"I am my own worst enemy."
I find myself thinking this over and over again as I consider the busyness of my day and the constant throb of mommy guilt that hovers just beneath the surface.
Life as a working mom is nothing short of chaos most days, but somehow everyone survives (and might even thrive!) and yet I still find myself berating the day's "failures," from the small slip up in time management all the way up to the massive, yet tiny, misspoken word that threw my goals for the day far off course. As my children snuggle into bed, happily dreaming of Floogals and Clangers, I collapse into a chair and start working my way through the to do list with a "Ok, what did I miss?"
Why do I do this to myself? Why do so many busy working women wrestle with guilt, feelings of inadequacy, exhaustion and intimidation? Who said we had to be perfect? Who said I had to be perfect?
I am my own worst enemy.
In a recent conversation with Sprout President, Sandy Wax, I was given a powerful permission slip that had previously evaded me, even with all of my work as the co-founder of the Modern Femme™ Movement. She spoke of Sprout's new motto, "Free to Grow," and how it was designed to liberate both children AND their parents.
"'Free to Grow' means that we are all free to learn, explore, fall down, get back up. It acknowledges that nobody is perfect and recognizes that we are all trying our very best. Life is meant to be happy, inspired and delightfully full of the freedom that allows us to thrive and experience life in an unfettered way. It allows children to roam and learn without pressure and lets moms know we're right there beside them, supporting them as they work hard every day. Don't be so hard on yourself when you make a mistake. Let it go, be present. Be free."
Sprout's new motto is reflected internally as well as through their new programming message. With a leadership team comprised almost entirely of working parents, stepping away to make it to a doctor's appointment or to catch a child's soccer game is not only permitted, it's encouraged. The Sprout brand thrives on engaged employees who are deeply invested in the programming they design and create because it trickles right back into their own lives and home environments. Acknowledging the importance of balance between work and play, Sprout continues to foster a corporate culture that believes well-balanced, happy employees produce better work, have more creative ideas and are more invested in the company's success. In this environment, both the brand and the team are free to grow and flourish.
As I embrace the passion behind "Free to Grow" and diligently work to give myself permission to be me, in all of my beautiful imperfections, I am reminded that we all have an opportunity to surround ourselves with other people, professionally and personally, that hold us accountable to receiving that freedom in our own lives.
I'm sure if you asked any parent what they'd most like to teach their children, responses would almost always include how to be happy, how to be a good person, how to forgive, how to live and enjoy life, how to love. Do any of us want to teach our children how to feel guilty, inadequate and constantly overwhelmed? That's what I'm doing, every day that I don't give myself permission to be "free to grow." I want to set a better example for my children and it starts by loving me.
I recently made a new rule in our home. After 5PM, the cell phone is turned off. OFF. I have a home phone that is only given to immediate family for emergencies and promptly sign off from all other conversations, work, social media or otherwise. It's my time to be free and present with my children, kick back and cuddle up to watch Sprout, and teach them to give themselves the same permission to be free.
It was a hard transition for me at first. I felt the guilt creep in at the emails I might be missing, the sales that would have to wait until tomorrow and the unfinished assignments that were coming due. But when my children excitedly ran up and said "Is it mommy time now?" I knew they were just as happy as I was to have given myself permission to play.
Our world needs more companies like Sprout, that encourage us as mothers, friends, sisters, fathers, brothers, selves...to be "free to grow" inside the workplace but even more importantly, at home. With leaders like Sprout President, Sandy Wax, at the helm, I have hope that I'll discover more and more professional partnerships that will encourage and acknowledge the permission slip I'm learning to proudly wave on behalf of myself and my children. Go ahead, give yourselves permission! Join the Movement. I promise, I'll be right there growing alongside you.
Author, Katy Blevins, is the writing mom behind the blog, Chaos & Kiddos, and co-founder of The Modern Femme Movement.
A newly single parent to twin toddlers, social media manager and small business consultant, Katy is no stranger to the busy of entrepreneurship and the importance of claiming a well-balanced, fully present life. Committed to supporting other working women and small business owners, Katy strives to authentically engage and encourage the world to redefine success by embracing the value of family in today's society.