“How do you do it all?”
That’s a question I often get asked as a Mother to our Three Little Pandas, homemaker, business owner and self employed part-time PA/project manager.
The truth is, It works better when I’m not doing all things at once!
With the kids in their second week back at school including a school change for our daughter starting secondary education, it’s definitely taken a lot of adapting. The emotional strings have been pulled in different directions, particularly in that first week however we got through it and are back to celebrating and taking each day as they come.
Taking things day by day has always been my favoured way of approaching things. Some people have remarked that I’m so chilled or laid back but the truth is I am a huge worrier and admit I have an unhealthy habit of overthinking which is a lifelong challenge to this day that I try to contain.
Thinking is good but overthinking to the point you have made up 10 different outcomes to a single situation that may not even happen is not only an energy sucker but genuinely damaging for overall mental health.
I’ve realised that if I don’t manage the overthinking, things can quickly get overwhelming and have noticed that if I dip, the whole thing dips - family, work, all of it gets out of sync.
For example, this morning I woke up and looked at my phone almost immediately to only welcome the day with perhaps too much information to process that I had huge brain fart and could feel my stress levels already rising. I went into overthinking mode about different things I currently have going on, quickly recognised it and so stepped away from the phone telling myself to think of nothing but the next step (drink my hot cup of tea and get dressed for the day).
I went to visit my sister today and spend some time with my niece whilst her and my brother-in-law painted their garden fences. (It was a lovely day and I managed to get my paint on too - so therapeutic!)
When I first started Three Little Pandas just over 5 years ago it was because though I had always wanted to have a creative business of my own (particularly something to do with design or childrenswear) I had no job to return to after having our “littlest panda” otherwise known as our youngest son Benji (I was made redundant as a new company took over my workplace at the time I was pregnant).
During Benji’s first few months of being born I had suffered collapsing episodes without warning and experienced seizures. I went through so many tests and examinations and to this day am still under the neurology department however the collapsing episodes haven’t happened for a good few years now and the seizures aren’t as frequent (thank God).
I’d say that those were the trickier times, juggling a young family and health condition of which I didn’t tell many people about at the time - I just had tunnel vision to get myself better and wanted to make sure my children were ok. It still kind of blows my mind that our then 7 and 5 year old learnt how to call emergency services and close family if ever they were alone with me and I took a turn.
Anyway, it was all experience and I’m proud to say our children weren’t too badly effected by what was going on at the time (though that’s debatable, I’m sure in their adult years they’ll elaborate on how they felt or if it effected them if at all)
It’s taken a toll on my physical and mental well-being and I recognised early on that the two go hand in hand and the link between feeling well physically circles into how you feel mentally.
When my body feels beaten I’ve now learnt that I should listen to it and rest. However prior to all this, because I was so used to always being “on the go” that if I took a day off to rest I’d feel so guilty and feel like I’ve “wasted a day”.
It generally takes a couple of days to feel physically better from a seizure and my mind recover from the fog. Things start getting clearer and I recognise everything that’s happened. I tend to feel a wave of sadness and disappointment at first for many reasons: frustration that this is even happening, guilt that I can’t pull my weight in the household when I’m unwell, worried my husband and kids will be effected by witnessing in me in a state, just annoyed.
It’s for sure a sensitive subject to talk about and it’s taken years for me to realise that actually sharing my experience could be comforting to others who are going through something similar. But I’ve also learnt that communicating my true feelings about it all has helped me come to terms with the lifestyle change also.
I had a neurology appointment last month and they reassured me about a few things. My husband and I both noticed my memory getting worse over this year...
Did you know it’s quite normal for your brain to forget bad memories? And that as you get older your brain selects which information is useful and forgets the rest… a bit like a memory drive or your email inbox, once you’re at full capacity it won’t be able to take on more and starts filtering out the “junk”.
Unfortunately I’ve been forgetting some really good memories too which for me I find particularly difficult (especially when my husband mentions something with his face beaming brightly and I have no recollection of it).
My neurologist also confirmed my short term memory is pants, though she did point out that stress, anxiety, emotional factors can all contribute to poor short term memory.
I think my brain has had a lot to contend with to be fair. Note taking has been the biggest help and lifestyle change in all this.
I rely on note taking to keep track of things I need to do, I have lists for different things and my daily calendar probably sees more of me than any other app on my phone.
I believe you don’t need a pants memory to use these tools to get things in order though, anyone can apply it to their daily routine and feel that satisfaction of checking each task off (Gosh it feels so good ticking things off).
Today, I write this personal entry to erase the false idea that I’m some kind of super mama. I feel humbled when people use the term to address me but I just wanted to open up a little and remind people that I am just a person often bouncing between different tasks. (Like today! Painting fences and enjoying some family time :) and writing this blog entry en route and on my way back from doing so on the train)
I have to share that a while back I did a bit of a blog declutter and erased some blog entries I had shared over the years. Truth is, I read over them and didn’t recognise who actually wrote them.
It took me a while to differentiate whether I wrote them or had someone else write them, then realising it was me and I had just forgotten that I did so completely. And that my writing style has changed (a bit). Maybe that’s part of us growing and years of different experiences moulding us into the people we are today.
In either case I also wanted to use this opportunity to state that Three Little Pandas isn’t at the point today that I foresaw it to be when I first started. Granted a lot has happened during this period but I wanted to use the time while I’m in writing mode to thank you for continuing to support us on our journey. Some of you have been such loyal customers and have even become good friends!
As a family business we appreciate your support. If you follow us on Instagram you may have noticed I like to dip my foot into different things and opportunities but Three Little Pandas remains my own main source of income. And with all the back story I’ve shared hopefully you’ll have a better understanding as to what extent and why I’m so grateful.
I’m not finished yet with TLP, I feel there’s more work to be done. I’m enjoying presenting you with thoughtful items that not only little ones can use or wear but to help adults feel good also.
Because if we feel good physically and mentally life just seems that more enjoyable, am I right?
Anyway, time to do bed time (back to mum duties)
Thanks for reading, I hope this entry kind of answered the question of perhaps not how I do it all, rather WHY I do it.
Oh also, dedicating days or breaking down hours of the day for different tasks/events also helps.
Today was a beautiful family day, tomorrow be a full work day so Til next time…