Over the last year of being a SAHM, I have felt another calling on my life. Living the busy day-to-day life managing three little kids just wasn’t cutting it for me any more. I was feeling restless, unfulfilled, and looking for “what’s next”.
And it was really challenging for me to accept that.
Other Mums may relate. Funnily enough, I had never really labelled myself as a “career SAHM” (as others may think of it). I have always been very heavily involved in community volunteering throughout my mothering journey (first through the Toy Library and then at Playcentre), and those outlets gave me enough meaning and purpose aside from raising small humans to keep me fulfilled. Playcentre gave me the opportunity to complete Early Childhood Education courses and further my education journey (I do love me some learning). And both organisations gave me ways to use some of my skills as an occupational therapist such as organising events, educating other adults, and of course, constantly analysing the activity of play.
Blogging also filled the gap of “intellectual empowerment” for me. Often people would say “I don’t know how you do it Rach; run a blog and look after your kids too”. Quite selfishly, the answer is that I blog for myself; it’s part of my me-time!
But I was feeling a real imbalance.
An imbalance of too much mothering, not enough othering.
Not enough of other stuff to fill me up and keep me going. I just wasn’t enjoying Mum-life the way I used to.
I was experiencing what we OT’s call ‘Occupational Imbalance”.
“Occupational Imbalance: a configuration of activities within a person’s lifestyle that does not meet psychological, physiological, or social needs in a manner that is healthy and satisfactory to the individual”.
So, what next? Get a job, obviously!
Expect that when it came to “what next” in terms of my journey as an Occupational Therapist, I was a bit stuck. I enquired about and applied for a few jobs. Nothing really fit the box for me though; I had a burning desire to work further with other parents. Plus, most were about 20 hours a week, which was too much for what I was after.
Yes, I am fussy and had quite high expectations. But I still had to take into account that I am the primary caregiver of three little people, which means fitting any employment into school hours. And until my salary eclipses my husbands’, that’s unlikely to change!
And even as I was browsing potential part time jobs, I still had a niggling feeling that working for someone else wasn’t for me at this time.
My passions are:
- supporting parents of preschoolers
- play (especially nature play)
- best practice in the early years of life (first 1000 days)
So how could I combine these things through an Occupational Therapy lens, in order to create an income and give me more occupational balance in my life?
My mind was constantly churning and it wasn’t until the opportunity came to apply for another job at the end of 2018 that I realised I had to take the plunge and set up as an independent OT, otherwise I would regret it forever.
The journey has required courage and bravery.
It’s required financial commitment to pay for more childcare.
It’s required asking for support from extended family to look after the kids.
It’s required commitment and faith from my husband, as he supports me in this.
And it’s not over yet, by a long shot! In July I managed to launch an online course. But I feel like that’s just the beginning of the journey.
I have only managed to do that as I gave up my role of full-time Mother, and admitted to myself that I needed more time to commit to business development. I now do four days of work and one day of SAHM per week, and I feel that balance is suiting me just fine. Care of the little kids (age 2.5 and almost 5) is split between an in-home carer, my Mother in Law, and also my husband.
It feels crazy that it took such major logistical figuring out for me to get occupational balance back into my life. But when you’re making such a significant lifestyle change, undoing 6 years worth of thinking, and when the care of two preschoolers comes into it, it really is a huge change for my family.
I feel more settled and fulfilled. I feel more hopeful for each day as it dawns. I feel excited about the direction life is heading in.
I feel like my occupational balance has been restored.
And we are all better off for it!
How about you – when is a time that you’ve experienced occupational imbalance?