Little did I know that when I was fired from my job for being a mum that my whole world was going to change. Us mums, we get it right? We are trying to do all the things and raise little humans, with next to nil sleep after pushing a watermelon out of thy lemon and recovering from the surreal experience of being scared to do an actual poo for the first time after birth.

Or if you are like me, 2 out of the 3 times of giving birth, I had major surgery, which is a c-section by the way. That’s a big deal but yet we are expected to get up and start nailing mum life straight away. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t really absorb the fact my body had just morphed into crazy shapes and forms, done heaps of weird things and grown a real human inside it for nine months. And, if you want to get technical for a second, I have twins as well, so that was two real humans inside it for 7 months and 3 weeks acting like they owned the place with Airen hanging off my ribs and Emilie with what felt like a foot hanging outside in the breeze.

Are You Really A Bad Mum?

Once these little people come along, they start calling us ‘mum’ and a lot of the time, we start to look around and question, who exactly is that? A lot of the mums we help start a business come to me saying they want to start a business because they want something for them and I absolutely relate to that. Before we’ve worked it all out though, life is happening and we need to keep up. Husbands, family, friends, the dog, the weird neighbour from next door and the crazy aunty with all of the 1970’s baby advice. No, we don’t give babies scotch anymore aunty Jan. Oh, and just the whole internet and all their opinions, pretending they are perfect and Susan with her organic instagram dinners and shaming you for putting your baby in a bouncer. Working online from my laptop all day, I see it all.

It is a lot. And, I am not even going deep with this yet. Don’t even get me started on how our postnatal hormones can make us fly the freak flag high and throw fuel on top of the fire.

Then smacked on top, is navigating employment, coinciding it with daycare while trying to look normal with ironed clothes like we’ve got it all pulled together after secretly being a snotted mess hiding in the car because we are coming to terms with our little blobs of flesh and the fact they’ve started their life long journey of separating from us. Cue colds, gastro, nits, dirty laundry, leaked nappies, spew, no sleep, dishes, dinner, picking up all the crap off the floor all the time, screaming kids, office politics, traffic, the pressure to perform at work, trying not to lose our shit at the average dickhead, be good role models and god knows what else. 

How to thrive in business

We do all this, whilst trying to be totally normal but the second something slips up like, we feed our kids Weetbix for dinner, that is it. We shame ourselves for being ‘bad mums’ and know without a doubt we’ve failed this mummy gig and we judge ourselves so bad for it, we are our own harshest critics when we should be our biggest supporters. No wonder so many of us fall down. Like me. And, if you have too I want you to know that it is totally ok. You aren’t a failure. You’re human. Not a robot and F—U—C—K Susan from the internet with her perfect organic instagram dinners. Ok?

Society makes us feel like it is all meant to be easy, that we should be naturals at it just because we have a vagina, but the truth is…trying to be normal let alone perfect, ALL the time is actually, really, really, freaking hard. So it isn’t you. You’re amazing. But not perfect, but perfectly doing your best. And, and that is ok. 

So for a minute, when I was fired with no warning, I thought it was my fault and that I was a failure, that I was a bad mum for not keeping all the balls up in the air. That something was wrong with me. That I wasn’t enough. That I was flawed for not keeping up and I ugly cried the whole way home feeling exhausted, belittled and scared but then the strangest thing happened and something shifted inside me….

Instead of going back into employment. I decided to start an online business and be my own damn boss (click here for me advice on that) and whilst it was a challenge, I managed to pull it off and within the first few years was out earning my old crappy (low) salary. But I was still exhausted, overwhelmed and wondering if this is it? 

It wasn’t.

Are you really a bad mum? Or is it just really freaking hard?

Queue my little sleep thief son being born in 2012 and with no reserves left and trying to work from home and run two businesses, I free fell fast into PND and this only confirmed what I always secretly suspected, I was for sure, a bad mum. As I recovered, I started it realise it wasn’t me, it was actually that motherhood is rough. As a result, I needed to look after me first and I was no longer willing to give up my sleep, so I changed things around and starting Business Jump was the result. I wanted a business to work for me, not for it. I wanted to feel inspired and to love what I did each day. I wanted to have the freedom to work from anywhere I wanted and not only that, I wanted to show other mums how to do it too. But here is the thing – I didn’t know that would be Business Jump at the time but in hindsight while there have been stressful moments for the most part, my business is the most incredible thing I have solely created. I didn’t start it with all the answers, or knowing it was going to lead me where it has and I certainly didn’t have a plan. I just did it and worked it out as I went using my end goal as the light for me to find my way there in the darkness.

From 2016 – 2019 I went on this wild ride of highs and lows of running a business that became hugely successful, I was featured on Sky News, Kochie’s Business Builders and a host of other media platforms and shared my story about how being fired and PND were my greatest gifts and how if I can do it, anyone can. Seriously, anyone can

Growing a successful online business

This is probably the first time that I’ll really be admitting it to myself but along the way, behind the scenes I was still intermittently struggling with depression and anxiety but it came and went as I had learned some really powerful coping strategies and my business was a beautiful distraction, something I could absorb myself in. Something that gave me fulfilment. Something that was my own. Something that I had achieved, besides the kids. Something that helped heal me.

For the most part, I was fine. That is until the universe threw me a firebomb and I became pregnant with twins, very, very unexpectedly. I was aware I was high risk for a relapse and I did everything I could to prepare myself, and for the first 8 weeks after they were born, everything was amazing. And, then just like day and night something changed. 

The anxiety was so intense, the panic attacks raced through my body and slowly but also super fast over the next 4 months I slid into a very dark and scary depression. Much worse than my first time and I ended up in hospital after hearing something telling me to harm my children. Yes, it was the psych ward, and yes it was just like I expected. White walls, scary looking people and I was not allowed to have my phone, laptop or any charger cords. I write a lot about that experience in my  Facebook group, Remarkable Business Mums. Which is my little safe place on the internet, just me and 14,000 other like-minded mums.

Working from home as a twin mum

All the while, it was business as usual on the outside and no-one was really the wiser that I had dropped out because I had the pure luck of being fired and deciding to opt-out of the dog eat dog employment world and run life, my way and had built a business to (mostly) support me in the crazy mum life. Whilst my business isn’t flawless and does go through peaks and troughs, for the most part it has sustained itself and supported me while I was offline putting myself back together. Returning to work in my business in 2020 was something that I itched to do because I love it so much, it isn’t work for me, it is a creative outlet and part of my healing journey.

So, my business was and still is, instrumental in my healing journey and has been instrumental in showing me I can do stuff, but healing and understanding that I am enough already, comes with daily commitment to quieten that feral little monkey in my brain that tries to convince me I am a bad mum, so here is what else I do to stay sane and manage the crazy mum ride:

Being Kind to Myself:

I parent myself the same way I parent my children, that is with love, kindness, empathy, compassion and unconditional forgiveness. I rarely speak to myself unfairly or rudely, I don’t judge myself for the things I didn’t get right and I accept myself the way I am. I don’t care anymore if I give my kids Weetbix for dinner, or if we have no matching socks or if my kids have screen time. I will admit, it is still a work in progress but I am so much better than I used to be. If you imagined talking to someone the same way you secretly talk to yourself surely they’d end up in a really bad place right? So it is no different talking to ourselves the same way.

Breathing and Meditating:

I know this one sounds super simple but all day I catch myself holding my breath or shallow breathing which exacerbates my anxiety so I am mindful to ensure I continually take big deep breaths through out the day. When the anxiety hits me, I’ve learned to sit within the uncomfortableness and zone in to my body, I let myself feel it all and it is scary and painful but as I breath in I focus on releasing the anxiety and soon enough, I am back in a state of peace and the anxiety has passed.

Yoga:

A growing number of studies indicate that yoga may be a beneficial treatment for mental health issues and it certainly was for me. I’ve never considered myself much of a yogi but when I was in hospital my amazing friend, Lizzy Williamson from Two Minute Moves came to visit me everyday for a short yoga and stretching session and to this day I continue most evenings. Youtube has lots of amazing videos for yoga poses that are good for depression and anxiety.

Exercise:

Each day I exercise but I listen to my body first which means I will either go for a run, or if I am feeling worn down I will go for a gentle walk. Exercise not only increases blood flow to the brain, it releases endorphins, the body’s very own natural antidepressant. Multiple systematic clinical trials of antidepressant medications have shown that they are significantly more effective than placebo in relieving symptoms in people with major depression

Daily Cold Water:

Did you know cold water is therapeutic? It helps you feel more alert, reduces stress and is good for your immunity so each day I either run the shower on cold or jump in my pool without fail. I always feel better afterwards and set myself challenges, for example, I can run the cold water in the shower for two minutes now and I actually find it quite easy.

Listening to Podcasts:

I am listening to Happy Place by Fearne Cotton and How to Fail by Elizabeth Day at the moment and I love zoning out and learning about new things. Again, just like my business it is a beautiful distraction for a little while.

Boundaries:

There are people in my life that if I let them come back in, would undo all of my blood, sweat and tears I have put in to heal, recently I was tested and managed to hold up my boundary even though I wanted to cave in and it hurt a lot to do this, but it would hurt more if history repeated itself and I am fairly sure it would.

My Psychologist:

Seeing my psychologist and doing CBT and EMDR has been instrumental in clearing old wounds and resetting my perceptive, I mostly love to be able to unpack and repack things which allows me to then put them away and move on.

Medication:

Whilst there have been times I have healed myself without medication, like after my miscarriage, this time I certainly needed it. This was proven by a test my naturopath did which confirmed my brain was not making enough serotonin. I think when there is a chemical imbalance, no amount of meditation, talk therapy or breathing deeply is going to fix it, and medication certainly can have a place in fixing that (just my personal opinion)

Gut Health and Diet:

There is plenty of research now that says there is a direct link to gut health and depression so diet has been a massive game changer for me, this is coming from someone who can easily eat a whole packet of Tim Tams. I eat a diet that is designed to strengthen and rebalance my gut which in turn helps the anxiety and depression.

selfcare tips for mums

Being Present:

They say anxiety stems from being worried about the future and depression stems from being worried about the past so each day I am conscious to stay in the present, as there are a lot of things that have happened in the past that have hurt me deeply that I can easily still lose myself in. My twins have this incredible energy about them and I know their love healed me over the last few months. I’d lean into their smiles, their little faces, their soft skin and I’d soak it all in. They are my most beautiful surprise and taught me I had no idea what I was capable of.

Gratitude:

I know to some it might seem strange, but I always try my hardest to have gratitude for all of it. All the ups, all the downs, all the hurt, all the heartache, all the people I’ve had come in and out of my life, I appreciate it all because I can see it has all play a part in my life.

I wouldn’t take any of it back.

I appreciate it because it made me dig for strength I never knew I had.

I appreciate it because I am more resilient and empathic.

I appreciate it because it showed me the truth.

Each day is a work in process and I do my best not to judge myself on where I think I should be in terms of my recovery but I know now, I am pretty bloody strong and can get through anything.

Acceptance:

The biggest thing depression and anxiety has taught me, is to accept who I am and where I am and to know without a doubt, that I am always enough for the people that matter. I am not flawed, or a bad mum, I am perfectly imperfect doing my best in a freaking hard situation.

Conclusion

Instead of automatically assuming we are bad mums, perhaps we are actually freaking amazing mums, doing the best we can in this crazy life.

So that is a lot right? I will say that {for me} managing my mental state is pretty much a full-time job but here is the most important part. I RARELY ever feel like doing these things. I would happily sit and watch Netflix and eat ice cream all day. I certainly never feel like going out for a run and I don’t do it because I WANT to do it. I do it because I WANT to feel good afterwards.

I trick myself into doing it and I have a commitment to myself, just two minutes a day which means I can pick any of the above, and my deal to myself is a minimum of two minutes. So I say to myself, I’ll just go for a quick walk down the street, once I am out the door, I end up going for a 45 minute run or I say to myself, I’ll just do two minutes of yoga, I end up doing 20 minutes and so on.

Disclaimer, if you’ve been suffering or think you may be suffering from depression, anxiety or just feel like something isn’t right please start a conversation with a GP who you like and trust.

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