Parent Guilt

Parent Guilt

There’s really only one thing worse than parent guilt…. That is feeling guilty about the guilt. Let me explain. You love your child. You are doing the best you can. In any given moment, you are juggling the multiple small and big tasks we take on as parents because that’s what we signed up for when we embarked on this role. The challenge arises when you don’t feel like there is a choice in what you are doing. Maybe the choice you make to add on an extra day of after-school care leaves you feeling guilty. Perhaps it’s missing a parent-teacher event because you are away for work.  It’s OK to feel guilty. It’s letting you know that there’s a values conflict – two things that are important to you are colliding. It’s when that guilt feeling spirals and you tell yourself you shouldn’t feel guilty or worse still, you turn it into a guilt trip, which intensifies the feeling – that’s when your decision-making is affected and you need to interject. Your mind is incredible and it will help you create lots of stories that may or may not be useful. Matthew Lieberman, a neuroscientist has found an inverse relationship between the activation of amygdala (emotions) and the prefrontal cortex (decision-making). When the amygdala is active with blood and oxygen, there is less activation in the prefrontal cortex. Our thinking power is disrupted and there are deficits in our problem solving, because the blood and oxygen are in the amygdala versus the prefrontal cortex. Any strong emotion, fear, stress, guilt, anxiety, anger, joy, or betrayal trips off the amygdala and impairs the prefrontal...
Work-life blend…not balance

Work-life blend…not balance

The conversation around work-life balance needs to change from balancing to blending if we are going to sustainably increase the quality of our daily lives. An American Sociological Review study found that seven out of ten US workers struggle with work-life balance. And it is a struggle. The term work-life balance implies there is a holy grail way to live life and work in specified portions that will output a good quality of life. Whilst traditionally we looked at time spent at work versus outside of work. High performers are working in a different way. Today I woke up and did a routine of my five minute journal, exercise, shower and got dressed. I made breakfast for myself and children and we all got ready to visit a high school for my eldest child. After the tour, I dropped both children off at school and went to work. At work I had emails to respond to, a presentation to write and a brochure to complete, whilst organising myself for a dinner party we are hosting day after tomorrow. After picking up children, having dinner with the family (dishes are still in the sink) and finishing up with some bedtime cuddles with our boys, I’m now back on my computer writing this article and finishing off a few emails before I cuddle up with my husband and go to bed. There was no “this is work time” and “this is family time” – it was a blend. Work-life blend is like making a smoothie with different ingredients depending on what you have in the fridge that day. Some days you have more banana,...
Time is precious…

Time is precious…

Today I learnt about a friend who lost her daughter in a tragic accident. Recently, it was a family friend who suddenly lost her life at the age of 34. Both of these events were in quick succession to losing my cousin who was 36, in the months prior. These deaths have hit me hard. I’m devastated for the loss to each of their families and what has become so real is, there are three more sets of parents who have lost their child. As I watch a movie with my children tonight, I will hold them just that little bit tighter. It’s a sobering thought, none of us really know when moments will be our last.. Time is precious… Go for it now. The future is promised to no one. ~Wayne Dyer My commitment to myself is to not wait for tragedy or illness or pain to help me wake up and chase my dreams or do the things that matter. My commitment is to say all the important things to the people that matter and make as many moments matter as I can. Have you been waiting to say or do something and now doesn’t seem the right time? What’s a small step you can take in the direction you want? Time is...
Overcoming guilt

Overcoming guilt

Darling I can’t read to you tonight, I have to work…. These are the words that stab the heart of a parent when they are saying them to their children. It’s fine when these are one-off situations. It’s when they become regular that they become harder to bear. Sharon, is a client and a mum to three children and in her leadership role, regularly has out of hours work to attend to. She does her best to minimise the impact of her work on her time with her children and lately it has been becoming more and more of a challenge. Sharon loves her work, she wouldn’t be who she is, if she didn’t do the work that she does. It’s a big part of her life, as are her children, and she loves that her children get to see her kicking goals and making a contribution. Despite knowing all of this, Sharon still feels guilty and conflicted and she’s not alone. Research into the attitudes of 1,000 working parents (or expectant parents) carried out on behalf of the Work and Family Show, found that 81 per cent of mothers returning to work after having a child said they felt guilty about doing so. Torn between two things that are important to her, what can Sharon do to resolve this conflict? Guilt is a result of holding a set of rules in your mind and one or more of the rules are being broken. Basically, you are not doing what you are “supposed to do”. Usually these rules are buried deep down (likely from a young age) and you operate...
You family vision

You family vision

A strong vision of success is essential to great leadership as a parent. Without a vision, you may have great ideas of how you want your child to be, however without the focus and the discipline on what matters you can get lost in myriad of things you do each day and lose sight of the bigger picture. Without a vision, daily tasks can feel hollow and operational, rather than practical and meaningful. “If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” Steve jobs I recently took my parents through an exercise to create a vision for their family. Whilst myself and my older sibling are very much leaders in our own families, my younger sibling is mentally disabled and is heavily dependant upon my parents. Up until now my parents have been managing the day to day – getting by and dealing with whatever comes up next. However, this is the first time in 40 years they have stepped back and been able to articulate their vision for my brother. In their words this has meant, “Clarity on what needs to be done” “Focus on what matters most, despite the day-to-day things that come up” “A general direction, rather than meandering” “Feeling like we have some control over the future” It is so often easier and more appealing to carry on and just get through the day. Walter Mischel is a researcher and author of the Marshmallow Test, a study carried out on the effects of delayed gratification. If a child was offered a marshmallow immediately...
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