Australian research shows more women have started their own company than men in the last five years. It seems the movement towards building our own path and shaping our future comes from a deep desire to find a genuine work/life balance on our own terms – especially after we have children.
With that in mind, Woman Rising wonders if it is possible to build a successful professional path that includes a full and meaningful personal life? Is the biz & babies balance possible or a pipe-dream?
To learn more, we talk to Happy Mama Amy Taylor-Kabbaz to find out how she finds balance while building an empire.
Q: Was there a particular tipping point in your work/life balance that made you requestion your priorities? What did you do?
Looking back, I’ve had a number of ‘tipping points’ in my life, but the biggest one which provided an absolute no-turning-back insight was when I was juggling so much and trying to be so much to so many that I went into pre-term labour at 28 weeks with my son.
At the time, I was pregnant with my third child, working full time as a senior producer for a leading breakfast radio program in Sydney, running my own blog, writing for various magazines, and balancing two little ones on the side. Just reading that now makes me cringe! I actually used to feel so proud when people would say “I don’t know how you do it!” I wore my busy-ness like a badge of honour, and even though I was blogging and writing about self-care, I wasn’t putting any of it into practice.
Thankfully, the wonders of modern medicine slowed the labour down, and over the coming five days in hospital I had a mini awakening. Something had to change. And with the following ten weeks of couch-rest, I began to slowly re-evaluate my life and commit to mindfulness, meditation and REAL life balance.
Q: Do you have a daily routine in place to help you stay grounded, mindful and productive?
I do, but I always answer questions like this with a little side note: I am not perfect. This is my IDEAL daily routine, but there are days it looks nothing like this. This is my goal, but sometimes just having breakfast and a shower is an achievement! That’s why I am a huge advocate of being mindful in every single thing we do – just mindfully putting on mascara can be a self-care practice!
Having said all that, my ideal day looks a little something like this: I wake at 5am most mornings if my baby hasn’t kept me awake all night, and I do my yoga stretches and about 20 minutes of kundalini yoga and meditation. I absolutely LOVE this time of my day (it helps that getting up at 3.30am used to be ‘normal’ as a radio producer!). I then have my aloe vera juice (tip from my acupuncturist), a shower, a coffee, and then a smoothie while pottering around the kitchen getting everything ready for the day. If I’m lucky, the kids will sleep until about 6.30 so I can quickly check my emails and see what my day will be like, but that’s only if I’m lucky.
Q: How important is staying grounded for both your day-to-day life and your family’s?
Oh – so important! Getting out of my head and back into my body – and into the moment – is so important in keeping me sane, especially since my little blog has turned into an actual business. As all Business Mamas know, it’s very easy to spend every moment of every day in your head, thinking, worrying, planning. So I’ve learnt that the best thing I can do for my sense of overwhelm is to consciously ‘finish’ my working day when I close my laptop and start focusing on my children again – and I do that through a little ‘closing’ ritual.
It may sound a bit ‘woo woo’, but as I close my laptop, I consciously say to myself “I have done enough today. I leave my business and my work to spread to the people who most need it… I have done enough.” And then as I walk to school to pick up my girls, I try to focus on my feet and my breath so I get back into my body and out of my business brain. It makes such a difference!
The times that I DON’T do this are often the times I’m reaching for the phone to send a quick email while I’m making dinner and folding washing, and inevitably I end up yelling because I’m trying to do too many things at one. Multi-tasking is a myth – especially for Mamas.
Q: How do you define success?
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this! Success used to mean hard-work, busy-ness, acknowledgement from my peers, multi-tasking, always busy. But since it all fell apart two years ago, I’ve had to really look at what this means and how I define it now.
And now, success means freedom. Freedom to write, to connect with Mums, to do what I love to do in a way I love to do it, and still have time for my family AND my own growth and development. Success means I have time in my working day to stop to focus on my own growth through meditation, yoga, reading or coaching, and then also have time to have the house ready for the onslaught of three children. It’s about balance (which is such an over-used word!) and a joy in what I do. It’s less about what others think or perceive, and more about how happy I feel.
Q: Are there any signs (physical, mental or emotional) a Woman Rising should look out for that may sabotage her ability to juggle her work and home life? How does she combat them?
The negative Mean Mama inner voice is your biggest giveaway. If that voice is telling you you’re crap, you need to do more, you never have enough time, you can’t do it all, or that you are a bad Mama for wanting a life outside of kids, then that is your red flag that you need to stop, reconnect and reassess.
We are a lot better at seeing the physical warning signs than we are the mental or spiritual warning signs – but they are just as loud. If you are constantly feeling like you need to do MORE, feel anxious or worried, or find yourself flying off the handle at your family, then your nervous system is overwhelmed and you need some SPACE. Space to just breath, reconnect, be silent.
We are so crowded with thoughts and actions and ideas these days, just finding little ways to cut out all the noise and connect with your bodies is so important. Even if it’s just a ten minute meditation practice or going for a walk and focusing on the pounding of your feet on the pavement, we all need space to just BE.
Q: Thanks to Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive, we’ve had our wrist slapped for sleeping with our phones beside the bed. What is on your nightstand and do you ever fall in to a ‘technology time-suck?’
I actually have ‘Thrive’ on my bedside table! As well as a number of other books, including Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and Oprah’s What I Know For Sure – my two favourite ‘last thought of the day’ books.
I also have my Happy Mama Affirmation Cards, which are great for choosing a thought for the day, three different types of handcream, a little statue of a yogi from Bali, and a picture of my babies.
And do I fall into a tech time-suck? Of course! I’m human. But I’m becoming better at recognising it pretty quickly and pulling myself out of it. I have been known to stick my phone inside the back of the pantry to make myself stop checking it (especially during the launch of my program!).
Q: What are a few of your best strategies you could share with Woman Rising to help us maintain balance, stay grounded and get back on track if we do fall?
I can not emphasis the importance of meditation enough. I KNOW that it sounds clichéd and a predictable answer, but whenever I feel like my life is heading in the wrong direction, sitting on my butt and just clearing my head of all that noise, judgement, worry and stress is a life-saver.
So many people think meditation is hard, and unaccessible, and only for the yogis – but it really is just about focusing on one thing (like your breath, or a mantra, or your tummy rising and falling) and just bringing your thoughts back to that over and over again. When we can do that on the mat (or the end of the bed, or on the toilet), we start to train ourselves in becoming aware of our thoughts, and bringing them back to the moment. An absolute invaluable tool when the kids and screaming and you’ve got a deadline!
Q: You have three beautiful kids and your youngest child has just turned 2, what is one thing you’d like them to learn about balance and mindfulness to use throughout their work and home life?
I want my children to understand their energy – and how energy works. I was not really aware of the importance of my energetic health until recently, and how much my internal-imbalances were affecting every part of my life. So, I now try and talk to my children about their thoughts, their energy, and how to find calm within the chaos of our world.
My two eldest (just turned 8 and 6) and I do a meditation at the end of everyday, and then finish with a kundalini prayer, and I am blown away that they understand the importance of these practices of mindfulness, relaxation and gratitude at such a young age. It’s my greatest gift to them.