As a mother of two grown up sons (now 27 and 25) and as a Psychologist who has studied Child Development, I thought I’d share some evidence and stories so you know that you’re doing a great job, even if you think you aren’t.
In addition to the above, having worked with many women leaders, they differ from men in terms of the challenges they face on a daily basis. Women are predominantly altruistic, which can cause conflict when dealing with different behaviours. We can’t help everyone! Therefore I also am delighted to announce that, in conjunction with a fellow psychologist Chelle Verite, we are launching our 2 day leadership program, designed by women, for women entitled Be Brave, Be Strong, Be You. Details at the end of this blog.
So lets start with you as a working mum.
1. Don’t feel guilty about being a working mum
I was speaking to a client the other day who was worried that because she wasn’t spending as much time with her children as she would like, that one day they would turn around and tell her that she’d ruined their lives by being a full-time working mum. I quickly pointed out to her that they are going to say that anyway, whether she worked or not. If your child has never said that to you then you are one lucky parent. I have friends and family members who’ve been stay at home mums and I categorically state their children have said that to them too. I remember it all too well myself!
In addition to the above, research suggests that working parents in fact, have a positive impact on children. A link to this research is (here). It’s great to know that you are being a great role model to your children by showing them that you can care for them, as well as have your own aspirations to be successful and fulfilled.
2. Parents only have some impact on child development
There is research that resonates with my own experience of being a mum to two very different children. I thought I was a great mum with my first son (he was so good) until I had my second child then discovered that I could in no way shape his personality into being what I wanted it or felt it should be. Instead I had to work with the personality that he had. Looking for his strengths rather than concentrating on what I perceived to be flaws. They’re not flaws at all, he’s very determined which as a child can be exasperating but as an adult it is what drives him. He is now a very lovely young man who is thoughtful and kind. I’m extremely proud of them both. They tell me they are proud of me also because of what I’ve achieved through work.
Judith Rich-Harris is a controversial behavioural psychologist who believe that it isn’t parents who have the most influence (click here for article). I do agree with a lot of what she says. Of course parents need to provide a safe home environment, teach them right from wrong, set boundaries and ensure they have enough to eat but in terms of the wider world, there are so many more influences out there. She talks about the influence of friends, peers, teachers and says they have a far greater impact on children as they grow up. So you can do the essential bits as above, however, influences from the friends they mix with and who they socialise with on a daily basis can impact them more. Therefore, don’t beat yourself up or stress about not being there all the time for them.
3. Finding what works for you
I attended a women’s networking event at Nottingham University of Tuesday. It talked about how women entrepreneurs and leaders differ from their male counterparts. As we still take on the majority of the child care (from my experience this is because we want to, not because we’re forced to) that work/life balance is more important to women. We don’t want to work an 80-hour week, we want to work a normal week and get things done so we can enjoy the time we have with our children and also time for ourselves. I think men would want to do this too if they didn’t feel like they had to compete with others for staying later in the office. I’m not saying women don’t do this because I know they do too!
At the event two interesting views were shared so thought I’d share them here to. One was the 7 F’s, Isobel O’Neil shared this from another lady who had put this into practice in her life. I hadn’t come across it before. The link to the 7 F’s wheel is here.
- Family – How satisfied are you with your loved ones, who share a common sense of home?
- Finances – How satisfied are you with how your money funds your priorities?
- Fitness – How satisfied are you with the health of your body?
- Friends – How satisfied are you with the people who share your joys and disappointments?
- Fun – How satisfied are you with the part of your life that is playful and joyful?
- Future – How satisfied are you with the hope you have for yourself and others?
- Faith – How satisfied are you with your spiritual life?
The stand out one for me was fun. We forget sometimes that we need to have fun.
The second thought that was shared is the way women have different needs when it comes to career fulfilment. Many of the women there said the reason why they became entrepreneurs was because they weren’t getting the work/life balance in their previous roles. This is why Nottingham University started research into the needs of female entrepreneurs and they have come up with a toolkit for helping them to build success. They have provided a business plan that is designed with women’s needs in mind. This link to this is here which includes the research findings.
4. Be thankful and treasure the moments you have with your children
Some of my very good friends do not have children and this ache will not go away for them completely. Sometimes we need to reflect and think about what we do have rather than trying to think of what we haven’t got. As my boys are all grown up, I’ve come to realise that the childhood years come and go so quickly, I do find it hard sometimes to think back to how it was when they were young. Not because I didn’t spend time with them but because memories fade. Doesn’t look like there’s any grandchildren on the horizon either!
5. Be Brave, Be Strong, Be you
It is so important for you to be true to who you are. Don’t let other people tell you who they think you should be. This comes up time and time again when I speak with women. Women often say to me “ I wish I could be more…..” or “I wish I could be like ……..”. There are many reasons for this, however, there are also ways of unravelling what leadership style you feel comfortable with, which will enable you to not only be a great leader but to also reach your potential in whatever guise that may be
Leadership course designed by women, for women
To complement the above I am delighted to announce that myself and a fellow Psychologist Chelle Verite are launching a Leadership Programme that has been developed by women, for women. It is entitled Be Brave, Be Strong, Be You. This programme will challenge you and take you out of your comfort zone but we promise you that you will feel safe. There are so many leadership books out there but they don’t give you the ability to practice your leadership skills. You will come to the course with as many real examples as you can so we can unravel them to enable you to take control. The first day of the programme will outline theories, behaviours, real examples and provide tools to use in leadership. The second day of the programme will enable you to put into practice what you’ve learnt. These will be small workshops, no more than 12 people in the room, which will give you the opportunity to fully embed these new skills.
It is aimed at the following:
- Women who are managers now but want to be great leaders in the future
- Women who haven’t found a leadership style that suits the way they work
- Women who want to learn how to deal with different dynamics within teams e.g. introverts, extroverts, conflict management & those people that you find difficult to communicate with.
- Women who want to feel comfortable having critical conversations
- Women who want to effectively manage teams their way
We are looking at launching this programme in the Autumn of 2019 and planning to roll out in London, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham. More details will follow.
A little bit about us
Chelle and I are both Psychologists & NLP Practitioners. Chelle is also an expert in her field of coaching and training, whilst my areas of expertise are business consultancy and change management. We both have experience in delivering leadership and change management programs in the UK and internationally. To find out more about us please click on our respective LinkedIn profiles here (Chelle) (Sue). To register your interest please email firstname.lastname@example.org