I recently went to a three-day mastermind retreat with my coach and a group of six brilliant business women, most of them mothers.
I posted a photo on Facebook and got this response from another doula:
“Just looking at your latest post 'masterminding with your coach'... That is truly admirable. I am still trying to figure out how to make peace with going after my dreams and being 'available' (in all ways) to my 3 young kids. Please let me in on your secrets!!!”
I admit it took a super-human effort! But the effort was not all mine. My husband cared for my baby nearby and popped in for regular feeds. My parents-in-law had my older two children for a two night sleepover. We rented an gorgeous apartment in the city so we had a base nearby the venue.
I love my job and I'm pretty determined not to give up my own dreams for motherhood. It’s not all luck, I’ve carefully curated this life by regularly and consistently asking for help.
People often ask how I "do it all" - the answer is I don’t! It takes a village!
You see, in traditional hunter gatherer societies child care is shared by the whole tribe. Babies are not a personal choice, they are a social responsibility, and as a result the whole society takes responsibility. Mothers in the Efe Pygmy tribe, for example, spend only 40% of their time with their biological babies. In many cultures the words uncle and aunt, and brother and sister, have much broader meaning, as women breastfeed each other's children and care for babies whilst mothers work.
In lieu of extended family and the concept of shared care, you are going to have to be pretty determined, and even demanding!
The first thing you need to do is work on your mindset. You do not need to be your child’s EVERYTHING! You are a mum, and a woman too. And there are many other adults who can support various elements of your child’s health and happiness. This was never designed to be a one-person job.
The second thing you need to do is work with what you’ve got. If you are lucky enough to have family around, ask for help. Talk to your husband about working part time, or from home. Call your mum and ask her to have the baby once a week. Do a child swap once a week with friends or neighbours.
The third thing you need to do is change your concept of a village. We don’t live in mud huts anymore. And most likely you don’t have extended family on call, but there are playgroups, a creche, childcare, nannies, cleaners, meal boxes… Paid support is becoming the new village. This is nothing to feel ashamed of or guilty about.
So go do it!! Be determined, swim upstream, get help with domestic and caring jobs so you can find time for your dreams too.