Everyone has a set of beliefs, values and rules.  I don’t know all of mine but each day I discover something in myself.  Something will happen and when I react to the situation, I step back and think, “what does this really mean?”

I’ve spent the past few years trying to improve all areas of my life.  I have to say the journey to self awareness and improvement is a difficult one.  Looking within is tough and not always pretty.  Sometimes my focus on the inside will shift away from my focus on the outside and vice versa.

Every once in awhile I will write a list of things that I believe and then I will sit back and laugh at the ridiculous rules and pressures I have set out for myself.  Some of these rules are ones that I made myself, some of them were instilled in me from my parents, some came to me from working for a company for so many years – either way, I have found that many of those rules and beliefs are what hold me back.  They’re what stops me from really breaking through many of life’s challenges.

Being a wife and a mother has been life’s greatest challenge for me.  I had a career before getting married and having children — that career dominated all areas of my life.  When I went back to work a year after my first son was born I felt a lot of pressure to balance work and my role as a mother and wife.  My job didn’t change from the one that I had when I wasn’t married and didn’t have kids. The job was the same, but I felt different.  I felt an incredible amount of pressure to continue to perform at a high level, but I felt sad being away from my son and I wanted to be home.  Staying home wasn’t a financially viable option for us.  Before I had kids, my house for the most part was always clean and organized.  After having Lucca I thought it would be easy to maintain that standard.

My belief was that if I did well in my career, was thin and fit and had an immaculate house with home-cooked meals in the fridge that I would be a successful wife and mom. It sounds ridiculous when I type that!

It took me a long time to realize that my belief was causing me a lot of inner-conflict.  I was setting myself up to consistently be anxious and stressed.  I wasn’t accounting for any “me” time.  Every weekend was non-stop cook, clean, spend time with my kids…rinse repeat…you see the theme.

At one point, I felt like everything was out of my control and I made a decision that I couldn’t operate like this any longer without pushing myself into a nervous break-down.  I was healthy and had lost a ton of weight – but I wasn’t truly happy.  Deep inside I felt sad and over stretched.

I sat down and made a list of what is important to me and what I enjoyed doing.  I focused 80 percent of my effort on those things and left the other 20 percent to focus on what was less important.

For me, having quality time with my husband and kids is number 1.  Weekends are the best time to get a lot of time in, but I spent a great deal of it cooking, cleaning and running around like a chicken with her head cut off.  So I hired a cleaning lady.  She comes every other week and I clean in-between.  I can’t tell you how much this helped! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind cleaning but having those “cleaning” hours  put toward spending time with my kids make it worth the extra cost.

For work, I made sure that my days were well organized and that I planned ahead.  If my work week is scheduled tightly or I have to work at night, I schedule my day so that I can split my shift and at least walk my kids to school and eat dinner with them.  My husband and I will try and grab a coffee or lunch together during the day so that we can spend some time together too.

When you focus your energy on what you want everything else falls into place.

As women, we put a great deal of pressure on ourselves. I still do, but when I am feeling overwhelmed or hopeless, I now I have the tools to step back and assess what’s truly going on.  I have learned how to shift my thinking and focus.  It’s not easy to always stay on track but when you allow yourself to examine your beliefs and values, you can figure out why you’re feeling a certain way and do something about it.

I regularly set goals now and work toward them.  Sometimes, I am more focused in other areas and the full life balance isn’t there but being aware of what is most important to me makes it easier to get back on track.

I am blessed to have the life that I have and I am grateful every day!

Kids Can Fly operates the Launch Pad at Grandbell-Victoria School in Brantford. It’s a great place for parents and caregivers to attend with their children. Kids Can Fly invites you to stop in and visit https://www.kidscanfly.ca/programs/the-launch-pad/

From our Board Chair, Patti Berardi

Patti is the mother of 2 boys that are 4 and 6. She also works full-time for Rogers TV.