In 2014, I was a couple years fresh off a Harvard Business School MBA program, feeling pretty proud of myself as a 26 year old CFO for a large marketing and web development company in San Diego. I worked 55+ hours a week and loved every second of it. Most of the time. OK, some of the time. Once I found out I was pregnant in October 2015, I decided to venture off on my own and launch my business coaching company, Little Petunia Consulting. I knew there was no way I would be able to handle the work stress, a new baby, and my own health.
See, in addition to being a mama and a boss lady, I also struggle daily with a chronic disease known as Meniere’s disease. Meniere’s disease is a rare vestibular disorder that showers you with fun symptoms such as —
vertigo (attacks can last anywhere from a few minutes to 24 hours)
loss of hearing
loss of balance
migraines with aura (blackout blindness in my case)
nausea, vomiting, and sweating caused by severe vertigo
I had to learn really early on in this new phase of my life what my limitations were and how to cope so I wouldn’t lose my shit. It’s taken 9 months, but I feel like I finally have a healthy balance down thanks to some serious tricks and discipline.
I TAKE CARE OF MYSELF
The most important thing I had to learn in this new balancing act was taking care of myself first, so that I could take care of my baby, my clients and everything else afterward. I’ve learned to take a lot of precautions in order to maintain the flow. This means —
No hour long trips to Target just for fun (the fluorescents trigger my attacks)
Drinking a ton of water and resting my body more often than most
Saying “no” when it doesn’t suit my schedule or will overwork me
Disconnecting from screens in order to reset my vestibular system
Another huge precaution I take in order to maintain a healthy balance is by setting some serious boundaries and sticking with them. This means my designated work hours are my work hours, and that work life doesn’t trickle into my time with my kiddo.
Having everything mush together leads to more stress, which leads to more Meniere’s attacks. Boundaries are key.
I CULTIVATE & MAINTAIN AN IDEAL CLIENT BASE
One of the things I love about working with creatives is they tend to not follow the rigid 9-5 rules. They like to meet in coffee shops, and if there are times when my husband or my mom can’t watch the baby, there is noone more excited to hold him while we get down to business. Clearly defining my ideal client has been huge for the success of my business and allows me to work with like minded people who appreciate this season in my life.
I'M ORGANIZED TO A "T"
You guys, I live and die by Asana. I create documented processes for everything — client workflows, intake assessments, onboarding, you name it. I plug each tasks into Asana and assign myself deliverables and due dates. I always have a landscape view of what my week looks like so I can manage my time effectively and adjust as needed.
This also goes for my baby. I use apps to track feedings, diapers, sleep cycles, etc. I know every movement this kiddo makes. I can’t tell you how many times I cross-reference my Asana with my baby apps to get shit done. “Hmm, OK it has been 2 hours and 10 minutes since the last feed which means I have approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes to get this client proposal done”. It’s life saving.
I KEEP MY BABY CLOSE
The biggest factor in maintaining work-mama-health balance? Babywearing. I wrap this kid up in a ring sling and get my shit done. Because, as most mothers will tell you, the time you really need to get stuff done is the exact time your child refuses to be put down. Babywearing for the win, forever.
Becoming a mama was the greatest life change that has ever happened to me. It allowed me to step back, reevaluate my priorities, and cultivate a career that I truly love. Balancing motherhood, my career, and my life with a chronic disease has been far from easy, but I’m grateful for finding tools and techniques that work for me and allow me to cultivate my best life yet.