Freeing Yourself From Other Moms’ Judgements

 

What you’ll learn in this article: Learn the three reasons people are so judgemental.  Why moms can be so intense.  A powerful perspective to help release the power of others’ opinions, and a technique you can use every time someone (unhelpfully) lets you know what they think without you giving them permission.  Oh, and a short blurb on how to politely decline “feedback” from someone.

Let’s Get Started!

Today on the Great Maternity Leave I wanted to offer some life coaching that I do with clients.  But more importantly, this was an important area for development for myself as I went through my own coach training & personal transformation during my first maternity leave.

This post today is about helping you break free from giving other people power over you.  It is about breaking free from the powerful pressures of conformity.  It is not letting your voice or your unique style be shut down.  It is about no longer being afraid to strike out on your own path and to respectfully decline to take in another person’s judgement.

 

THIS IS WHAT DAY TO DAY LIFE IS LIKE

 

You are walking along a path.  Along the path, hundreds of people are standing, giving you their opinions of where you should step on the path, how you should do it, how far you should travel, what you should be afraid of, what might happen, what might go wrong, their own advice, what you should wear, trying to give you goods to carry, saddling you with extra baggage.  etc. etc.

IMG_1672.JPG

 

There are two options.  You could smile politely at them and ignore them, continue walking, enjoying your path, light and unburdened.  Or you could keep stopping, and letting those people load your arms up with more stuff, load your mind up with their fears, their doubts, and take on their opinions.

In the process, you lose track of what path you were on, become confused, and start doubting your journey.  Eventually you can’t even remember the destination.  You are going around in circles, surrounded by people trying to have their voice heard.  I’d imagine it’s like being a celebrity in a media scrum on the red carpet.  Hey! You!  Listen to me! NO! ME!  Turn this way!

 

When it comes to us in this motherhood journey, THIS happens.

SO MUCH.

 

When we open ourselves up to others, we inevitably open ourselves up to (their) opinions and judgements.

I also believe that opinions are so intense on the motherhood journey because (most) of them come from a place of love, and moms are very passionate about children and babies.   Vereeeee passionate.

But really, this post deals with any type of judgement.

 

THE 3 REASONS PEOPLE ARE JUDGY:

1.)  Because some people think that “communication” and “conversation” means giving and receiving advice rather than just listening and only offering advice if it is asked for.

2.) Many people spend their entire day in a state of judgement, assessing what others are doing, talking about others. It becomes a habitual way of thinking, perhaps started in early age.  It becomes a sport for these people.

3.)  If a person does not have growth, aspirations, and excitement in their own lives, they focus on what is going on in others’ lives.

Think about playing in the park with your child.  If you are busy running around the equipment, engaged with them, you have no time or interest for judging.  Your focus is in the present moment.

But the person sitting on the bench watching what you are doing is not engaged and busy.  Their focus is turned outward to what other people are doing.

IMG_1676.JPG

**But we have ALL been there, sitting on the bench, quietly watching another parent playing with their child and silently coming up with judgements.  We are not perfect.  It is an active effort and commitment not to live in that place.

 

MY GOAL WITH THIS POST TODAY:

With a baby, we are asking for advice and discussing parenthood quite frequently, so the doors are wide open. And I am sure you will agree that the judgements come rolling in, whether you gave permission or not.  

 

I want to help you become confident and strong in the face of those judgements that come in via words, the grapevine, a comment on your facebook or a “look ” you get at the park.  I’ll discuss some perspectives that help + some strategies.

 

The Chef in the Kitchen Example.

IMG_1673.JPG

You are your own best expert.  You have spent 24/7 around your child.  You know every nuance of their behaviour and know their soul. You created and housed their body.  You instinctively and intellectually know their needs. When somebody gives you unwelcome advice or judgements, think of it this way:

It is like they are at a restaurant, then walk into the kitchen and tell the chef how to make his or her own meals.  That sounds crazy doesn’t it?

So does adopting another person’s views of how you should be a mother / wife / woman.

 

We Have Been Trained to Dispense & Accept Judgements Since a Young Age

In school, we (ideally) develop critical thought and hone in on our ability to choose from multiple sources of information, assess each one for evidence & applicability, and then select the information that sits with us best.

Choose. Assess. Select.

We are doing this fairly competently by our 20s.  Especially if we are in post-secondary education.

So why aren’t we able to do this with people’s unhelpful judgements?  Why do we keep taking it personally?   

They hold a lot of power over us, because from an early age we were trained to care what people thought of us.  We were told what to be, how to act, who to be, how to talk, how to think, even sometimes what degree we should pursue. We were trained to depend on other peoples’ judgements of us.  If you did what people wanted you to do, you were good.

If you did not do what people wanted you to do, you were bad.

It takes a long time to unravel that thinking pattern and it is a constant process.  

You will always have to work at it.  But here are some tools that will help.  

 

 

THE BOOK-UNDER-THE-ARM TECHNIQUE:

Imagine that everybody is walking with a thick book under their arm at ALL times.  Seriously, for the rest of the day, I want you to imagine that book is right there, under each person’s arms.

And when they begin to talk to you, they pull that book out from under their arm and turn to a chapter and begin referencing it.  Let your minds’ eye see them doing that.

Wtf, Carina. 

Let me explain now:

Imagine your child is totally melting down and they just offered their (rather unhelpful) opinion on the situation and your parenting.

When that person begins to offer their “opinion” or “judgement” what they are doing, is opening their own life book and referencing their own chapter on that topic.

How did they write their own chapter on a child having a tantrum & what to do:

-The unique family & family culture that they grew up within.

-The unique decade, year, sociopolitical situation, geographical location, country they grew up within.

-The unique culture that they come from.

-How they saw others in their generation dealing with tantrums.

-How they remember being dealt with during a tantrum.

-Their educational background (degree, school system.)

-The unique view of gender roles that they have (by family, culture, etc.)

-The parenting methods that were popular at their time + the few books out of the 100s out there that they happened to read.

 

Wow.  You are different from them on every single one of these points, right?  

Here’s an image to nail this point home.

 

 

IMG_1679

This lady comes from a totally unique, different reference point and perspective from you.

So why would you want to follow HER chapter in HER book? Why would you let her have so much power over you?  Even if she is a friend or a family member?

 

You’ve already got your own book to reference and it applies to your life much better than someone else’s book.

 

Remember, it is up to you to give permission to someone to make their judgement. They cannot offer it if you do not give them permission.

“Thanks ,but I’ve got a system that is working great for me right now, let’s chat about something else.” 

And if it comes out of them before you can stop it, just let it wash over you with the above techniques and perspectives.

 

xo

 

Carina

 

 

 

How to Get the Most out of Your Prenatal or Post-Partum Massage

Why you should read this:  Receive far greater benefits at your next massage and shift from passive recipient to (somewhat) active participant.   I talk about going beyond the surface level benefits of massage: muscle & mental relaxation and how to access deeper benefits like addressing injury and emotions.

Reading time:  Less than 3 minutes

I just sat down in my local coffee shop after a wonderful massage at our local pre & post natal health clinic.  Having a massage is a regular practice on maternity leave.  (Note I didn’t use the words indulgence or treat.)   With the word practice comes a kind of sacred space, or commitment.  It is a mindful way to acknowledge what we need, and need regularly.  I don’t know about you – but I need massage regularly. I book it into my calendar as a standing monthly appointment.

The RMT I keep returning to has this inexplicable energy to her.  Her massages are consistently the best I’ve received.

Today I was in a chatty mood (usually I’m semi conscious and drooling) and our conversation got onto her Reiki training and energy work.  She’s an intuitive. An energy person.  I love these people.  They have an extra level of consciousness and awareness to them.  Ah hah, I thought.  That’s why she’s so good. 

We began a deep discussion of her body work and energy training, and how people can truly benefit from massage.

What I learnt today is that you can be an active participant in massage, not just a passive (SUPER passive and drooly I may add!) recipient.  

EMOTIONS HAVE THEIR OWN STORAGE BOXES IN OUR BODIES

Yoga instructors and massage therapists both know that the body stores emotions, memories and experiences.  Have you ever been in a yoga class where one movement has set the brain off in a chatter?    Where a hip opener for some reason wanted to make you cry?  It’s because we all have collections of emotions, and each one of them has a storage area in our body.

Think of a closet jam packed with clothes.  Lots of little boxes crammed with scarves, handbags, piles of sweaters, etc.   Body work allows us to get into that closet, declutter and organize so we can easily access the things that benefit us and not get overwhelmed in the chaos.  That closet is our bodies, jam packed with piles of sweaters (perhaps sadness) and belts (perhaps resentment.)  What if we took everything out, took a good look at it, decided what to keep and what to toss, and then organized things?

This is exactly what body work can be if you silently participate in it.  Massage or Yoga can help you can access areas of your body, get it chattering so that you can assess what is happening, acknowledge what emotions are sitting in that that area of the body, and then make the decision to toss or keep.  

 

A SOMATIC COACHING TECHNIQUE FOR YOU

As an ontological coach I am trained in working with three different domains:  The mind, the body, and emotion.  In professional coaching we call our work in body domains”Somatics.” I want to incorporate a professional coaching technique here so that next time you get a massage or go to yoga, you can use this technique and become aware of what exactly you are storing in your body – then you can make the decision to let it go (if it is not helping you) or keep it (if it is serving you right now.)

As you get your massage just remain an observer of your thoughts.  When the therapist accesses an uncomfortable place, watch what thoughts come up.  What are they related to? is there a common pattern?

I’ve been experiencing a lot of headaches lately.  As the therapist got into the base of my skull and traps, my brain started chattering as I thought about blog post ideas and what business to-dos I have on my plate.That’s a lot of thoughts around “to dos” and “business.”

Then I thought about what the head traditionally represents.  Thought.  Thinking.  Analyzing.  Planning.  Yes.  I’ve been doing a ton of that lately.  When we overuse a part of our body, it fatigues, gets tired and sore.  Why wouldn’t I get a headache? Duh  

I once had a coaching client who had ridiculously strong legs but was suffering from shin splints and all sorts of injuries which she’d never encountered.  What do strong legs symbolize?  Strength, being grounded, being stable.  It turns out that the events in her life required her to constantly be strong, be grounded, and be stable amidst chaos around her. The domain of the legs.  And it showed up in the cells.

Another client.  So strong with upper body workouts, crazy strong shoulders.  Headaches as well from her traps.  What do the shoulders make you think about? What do we use them for? They carry weight.   The weight of the world perhaps?  This client certainly did. She was carrying a heavy weight of responsibility in her life and those emotions were stored in her shoulders.

Language that comes through the mouth is easy to understand; language that comes through the body is harder to understand, because it is so subtle and in a different language (tension, pain, twitching.)  We have to give it space to come through (the hardest thing to do, right?!  I’d rather just reach for an advil and call it a day.)  We have to sit with the discomfort and then understand its language by connecting it with what is going in our lives.

WHAT TO DO DURING YOUR APPOINTMENT

I will try  my damned best to write this without getting too woo-woo on you.  It’s not my style, either so bear with me.

As soon as you know you have accessed a place that has a lot of mental chatter, a place that has aches and pains, undertake a visualization exercise.

As the massage therapist was working on my head, and I explained to her that I’d had a lot of thoughts on my mind, she suggested a visualization.  As her hands moved up my temples she said to imagine the top of my head opening, like a lid opening on a kettle, and the steam coming out (the steam representing all of those thoughts and all of that mental energy.)

An alternative would be to imagine that there is a dark smudge on your skin where the massage therapist’s hands are.  As they move their hands over the sore spot, imagine that smudge being cleared away.  The key is to go with a natural image you get in your mind.

I’ve heard of other techniques that involve replacing a glowing red light with a blue or white light. That one didn’t resonate with me because it wasn’t my style.

You are doing this all in silence in the treatment room, or the yoga studio.

At yoga, hip openers kill me, I’ve cried before.  Clearly I hold grief in my hips.  The people that audibly moan when the teacher announces it’s a hip day – guess what, they totally have a crazy ass closet of  jumbled stuff in that hip space.  I can tell you that because I’m one of them.  Pigeon pose is the worst.  I’ve started thinking about all that crappy burning and bad energy and emotions flowing down my leg that is extended out behind me and out through my big toe into the mat.

Yup, it’s going into woo-woo territory.  lol.

 

But let me tell you this, I’m sitting here at my laptop with a clear head, thoughts flowing nicely and a lot of focus. My headache is gone and I’m feeling much less anxious.  My massage was only 30 minutes.  Usually I can only get to this place after a 60 minute massage or 90 minute yoga practice.

Try this technique out some time.  

This is your private little secret, because it all happens in your mind. Nobody has to know.  

What have you got to lose? 

 

You, my dear, are officially encouraged to go get a massage. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building a Business on Maternity Leave: Learning versus Doing

Why Read This:  If you struggle trying to find the balance between learning, reading, taking courses – and taking action – this post will help you focus & clarify.  Part of my series on building a business on Maternity Leave.

Reading Time:  3 min

 

The Internet in 2016 is VERY exciting.  It is possible to choose yourself, rather than wait for a company to “choose” you.  You can build a business off of being yourself; not change yourself to meet someone else’s expectations.

The Internet provides you with all of the information you need to build a business online.

Even while working full time or on maternity leave, you can at the very least build the foundations.

Here I am on my second maternity leave, building the foundations for my business(es) (yes I have a few – go big or go home, right?)

There are a Shit-Ton of Coaches out There:

What you will begin to notice, as soon as you start “liking” coach pages, or communities, or groups, is that there are TOO MANY TEACHERS AND NOT ENOUGH STUDENTS.

It is good money to get into the business of “teaching” others.  That is why everybody is some kind of “coach.”  And the thing is, anybody can research and develop their own curriculum.  I have completely self-taught myself how to build a business using a combination of podcasts, bloggers, facebook groups, pinterest and instagram, in that order.  It is also helpful to be a professionally trained coach because I have 2 weapons:  Knowledge and the ability to address obstacles.  

Knowledge is a big business.  People make big money off of collecting knowledge on the internet, reformatting it, and then selling it to you.    What I want to write about today though, is the caution you need to exercise.

Do Not Get Caught In The Knowledge Acquisition Trap

Every.Single.Resource you will come across as you build your business is not “free” – because they are trying to create an addiction in you – an addiction to acquiring more and more information.  It is so easy to keep reading books, keep learning, and not actually take action and do the hard work.  It’s why of 100 people in a course, 20 will actually launch successful businesses, and 80 will not.

I finished my professional coach training 1 year ago and I could have happily continued just “learning” and reading coaching material.  But the deepest learning, growth (and progress) happened in DOING IT.  Taking action. Forcing myself to jump in and work with clients and have my calls evaluated by an International Coaching Federation professional.

But knowledge acquisition is a super hard habit to kick, especially when EVERYBODY is throwing knowledge at you.  Much of it is free (as long as you give them your email, which is a way to get you engaged and create a potential paying customer out of you.)

I Did Take One Online Course… Once….

The only money I have shelled out is a one-time “building an online business” course run by Penelope Trunk.  She sold me on it. I loved her blog.  I spent $100 (!)  I did take information from the course but I also took this:  Holy shit: I can do a much better job than this.  I also realized that much of the knowledge is either common sense, or intuitive.  Most business owners know the information taught in these classes.  Most business owners do not take step #2:  Put it into practice.

 

Kick the Learning Addiction with Analysis:

So how do you kick the addiction to learning, the feeling that “I can’t do this until I learn to do that.”   “I need to know this before I can start that.” How do you separate and become the 20% of success stories?

You undertake an analysis to understand how much of your “to do list” is LEARNING and how much of your “to do list” is ACTION.

 

Here you can see an image of the current “To Do” list that is on my mind with my business:

TRAJECTORY COACHING TO-DOS

Lots to do, right?

 

Next, I need to analyze what is going on here.

WHICH are learning items?

WHICH are action items?  

**I highlighted the action items in orange.

 

TRAJECTORY COACHING TO-DOS (1)

Once you have done this, you can then address the balance.

LEARNING VERSUS ACTION:

What are action items I can take right now, that will get me closer to my goal?

Which learning items will have the most immediate impact on my business and how much time do I want to allocate to getting things done vs. learning.

 

Budget your Learning:

I make room for ONE new learning topic per day, to avoid information overwhelm and to avoid getting off track.  Today I learnt about using better hashtags on instagram.  That’s it.  That’s all.

Have an Information & Learning “Dumping Ground:”

If I come across other articles that pique my interest, I keep a “brain dump” board on Pinterest called COACHING where I save articles for later.    Learning is my candy – I LOVE IT and it is motivational.  But I’m addicted. So I need to partition it out as a reward.

I have future podcasts saved in my overcast app under “to listen.”  I have great infographics or web services I can used saved in my pinterest folder.  Great quotes or articles saved in Evernote.   I extract them from my memory and put them somewhere external, so I can dedicate my willpower and motivation to action items instead of learning.

Willpower is very finite (and quite variable) so every precious drop needs to be conserved for the more challenging aspect – getting shit done.

 

 

How to Workout at a Playground – Workouts for New Moms on Maternity Leave

 

As you may recall, I wrote about how I had an epiphany regarding the playground and getting more exercise into my life that costs a bit less than a CrossFit Membership (which I’ve had for FIVE years!)  I have recently temporarily given that membership up – I simply can’t afford it right now on maternity leave – so I’ve been forced to become creative.

I’m really excited to finally bring you a rundown of some of the things I do while my toddler plays at our local playground and my baby is hanging out in his stroller.

This workout took about 30 minutes – NOTHING needed –  and the beauty is, you can adjust the pace, level of intensity and reps to your own energy levels.  Some days I sit at the park on the bench and do not want to do anything – and some days I want to crush a workout.  Every day is different on maternity leave with a baby who may – or may not – sleep through the night.

So enjoy!

Building a Business on Maternity Leave: Know When to Stop Learning and Start Taking Action.

Why Read This:  If you struggle trying to find the balance between learning, reading, taking courses – and taking action – this post will help you focus & clarify.

This is part of my series on building a business while on Maternity Leave.

Reading Time:  3 min

The Internet in 2016 is VERY exciting.  It is possible to choose yourself, rather than wait for a company to “choose” you.  You can build a business based on being yourself, instead of  changing yourself to meet someone else’s expectations.

The Internet provides you with all of the information you need to build a business online. While working full time or on maternity leave, you can at the very least build the foundations.

Here I am on my second maternity leave, building the foundations for my business(es) (yes I have a few – go big or go home, right?)

Why There are a Shit-Ton of Coaches out There:

What you will begin to notice, as soon as you start “liking” coach pages, or communities, or groups, and start learning about building a business, is that there are TOO MANY TEACHERS AND NOT ENOUGH STUDENTS.

It is good money to get into the business of “teaching” others.  That is why everybody is some kind of “coach.”

The thing is, anybody can research and develop their own curriculum.  I have completely self-taught myself how to build a business using a combination of podcasts, bloggers, facebook groups, pinterest and instagram.

Knowledge is a big business.  People make big money off of collecting knowledge on the internet, reformatting it, and then selling it to you.    What I want to write about today though, is the caution you need to exercise.

Before you Pick a Coach or Take a “Course”

There are two elements you should receive from a good course:

1.) Knowledge and information.  Do they really know their stuff?

2.) Proper Coaching:  For example, do they provide you with the ability to address your own obstacles, how to tackle the demotivation, the head games you play, etc.

And Most Importantly:  Do Not Get Caught In The Knowledge Acquisition Trap

  1. Every.Single.Resource that you will come across as you build your business is not “free” – because they are trying to create an addiction in you – an addiction to acquiring more and more information.  It is so easy to keep buying books and courses, and not actually take action and do the hard work.  It’s why of 100 people in a course, 20 will actually launch successful businesses, and 80 will not.  But the other 80 will keep coming back and buying products.  That’s great for the “Coach” or “Teacher.”

I finished my professional coach training 1 year ago and I could have happily continued just “learning” and reading coaching material.  But the deepest learning, growth (and progress) happened when I finally started DOING IT.  Taking action. Forcing myself to jump in and work with clients and have my calls evaluated by an International Coaching Federation board.

Knowledge acquisition is a super hard habit to kick, especially when EVERYBODY is throwing knowledge at you.  Much of it is free (as long as you give them your email, which is a way to get you engaged and create a potential paying customer out of you.)

I Did Take One Online Course… Once….

The only money I have shelled out is a one-time “building an online business” course run by Penelope Trunk.  She sold me on it. I loved her blog.  I spent $100 along with at least 50 other people (!)  I did take information from the course but I also took this:  Holy shit: I can do a much better job than this.  I also realized that much of the knowledge is either common sense, or the same principles recycled over and over.  Also, much of it is intuitive.

Most business owners know the information taught in these classes.  Most business owners do not take step #2:  Put it into practice.  This is where the real reward is.

Kick the Learning Addiction with Analysis:

Needing to know everything before you start is what we call an enemy of growth.

So how do you kick the addiction to learning, the feeling that “I can’t do this until I learn to do that.”   “I need to know this before I can start that.” How do you separate and become the 20% of success stories?

You undertake an analysis to understand how much of your “to do list” is LEARNING and how much of your “to do list” is ACTION.

Here you can see an image of the current “To Do” list that is on my mind with my business:

TRAJECTORY COACHING TO-DOS

Lots to do, right?

Next, I need to analyze what is going on here.

WHICH are learning items?

WHICH are action items?  

**I highlighted the action items in orange.

TRAJECTORY COACHING TO-DOS (1)

Once you have done this, you can then address the balance.

LEARNING VERSUS ACTION:

What are action items I can take right now, that will get me closer to my goal?

Which learning items will have the most immediate impact on my business and how much time do I want to allocate to getting things done vs. learning.

Budget your Learning:

I make room for ONE new learning topic per day, to avoid information overwhelm and to avoid getting off track.  Today I learnt about using better hashtags on instagram.  That’s it.  That’s all.

Have an Information & Learning “Dumping Ground:”

If I come across other articles that pique my interest, I keep a “brain dump” board on Pinterest called COACHING where I save articles for later.    Learning is my candy – I LOVE IT and it is motivational.  But I’m addicted. So I need to partition it out as a reward.

I have future podcasts saved in my overcast app under “to listen.”  I have great infographics or web services I can used saved in my pinterest folder.  Great quotes or articles saved in Evernote.   I extract them from my memory and put them somewhere external, so I can dedicate my willpower and motivation to action items instead of learning.

Willpower is very finite (and quite variable) so every precious drop needs to be conserved for the more challenging aspect – getting shit done.

 

I am currently reading the NY Times Best Seller “The ONE Thing” by Garry Keller http://www.the1thing.com/  and there is an entire chapter dedicated to the taking action piece.  What stuck with me last night, as I read it, and designed this post was this quote, which I’d like to leave you with.

 

“The secret of getting ahead is getting STARTED.  

The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks

into small manageable tasks.

And starting on the first one.”

-Mark Twain

 

What I Learnt from Laura Vanderkam’s Book I Know How She Does It – And How I Became more Productive on Maternity Leave

What You’ll Learn:  Some of the best things I learnt from the book I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam – and how I applied it to maternity leave.

Reading time:  5 minutes

This is part of the Great Maternity Leave book club series, where I share some of the most influential books that have shaped 2 great maternity leaves so far. We all have 168 hours in a week and there is so much diversity in our daily schedules. It doesn’t matter what we do with our time, just that we are doing it with mindfulness. With this post I hope to contribute to a larger dialogue on maternity leave and living it with intention.  Using our time on this earth to do something.

Laura Vanderkam’s book was a fantastic opportunity to address my time use and shift the way I look at things.  Below I will outline some of the key points that I took away and how they translate to real life.

The Points That Shifted my Perspective:

I often mention that in coaching, that to take different actions you must experience a shift in perspective. That creates lasting change and lasting results.

I had several ah-hah moments with this book that shifted my perspective, for sure.

Did you know:

From Monday to lunchtime Thursday is only HALF of the week?!  

How does that land with you?   Think about that.

On maternity leave I lose a bit of my day / time awareness, but as a working Mum, this one point revolutionized my perspective.  It is so easy to write off Friday-Saturday-Sunday as “weekend” and be less intentional with our time and how we use it.  Knowing that an entire half of a week is left on Thursday has influenced me greatly.  I am much more of an active participant in deciding what to do with the second half of my week rather than just writing it off as weekend and haphazardly finding something “fun” to do with the kids.

A Constant Reminder That Flows Through My Life After Reading This Book:

Through a comprehensive analysis of mothers’ schedules Vanderkam nails home the point that you can either haphazardly gather up the scraps of time left over in your day, or start the day with clear intention and mindfully assigning chunks of time.  And in those chunks of time are tasks that get you closer to your goals.

She also draws a clear line between busy work and growth work.  These are my own unique terms for them – which I’m trying to come up with at 5 in the morning, lol – so bear with me. I’ll explain.

On maternity leave my little guy sleeps about 2-3 hours in a day.  Multiply by 7 days and that is 14-21 hours a week, where I can have some say in what I do.

For sure, there is housework that is routine and that will always be there.  But I also need to decide what I am going to do with that time that will align with my goals for the future.  I also resist the temptation to do housework which is not going to last (ie: cleaning the living room in the middle of the day when I know I’ll be doing it again at night when the toddler is in bed.)

Even if it’s just 1 hour of each day, am I taking that one hour and getting myself closer to where I want to be?  Or am I filling the time with something else?  

This perspective has helped me a TON. When I feel drawn to an activity in a spare moment of time, I ask:  Do I straight up need some downtime, or shall I use it to get me closer to the vision / goals I have for this mat leave?  I go through this quick decision making process each time I switch activities.  The goals are below.

Some of those days are just coping / napping / sleeping, because on materity leave the wind changes direction and we must adjust the sails.  Last week with teething and very little sleep for either of us, I had to reduce my blogging and just get through it and nap where I could.  It was a temporary pullback from growth activities.  That is okay too.

But the key is readjusting the sails after the windstorm to get back on track to the destination and travel toward the port of call you want to arrive at in 2016.

Here is my own Port-of-Call / Destination:

-Continue to dedicate 5 hrs / week to my online jewelery shop as a steady income source for trips.  My goal is to pay for one trip this year.

-Build the “bricks and mortar” foundation of my coaching business (online presence, brochures, contracts, worksheets, materials, etc.)

-Add a voice of “growth, confidence and self-identity” to the dialogue around maternity leave.

-Being present with my children outside in nature

-“Date” my husband again

-Cultivate my close friendships & be a supportive listening ear

-Reduce my body fat percentage through gluten free, paleo-style eating

-Fall in love with running again

A key component of getting to my destination is the “fuck yeah or no” approach which I learnt from Derek Sivers.  Open this in a new tab and save it for reading.

I Practice saying “fuck yeah” or “no” to every “ask” I get – if my reaction isn’t an excited “fuck yeah” I say no.

Laura mentions in her book that we all have 168 hours in a week.  If you can practice saying no to things that aren’t important, you would free up a ton of time and “feel like the millionaire at Safeway.” I’m not actually sure what she meant by this, but I assume it means feeling pretty good.

The result of this practice is you wind up with more free time and less “busy time” filled with auxilliary projects.  I like these “underbooked weeks” – I feel like I am not a slave to my calendar. As a P in the MBTI Types I naturally rebel against that anyways.   It’s a pretty cool feeling being able to embrace life as it comes and take up things that align with my goals and are simply part of the grand experience of being alive.

I carry that list with me, both in Evernote on my iPhone and in a journal in my handbag (I use iCal as well as an old-school journal.)  I have it memorized, and check in with it constantly – in each decision I make in my day.

Especially in the morning as I decide what I am going to do with this beautiful time on this earth.

Tell me, what are you going to do with your time on this earth?  What is your maternity leave port-of-call in 2016?

 

IMG_0841

I Didn’t Want Kids, But I Had Them. The Questions I Wanted To Ask When Deciding.

 

What you will learn: I talk about not being into kids, and then what it was like being surprised with pregnancy – and some of the most helpful things that helped me come to terms with it (and my personal hangups.)

Its fun being “that” person that didn’t want them and now wants three, ha ha ha.  I hope you enjoy my honest article.

Reading Time:  5 minutes

When you get to your early 30s and start facing the reality of your biology and thinking about your future, you dive deep into your inner worlds of introspection.  It’s difficult. And intensely private.  Which is ironic, because whether you are going to have kids suddenly becomes everyone’s business at 30 and people start talking to you about it – or at least dropping hint bombs.

At 25 I started dreading the whole kids question because I wasn’t feeling it – and still was not into the idea at 30 when I got pregnant, so I took on a defensive shell.

 

First, Ask Yourself Honestly What “Story” Are You In?

Looking back I was a vocal member of the “I don’t like children” tribe.  I always complained about kid photos on Facebook and even deleted a few people who were particularly enthusiastic.  I feel awful about that now.  I missed out on some really wonderful little peoples’ early lives because I was committed to this “I’m not into kids” story I had for myself.  I rallied against events where there were infants or toddlers.  I made a point of not going to baby showers.  As I said, I feel awful about this now!

I had lots of hangups with parents –  it seemed like everyone sat around and stared at the child rather than had adult conversation.  I remember one Christmas everyone sat staring at this one child and nobody was having a conversation.  I tried engaging someone in a topic totally unrelated to children and it circled back to children.  At most events with children present,  I would huddle with the guys and avoid baby / children talk.  I couldn’t understand why all of a sudden nobody could talk about other things.  But the guys weren’t as bad, so I stuck with them.

The quotes on motherhood didn’t make my fallopian tubes curl up into little swirly hearts and my ovaries pop.  If I’m being honest, they made me throw up in my mouth a little.  I just didn’t respond to the “overwhelming love” of a baby.  I’m not a touchy feely type.

I prefer logic and evidence.  I feel like I was in trouble right from the start, as the discussing of the benefits of children is very love-and emotion-oriented in our female world.   In MBTI terms, there is a lot of F.  I’m a T.  I began wondering if that meant I was truly ill-equipped and a bad fit for being a parent.

I even made a point of avoiding babies.  Every time I saw one swaddled up in a blanket it might as well have been a Sith Lord staring back at me with unseeing eyes.  People who tried to get me into a conversation about families, babies and parenting were probably thwarted by my awkwardness and obvious discomfort.

As 28-29 approached, I realized biology would force some decisions.

How I Started Exploring the Question:

It was in secret.  I would grab a coffee and sneak off to Chapters where I’d read books on whether or not to have kids, like Maybe Baby, which helped me because of the diversity of its entries (baby forums are NOT diverse in opinions.)

I also read a ton of those forum posts and got myself in too deep. I’m actually a bit disappointed that when you google significant questions around becoming a parent, forums are often the first results you get.  They are not the most neutral place to go.

I also started a list of my hangups around having kids, and what fears and perceptions I had.  One by one, I started chipping away at them and deconstructing them.

 

Take a Look at What You Are Googling

Did you know that counter-terrorism specialists can tell how far “radicalized” an individual is based on forensic analysis of their computer and what they have been googling?  Turns out, our googling can reveal some powerful information.

“Should I have kids or not?”  I cannot tell you how many times I typed these words into my chrome browser between 2010-2012. I also googled “What is so great about children”  “the benefits of having children” and “the cons of having children”  “do children make you less happy” and “why children suck” –  I was genuinely on the fence about having children. Leaning toward no.  My search terms changed the further I got into exploration.  “Children ending career” “unhappiness and parenting” “are people happier with children” “will I sacrifice my career” “why I didn’t have kids.”  “Why do women change when they have kids.” Those were some my later googles.  You can see where I was at mentally.

This ambivalence was further intensified by my Facebook newsfeed.  “20 (shit) things nobody told you about having children” or “5 things mothers regret” or “10 terrible things about giving birth which will traumatize you to read.”  “Five biggest mistakes parents make.”  These articles are “click bait” – exploiting fear because they know people will read them.  It’s like the news.  The news reports on sensational, scary things because people will watch those stories.   Take a look at Today’s Parent Magazine and there will be some kind of element of fear parents have on the front cover.  Go ahead.  I guarantee it.

There’s also an awful lot of martyrdom and self sacrifice in the online dialogue around motherhood.

Some of those articles are hilarious to read now that I have kids but oh man were they rough when I was debating still.  The internet is the worst resource / place for advice when you are debating a big decision, because only the “extreme” versions of either option go viral and make it to your social feeds. 

Then, if I managed to find a good article, it was waaaaaaay too touchy feely squishy for me. No straightup, rational, clear headed assessments.

It was extremes:  Dark foreboding articles inducing fear or gushing articles on feelings.  I actually started trying to find mens’ blogs on the decision because I felt their writing would better fulfill my way of analyzing things.

My gut was 75% no, 25% yes.  And getting pushed more toward the “No” every time I read an article about how challenging // isolating // terrible // painful // sacrificial being a parent is.   I had my hangups about children and the more I read, the more North American online parenting culture made me feel like I would lose all of my life, self identity and ability to travel. WTF!  Basically all of my fears compounded.

The Mistake I Made from the Start

My mistake was thinking that other people’s versions of parenthood would become my version of parenthood. On the internet, it’s clear that everybody wants  you to do things the way they do things.  Especially Moms.  If you don’t do what they do, watch out!

Parenting / mom groups online are a microcosm of society, really – there is always in-group pressure from society at large – in any topic.  The group wants you to be like them, do like them and think like them.  If you don’t, you are an outsider.  And that’s a scary path to take.

 

One of the BEST Things You Can Do is a Few Counselling or Therapy Sessions to Explore your Decisions and Feelings About Having Children and Becoming a Parent.

Working with a counsellor/therapist/psychologist/coach helps you deconstruct all of the “internalizing” you are doing in your attempts to “preview” being a parent, and figure out who you are in all of that external chatter.  Which pieces you’d like to take up, and which you should ignore and throw out.

When I found out I was pregnant, I signed up for counselling.

Best thing I ever did.

 

By working with a Psychologist, I was able to :

-Understand exactly what my hangups were about being a parent

-What it was about having a child that would get me and my personality type excited – (because the talk that was out there wasn’t getting me excited.)

-The models of parenting I liked and didn’t like.

-Understanding our cultural background:  The types of parenting that are subconsciously pushed on us by media, society at large, etc.

-Why and how I could create my own model of parenting.

-How to work with fear.

-How to embrace love and bonding.

-How to design a version of motherhood that worked for me and get clear on my values and what excites me.

6 sessions.  Covered through my work’s professional assistance plan and insurance health plan.  In hindsight, knowing what I got from it, I would have paid $200 per hour to do it.  $1200 to revolutionize my thinking, come to peace with myself, and address my mindset was WELL worth it.  

 

The Universe Has a Sense of Humour

It turns out, at the age of 30, my decision was made for me with a surprise pregnancy at the worst possible timing in terms of life events.   My husband had just received word he was starting the Fire Department’s Intensive Training Academy, and my Mum had just received word that her terminal stage IV lung cancer had metastisized to the brain, greatly shortening our timeline.  This is a big reason why I got my butt to a psychologist.  That’s a lot of shit to deal with, and I knew it.

2013 I was taking care of the two most important people in my life.  My intellectual capacity was maxed out helping with studying fire exam material and testing my husband.  My emotional capacity was maxed out in caregiving for my mum.  Layer onto that hyperemesis the entire pregnancy and it was a really, really shit time.  I was the most enthusiastic parent-to-be you have EVER met.

But there’s something I need to tell you.

In 2013, I had my daughter, and then in 2015 I had my son.  In 2016 I am sitting here telling you that I would have another in a heartbeat.

That is a RADICAL shift in my thinking, and in my life plans.  So I want to bring to you the perspective of a “logical” type who has great respect for both paths.  Life is damn great with kids, and it is damn great without. I was forced into the first option before I was ready, so this post is really great for people who have decided to just “go for it” despite fears and hangups.

So let’s get to the meat of this post.

What does a 32 year old female who loves her career, has a bazillion interests outside of family and parenting, and doesn’t strongly identify with the deep maternal “feels” of motherhood have to say, about not wanting kids then having them?

And what questions would I personally have wanted answered in a less cray-cray-way?

Am I happier with kids?  

If I am being totally, 100% objective:

My answer is yes.  I smile and laugh far, far, far more times in a day than I ever did before children.  I experience the pure emotion of happiness, laughter and enthusiasm / engagement constantly throughout the day.  I have more fun moments in a day than before I had children.

Yes my days are punctuated with frustration, anger, sadness and these versions are more intense than when I had them pre-kids, but they are by far the minority in my emotional range.  I would not say those emotions occur more if I was to sit down and chart every day.  The pro emotions outweigh the negative by far. I am a positive person who creates her own reality, and it continued with kids; that wasn’t affected.  However, not every parent would agree with me.

Did I feel the Bond?

Not straightaway with my daughter. I did not feel the overwhelming love, so I was highly skeptical of this concept.  However, it kicked in around with her when she was 4 months old.  My son, instant.

I have a feeling I may be flamed for this in the comments, but I WISH someone had explained this to me in these terms:  If you have ever owned a puppy or kitten, you know you are just overwhelmed by the cuteness and mega obsessed?  Your own kid does that to you.  It is called the kitten effect.  It’s like having a puppy or a kitten that NEVER grows up into a dog or cat.  Yes, THAT awesome!   You just look at your kid and the “aawwwwww” takes over.  That is most of my day.  However there are moments of suck.  But remember, overall great, small punctuations of suck.

 

Did I change once I had kids?

In terms of my personality? No.  I’m still social. I’m still me. I still leave the house and do fun interesting things, with fun interesting people, that have nothing to do with children. When I am kid free, my conversations try to remain kid free too.  That’s my thang.

I am still just as motivated to wear makeup, go to the gym, do social things.  It takes me about 15-20 extra minutes to plan events logistically because I plan for the kids’ care.

If anything, it improved me a bit. I’m more in touch with my feelings, more empathetic and warm overall.  It also boosted my motivation to go do fun things.  I’m an ENTP – so my “thing” as a parent is defined as letting them explore / adventure / learn.  This is perfect.  I have THREE buddies to explore the world with now.

 

Did Kids Make Me Broke?

Nah.  People bitch a lot about the cost of diapers, wipes and food.  It will cost you $150 a month-ish.  But my perspective is this: Why bitch about something you need to help a human being survive? Just get over it.  I broke down the cost of diapers and you know what, I am VERY happy paying 25 cents each diaper to not have my kid poo on me and approx. $1 to feed him each time.

 

Did having kids ruin chances for international travel? (Because that is NOT cool)

International travel is a BIG DEAL to me.   Guess what? We did 6 flights in the first year of our daughter’s life. Because it is a big deal to me. Here’s the interesting thing, too.  Because we had to plan logistics and our activities a bit more, we did more activities and cool things on our trips than we did when it was just us two, husband and wife.  The best trip back to England (out of 15-20 trips in my life time) was in 2013 with a 6 month old. NO jokes.  Having a little one requires you to commit and follow through and plan things out.  You see more, do more, experience more, you just modify the geographical range of your explorations and have a home base to work from.  The rest, no problem.

Did this impact my career?

No.  If you want your job back, in Canada the law is such that you will be given your job back. In fact, my work ethic, motivation and enjoyment of my job has greatly increased.  It provides a nice counter balance to the new additional areas of my life (parenting.)

Sitting alone at a computer with a coffee, once seen as mundane, is pleasurable now. In fact, I think a new mum is one of the best employees a company can have. They are productivity goddesses IMHO. I also stress less about minor things at work and handle everything with a positive can-do attitude.

Did my lifestyle change? 

I still workout. I still see friends, I still wear makeup and decent clothes.  I still have goals, ambitions, passions. I do all of this because I still want to!  My old lifestyle is still there.  And  I have a second awesome lifestyle layered on top of it.   I italicized that.  Layered on top. My old life style is there. With a cherry on top.  It didn’t go anywhere.

I have three iCalendars on my iPhone:  1.) “My Life” 2.) Childcare, and 3.) Ideas for events around town for the kids But you must proactively work on this. It’s far too easy to let a few things slip and default to letting your partner go out instead of you.

Am I more stressed out?

No.  Parenting and maternity leave is a different (and refreshing) pace of life.  You live 100% in the present moment.  There’s no time for past or future, you’re just dealing with now.  Granted, the now is usually involving keeping a small, uncoordinated human alive.

Lots of time feeding a baby – but reframe it – It’s 20 minutes of built-in meditation time every day, when close my eyes, sit in a quiet room and  I rock a sleepy baby to sleep.

When do you have time in your old life to close your eyes, chill and rock slowly back and forth in a chair?

You Give Less of a Fuck About Daily Minutiae

I have to decide what’s worth a battle and what is not. I give less of a fuck about many, many things I cared a lot about before kids. I care about keeping a small human alive and mostly meltdown free. Much more clarity and insight.

When you hear dialogue about parents freaking out at their kids / being stressed I think it’s misleading.  If you see / read about parents melting down, argueing, etc. I would say it’s not about stress, it’s about emotional intensity in the moment meeting some level of unpreparedness or “off-ness” in the parent – for whatever reason, be it fatigue, everything happening at once, or hanger.  It’s not just a kid melting down that sucks, it has to be paired with you being a little off, too.  If you engage in self-care, the kid will meltdown but you are in a better place to cope and what from what, in coaching, we call “gentle irreverence.” 

I wouldn’t say that it is about your life being more stressful.  It’s just that you deal with a human who is a ball of pure emotion and sometimes you absorb it, and sometimes you are super tired / hungry / impatient so it kind of explodes in your face.  And it lasts maybe 10 minutes.  Then it’s over.    I’ve had hangry fights in foreign countries with my husband, too. And there were no kids involved.  Because we were both off and faced with an unexpected situation or thrown off.

Did you lose your identity? 

Eff no, and every article I read makes me feel like I am either going to change into a resentful & tired Mum, or hyper-driven helicopter parent whose life revolves around the kid and completing amazing feats of domestic goddess-ness. It’s just so extreme. There’s no medium place in the “examples” online.

Seek out people who share the same values as yours and are living a lifestyle you aspire to. Stop reading/following/listening to all of the other stuff.

The various “parental identities” are in your face all the time.  Filter it.

But What About the First 3 Months?

Pre-child identities do take a back seat in the 4th trimester (first 3 months) it’s honestly just figuring out this extra layer on your life and you’re super whacked.  But it begins to come back gradually.

 

You do hear the bad stories that put you off:  Your self identity and confidence can fade away.  It will happen if you intentionally work at it. And that’s why I started the GML.

I fight hard (sometimes it involves real fights too!) to maintain a sense of self outside of parenting, hence my restless pursuit of other hobbies and prioritizing time for myself.  This includes gym time, blog writing time, jewellery making time, friends time and just straight up “fuck off and leave me alone” time. Aka nap time.

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this blog article it is this.

THE BIGGEST LIE ABOUT HAVING KIDS IS THAT YOU “LOSE” YOUR OLD LIFE.

THE BIGGEST TRUTH ABOUT HAVING KIDS IS THAT YOU ADD A NEW “LAYER” ONTO YOUR OLD LIFE.  YOUR OLD LIFE IS STILL THERE IF YOU WANT IT TO BE.

AND YOU GET TO DECIDE EXACTLY WHAT THAT NEW LAYER WILL BE LIKE.

 

Do you like children overall now?

Yes, yes I do!  I’m a pretty rational logical person. Having a kid actually taught me to be less of a robot and “feel” more. I’m grateful to all the little people in my life for that.

I’m 1000% less awkward around them.  But I still like sitting and having adult conversation about non-children things, while the children run around and entertain themselves.  Again, not for everybody – but that’s how I roll.

Obviously, I don’t like feeling the lows – like sadness or fear or frustration. But that doesn’t happen more than it did pre-kids because I work hard on self-care so that I can handle those moments with gentle irreverence.

Kids opened up joy, happiness, all that squishy stuff.  But I still don’t really hang out in that “domain.”

Lululemon has a *controversial* quote on their manifesto that goes a bit like this “Children are the orgasm of life; you do not know how awesome they are until you have one.”

This people is the absolute, 100% truth.  I’m honestly glad the universe derailed my no-children plans.  No regrets here. So glad it happened for me.

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right. – Henry Ford.

 

If you love your life sans children, cool. Awesome.  Rock it! Have a fucking amazing life, because you will! I think there are so many people with AMAZING talents and things to share with the world, who really need to focus on that in their life path. And I’m so glad more people have the courage to say no to kids and follow their gift and share it. I am a HUGE supporter of these women.

If you are debating children.  Cool. Awesome.  Take a risk and step into the unknown if you fancy. Have a fucking amazing life, because you will!  And all that talk about “reliving your childhood” is everything people say it will be. 🙂

I, “don’t like children” Carina, am sitting here in my lounge with a huge coffee, on 5 hours of sleep, with a toddler and a baby, telling you I love it.  And I’d have another.  Whaaaaaaaat?

Life's was awesome before, and I can say it was upgraded after. :)
Life’s was awesome before, and I can say it was upgraded after. 🙂