Seventy five.

When you just can’t get any rest.

This week Frankie Tortora and Steve Folland have a chat in response to a question from communications consultant Sarah Randall. She says:

“How on earth does anyone get any rest. Like, real restful rest?

I feel like for the past 18 months I’ve been waiting for a break, but it never comes.
I need to find a way to make it happen.

The flipping pandemic means that I have way less support from family, increased work pressures… my husband also runs his own business that’s been pretty smashed to smithereens by the pandemic. 

We have a 2 yr old and 4 yr old and are expecting a third so we knew it was always going to be a tricky year but I’d be interested in hearing thoughts on how not to burn out. 

All the ‘normal’ business / wellbeing blogs advocate stuff I used to do pre-kids e.g. meditate, get up early to go for a walk, sport… but now there is just no frickin time… 

Obviously this is a phase of life… and the pandemic won’t be quite so intense forever… but it feels like the marathon is far from over and they’ve forgotten to provide the orange slices and jelly babies at the side of the road. 

How the heck do others do it? Can someone throw me a jelly baby?”

Take note dear listener! We might swear a bit. This one’s for the parents. To be enjoyed at your desk or once the kiddos are in bed.

Here’s what was said in this episode:

Comments on the previous episode:

[00:01:16] – Frankie
Hello. You’re listening to the Doing It For The Kids podcast where we swear a bit too much and talk a bit too fast about freelance life with kids in the mix. I’m Frankie and this is Steve.

[00:01:26] – Steve
Hello, yes! Each episode we take a question from the Doing It For The Kids community, do our best to answer it, but of course we start each episode by looking back at the last one. Last time we were talking about…

[00:01:35] – Frankie
We were talking about promoting yourself when you’re speaking for free at an event or not speaking for free.

[00:01:41] – Steve
Oh, yes. Well, Lorraine Adebowale got in touch.

Lorraine says:

“When you’re sharing your story, make sure you discuss key points that your market will identify with. For example, any resistance that they may feel about your service or industry or anything that might stop them from taking action on the things you’re saying. After the event, make sure you have one key resource, e.g. a podcast that is super powerful and then direct them to that. It is imperative.”

Good use of the word ‘imperative’.

[00:02:09] – Frankie
I know, right. I think that’s one of the biggest words we’ve had in the comments on this.

[00:02:15] – Steve
Lorraine continues:

“It is imperative that you seed this idea from the beginning. Think of some things that back up what you’re saying that align naturally with this resource. For example, ‘One of the things that comes up a lot on the podcast is how confidence comes from competence’, et cetera, et cetera.”

[00:02:30] – Frankie
Steve Morgan of the book Anti-Sell.

Steve says:

“One thing Detective Agnes could do post-event is to create a blog post about it, including some pictures, more information on what the talk was about, video and audio slides, additional resources, et cetera, et cetera. An ‘in case you missed it’ type page that people can go back to afterwards.

Also, if when you pitch to speak at other events, you can pass on that post saying, ‘Here’s an example of a talk I gave about Imposter Syndrome in front of 150 female leaders’.

You could also consider creating a speaking page which contains a list of all your old speaking gigs, linking off to posts about them if you do a post for each one and letting people know what you’ve got coming up.

Hopefully, though, you’ll get work simply off the back of the speaking gig itself. I gave a talk once for less than 50 people and had about half a dozen inquiries in the following 24 hours from people who’d been there.”

[00:03:18] – Steve
Interesting. Yes. Because let’s not forget that it’s not necessarily about how many people are in the room, but whether those people are the right people in the room.

[00:03:26] – Frankie
Are you the right customer? Yeah.

[00:03:28] – Steve
Hannah Pearson has been in touch.

Hannah says:

“Such an interesting question. I co-host a podcast and there is a massive difference between the men and women who we interview. The men, I find, tend to include what they do a lot more. For example, ‘When I work with my clients in XYZ Industry, I found this’. Or, ‘As I told BBC News a few weeks ago… I actually wrote a white paper on the same topic…’ It’s quite a neat way of doing it, if it’s not too much. But if done repeatedly, it can come across as overkill.
Big yes to including your contacts on the slides at the bottom. People also screenshot these, and at the end, on the last slide, too. And yes to making the most of it afterwards. I’m terrible at doing this, but repurpose your talk if you can, share pics of you speaking, etc, this will help add to the authority you’re building with your audience.”

Good point. We didn’t talk about repurposing actually, did we?

[00:04:22] – Frankie
No, we didn’t.

[00:04:22] – Steve
Very good point. Good work, team. Good work.

Our answer to this week's question:

[00:07:12] – Steve
OK, so episode 75. We’ve got a question from… it’s not Anonymous. This is an actual person! Sarah Randall.

Sarah asks:

“How on earth does anyone get any rest? Like real restful rest? I feel like for the past 18 months I’ve been waiting for a break, but it never comes. I need to find a way to make it happen. The flipping pandemic means that I have way less support from family, increased work pressures.

My husband also runs his own business that’s been pretty much smashed to smithereens by the pandemic. We have a two-year-old and a four-year-old and are expecting a third. So we knew it was always going to be a tricky year but I’d be interested in hearing thoughts on how not to burn out. All the normal business/wellbeing blogs, advocate stuff I used to do pre-kids, e.g. meditate, get up early to go for a walk, sport, but now there is just no fricking time.

Obviously, this is a phase of life and the pandemic won’t be quite so intense forever, but it feels like the marathon is far from over and they’ve forgotten to provide the orange slices and jelly babies at the side of the road. How the heck do others do it? Can someone please throw me a jelly baby?”

[00:08:29] – Frankie
Hang on. *rustles*

[00:08:37] – Steve
We need to get Sarah’s address and send her some jelly babies.

[00:08:41] – Frankie
I need to do some Foley training because that was not a great sound effect! Apologies.

[00:08:47] – Steve
Oh, my God. I can really relate. I mean, I know we all can, right?

But there’s a bit of Sarah’s message where she says about all the business wellbeing blogs talking about meditating and getting up early and I remember when our kids were really little like yours are now Sarah, trying to meditate because I’d read that.

The funny thing is, right. I’m not a particularly stressed type of person. Quite chilled, really. Kind of quite happy to go with the flow. The first time in my life I really felt stressed was when I tried to meditate around children! I would get so annoyed that they would interrupt me to put on another Peppa Pig while my meditation was still going, even if I just picked a ten minute one. Couldn’t possibly get through that. Oh, my gosh, it annoyed me so much.

[00:09:37] – Frankie
I mean, yeah, I don’t want to be down on meditation. My mum is literally a yoga teacher. I’ve grown up meditating. There are huge benefits to meditation, for sure, but yeah, stuff like that where you get advice about doing things that just are not possible for your life right now, is so frustrating. And that’s literally why Doing It For The Kids exists!

Because I had these babies and I was talking to all these people and listening to podcasts and reading books and blog posts about how to run a business, and I basically read all of them and wanted to scream, “What the fuck?” Like, “How am I supposed to do any of this if you’ve got kids??”

Yeah, so I would avoid any, as she puts it, ‘normal’ business content. At this point, if you’re reading or consuming that stuff and it’s telling you to do things and it makes you ragey, like, that was my response. It just made me ragey. I was just like, “I can’t fucking do that. Don’t tell me to do that. That’s just not possible”. Yeah, like, try and avoid that stuff because that all feeds into your exhaustion.

Feeling like you should be doing X-Y-Z when it’s just not possible in this phase in your life. Like, that just makes you emotionally exhausted.

[00:10:39] – Frankie
It feels to me that Sarah needs to boil down her life.

Okay, so, like, what are the things she has to do on the money front? And then beyond that, I would literally prioritise rest. Fuck everything else. Fuck the pile of clothes that are dirty. Fuck the dishes. How many times am I going to say fuck? Don’t know.

Like, at the moment, I’m not as deep in it as you are right now, Sarah but I’m not on top of my life in the way I would like to be. And every time I go for a wee at the moment, I just see other people’s poo in my toilet bowl and it’s pissing me off.

But also…

Steve’s now losing it. It’s true!

[00:11:34] – Steve
Do you know what? The other day I brought our son in and I went, “Dude, if you’ve done something brown, turn around and just look down. After all, what’s the rush? Grab yourself a toilet brush”.

And he looked at me and said, “Did you just make that up?” I said “Yeah”. And he went, “That’s really good!” Grabbed the toilet brush, scrubbed away. DONE.

[00:11:58] – Frankie
You need to go into children’s TV. That’s amazing.

But my point is, my toilet is dirty and normally in a week where I might feel more on top of it, I would be on that, like, really quickly. But at the moment I am prioritising rest. I would rather sit down on the sofa when the kids are at school and they’re not here, than clean my toilet. I would rather go to bed at 9:30pm than clean my toilet. And it upsets me that every time I go for a wee, I’m seeing other people’s excrement but… you hear what I’m saying?

[00:12:33] – Steve
Yeah, no. I very much agree. I want to move away from the visual of the excrement.

So, often as well, when it comes towards bedtime or whatever, going to bed, you could end up scrolling and scrolling and scrolling on Instagram, for example, and then, like, 15 minutes later you could say, “What the frick have I done? I could have been in bed asleep”.

[00:12:56] – Frankie
15 minutes, how about an hour?

[00:12:57] – Steve
Yes. OK, that is such an utter waste of time.

[00:13:01] – Frankie
But I also know I do that because there are so few hours in my day for myself, where I can not be doing something for somebody else, whether that’s a client or my partner or my kids.

So in that window of time where my children are asleep before the small one wakes up and before I go to bed, yeah… I’m consuming pointless shit because it makes me feel like I’m doing something for my… God, my voice is breaking! I’m not going to cry, I’ve just got something in my throat!

Yeah, I’m doing something on my own terms, you know? And then that ten minutes quickly can become an hour, because there’s no other time in my day where I’m not caring for somebody. So yes, I prioritise rest, prioritise sleep. But I get why we fall into that trap of, when we do have the opportunity to sleep, not doing it!

[00:13:59] – Steve

[00:14:02] – Frankie
She’s saying family support has dropped off for whatever reason, I think partly through the pandemic, not sure. But can Sarah ask for help from other people? Are there other people in her life who can help her make time for that rest?

[00:14:17] – Steve
Yes. And maybe it’s a while since we’ve said it, but that thing of finding other parents or self-employed parents where you can swap kids.

As in, if you’ve got a two and a four year old — if you take another two and a four year old into your house, it almost isn’t that much hard work because they play together, hopefully. But it’s not that much more intense for those 3 hours where they’re in your house playing together right? And then you swap, you do like a hostage exchange and hand all four over to the other parent and they have them in the afternoon and then you have a bit of time to yourself.

I remember doing things like that when we had younger kids. Like, we don’t have any family around to help out. But I remember really valuing those relationships which I made, where we could do that, where I’d spotted it and I’d suggested it and where it worked.

I think a lot of it is all, I mean… A lot of advice in life in general is all relative, isn’t it? So what real ‘restful rest’ looks like to you is going to be very different to somebody else.

[00:15:30] – Steve
You need to sort of become okay, I think, with what it is like for you. Just as we can be sort of jealous of somebody else’s life on Instagram or wherever, or just in real life, seemingly what they have. It can be like that with the amount of rest that they seem to get or the amount of work that they get done and it’s not helpful. And so I think you need to figure out what that is for you and therefore not beat yourself up when you don’t feel like you’re getting it.

[00:16:01] – Frankie
Rest is different to different people, like you just said. But also, what does rest look like at this phase in your life? Because even comparing what rest looked like in your own life five years ago is going to be damaging for you.

Maybe you need to think about what rest looks like now and try and aim for that? Because when my children were… It wouldn’t have been two and four, it would have been three and one or two and five… I didn’t have a lot of child care. I had one and a half days a week or something like that and I worked three or four nights a week on client work because I had no other time in the week to do that.

So my definition of rest at that stage in my life would have been going to bed at 11pm rather than 1am. That’s a realistic goal for you. And that sounds mad to people who aren’t in it, but like, that is a positive change.

[00:16:55] – Steve
This feels like a more philosophical over-a-pint episode rather than the last one, which was super helpful and full of actionable points. But ultimately what we seem to keep coming back to is prioritising rest, whatever that may be. Cutting yourself some slack.

[00:17:14] – Frankie
At the end you say, “Wow the heck do others do it?”

Do others do it?! I don’t know many other parents at that phase running their own businesses who are ‘rested’, unless they’ve got serious cash and a lot of like nanny support or a lot of grandparents support, otherwise they’re fucking knackered like you are.

And I think we’ve talked about this in many, many episodes of this podcast for obvious reasons. But Steve is now in a very different phase of life with his kids than you are. I’m already kind of on the cusp of moving out of that phase that you’re in, Sarah.

So, how the heck do others do it? Don’t compare yourself to people in different points of that journey because yeah, that’s going to destroy you. That’s going to destroy you. I would ask yourself, “Are others doing it or is that just a fallacy?”

Yeah, now we are getting philosophical, Steve.

What is rest? What is life?

[00:18:09] – Steve
Sarah I… feel your pain.

[00:18:15] – Frankie
I feel exhausted after this episode.

What would your advice be?

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