I think anyone can benefit from some quiet time alone. But this is especially true for the mom entrepreneur. When I meet mommy moguls, I find that they're running full speed from the time the sun comes up until they crash on the pillow very late at night. They unanimously say their environments are noisy and chaotic. While this is normal, it's also unfortunate since quieting the mind can be very beneficial.
In one of my favorite new books, The Janitor, by Todd Hopkins and Ray Hilbert, the first chapter teaches that a burned-out brain won't start. We're in a state of constant reacting--to cries, phone calls, e-mails, dirty diapers, carpools and a blur of children's TV in the background. We seem to define success as filling every moment with tasks and information. How is the mom entrepreneur supposed to get ahead with a burned out brain? It's no wonder so many of them feel overwhelmed.
In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey tells a story that demonstrates the need for rest, refreshment, renewal and re-awakening in our lives: You come upon a man in the woods feverishly sawing down a tree. "You look exhausted!" you exclaim. "How long have you been at it?" "Over five hours," he replies, "and I'm beat. This is hard." "Maybe you could take a break for a few minutes and sharpen that saw. Then the work would go faster." "No time," the man says emphatically. "I'm too busy sawing." This analogy is true for everyone, but it has a special meaning for the mom entrepreneur. We feel guilty for taking time to renew our own spirit. But if we did, we would have an entirely new energy to take on the world.
My day is admittedly very busy. I am raising two kids, running a national company, and writing for magazines and books. However, I absolutely schedule quiet time for myself regularly. It's during my moments of quiet that everything comes in to place. Solutions seem to rise to the surface. Peace comes over my body. And I renew my energy to keep up with the rest. When your day already feels packed, how do you find the time for this?
- Wake up earlier. I know you're already sleep deprived, but an extra 20 to 30 minutes won't really make a difference. Wake up before your family and sit with no technology--TV, radio, computer, phone--and have a cup of tea. Do nothing but meditate on what you want to get out of your day.
- Take a bath. Nothing gives me instant relaxation like a bath. About once a week, I light some candles and dip into the tub after my kids go to bed. I do nothing but reflect. I feel better immediately.
- Go for a walk or run. My mind fills with ideas as I get lost in the workout. Have a notepad ready at the end.
- Enjoy your drive. When going for a drive without kids in the car, turn everything off. That means no phone or radio. You'll find that these moments of solitude can also bring great regeneration.
- Meditate. Make a small corner of your home your personal sanctuary for de-cluttering your mind. Maybe it includes a special pillow, blanket or candle. Find a few moments throughout the week to breathe and let your stresses float away. When you meditate, your thinking mind becomes quiet.
The bottom line is that you need to find a way to bring peace into the chaos of having a family. It's when you feel like you don't have any time that you need a break the most. If I can do it, you can do it. You'll be astounded at the progress you'll make with a little bit of "mom-me" time.