Lisa Canning is a parenting, lifestyle and interior design expert who helps moms arrange their lives around what matters most. She's the mother of seven (with an eighth baby on the way). A parishioner of the Archdiocese of Toronto, Lisa's book, The Possibility Mom, hit bookshelves on July 16. In the below post, Lisa gives an overview of her approach to work-life balance.
1. What does "The Possibility Mom" mean? A possibility mom is a mom who isn't afraid of looking for other options when it comes to pursuing her dreams and being a great mom at the same time. I think far too often, we think success, or the pursuit of work-life balance, needs to be a certain way – possibly influenced by our parents, by our teachers, by friends or by ourselves. But what if success could look totally different? What if you could do things that work for you, and your unique family, but might look different, or undesirable to others? I think a possibility mom is also someone who is constantly asking what is God's design for her life. What is God's version of success for you? A possibility mom is not afraid to take the necessary time, steps, quiet and patience to listen to His voice and really hear what He wants. And a possibility mom is one who takes action on His plan, even though it might be scary.
2. Can moms "have it all?" Do you think that having it all means something different for dads, in your experience? I 100 per cent believe a mom can "have it all" but she cannot do it all herself. Here's what I mean: I believe a mom can live out her vocation as a loving wife, live out her vocation as a present mom, pursue the passions God has placed in her heart whether they bring her to an office, a volunteer position or focused on her home, but if she is to do this all with success, she cannot do it all by herself. For example, if a mom is going to work in some capacity outside of the home and dinner needs to be on the table for her family at 6 p.m., how does this successfully happen? Does she ensure she leaves the office by 4 p.m., so she can pick up children at 4:30 p.m. and prepare a meal ready for 6 p.m.? Or does she prepare dinner in a slow cooker in the morning so there is no work when she gets home? Or does she enlist the help of a nanny, or other domestic help, to have dinner prepared for her when she arrives? I bring this up because everything comes at a cost. There is a cost to our energy when we work, there is a cost to our energy when we are juggling a baby on our hip and cooking dinner and it's important that we are cognizant that energy is a finite resource. It's important we recognize this, so we use our energy in the areas that matter most and find creative ways to delegate (or even delete) the rest. I truthfully think the exact same thing applies to dads. I think that in our current culture, moms traditionally bear more of the "mental load" of parenting: they keep track of many things that other people might not even observe – and to me that is not necessarily a bad thing. I do think that there is a difference in the way men and women have been designed and this is just a part of that difference. But I think a dad who wants a great marriage, and a great relationship with his kids, and feel fulfilled in the work he does outside of the home, and does not want to feel guilty and burned out all the time, needs to examine the way he spends his energy as well. 3. In your book, you write about limiting beliefs that moms have. Can you describe what those are and how moms can overcome them?
Limiting beliefs are anything that stops your movement towards a goal. The best way to identify these limiting beliefs is to examine anytime you use the phrase, "I could never do that because…" For example, perhaps you want to start a blog, but you catch yourself saying to yourself, "I could never do that because I have no time." And then I would challenge this mom to examine:
1) Is this really true?
2) Is this only true right now, will it be this way forever?
To unpack this example, I would ask this mom if it was really true if she had no time and ask her if there were current activities that she could either reduce, or eliminate, in order to pursue her goal of writing a blog. I think if we all look hard enough, and are honest enough with ourselves, we can find pockets of time that could be spent doing more worthy things. 4. How does viewing parenthood through the lens of vocation impact the conversation? God's design for our life is the best design. He has showed this to me time and time again in my own life, with soon to be eight children! Children are a gift, and parenting them well is our duty, our call and our vocation. Therefore, it cannot come as a "second class" activity after our career or other pursuits. We need to pursue the vocation of parenthood with the same excellence, and the same commitment, we do in our careers. 5. Do you have any tips for moms who feel they can't redesign their life in a balanced way, due to financial pressure? We must trust God with every single detail of our lives, including financial. There have been MANY times in my life where I have felt the pressure of finances and I felt tempted to allow this pressure to stop any pursuit of a more balanced life. But what I would suggest to anyone who feels this pressure, is to first entrust this burden to God. Pray that He give you a heart of surrender when it comes to your finances and show you the path that makes the most sense. The second thing I would suggest, is to view the stewardship of your finances as empowering. If you would like to afford a babysitter so you and your husband can go on a weekly date night, how can you reallocate your available funds in a way that would make this possible? Or can you trade babysitting hours with a neighbour, or friend, and give them a night off when they need it? But really, I think everything needs to begin with a surrender to God and ask Him to show you what IS possible, as opposed to what is not. 6. Anything else you want to add? There was a time when I thought having children would be the death of my dreams. But for me, it quite literally was the birth of them. When I began my career in television and interior design, I was told in basically these words: that having children (never mind eight children) would be career suicide. For a long time, I really struggled to reconcile the two roles – career woman and mom. I became desperate to prove you could do both well – and the result was years and years of exhaustion, trying to copy other people in my profession, trying to copy all the "good moms" I saw, never having the confidence or courage to chart my own course and do things entirely differently when it came to the balance of family and other priorities. It took me the near utter breakdown of my health, and dare I say my marriage, to realize that there had to be another way. That success could be defined in a way that is unique to every mom – whether that uniqueness is working in an office, being home full-time, working part-time when kids are in school or some other wild and incredible adventure. It's your life. You get to define it for yourself and your family. You get to write your own story. And it can be better, wilder and more beautiful than you ever thought possible. And for me, that includes this beautiful group of little people I have been entrusted by God to care for. You CAN be a great mom, and pursue your dreams at the same time, and when we invite God into all aspects of our life, anything is possible.