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10 tips for thriving in a fantastic mess

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Exercise Physiologist, business owner, mum of three under four and HerCanberra ACTIVE Expert Panel member Kirra Rankin gives us her tips so you can thrive in 2020.

Juggling three kids under four and running a growing business is a “fantastic mess”.

Fantastic one moment—a mess the next. And I’m ok with that. I think that’s where the magic happens—being ok with “the mess” and knowing it’s going to swing back around any minute.

However, I haven’t always had this mindset. It’s something I’ve worked hard on—and continue to do so.

In my heart, I’m just a little Brissie girl, whose main focus is on her friends, living a fun carefree life, and rarely brushing her sun-kissed hair.

In reality, I’m a newly 40-year-old who now has a hard-headed-strong-willed four-year-old who isn’t grasping the whole “gratitude movement”; a kind, funny two-year-old who goes out of his way to pinch you and hug you at the same time; and a six-month-old, who just wants to be held and wants quiet time in the rocking chair while having a relaxing feed (ummm—good luck kid!).

Kirra Rankin. Photo: Tim Bean Photography.

Juggling all of this at home, managing 12 beautiful staff and overseeing hundreds of committed patients is a fantastic mess. Everyone has individual needs and wants to develop in their own way. I need to be on top of their goals and their vision while looking after my business’s future and mission.

This little Brissie girl now needs to understand people management and leadership skills, booking gateway systems, programming, social media and digital marketing, accounting software, time management strategies and staying “calm in the chaos”.

I’m no expert. I’ve only been in business for 23 years.

I’m no expert. I’ve only been a mum for four years.

But I have some magic to share; which has helped me be ok in a “fantastic mess”.

If you’ve always wanted to own a business and be a parent at the same time, here are my top 10 tips to thriving in a fantastic mess.


Now, of course, I’m going to have exercise first on my priority list…I’m an Exercise Physiologist.

Although, saying that, I’m still in my Zebra PJ’s and it’s 10 am on a Saturday!

Park Run was cancelled due to the heavy smoke, so I’ve taken the opportunity to have a slow morning while my baby sleeps. But this point is important—be FLEXIBLE with your exercise routine. Don’t beat yourself up about not getting a sweat session in. I’ll fit in some exercise later this afternoon.

Once my workout shoes are on, yoga mat is down, dumbbells are out and the swiss ball is in reach—it’s my time to shine. I may be squatting with kids on my back, or doing my push-ups with a baby on the mat, but I’ll never miss a day without a ‘sweat-inducing workout’.

My week usually incorporates running, hiking with a six-month-old (8kgs resistance), backpack hiking with 2-year-old (20kg resistance), pram walking, yoga on the TV (unless I can sneak in a class at Power Yoga Canberra), dumbbell circuit, Hydrolates (pilates in the water), and Deep Water Running.

Find what you enjoy, and stick to it.


I have my five-point morning routine checklist written down on a whiteboard for my whole family to see.

If my family supports me, it makes it easier to fit it in and not get the ‘Mummy guilts’. It’s also good for my kids to see me looking after myself and when I meet with my team at work and talk about ‘work-life balance’, I’m not being a hypocrite.

Even if I’ve been feeding every two hours, I don’t miss my Morning Routine. It’s vital for my family, and my team at work, so I’m fresh, present and happy.

Find what routine works for you—here’s my magic:

  1. Cold-hot-cold shower with 10 breaths on each different temperature
  2. 2-10 minute meditation (depending on time!)
  3. Hot lemon drink in my favourite mug
  4. 14-hour Intermittent Fasting (3-4 days a week)
  5. Prebiotic green smoothie

All so easy and achievable in the fantastic mess.


I’m an ordered person. I love labelling and highlighting (you should see my kids wardrobes!) and everything has its place.

With the crazy dynamic at home, there’s no way I can fully control the “fantastic mess”—BUT, I can go out of my way to have the kitchen bench clean.

It’s good for the kids to learn order, and looking after your home. I always explain to them: “if you look after the little things in life, like making your bed and keeping the kitchen clean, then the big things will take care of themselves”. Eg; you’ll be able to manage a team of 12 staff, without having a mental breakdown.


Every night I check in with my hubby on how we could have managed certain situations better.

As long as 80% of the day has been fun and rewarding, then the other 20% can wash away. Tomorrow’s another day.

FINDING YOUR ‘calm in the chaos’

Sticking to a mantra that’s is catchy, short and sharp is vital: “I’m ok” works for me.

Do you have a mantra? When something unexpected pops up at work that is out of my control, I can deal with it well if I’m calm.

“I am ok”. Repeat…


Every Sunday night I look at my diary for the next two weeks to make sure I’m not overcommitting.

My priorities are my fitness routine and my business. Some will say “shouldn’t your family be first?” But if I’m not looking after MY soul, and MY mental health—and if I’m not looking after my business—my family will suffer in the long run. My husband understands this and picks up the parenting pieces when needed.


I never used to be picky with whom I hung out. Now that time is limited & I’ve realised I’m an Introverted Extrovert. I strategically only keep those around me who are supportive, reliable, and make the same effort I do to keep the friendship alive.

Having close mates who understand your “fantastic mess” is crucial for me and having mates with no kids is something I treasure too.


I have a wonderful reception team and manager who try to only come to me when it’s urgent, as they know how hard it is being a mum of three littlies. But my team also know I’ll be there in a flash if necessary.

I try really hard to not have my phone around my little ones and weekends are a phone detox time—I’m in the middle of making a shelf at the entry saying “LEAVE DEVICES AND EGOS AT THE DOOR”.

It’s my one pet hate: people looking at their phones while having a conversation with you. Don’t get me started on this topic!

We have a no phones on pool deck policy at work too (unless you’re taking footage for Capital Hydrotherapy’s social media!).

I want our patients to know we are 100% committed to their health and wellness goals, and we aren’t distracted by our own personal problems.


I have regular alignment catch-ups with my team to check in on their work-life balance. They fill out a two-page form, and score their ‘happiness level’ out of 10 for themselves and how they think the team is feeling. It’s gold.

As a health practitioner, many of us suffer from what we call ‘Empathy Exhaustion Syndrome’.  My role as a business owner is to make sure everyone is looking after themselves.  It’s the best part of my job.


I love bringing my kids into Capital Hydrotherapy (preferably just one at a time when it fits!).

Having my kids see me at work is great role modelling for them—they can see I’m not just the Mummy that cleans up the toilet training toddler’s mess, or makes them brush their teeth, or is strict about bedtime routines, and or explains manners at the dinner table.

I’m also the Mummy that loves being at work, is happy and engaged and has dreams and a long-term vision. Not just a Mum who is still in her Zebra PJ’s at 11.15 am on a Saturday. Ahhhh, juggling the “fantastic mess” really is fantastic isn’t it? That really is where the magic happens—being ok with “the mess”.

How do you juggle your “fantastic mess”?

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