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Graduating a Dr, Thank You to My Mum and Dad

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Graduation day which seemed so hard to get to, but never impossible. The first sentence my dad taught me, and I repeat it to my children is 'there is no such word as can't.'  It's a powerful value as there is always a solution, there is never a point where you stop, you just find a different way.  So I graduate a Dr. but it's because of my Mum and Dad that I am here.

To do the thank you justice I need to rewind to my family history to let you know how big of a deal it is.

A Generation of Change

In not so recent history even in 2017, there are generations that had: no access to education, carried wood on donkeys and even if they were educated did not get the opportunity to explore, discover or excel in their passion; that's my parents.  Yes we have entrepreneurial-ship and people can find ways to make their impact; they both did.   However, let's not pretend that there are not Mums and Dad's who have done everything for the children to put a roof over their head and send them to school.  

My Mum was born on a tiny island called St Helena where she collected firewood by donkey.  She came to the UK to be with her Mum (who was illiterate) but actually put her out on the street at 15, and from that age she fended for herself.  She gave me so much love, safety, security and support that she herself never had.   She did all this between working shifts at a health company, Oxfam and then finally setting up her own business with my Dad.  She would go to the butchers in the days of the strikes at the factory, and ask for bones for the dog, and with that she would cook the most amazing healthy soups and casseroles.  I look back and I never wanted for anything I actually needed.  At Xmas I was so happy with the warmth of the family meal, top of the pops playing and my stocking of clementines, nuts and if I was lucky 1 small toy.  We may not have been able to afford much but we had so much love.  She gave me what she never had.

My Dad came to the UK when he was 8 from a tiny island in the Caribbean called Anguilla.  He studied hard until his A'levels and started work at Rover as a foreman.  My Grandad Herman Edwards was an activist (where do I get it from ;)) who opened The Black House, which was a half way house to get young black people (mainly men) socially mobile.  I visited the Colin Jones exhibit when it was in London some years ago to find out more myself, and even found John Lennon's involvement.  My grandad gave us a large family, there are 14 uncles and aunties that I know of and have visited all over the world (he left my gran and was very popular with the ladies).  My Dad was raised by his Mum alone and he has done everything for us.  He was the Dad working at 2, 3, 4, 5 am in the morning to keep a roof over our head when interest rates were at 18% and then to put me through university, and my sister through drama school.  He was the Dad that appealed to get me into the best school in Oxford.  He stood up at the appeal and called out the lack of the diversity at the predominantly white school, and on appeal we got in (I'm an identical twin).  He was the Dad who went without on top of his day/night jobs, to pay for extra tuition in English and Maths.  He knew that as a black female: education, education, education would give me access and social mobility.  He gave me the chance that he did not have.

My friends would say what are you studying now.  Whilst I agree university is not everything, there are many ways to get up the mountain, this is great from a point of privilege.  When you live in a world where you are at a disadvantage due to the colour of your skin, and I will leave that for another post, education is another gate that can help the path that you choose.  When my Dad used to say you will have to work harder than everyone else, you may be smarter than everyone else but you still might not get the job, as a child I didn't really comprehend what he meant.  As an adult who has had 17 years career experience of what he said, and a now a Mum, Dad I understand your words of wisdom.  I cannot even put into words what you have done for me.

Values

All of those lessons that you taught me, have made me into the person I am today.  Even though my mum was chucked out on the street at 15, she still visited her Mum and even took care of her when it mattered.  My Mum truly taught me to treat others as you wish to be treated, even when they have not done the same to you.  To take that higher road and turn the other cheek.

Skill Sets

My Dad gave me that sheer gravitas, and when they both started the business he involved me in everything.  I did their accounts from the age of 9.  I interacted with customers from an early age and helped with strategic decisions.  All of these things set me on the path where I am today.  I made mistakes for sure and that was okay, as long as I learnt from them.  I was allowed to go clubbing from 14 as long as I completed my responsibilities at home and at school.  It makes me laugh now, as I was savvy in making sure that homework and cello practice was done, that I could still serve breakfast to guests and cook the Sunday dinner; after a great night out.  I was not raised in a bubble, I was raised to be a strong independent woman who could take responsibility for decisions good or bad; but take risks and make the decision!  He taught me to take risks, and I did.  I have taken risks my whole life from financial transactions, business ventures and moving abroad living in Switzerland.  I have learnt from each one and some have been hugely successful and others failures.  Success was not the point, it was the confidence to navigate the facts, make and decision and execute.

Support

Doing my doctorate in my 30's meant my Mum and Dad were not paying, but their support was there.  Working and living abroad has it's issues particularly in Switzerland where childcare is more than interesting.  They invest 0.2 GDP in childcare so the mother is very much expected to be at home, whilst the kids come home each day for a home cooked lunch and most days finish school at 11:50.  So having a full time job meant studying everyday consistently between 20:00 and 23:00 and on the weekends.  There were peak times when my parents came over and helped  my husband and I with the kids.  As grandparents I couldn't ask for more, and their daughter they still gave me exactly what I needed.

Playing it Forward

So when the graduation ceremony application came and I could only have 3 people in the room, I knew in my heart I had to have 5.  I wrote back to the university to explain why my parents had to be there, but also why my children had to be there.  If I could give my kids just one ounce of what my parents have done for me, and play it forward.  I would be a great Mum.  Mums raise and inspire the next generation, but we are here because of our parents.  So thank you Mum and Dad because of you I graduate a Dr. and am part of a fantastic Alumni here in Switzerland.

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10 TED Talks from Mothers that Inspire

10 TED Talks from Mothers that Inspire

On the 17th October we are launching three of the the first mothers rock interviews that we are publishing in our members magazine and via our you tube live channel accessible via our community.

So as a prelude to our channel and magazine which will raise up and inspire with unplugged interviews with mothers, here are 10 TED Talks from mothers that inspire.

Their first days (at school), do we get better at change?

Happy funny baby girl in glasses reading a book in a library
Happy funny baby girl in glasses reading a book in a library

Guest Blog Sinead Sharkey-Steenson

Sinead will be leading the career webinar and bundle, we thought it was worth introducing the lovely Sinead and sharing her blog with our WhatifIhadaPA members.

First days, do we get better at change?

I’ve done what millions of parents have done across the country at this time of year, and no doubt across the world.  I’ve taken my oldest daughter to her first day at nursery.  With that comes mixed emotions, and many of us can get caught up focusing on our own,  it isn’t easy for some of us to see our wee precious jewels getting bigger and going and doing new things, but that’s nothing to what’s going on for our little people.

The challenge of firsts

Firsts are a challenge no matter your age.  There’s not many of us have the unwavering confidence to walk into any unknown situation and feel completely at ease.  Today was our second day at nursery, and to be honest, that’s when the sh*t hit the fan!   My wee girl was a terror this morning.  Day one was a breeze.  Why?  Mummy was uber-prepared, and so was she.  Day 2?  She turned into the Tasmanian devil’s younger, more scary sister.  I kept my cool (sort of), whilst panicking inside.  How am I going to get this seething ball of anger to eat breakfast, into her uniform, and out of the door in time to make it into nursery?  And then, what kind of nightmare is she going to be when she’s there?  Somehow we made it there, and kids being kids she was in great humour by the time we’d reached our destination.  Reflecting on it now, I can’t help wonder what was going on, and are there any lessons for us all about starting something new, and becoming more adaptable to change?

How and why we react to change

A lot of our reactions to new things come from a primal part of our brains.  We are wired to fear new things, because they might be dangerous.  That makes sense, especially when you consider our origins, where something new could literally be a case of life or death.  Hopefully starting nursery, or a new job or new challenge, isn’t going to be quite so risky!  Our brains don’t necessarily see it that way.  When we feel under threat we create stress hormones, which are there to help us react more quickly so we are ready to jump into fight, flight, or freeze (survival modes) at the drop of a hat.  This really helps us understand why in times of stress, we have a tendency to overreact and lash out.  When you factor in a 3 year old that is a long way from getting to grips with her emotions, you can picture the scene I dealt with this morning I’m sure!

What can we do?

So what can we do?  I’m going to preface this with the caveat that I’m no parenting expert, believe me, so the advice I’m offering is really aimed at us grown –up people:

  1. Establish a new routine and stick to it – our brains love routine. At the core, our brains love to conserve energy, this leaves resources for higher-functioning, such as decision-making, learning, thinking.  Routine allows our brain to operate on ‘stand-by’, so that our energy reserves are being maintained for the big stuff.  Routines that help your brain and also your stress-levels include; a good night-time routine that supports a great sleep, a standard morning routine that gets you out of the house easily and quickly, learning your new route to work in advance so it’s something you don’t need to think about.
  2. Prepare, prepare, prepare!  Like the routine, take all the unnecessary brain processing and stress away by having everything ready to go in advance (there’s a reason successful people tend to dress the same all the time, no extra thinking required).  Whether that’s your clothes ready on the chair, lunch packed, bag ready, keys in the right place, hair washed the night before.  Whatever will make it easiest for you to get there as stress-free as possible.  One of the reasons day 1 was so easy and day 2 not so, was lack of preparation which resulted in mad-panic!
  3. Practise really does make perfect – but it can be tempting when we’re not good at something straight away (probably the reason I can’t stand bowling) to avoid it. It stands to reason as most of us have been conditioned not to fail, and don’t enjoy looking foolish in front of others.  When we do something for the first time, our brain is creating new pathways.  Imagine walking through a forest for the first time.  It’s hard work having to clear a path for yourself.  You may trip or get scratched, and you’re likely using much more of your body to break your way through the vegetation than if you were on one of those travelators at the airport.  This is exactly how it is for your brain, it is creating new neural pathways, and uses lots more of the brain than is strictly necessary.  As you repeat the behaviour, the pathways become clearer, your brain trims off the ones that are unnecessary and the signals fire faster.  You get more and more efficient.  You can help your brain by familiarising yourself with what you can on the run-up to the event – and this can be physically or by visualising, your brain will respond in the same way.  You can also be patient with yourself and recognise that nobody finds it easy first time, we don’t see how hard others found it, just the polished end product.  If you know every time you try you get better, you’ll be more inclined to try.
  4. Self-care – whenever there is stress likely, self-care is even more important. As my hangry 3 year old seethed at me this morning, it hit me how important the basics are.  Not enough sleep, liquid, and food are a road to ruin!  A bit of deep breathing in moments of stress will be a great help too.
  5. Give your brain some comfort – by taking away the novelty factor. When we start a new job, or take on a big new challenge, sometimes the amount of newness can be overwhelming.  You can help your brain manage this by likening what you’re doing to familiar things, and reminding yourself of motivational factors.  For instance you might hark back to previous new jobs and how successful you’ve been, or think about the parts that you already know of the job thereby minimising the parts that are new.  You can think about why you’re doing it and play up those factors – so if a challenge and variety are important factors for making the change, then those will be the things to focus on.
  6. Cut yourself some slack, and ask the people around you to do the same. It’s quite common for children to come home from school and be an absolute nightmare for their parents.  It’s because they’ve exhausted themselves holding it together all day, and when they get home they feel safe enough to let it all go.  We’re not much different when we’re grown up are we?  There’s 2 key things at play here.  Firstly, your pre-frontal cortex is the part of your brain that is responsible for your executive (higher-thinking) functions, like learning.  That is one energy hungry bit of the brain.  A day of learning will deplete all your resources, so you come home exhausted…too tired to think, quite literally.  You’re also going from an environment where your guard is up, to one where you know you can do anything and you will still be loved.  It might be hard to take, but when your loved-ones come in from a tough day and lose it, in a weird way it’s a compliment.  They feel safe enough to let it go (as long as it’s within reason of course).  Just give them, or yourself the time and space to decompress.

Whilst we may think of ourselves as resisters of change, we are in fact changing every day.  Our brain was once thought to be fixed in the number of connections it has, but we now realise that the brain is creating, growing, and trimming connections every day, so that we can learn and develop every day.  How boring would life be if we didn’t change?  We’d all be tantrumming in the middle of supermarket aisles, as if the weekly shop isn’t difficult enough?!

A Mother's Journey to 'Living Authentically'

A Mother's Journey to 'Living Authentically'

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You know that feeling after you bring a child into the world, that your life will never be the same. At the same time everything prior to that point almost becomes meaningless. You actually start to reassess the world.  

In one sense when my first child was born I became brave. In another I had to redefine who I was. I was not the same 30 something me.

 

What am I doing? Does what I do mean anything? Am I even making a difference in this world? Is it worth it?

 

Suddenly there is something bigger than you, that little person that you are responsible for; you want them to be the best they can be, to live in a world full of potential that is safe and sustainable.   I had these big thoughts of how I could impact my daughter’s future world, and at the same time I was learning to be a mother. In addition to this new role, I continued to be: wife, lover, friend, and work colleague. The new role had an impact on all the others. If I did not take a step back I would lose me!

 

That’s when I transformed, having a child changed me, I knew it was an opportunity to take that energy, that power that you have as a mother and know as you want your children to know ‘I can do anything’.

 

I started to define just what that was to each one of my roles. As a mother being home for dinner and doing plays (not macbeth but magic rabbits, princesses, car races and dragons), and reading each night. To challenging my brain in my doctorate, which helped me to develop technology that automates chores saving mothers time, and research that understands what in people’s childhood makes them successful, and happy! The both aligned to giving me, and other mothers more time with our children, with our future and to have more memories than do administration and chores.

 

I transformed into the best version of me I could be at each of the roles, but realised we cannot do everything. So the key was to align the roles to what I truly loved, what I was passionate about. To stop doing things that detracted from that, and to start and continue the things that aligned to what I loved in this world most.

 

It sounds easy, but it was a journey to break down the mind set for example of ‘guilt’ and to accept help. I started to say ‘yes’ to outsourcing chores and ‘no’ to things that served no purpose or were meaningless.

 

This transformation was broken down over 4 steps, a framework which allowed me to redefine my life, and make sure I was Living Life Authentically. I am now true to who ‘I’ am as a mother, wife, lover, friend and work colleague. I learnt that you can have that authenticity as a mother, where you give to each part of you.

 

You have to be brave enough to take the step back. To admit I am not that same person as I was before kids, and take the opportunity to redefine you.

 

I want to share this framework with other mothers so that can live a life that is authentic to them. To talk them through the framework and provide printable tools, that supports them. There is very little for mothers. This now changes Sign Up for your Living Authentically Webinar and Kit.

 

I am building a community, tools and technology that is there for Mums.

How to Live Life Authentically as a Mum

How to Live Life Authentically as a Mum

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The phrase live authentically is one where you are true to who you are, true to yourself. Men can have a midlife crisis, but a lot of women also face a period where they are conflicted. They have a new role a ‘mother’ and suddenly that has to fit with their other multiple roles:  

  • Lover
  • Friend
  • Employee/Worker
  • Me

 

That pulls into question all the roles. Where those roles are out of sync, for example, “I’m not actually doing what I want to do in life,” “my friends and I don’t actually have the same values” or “I have no time for me” it creates a constant circle of dissatisfaction.

 

In truth the day we become mothers it redefines us. That’s the time to take a step back and ensure we live life authentically.

 

To lead an authentic Life as a mother means happiness, and it can be completed by four simple steps YEAH! On September 14th we will host a free webinar that takes mothers through these 4 simple steps, with printable materials that can be taken away and are there to support all mothers.

 

  1. You Time
    1. Passion
    2. Space
    3. Guilt
    4. Means

 

  1. Energy for You and Others
    1. Focus
    2. Outsource
    3. Sleep

 

  1. Action
    1. Say Yes
    2. Say No

 

  1. Help and Support

 

If you want help and support via a community of busy Mum’s to live an authentic life sign up for the free webinar http://www.whatifihadapa.com/free-webinar-4-simple-steps-authentic-life/ here.

Say 'Let It Go' to Guilt

Say 'Let It Go' to Guilt

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Guilt is one of the barriers a mother working faces in being able to have life balance. Whether you are a 'Lean In' or 'Lean Out' mother ultimately there are only so many hours in the day, and one of the solutions is to outsource. We can either feel like we have no guilt, but drown in looking like we can do it all, or have life balance and know that the decision suits your family. The only important answer is for your individual family circumstance.

This could be difficult if you come from a heritage of your mother did the running of the house, and a great job bringing up the children. However, demographics have changed.

  • The distance in extended families
  • The career development of females
  • The sheer amount of red tape, and chores that have increased each century
  • Distance in Extended Families

Both my husband and I live no where near our parents. My Mum now has to travel within on continent to see 2 grandchildren, and to another continent to see her 3rd. That is the nature of a global village, and migration. However, that means as a mother working the support structures in place disappear. Any guilt you had let someone else have that. Your life is your life, if you need a third pair of hands then by all means grab it: a cleaner, gardener or au-pair. From the day we hired an au-pair we never looked back on the focused time I have for the kids and family. There may be restrictions financially so options need to be assessed, but if it is financially viable it is worth it's wait in gold.

Career Development of Females

On one of my last visits my Mum said 'I never realised how hard you worked.' I was working from home in the office, and I think she saw me maybe pee once that day, and quickly make a nutri-bullet soup! That week I ensured as ever I was there at dinner, bath and bedtime, but due to crazy deadlines she saw my 14 hour days. Whilst it is not always like that, there are peaks and troughs. One thing is clear it was not the reality of my Mum's world when I was growing up.

There are no extra hours in the day, no one can magic a 30 hour day. The only learnings that I have applied is to: eliminate unnecessary activities, prioritise, outsource (guilt free) and automate.

Red Tape and Chores

Seriously the worst thing is the mail box why in 2016 is there still so much paper, even if you register for 'E-statements, bills...' There are still those tasks that a 'Must Do's' and have consequences like: taxes, bills, and the un -outsourced chores. When we surveyed mothers they wanted support with red tape, and this is in my goal to support other mothers working.

If you're a mother who has guilt ask what makes sense for my family. If you're a mother judging another mother as is that my family. If the answer is 'No' then focus on the answer to your family, and not others.

We have created a great bundle of tools including how to deal with guilt.

The 5 Work Life Balance Myths

The 5 Work Life Balance Myths

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If Work Life Balance - 'balance' is defined as "an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady" then frankly there is no such thing.  It is a myth.  A Mother Working Balance is "dividing yourself between multiple things, with unequal distribution" because the focus is #1 Mother and #2 Life.  That's our real life every day. [video width="854" height="480" mp4="http://www.whatifihadapa.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/powtoon-fqCTXknReBA.mp4"][/video]

7 Habits to Stay Energised

One of the things we struggle with as busy Mamma's is not just time but energy.  There are a number of tools we can use in our day to day life to stay energised: that build, store, multiply and save our energy. 7-habits-to-stay-energised-conflict-copy-2

7 Habits to Stay Energised Downloadable Tool

Do You Want More Time For Your Kids

Do You Want More Time For Your Kids

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There's never enough time! Give me more time #whatifihadapa #moretime #tools #technology I ran a session on Parental Leadership on 10th April.  In that session we went through one of the tools called 'Transparent Communication.'  It has 4 stages where:

  1. You recognise how you really feel
  2. You recognise how your child really feels (putting your self in their shoes)
  3. You acknowledge the two
  4. You make an authentic response in acknowledgement to address the feelings, and increase the parental attachment bond

There were 8 different parents, and every one in there acknowledgement at some point had time creep in as a factor.

Situation

We discussed and delved into the example of their 2 year old son screaming, shouting and saying he hates the time to get ready, from scrubbing his teeth and being ready to go to the nursery (kita).

Identify with own feelings:

The mother explained that she felt frustrated and needed to get to work (TIME).

 

Identify with the child’s feelings:

When she put herself in the shoes of the child, he wants to do it himself. However, both the father and mother expressed that they were worried about the teeth not being brushed properly. The father explained that he rewards chocolates if his son behaves and explains he can only have the chocolates if his teeth are clean.

Acknowledge

Hug and share each others feelings.

Authentic Response

They realised that the solution does not address the real issue. The anger from the child is because he wants to do it himself, and there is fear from the parents that he will not do it properly. The authentic response they created was to speak with him and explain that he will do it himself, and that Mummy and Daddy will show him how to do it and check after, where they may just need to get him to redo some areas or help. The real issue was anger caused by a wish for more independence, and the time pressure that they felt and the worry of incompleteness was creating a repetitive issue every morning.

Our Mission to Give Parents More Time 'Memories Over Chores'

Giving parents the tools and technology is not just to develop technology for technologies sake.  What we have done is develop a tool in a way that makes sense for parents, to organise their life, to suggest events that make a difference to them, to enable them to complete tasks like travel and shopping quicker / cheaper and in a way that adds value to their time.

The one thing we can give parents is time.  Join Us.

Our New Ebook Memories Over Chores. 60 Tips for the Power Parent

Our New Ebook Memories Over Chores. 60 Tips for the Power Parent

February 29th you had an extra 24 hours.  The revolution starts now. Make more time in your life everyday.  Our ebook Memories Over Chores. 60 Tips for the Power Parent http://ow.ly/YTKiU #Killthatmondaymorningblaaa  #whatifihadapa #disrupttime #memoriesoverchores

All images courtesy of Bigstock and Shutterstock.

The 12 Tools of Highly Effective Yummy Mummy’s

 

1. The instant attention absorber
a. Find whatever your kid/s loves and it makes life so much easier: painting, puzzles, scooters, baking

2. The Smart Phone
a. Gone are the days that you had to wait until you have a moment to go to find a computer, camera, a calculator, a phone. The smartphone allows the mummy to text, tweet, status update, take a picture, make a video, do the maths all at one time on the go.

3. The Ipad
a. This handy little device is for the mummy +. The ipad is a chameleon while apps transform it into multiple devices with the ability to be a kindle, watch movies, read the news, skype and be socially connected. It is perfect to transport anywhere and pick up exactly where you left off.
b. It also has many education options for the kids. Not without its critics and to be fair it should be used in moderation, but the power of the ipad on a long car journey or fight reaches mystic proportions.

4. Hootsuite
a. Update all your social networks in one.

5. Kindle App 
a. Have all your books, cookbooks and articles on the ipad for easy access.

6. WhatsApp
a. Staying connected with the world for free.

7. Skype www.skype.com
a. The distractions of skyping grandma giving you a break for free.

8. The slow cooker in a bag
a. The ease of coming home to a hot dinner with minimal effort and energy! http://nb-wonderbag.com/ 

9. Yoga Online
a. The time taken to go to a studio or even a gym, can be time you don’t have. There are great sessions online that give you space within your day, without wasting time on travel. http://www.tonysanchez.net/

10. The joint calendar
a. Being organised as a family unit saves so much time!

11. 1p Books
a. The multiple book bed time settling them down into bed, and ready for 8pm Mummy and Daddy time. www.amazon.com

12. Free Kindle books http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/feature.html?docId=1000577623
a. Great for cooking inspiration
b. Great fun for the kids to do baking

5 Reasons Not To Try To Live Up To Our Mothers - It's A Different World

I recently had a play date with another Mum, and she asked me a funny question “with the second child are you starting to feel like yourself?” I didn’t understand the question, as who else would I feel like? Of course I feel like me? I am now a Mum and that has brought a welcoming new side to me, but the lover, friend, sister, daughter, independent girl in her own right and yogi also define me, it’s as if I just have another angle to my personality.

The very next day I received an email due to some help and support I was giving to her, and part of that email described how that person’s Mum had 7 children all naturally and did an amazing job in raising all 7. Then it hit me, the full content of what she said and how she described it, she was trying to live up to her Mum, and trying to be defined by the role model that she had. Role models are great but we all have our own path, and ultimately we need to be ourselves and live life on our terms. My Mum is also amazing, and I often say if I could be half the Mum she was I would do a great job. That said my Mum has always said to go off and live my own life. That has led me to living in different countries, being the first to go to university in our family and going on to study a doctorate, making a positive impact on people lives in a number of professional fields, as well as launching my own business.

So here are the reasons why we must live our own lives:

  1. Giving birth to a lot of children is great (7 I would even suggest deserves a medal), but nowadays we get married or meet our partners a lot later.  In fact we are even lucky if we get to meet our partner!  The cost of living has increased which makes larger families not fit with our timing, finances and childcare due to support structures avaiable and women making a difference in the workplace.
  2. Giving birth naturally is great, but as a mother who has had one C-section and one natural birth, just having your child out alive and safe is the blessing. Between 1990 and 2013, maternal mortality worldwide dropped by almost 50% (WHO Fact sheet N°348). Nowadays fewer women in the West die in childbirth and more children survive, so if you have to have a C-section this does not make you less of a mother.
  3. We live more global lives now; it can be highly likely that we are not anywhere near grandparents or a support structure. The total number of international migrants has risen from approximately 150 million in 2000 to 214 million today. Migrants represent roughly 3 percent of the world’s population; grouped into a single nation, it would be 
the world’s fifth-most-populous country (source AT Kearney 2010).  This can make motherhood harder, because due to relocation we are away from family who sit on the other side of the country or even world.
  4. We fought for women to have an education, and as such women continue onto further education outnumbering men in the West. Women in developed regions such as the United States and Europe are likely, because of higher qualifications, to become the primary breadwinners within the next two to three decades. In 2009, women earned 58 percent of bachelor’s degrees and 60 percent of master’s degrees awarded by U.S. colleges, and 59 per- cent of degrees awarded in the European Union. In the 27-nation EU, in the 25-to-34 age group, 34 percent of women have university degrees compared to 26 percent of men. A clear trend has emerged of higher female achievement in education.   This trend has meant that women are on a different timeframe as mothers in previous generations (source AT Kearney 2010). I am not saying it I better or worse just different. The phase of life at which we become mothers is no longer weighted in the 20s but our 30s. We have a different outlook on life, and different experiences.
  5. We fought for equal rights in the workplace; women have such intellectual power with the ability to make a difference across industries and job sectors. Women now make up 15 percent of directors of Fortune 500 companies, yet only 2 percent of Fortune 500 and 5 percent of FTSE 100 CEOs are female (source AT Kearney 2010).   If women want to have the opportunity to continue in the workplace it makes us different to the motherhood of previous generations.  

Reading

  1. Facts that will shape the Global Business Environment AT Kearny 2010
  2. WHO Factsheet N°348

Negotiating Your Terms for Balance

As I have gotten older balance becomes more prevalent a need in my life. Earlier on in my profession I remember sitting with my VP in Soho and saying that “I work hard and play hard, so because I love what I do there is no distinction.” He was disagreeing with me, and at the time I didn’t get it because I do what I love.

That said the concept of doing what you love is not a new one, and some of us are blessed in the opportunity to do that. However, then I had fulfilment of esteem, self-actualisation, cognitively, financially, and intellectually but to the cost of the earlier needs without admitting it: sex, health, friendship (constantly travelling), and no partner to share my life with. I also did not have a partner or indeed children.

Now I have those things but that demanded several negotiations in my life, not least with myself. It now means that with each move I make I consider what is important to me and negotiate in that manner:

  • Physiological – Maslow puts things such as breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis and excretion as a basic need and once we meet those needs they can not motivate us. However, one of the realisations as I have gotten older, is how this motivates my decisions more. As a wife and mother of two: time for sleep, and a healthy sex life is important. Negotiating flexible working arrangements that allow me to sleep and have a healthy sex life is a motivator. What times do you want to work? Can you work flexibly? Can you work from home?
  • Safety – security of employment, of resources, of morality, of the family, of health and of property is a second tier need. However, again my health is a predominant feature. I realised if I did not have my health, I would not be able to be there for my children, and my partner. This was not through a health scare but pure self-realisation of what was important. So the terms that I negotiated allow me to practice yoga at least 3 times a week. This is a motivator. Can you work flexibly? Are there facilities that can be accessed in a lunch hour to stay healthy? What’s the salary is it fair for the role i.e. what they would pay a man? Is it enough to live?
  • Love/ Belonging – Friendship, family, sexual intimacy – these now a significant motivators for me as life is precious and I actually consider them on par with self-actualisation. How much do you want to travel? What time will I have for family and friends? Can your spouse be based with you if the assignment is abroad? What support framework is there for your spouse? What are the people like? What social activities are there? What hours do I want to work? What are the expectations? Is it a presence or productivity culture? I am not willing to work excessive hours.
  • Esteem – self-esteem confidence, achievement, respect of others, and respect by others. Strangely enough this became less of a motivator. I no longer needed the recognition of others that was not important. However a respectful workplace is. This may vary for everyone: Are people driven off their job title? Is it hierarchical? Do people respect different people’s views? What is the challenge, and is it challenging enough for me? What future challenges could there be for me? What development is available? What is my manager’s competence and leadership style?
  • Self-Actualisation – Morality, creativity, Spontaneity, Problem Solving, Lack of Prejudice and Acceptance of Facts. An environment where I can fully realise my potential, be creative, get up each morning and think ‘yeah’, be authentic and act with integrity is a predominant motivator and deciding factor. What empowerment is there in the organisation of their employees? Is it a command and control organisation?

Some critiques have added other levels like ‘Transcendence” “Cognitive” and “Aesthetic.” In my experience many people are neglecting the lower levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy in thirst for the higher motivators. As I have become more self-aware of my needs, the base of the hierarchy: Physiological, Safety and Love can act at the higher levels of motivation.

Staying Fit with Kids - Time Hacks

Staying fit with kids brings out creativity in any parent, because time is short and precious.

  1. Getting up early at the top of the list for more time in the day, but it can frustrate night owls. As an early bird, getting up at 5 gives me so much more time in my day to ensure I get to go for either a run or do yoga.
  2. Boiling the kettle. I plank when I am boiling the kettle, this activity started when I took on a 30-day plank challenge. A quarter full kettle takes about 2.30 Minutes. You can extend the length of time as you build up endurance. This makes use of otherwise wasted time just waiting for the kettle to boil, working your core; ingenious!
  3. Clean eating, metabolism boosters and cleansers. Hot water and lemon, some Aloe Vera and eating clean no processed food means that no time is wasted in trying to repair any damage created by unhealthy foods.
  4. Lunch breaks are a great time for a working mothers or fathers to get out into the fresh air, build muscle and stimulate the natural renewal with a run.
  5. Getting in to work early means that you can leave a little earlier and be back before the kids get home, which allows you to do mediation or yoga working each muscle, and increasing you flexibility as well as health.
  6. A healthy sex life is in itself a work out without being crude; invest time for yourself and your partner, as well as increasing the heart rate.
  7. A healthy night’s sleep is just as important as eating right and exercising. I’m in bed by the latest 10 ready for an energy packed ‘tomorrow.’

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