It’s to be expected that after 9 days away from home – jet setting around the country, working in a high-rise penthouse at the Gold Coast, being in charge on one’s own schedule and generally doing uninterrupted magic-making work – there has to be some kind of fall out on return.
I just want to prepare you for this, because although I know it and expect it, it smashes me every time. And I know there must be a way for that not to be like that. So smashing. And not that kind of smashing (the jolly one!).
I’m not sure exactly what the answer is but often when I wrote it comes to me, so here’s hoping it comes to me.
It kind of goes like this:
Me/my version of me and my life during 9 days away.
I think I am a single, child free, 40 something. I get up early without consideration for anything other than the best looking exercise gear for the day and go for walks along the coast with a group of highly motivating and inspiring people (who are also away from home and children and also seem to think they are invincible, good-looking people in Lycra who power walk without a care in the world). We talk business and concepts and create ideas and I have a caffeine rush pre any kind of coffee or breakfast. I eat breakfast (which I only have to make for ONE person) overlooking the ocean from my 16th floor apartment, shower without anyone coming in, throw all my clothes and towels on the floor without guilt, get dressed in work wear appropriate for penthouses, and wander across to the workspace about 9am without afore-mentioned care in the world. Work uninterrupted for like 12 hours, with short breaks for food (not kid-friendly and did not include any pasta or bread or macaroni cheese), and never feel tired. I only cried once and said I wanted to get a job at Macca’s (not offense to people who work at Macca’s, I just don’t think it’s for me, except for that ten minutes when I cried and didn’t want to create any more social media material about me) but other than that, am high-energy, high-powered, entrepreneur. I don’t need sleep (overrated until the time I cried when I realised I may also be tired and a bit homesick for my children). I am amusing, clever and generally empowered. I feel like my work makes a difference in the world, and on the way home I spend 2 days working at my most favourite seminar and honestly that just feels like magic. I have never-ending patience, intuition and a deep sense of purpose. I’m the kind of person who flies around the country for work, and am so organised I have a massive hoodie I wear on the plane so I can ugly-sleep with my mouth open on midnight flights and arrived refreshed for the next adventure in the next city. Sleep is overrated. Cake is OK for every snack break. Dark chocolate is one of the major food groups. I wear scarves and carry my MacBook in my hand luggage, pulling it out on planes when I am not ugly sleeping to just do a bit more video editing, because I make videos. I read books like Daring and Disruptive and ignore the trashy magazines. I fly home and am met at the airport by gorgeous man-friend who buys me breakfast before the family arrives to pick me up.
Me/my life when I get home from 9 days away.
I am a mother of 4. One is overseas but because the Internet exists I still know every dangerous thing she is doing. A beautiful and amazing au pair has had my 3 younger children while I am away, along with a mix of family and friends. They are all a bit sick of each other. There is strange tension between her and Miss 11. Miss 6 has pissed everyone off for the entire time. Miss 4 has only cried for me a couple of times, but now I am home has decided being wrapped around my right leg will make that better. I am so fricking tired. So tired. Sleep. I need sleep. Why didn’t I sleep when I was away? I’m having caffeine and sugar withdrawals because they are not things I eat every day and I feel like crap and know that I am not fit just because I look good in lycra. I am on duty and for children it makes no sense that I was away for 9 days and I should need to work once I am home. Or ever again. They are unsure why I should need to work ever again. I feel a dull edge of panic that I may not be able to get into my office for 2 consecutive hours ever again without motherguilt setting in. Miss 11 is angry. I try to talk about with her but am impatient, have not a speck of intuition left in me and can not remember the point of the conversation because I’m so tired. Miss 4 lies on top of me every time I sit down. Miss 6 has this ear-piercing whine that she has saved for 9 days just for me. I go walking at 6am alone, to get some space to clear my head and time alone before the day starts with the children at 7am. I get out of bed because if I don’t go I will feel mad when one of them wakes me up. I can’t find my good-looking exercise gear in the dark. I have terrible eye bags. When I get home I make breakfast for 3, braid 3 sets of hair (the longer I have been away the more complicated the hairdo requests are), talk about brushing teeth and getting shoes and socks on 40 more times that is necessary, am impatient, yell, get teary and wonder what has happened to my life? They go to school. I go to work. It’s really quiet in my office on my own. I start trying to find friends to have lunch with. I have overfilled my schedule because I’ve been away. I wonder if I am an entrepreneur at all.
Well my life is somewhere between all of that. I think that’s part of it. There’s stuff I know to do that works. So here are some of them. I hope it helps.
• Have a total day off (or two) when you first get home. Like totally off and defrag and debrief and download. Do this with lovely trusted caring friends who just like hanging out with you and don’t want to talk business, and are more interested in man-friend at the airport and what you ate at the Gold Coast.
• Go outside. To the beach. Or the bush. No shoes. Just breathe a bit.
• Do some reconnecting stuff with your kids early on. We did try a movie night on the first night home, but them I got distracted and they were dark (and rightly so). It all came good thought when we did a REAL movie night, which involves me being TOTALLY there watching the movie with them lying on top of me. Don’t leave this until Thursday if you came home Monday.
• Reclaim your space gently. Remember they have been managing that space without you. Just gently bring yourself back in. Potter. Candles. Even high-powered entrepreneurs have to take out the rubbish and empty the rabbit litter tray.
• Eat well. Make chicken and vege soup and stop eating caking and drink more lemon water in the morning.
• Go to bed early. ALL WEEK.
• When you first step back into work space make an action plan for the week ahead, and include some nurturing time in there. Massage. Exercise. Hair. Whatever. Don’t try to do as much as in those 12-hour days. They were boot camp. This is real life. You can’t sustain that. That’s why it only goes for 5 days.
• Talk to your people. The people who totally get where you are and what it’s like and who’ve been there before. Your mentor. Your tribe. Ask for help or guidance if you need. Be kind and gentle to yourself.
• Wash the massive hoodie and put it away until trip. Remember to take ugg boots next time too.
And really, just don’t be surprised if it’s nuts for a bit before it gets back to how it was, and then it’s time to go again. I think that’s what the ebb and flow of like is life. Especially for those who want more. For the goddam motherworker’s who sometimes forget to sleep.