Struggling in silence is a common experience for many moms, who may feel overwhelmed but don’t know where to turn. This happened to Laura Hutchinson, who ended up in a “very dark place” for more than a year until a critical decision helped pull her out of the abyss and push her towards an unexpected journey that changed her life. I am a working mom who wants to share her inspiring story, so others can learn from her mistakes as well as her ability to triumph over adversity.
Laura is known and loved by thousands who follow her decluttering advice on her YouTube channel called “How to get your Shit Together.” But she went through a tough time when she didn’t have hers together at all.
“Before my daughter came along, I had my legal career, and I had my home. I was married, and in my head I was set for life,” Laura explained. “I had all of the things, and she came along and my world just kind of turned upside down — in a great way but also in a way that I very much struggled with because I lost my identity as a person, as an individual.”
After her daughter was born, Laura wanted to go back full-time to her career as a lawyer in her native Ireland but her parenting struggles changed her plans. “I continued to practice for a short while, and then I took a year off — so that I could focus on raising her,” Laura recalled.”During that year I suffered from postpartum depression, so it was about a year and a half of just awfulness.”
Laura had a very hard time coping with leaving her job, facing the demands of motherhood, dealing with exhaustion and confronting perfectionism. “There are certain things that back then I just couldn’t do, (like) going to a playground,” Laura recalled. “For me, just the amount of effort involved in that… my head just wasn’t in the right place to do things like that. Getting out of the house was very, very difficult. In my head I had this image that I needed to be the perfect mother, and I needed to stay home with her all the time and cook and bake and craft and all of those things that I just wasn’t good at.”
At the time Laura didn’t realize she was suffering from postpartum depression and didn’t reach out for help from anyone. “I didn’t get help,” Laura admits. “I didn’t speak to anyone. Obviously certain people in my life recognized that something was not right.”
Laura’s silent struggle with postpartum depression could have become out of control and turn catastrophic for her and her family. Her husband tried desperately to help, but Laura resisted because of her mom guilt.
“He had recommended that we get some form of child care, somebody who could maybe come over for two or three hours and help out,” Laura noted. “I pushed against that for a long time because I didn’t want anyone else stepping in. I felt like this is my job. I felt guilty about letting someone else take my job. Eventually we did get that child care, and she did just a few hours a week for us. And that was the beginning for me of realizing that I could let go some of the control and some of that mental anguish — just a short break, just for me.”
Laura’s critical decision to let someone watch her daughter, so she could take a break, wasn’t just a lifesaver; it gave her time to develop a creative side that changed the course of her life. “I’ve always loved to write, so it was kind of natural for me to do that and to write down my thoughts and ideas and what was working for me and what wasn’t working for me,” Laura explained.
She decided to share those thoughts publicly in a blog, which began to help others who were confronting the same demons and struggling with mental illness. “I started the blog just as a way of almost like getting back some of my mental health,” Laura noted. “I mean that was something that was just for me, and it just took off. I wasn’t expecting it. For me it was just a creative outlet at the time, but it grew into this huge thing.”
Laura’s blog became more popular as she revealed her new goal to organize her house, eventually adopting the Konmari method to get rid of anything that didn’t spark joy, which became popular after the release of the book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by author and organization expert Marie Kondo.
“A lot of the blog was about regaining that control,” Laura revealed. “The Konmari thing was what turned it around for me, just decluttering and feeling like I had control over at least one part of my life.”
After Laura became a successful mommy blogger, it spawned a YouTube channel and an online course on becoming more productive and efficient. It became Laura’s new career — one she didn’t have to quit when her husband was transferred from their native Ireland to the United States. Within five years, she was earning as much as she did as a lawyer, yet it took her a long time to tell people about her career change.
“It’s actually only recently, I’ll be honest, that I stopped calling myself a lawyer,” she admits. “For a long time I still told people I was a lawyer, because I think that kind of feels like a step down. To go from a lawyer, a high-flying career, a traditional, well-respected, well-paying job — to go from that to blogging, for most people that seems like a huge step down. And I think I struggled with what other people would think of that. I thought other people would see me as a failure, and because I already felt like that as a mother, I did not want to put myself through that again in another area of my life. So for a long time, to be perfectly honest, I still called myself a lawyer. And it’s only now that I’m five years into it do I tell people I’m a blogger and YouTuber.”
Now Laura cautions other working moms to avoid the pitfalls that almost destroyed her life by allowing others to help them and by focusing at least some time on something separate from motherhood.
“To be honest that time is a blur,” Laura notes. “I don’t remember too much from it, but I do remember eventually starting to come out the other side realizing that I needed to do something that was just for me, realizing that I needed to get some help. Getting help even just on a very small scale opens up your eyes to how much you’re struggling and how easy it is to let go of some of that burden. So I would say start very small. Get someone in to help. I mean even if you can’t afford it, get a family friend or somebody who can just come over and watch the kids for a few minutes, so you can take a shower.”
That kind of help and support is what motivates Laura and me to produce videos and blogs to inspire other working moms to conquer your challenges and recognize you are enough.
You can check out other mom hacks and stories of inspiration from my Working Mom Warrior channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxg1_TTFJHgJhNh5ad2vnAA
You can check out ways to reduce clutter and productivity hacks from Laura’s “How to get your Shit Together” channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVayab-DPGQGRwnOe6CZrrw
Have you ever suffered from lack of energy or mom depression?
What helped you?
Please share your tips in the comments.
Here is the link to the video version of this story about Laura Hutchinson:
— Diane Moca
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