Over the last few years I’ve gone through a variety of ‘occupations’ alongside being a full time Mum and home educator. I trained as a breastfeeding peer supporter when Sophia was a toddler and for a while volunteered in a postnatal ward and then at community groups. After Isaac I trained as a doula but after my first client had to take a break due to the arrival of Elijah.
Then, not long after Eli, a good friend offered me a break and I entered the world of social media management. I did this on a low scale with just a handful of clients for a few years before starting my current role on the admin team at the wonderful Outdoors Group (the company behind the locally loved Exeter, Exmouth and now Okehampton Forest Schools).
Not long after starting the latter role, I realised my work-life balance was skewing heavily in the wrong direction so I stopped working with my social media clients to just concentrate on the Forest School admin and the kids. I felt that finally I had found a balance. I enjoy work but also have time to do everything I need to with the kids for their home education. I’ve even found time to run two marathons! I’ve been feeling smug, I’m busy but I felt like I was doing everything I wanted to.
Then a seed planted itself deep in my brain, I really really want to do the training to become a Forest School Leader. I started trying to work out how I could fit this into our already very full life. Whether there was anyway I could take on extra work and meet the needs of everyone else.
But a conversation with my Dad last week hit a chord with me, he was talking about a time when me and my siblings were young and he was doing too much with work, Church, judo and family life. He said he made the hard decision to stop practising judo even though he loved it. I realised that sometimes we need to make these hard decisions in order to preserve a good balance in life and allow ourselves some breathing time.
Life with small children is very, very full and it’s probably not the season for me to be doing more than I am at the moment. It’s taken me a long time to realise this but as soon as I did, I felt a massive sense of relief, a weight off my shoulders. Sometimes it’s not possible to have it all but that’s ok. We are sold a myth that we should say yes to everything, that we should do everything we want to do.
But in reality, life is a series of compromises and making decisions that are most sensible for a healthy balance in life. We should enjoy our lives but there’s no point filling them to the brink with activities and work otherwise we won’t have the energy to appreciate them! So I’m embracing the season I’m in at the moment with the knowledge that nothing lasts forever. There will be many more years when my children are older in which I can further my career or take on more challenges if I so wish. For now, I’m embracing what I have, for what it is.