role is not easy and boundaries can be tricky to navigate. My daughter’s father has invited you into our daughter’s life which means that even though the relationship is new, you are already playing a part in nurturing her. All I ask from you is to give her love, establish a bond with her, speak up about how you see things as we are first time parents just figuring it all out as we go, but please also respect our role and work with us to maintain the boundaries we set for her.

This is an emotional subject for me and I cannot expect you to understand or to empathize with where I’m at, but I guess what I really wanted to portray is just ‘welcome’. Welcome to the team of people who are raising this beautiful, sassy, spirited and unique little girl.

I truly hope that you both build a beautiful new love that radiates over our girl. One of the best things a child can have is parents who love each other, and with a little luck and a lot of understanding, our girl will have double the love in her life.

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It takes a village.

Apparently some Judgy McJudgesons have got their knickers in a twist about the fact that Rachael Finch’s mother looks after her two-year-old daughter from Friday night until Sunday morning each weekend.

I’d like to take a moment to ask that we actually acknowledge this woman’s bravery at coming out and telling us this. I for one am glad she did.

Why? Because it’s a brilliant example of radical self-care. How many of us said something along the lines of ‘all I want for Mother’s Day is a day off’? How many of us are often exhausted and feel overwhelmed with our lot as parents?

Nova described the arrangement as ‘unconventional’. Is it?? Why is that? What happened to ‘it takes a village to raise a child’? Maybe if we all had that village to call on for support we would not be continually physically and mentally drained.

Rachael and her husband obviously trust their baby’s maternal grandmother to care for her daughter, and I’d say there’s a good chance that their child actually benefits from this time. She is 2 years old, not 2 weeks old. She would understand that Mum and Dad are coming back to get her. I’d like to think that they show up on Sunday morning refreshed, re-energised and ready to spend a beautiful day as a family.

Just because they want part of the weekend to themselves does not mean that they are out clubbing (and even if they were, so what). Perhaps it means that they are taking that time to re-connect and nurture their relationship. I know from experience that the best thing a baby can have is two parents who feel connected, aligned and in love. It takes conscious effort to make sure that life doesn’t just get in the way and suddenly you are worlds apart.

If you are someone who can be ‘on’ as a parent 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, I truly take my hat off to you. I am not one of those people. I would give my life for my daughter, and I know that for me showing her love means loving myself also. I cannot pour from an empty cup.

We know next-to-nothing about Rachael Finch’s situation. She may have her own private battles and issues to deal with, as do we all. Perhaps she has chosen to be a totally present mother five nights a week, rather than a frazzled and emotional one seven nights a week. Which is better? As long as her baby is safe and well, then I believe that it’s none of our damn business.

Need a good-vibes-only place to connect? This group is the place to be.