Mario or Martyr?

On a faded post-it note next to my home-office desk, I have a quote from the formidable Glennon Doyle:

“A responsible mother is not one slowly dying for her children, but showing them how to live bravely. I stopped being a martyr and started being a model.”

This quote comes from a podcast interview in May 2020, just as the reality of the pandemic and lockdowns was becoming bleak. As a mental healthcare professional, I was overrun with work, trying to help people make sense of the upside-down world while I was still coming to terms with it. And as so many other parents with school-age children, there was the double responsibility of looking after my work, home and schooling children at once. 

But I wrote this quote on a little blue post-it and kept looking for ways to be a model of how to live – whatever the circumstances bravely. For me, the answer came from a cheeky little Italian plumber. My son introduced us during the first 2020 national lockdown in the UK, and a quick game of Mario Karts has become an easy way to find some fun and reconnect with my children when I work from home! I also noticed that we needed to take breaks from the competition, even if it was fun. So there is a balance between work and fun and rest.

This summer, we’ve had the challenge of long car journeys with tweens and teens. So we started a game where every person in the car gets a song choice. It’s easy with technology and a phone. The music leads to discussions about the songs or the stories about why they are favourites. After a while, though, even the best conversations can do with a break, and a rest stop or some time in silence creates that balance.

I also want to model rest and reset to my children, clients and colleagues. Not because I am SO exhausted that I need rest, but because I choose to look after myself and prevent burnout. I hope to inspire them to be brave and embrace the fun and the rest.

I hope you can find one fun activity to colour your work day and space to rest and recharge to reset you for more productivity.

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