Best is Better Than Everything

I can’t do it all. You might, but I can’t.

When I look at you I assume you’re doing it all without breaking a sweat. And you probably look at me and assume I’m doing it all with style and grace.

The secret is that inside I feel like a fraud. When things get really stressful I feel like a crazy person. When I reach the absolute limit of my abilities I’m ready to throw in the towel and abandon everyone and everything I love.

But I don’t leave…I just keep trying to do it all. Or at least I did until last summer.

The day it came unraveled

Last summer my babysitter left for a full time job.

I had a burgeoning business, 4 kids home for summer break and a husband working 6 days a week.

Enter the Pinterest boards exploding with fun activities, healthy meals and vacation ideas. Training for my first marathon sounded good – after all I should do something for myself, right?

I told myself I could do it all, no babysitter needed.

Fast forward 8 weeks – I was exhausted and stressed. Without a babysitter I was constantly frustrated by interruptions and I started working late at night, getting less and less sleep.

During the day I gave my kids my everything; I entertained, fixed healthy lunches, mediated arguments, tried out Pinterest ideas, drove to playdates and the pool.

I gave everything last summer – to my family and my clients. And it was absolutely the worst thing I could have done because at the end of those 8 weeks I was crabby, exhausted, demoralized, losing track of deadlines and absolutely no fun to be around.

The danger of cutting yourself out of the equation

This isn’t a post debating the impact of a working mother. I firmly believe each parent should access her life and find the right balance between work and family. My balance is going to look different than your balance – and that’s OK. The proportions of the balance are unimportant. The magic is in finding the right balance.

Because when you find your balance you are able to give your best.

More than my everything, my clients and the people I love most need my best.

My kids need a mom who laughs at their jokes, smiles when they walk into the room, puts down the phone and looks right into their eyes when they talk.

My clients need a web designer who meets deadlines, fulfills promises and provides a little extra wow factor to the work.

If that means I hire a babysitter, set boundaries to my availability, say no to a few play dates and let them eat Hot Pockets for lunch – that’s OK. If that means I don’t answer weekend emails until Monday or say no to little hourly work that I know will get lost in the shuffle – that’s OK.

Neither my kids nor my clients will remember the time I take to balance. They’ll remember the positive feelings that come from an energized me doing a bang up job as I give my very best.

My best does involve a tricky 2-letter word.

I’m not very good at saying no. That’s how I got stuck in the giving everything phase of my life.

But when I don’t say no I end up disappointing everyone, especially myself. The last thing I want my children to remember is a mom at the end of her rope. A client won’t remember that my response wasn’t instantaneous, but she’ll never refer me if I drop the ball on her project because I threw my laptop off a cliff in a desperate attempt to escape my responsibilities.

No one can do it all and expect to do it well. Instead we say no and return with our best.

This summer is going to look a lot different than last summer. Babysitter? Check. Designated office hours? Check. A few fun days a week at the pool? Check and check.

Will it be perfect? No. I’m still pretty new at the “My Best is Better than My Everything” mantra.

But it will be my best attempt yet and finding the right balance for my kids, my clients and me.

Natalie Gowen is the brand strategist and content coach behind Moxie She loves helping passionate entrepreneurs discover their core, authentic message and teaching them how to share and connect with their ideal client. You can grab the free Values Worksheet by clicking here:

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