Mumazing Success is a group for ambitious mums, run by Exeter mum Lucy Flanagan. The focus is on growing your business and fulfilling your potential, but without compromising your family life or health. It’s about making motherhood and work, work. Is that really possible? This year I found out.
I arrived at my first Mumazing session at The Southgate Hotel in Exeter feeling frazzled and over-wrought after the school run, the buzz of my morning coffee fading fast.
What was I doing here in this smart hotel casually drinking tea with these other women? I should be:
b) Tidying/cleaning/doing laundry/life admin-ing
c) Food shopping/cooking
d) Looking after my children
Every second of my life was filled and accounted for. If I wasn’t typing madly at a computer trying desperately to find snatches of time to keep my freelance career going, I was either [insert one of the above] or sleeping, if my toddler-sleep-thief permitted it.
The luxury of tea drinking was reserved for play dates, where you rarely get to finish a sentence between managing snack demands and negotiating turn taking.
So my first Mumazing session felt novel. I felt a bit like an alien, certainly an intruder, in the sophisticated hotel setting. But I liked it. And I didn’t feel guilty because technically this was still work. Career development and all that.
I went along to my first session hoping I would leave with renewed purpose, total clarity and feeling in control of the juggling act that is working motherhood.
I quickly realised that one session wasn’t going to cut it.
Lucy spoke a foreign language to me. She talked about ‘self-care’ and ‘giving yourself permission’. She spoke of living ‘guilt-free’.
I was overwhelmed by mum guilt but didn’t even know that’s what it was. I thought that feeling bad about myself and torn in different directions was the norm. It was modern day motherhood, wasn’t it? The backlash of attempting to have it all.
Turns out I was wrong.
What I thought was going to be a nice opportunity to network and pick up some business tips one Monday a month turned out to be so much more.
A year later my entire mindset has changed. I feel more relaxed than I have in a long time and I don’t feel overwhelmed. I feel lighter.
It’s taken a year but I feel ready to build my business because I have the right frame of mind to make it work for me and my family…without sacrificing my sanity. But, above all, I now know I’m good enough. And I put this new confidence, self-believe – what Lucy calls ‘power’ – down to Lucy and the Mumazing group.
5 things I gained from the Mumazing Success group
It’s impossible to describe exactly what Mumazing Success is all about because people take different things from it.
So, instead of review it, here are five things I’ve gained from it:
1. Learning to look after myself
Do you feel like you’ve lost yourself in motherhood? That the noise of your internal to do list is drowning out any joy and you’re putting everyone else’s needs before your own? I did.
Lucy preaches self-care (making time for yourself) in every Mumazing group and this is the most important lesson I’ve learnt.
Time for self-care? I barely had enough time for work. I saw work as a privilege, a treat (a break from housework and parenting). It was my version of me-time and I could justify it because it paid for childcare.
As you can imagine, I was pretty burnt out because work – no matter how much you like your job – is still work. You need time to relax. For you.
I hadn’t been looking after myself properly and I’d lost perspective. Although I was doing OK with work, I felt pulled in a million different directions and unable to focus on any one project. I was going through life on auto pilot.
At each monthly Mumazing meeting, we set goals and actions and choose a reward for achieving them. We’re encouraged to celebrate our successes. We’re taught to prioritise self-care. In fact, spend 10% of our monthly income on it (spa day, anyone?). Because how can you look after children and shine in business if you’re running on empty?
Back in March’s session, we wrote ourselves permission slips for better self-care. I prescribed myself more time in the garden. It worked. I pinned that permission slip up in my kitchen and made much more time for myself that month. Guilt-free time. This may sound ridiculous and obvious to some people – but for whatever reason, I needed to give myself permission to CHILL OUT.
It’s taken a year (and a lazy summer holiday) but for the first time in a long time I don’t feel empty. I’ve become more disciplined about looking after my own needs and making time for myself.
2. A tribe of like-minded women
During my first Mumazing group I felt so much positivity in the room for Lucy and Mumazing. It seemed to have sparked something inside the other members. One lady had given up her teaching career to run her own web design business. Another had quit her inflexible day job to pursue her dream of running a marketing business that fitted around her young sons. These mums believed in Mumazing and its positive influence. They wanted to share it with us.
It felt like I was joining a tribe. And for someone who hasn’t had colleagues for a good five years, this buoyed me up. We all wanted the same thing: career fulfilment, the best for our children and to hold on to our sanity without burning out. I’m not sure any of us thought this was possible before we joined the group.
I have met and learnt so much from some inspiring mamas through Mumazing.
3. Structure and direction
Each session has a theme and in each one you create a goal and actions to achieve it. This can be a work goal, a life goal – or both. Mumazing looks at the whole picture because as a mum, family life and work are often intertwined.
As part of the membership, you’re assigned an accountability partner who you check in with over the month (and nag if they haven’t achieved their goal). The next session you have the chance to talk to the group about what you’ve achieved.
I loved this approach and structure. It’s taught me to be more organised and focused. I’m not the best at pinning down actions and often get distracted from my goal as the month goes by – but it’s a discipline I’m learning.
4. A Mumazing team
I discovered the importance of building a team around you. What Lucy calls a Mumazing team. You cannot go it alone. Whether that’s getting a cleaner, finding a therapist, booking more childcare or simply asking for help from parents. We all need support.
Just before the summer holidays, we did an exercise where we walked through our day to day life, minute by minute, and put it down on paper. It helped make sense of the chaos and showed us opportunities to outsource and delegate.
This year was particularly tough for me because my dad died in January. Having a team around me – a support network – became essential and well worth investing in. It is not a failing to ask for help.
One of the exercises we did was getting to know our inner critic. That nagging voice inside that holds you back, keeps you in your comfort zone, makes you question your decisions. Facing this inner critic and acknowledging it was a big step for me.
My confidence was low and perhaps that was the main reason I felt directionless. I didn’t believe I was capable of running my own freelance business, building a clientele, going it alone. Damn that inner critic.
But this year Mumazing has taught me I am good enough.
This new confidence is helping me to finally see things more clearly. I feel like a fog has lifted.
The main reason I joined Mumazing was because I wanted to find some clarity. To work out which direction to take my career so that I could enjoy motherhood. To stop feeling totally overwhelmed by the endless to dos.
I honestly wasn’t sure it was possible to be happy as a working mum. I felt stressed, guilty and spread too thinly. I might have been ‘doing it all’ but I didn’t feel I was doing any of it very well.
Lucy showed me that it is possible to make it work. And to rekindle that spark I had before I became a mum.
Becoming a member of the Mumazing group was a bit like joining a mind gym. As with any gym membership, it’s an investment but the experience has nourished my soul and, a year later, I’ve come out feeling healthier and happier.
Pretty mumazing if you ask me.
The Mumazing Success group went online this September so people can access it nationally. Visit http://www.mumazingsuccess.com to find out more. The Exeter group meets the second Monday of every month. You can book a guest pass here.