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In This Moment by Jacqueline Shakespeare

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Article by Jacqueline Shakespeare ©.
Posted in the Magazine (Tell Your Own Story: , ).
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I am a working mother with two children. At times, like every other working mother, I’ve felt exhausted with the reality of just making it through the day. Weary from the constant demands on me, the never-ending juggling. I’ve had days, and sometimes weeks, when it feels unbearably tough. At my lowest points, I have been known to sink to the kitchen floor at the end of the working day with a glass of wine in my hand, numb with guilt, convinced I had my priorities all wrong.

For working mothers, the pressures of running a home and holding down a job can be daunting and overwhelming. Merely keeping on top of the responsibilities and to-do lists can take up all of their time. It becomes almost an impossible dream to create a life where they can find contentment across each area of their lives, and ultimately enjoy each moment.

However, I believe this shouldn’t be the case and I am determined to help mothers find an easier way. Over the last fourteen years, since my daughter was born, I have identified the principles and skills that are consistently demonstrated by contented working mothers. I have tried and tested them over and over again and I know they work.

Until recently, these skills and principles were all in my head, and not something I had ever shared. A few years ago, if you’d said that I would publish a book, I would have laughed at the idea of it.  I’d never written anything apart from business reports and to-do-lists. But two years ago, I decided it was time to write my book, In This Moment, to help working mothers find calm and fulfillment.

Writing In This Moment has literally been one of the hardest things I have ever done. When I reflect back, there were three main factors I found myself battling against – time, my ‘be perfect driver’ and my lack of writing experience.

My book encouraged working mothers to ‘do less’ and take more time for themselves. At the same time, I was working full-time with two young children and then took on the enormous project of writing a book. The irony of it all wasn’t lost on me. I ended up stealing time usually spent on other areas of my life to create moments to write. I spent Sunday afternoons writing instead of watching films with the family and had some very early starts to create space before my working day began. I tried to use any possible moment I could. On the tube in the morning, I would be willing a seat to become free so I could sit down and write, in the evenings after everyone else had gone to bed, I would curl up on the sofa and make the most of the writing opportunity. The idea of time for me to chill and relax became a faint and distant memory.

In my book, I talk about the common drivers that motivate us, identified by Taibi Kahler, an American psychologist. These drivers are born in our unconsciousness and influence our thinking, feelings and behaviours. While they can be positive, they can also be destructive when we are subjected to too much pressure. One of the drivers, and the one that became very dominant for me during the process, was ‘be perfect’, this means I was striving for excellence and trying to create the best book I possibly could. This would have potentially been OK if I hadn’t also been battling with time.

Finally, there was my lack of writing experience. I did everything I shouldn’t. I didn’t plan the book properly before I started writing. In fact, I completely disregarded the importance of structure at the beginning of the process and just scribbled down idea after idea. As a result, I ended up with a mass of good thinking but it was then a very long and hard process to create structure around it and shape it into a story. For someone who is naturally so ordered in every other area of their life, it was an odd approach for me to take, but it just reflected my lack of experience.

There have been times when it has all felt too much. I was very aware I was going against the advice I was sharing in my book. At one point I had to stop for three months. I felt I was compromising other areas of my life too much, every word had to be forced out, and I lost faith I could ever create the book I wanted to. I hid my manuscript away in the back of a cupboard, away from my conscious thought and gave myself the break I needed to rekindle my enthusiasm for finishing it.

It has taken me over two years to write and publish my book and although I’ve had to find my way through the challenges above, on the whole, I’ve absolutely loved the experience. I’ve learnt so much, met amazing people and have created a real book you can hold in your hand, not something I ever thought was in me. I have such fond memories of sitting in our holiday cottage last year, in the sunshine the words flowing, the end of the journey in sight. Writing whilst on holiday must agree with me, I’m on holiday again as I write this article. My head is clear, free from the usual day-to-day worries, and in front of me, a patchwork of greens as I gaze across the Dordogne valley. How lucky I feel as I sit here, relaxed, my family around me, writing and knowing my new found love of writing will always be with me.

(c) Jacqueline Shakespeare

About In This Moment:

HOW DO WORKING MOTHERS FIND CALM AND CONTENTMENT?

The pressures of running a home and holding down a job can leave working mothers feeling overwhelmed and muddling their way through each day. Merely keeping on top of the responsibilities and to-do lists takes all of your time. Creating a life where you can enjoy each moment feels like an impossible dream.

Jacqueline Shakespeare is on a mission to change this and believes every working mother deserves to be contented in every area of their life. This warm-hearted book gives you simple to follow skills, principles and advice to help you on your journey to a calm and fulfilling life.

Read In This Moment to:

• Balance each area of your life harmoniously and without guilt

• Strengthen your mindset for a resilient, kind, and considered life

• Prioritise and create time for the things you enjoy

• Build meaning into your work and unlock your professional potential

• Be a role model for your children and those around you

Order your copy online here.

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Jacqueline Shakespeare is the author of working parents guide, In This Moment, and executive coach and operating partner at business transformation consultancy Sullivan & Stanley, helping clients such as Mastercard, BCG and EE solve complex business problems. She specialises in leading strategy development and helping organisations become ChangeReady.