We’re celebrating mothers this month with stories from mothers of all walks of life. Jules and her husband Daniel are friends from university days and its been so amazing to follow her journey of being a mom to one, then two, and now three girls while running a passion project that grew into a business! When I visited them I remember she also spoke very passionately about wanting to advocate ‘abundant motherhood’ from her own experience and it only made sense to have her share a few nuggets of wisdom this month. The following words are by Jules Ong, Founder of Stories of Play.
When I first became a mum, I was honestly happy to “just be mum”. It was a lifelong dream, and I assumed I’d simply be a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom)/ homeschooling mum for the rest of my life. I’ve always been great with kids and I was born for this I told myself. Plus I was a qualified early childhood teacher after all and had years of experience dealing with children of all ages.
But the hard reality was my first year of motherhood was incredibly challenging, lonely and isolating, to the point where I felt like I lost a huge part of my identity and struggled to find the person I was before mum. It didn’t help that the general consensus and stories I heard about this season of motherhood with littles was always of mums putting their lives and dreams on hold for their families and being told to “hang in there and it too shall pass”.
And so I bought into the lie that this feeling of not recognising yourself, constantly feeling like you’re hanging by a thread and barely holding it all together is part and parcel of the incredible sacrifice and rite of passage that all mums have to make in our journey of motherhood.
To tell you the truth, I really hated hearing that.
This was NOT the motherhood I wanted and envisioned for myself. This was NOT the motherhood that I believe God had in mind when he first created motherhood.
The turning point for me came when I “randomly” came across the work of this particular Christian mum entrepreneur one night and she shared that she believed in John 10:10, that we are all called to abundant life and that mums aren’t excluded from that promise. That lit a fire in my soul and did something within me, encouraging me to dare to dream again and to weave my dream with my motherhood, rather than let my motherhood be the excuse for why I cannot dream for a season or why I cannot have an impact in the lives of others.
And that’s how I actually came to start my Instagram account ‘Stories of Play’ back in 2016. I needed to and resolved to do something that’s just for ME, something that I loved – sharing about my passion for play in the early years and connecting with other mums on the same journey that I was.
I couldn’t have imagined how that seemingly small decision then to do something for me, would eventually grow into a beautiful community of like-minded parents, and continue to grow into this business that I now have where I get to help parents be more intentional and present with their children, reach their fullest potential and advocate for the power of play in the early years, impacting families whilst contributing to our own household income.
Being a play and parenting coach whilst being a full time SAHM, homeschooling mum, and having no helper is no easy feat. I’m not the supermom that many think I am but I’ve definitely learnt a thing or two along the way and here are three things I’d love to share with you when it comes to juggling motherhood and business.
1. Your journey is YOUR journey. Don’t compare.
You might have to juggle school drop off and pick up or you might have to juggle having kids 24/7 like I do. Being a mum entrepreneur working around kids at home, I’ve learnt to not compare my journey to other entrepreneurs or even other mum-entrepreneurs, because we all have such different life circumstances and priorities.
For me personally, I work in 10-15 minute bursts during the day while my children play around me independently. I also work around their nap schedules. But the main bulk of my work gets done between the couple of hours of uninterrupted kid-free time I have between the kids’ bedtime and mine. I might take a longer route than others but that’s ok. It’s my journey.
2. The little things add up. Keep chipping away.
It’s easy to look at life with littles and think it’s impossible to accomplish anything with clingy children, endless night wakings, and children who cat-naps. The truth is, we often overestimate what we can achieve in a day, but underestimate what we can achieve in a year. I built my business in the margins and leftovers of the day, in between sleep-settlings, nappy changes, play times and feeding. You can too!
3. You can’t, and don’t have to do it all.
The mama who does it all is a unicorn. She doesn’t exist.
The truth is having a work-life balance is also a mythical creature. It’s simply that in different seasons of your life, on different days, you give weight and priority to some things over the others. Some days your children will need more of you and that’s ok. Some days your business will need more of you and that’s ok. Some days you just need to focus on YOU and that’s more than ok.
I’m incredibly thankful to have an amazing and supportive husband who steps up during times when my business needs more of me to take on more parenting and housekeeping responsibilities, but even then, some days we have to be ok with overflowing laundry and dishes.
If I ever seem to do it all, it’s only because I’m really not doing it all.
Being a SAHM is not a season that you need to “hang in there” and “this too shall pass”. It’s hard, it’s challenging, make no doubt about that, but it can and should be abundant life and life to the full.
About Jules Ong.
Jules Ong is a preschool teacher turned SAHM to 3 girls under 4, a play parenting coach and founder of Stories of Play. Through her online courses and membership, she teaches parents how to effectively connect with their children through play, engage in self-directed play and foster a love for learning. Jules, her husband Daniel, and their children are currently based in Perth Australia.