Award-winning coach Amanda Alexander gives some advice on how to survive the more relentless side of parenting.
Being a mother can be a roller-coaster ride of emotions and experiences. There are extreme highs and extreme lows. But much of the time being a working mother can be hard, unrelenting and exhausting. Amanda Alexander, a leading coach and mentor for mums returning to work, women in business and mums starting their own business, says: “As a mother, you trade “Happy Hour” for “Arsenic Hour”, and that’s just one of the things you have to deal with day in, day out.”
She runs a sixty-minute seminar on how to slow down and stop the treadmill from time to time so you can top up your energy levels.
Amanda says it’s crucial to have a support network around you to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Getting outside is a good move if you are feeling tired and in a rut. “When you change your physical state it changes your mental state,” says Amanda.
It’s also important to meet up with other parents and talk to other adults. “It may take a bit of organising, but it’s a good idea to organise days out when it’s not just you in charge. It makes everything easier if there are other people. The children are generally better behaved and you keep yourself in check. It can help with the whole feeling of being overwhelmed and drained.”
She adds that there is nothing to beat having a laugh with other like-minded parents to reduce stress levels, but she says it’s better to avoid parents who are over-competitive and bring you down. “It’s important to cultivate close friendships who can support you, to choose the right people,” she adds.
If you don’t have time to get out, picking up the phone and talking to a friend can help. Online chats are useful, but they are not the same as genuine human interaction, says Amanda. Even if you don’t feel you have the time or feel too exhausted, she says it’s important to coach yourself to keep in touch. “It can require willpower if all you feel like doing is nothing, but keeping in touch makes all the difference.”
Amanda states: “Raising children has always been hard work, but it’s important to remember that it’s only for a little blip of time that it’s been considered to be mainly down to the mother. It was a team effort with lots of different people in the past. It’s unnatural to expect one person to be responsible for everything and for that one person to expect themselves to be everything their child needs. If you have a partner, talk about how you can ease things. Communicate clearly, but not in an accusatory way.”
She adds: “It can feel like drudgery if you feel you are doing it all on your own.”
She advises that it’s okay to get a bit cross if the kids are making lots of demands. “It’s okay to say you cannot do something or that you are at the end of your teather. It can jolt them out of their complacency. Children are naturally selfish and it can make them think. I do think we live in a very child-centric age where we are constantly thinking about doing the best for the children and giving them opportunities, but parents sometimes need a break,” she says.
Another vital piece of advice is to give yourself something to look forward to every day. “Small treats can help you through the day,” says Amanda. They can be anything from a tea break to a bath, something you look forward to when you can just relax.
And her final tip is to cut the perfectionism. No-one is the perfect parent. “Family life is messy. It’s meant to be tough, but you’re not in it alone.”
*Amanda Alexander is a multi-award winning Coach and Director of www.coachingmums.com and www.amandaalexander.com She helps organisations to implement a win-win flexible working culture and to retain their talented high-performers. Starting mid September 2014, Amanda's “Mums Who Coach” training programme is back by popular demand. Mums Who Coach teaches coaches how to transform their dream of having their own coaching business into reality. If you want to learn from one of the UK’s Top Life Coaches, check out Mums Who Coach here.