Help, Am I Deluded?

I’ve met my fair share of coach/therapist/healer types who were extremely deluded about either their grandiose plans, their skills or their market actually wanting them. There have also been a fair amount if people with a great deal less training and experience than me, who were a load better at marketing and therefore a hell of a lot more financially successful. So the question is, am I deluded too, or is it just a matter of my marketing skills needing a polish?

The thing is, I’ve spent nearly 11yrs in this business in one form or another, and although I’ve enjoyed it, and it’s enriched my life with less stress, 2 miracle kids, a lasting relationship and a feeling of contentment, it hasn’t done so financially. I’ve got to ‘that time’, it’s ‘make or break’. I’ve decided to focus on mums as it is a subject close to my heart. I’ve got a fab new way of doing my coaching online, which makes it more accessible and affordable for mums. Lastly, I’ve signed up for a ‘bootcamp’ to help me launch my new product. But is it doomed to failure, because no one wants it or me?

Let’s back track a bit. When I became a mum, I realised that the training I had received was brilliant, and saved me many hours of angst. But it was also inappropriate for a mums time and resource limitations, so I created the mummy whisperer program. I saw all these mums talking/blogging about losing their identity, having problems with conflict or lack of communication in their families, and getting stressed out because they thought they/their kids/partners/life should be different. My thought process was that they ‘needed’ all these things I could do to help them be more contented with their lives and grow strong families. But, do mums really want it? That is, it might sound nice, and a few might sign up, but are there enough who REALLY want it? And would they want me? And would they pay enough to make them appreciate it and give me a fair level of earnings?

Apparently, I am meant to focus on a smaller niche than just mums, one where I have experience, credibility and contacts. The idea is if I focus on a niche, my message will be clearer and will get more mums signing up. So that has made me decide to focus on mums with kids starting nursery or school. Not new mums of babies, because my longer term plan is to provide them with a book, and not mums of teens because I don’t have teenagers yet. But if there is a market, the next question I’m facing is wether I need to cut it down even smaller to: working mums, work from home mums, or stay at home mums. Now I reckon that my program would help them all, especially as they all face guilt and work/life/rest/play balance in some way shape or form. But I can also see several potential problems, especially that working mums don’t have enough time left over to make their lives easier, and SAHM’s wouldn’t want to spend the money on themselves. By creating a program that can be worked through online, I was hoping that mums could fit it into their lives more easily, and by giving a payment option over 3 months with a 14 day free trial it would make it more affordable. But that might not be enough, or is that where marketing comes in?

There is an even bigger problem as well! What I’m offering is a way for a mum to be more sure of themselves and listen to their own natural instinct and knowledge of their family, instead of a one-size fits all parenting technique. But do mums want an answer tailored to their own family, which leaves them in the driving seat, or would they prefer to be told what to do according to a set of rules, even if it’s pretty much impossible to create? If there are mums who like the idea of what I offer, does that mean that they are already going that way and so don’t need my help?

In the past I have specialised in mental health issues, relationship problems and small business owners. Perhaps a mum facing the loss of her marriage, mental health or business would be more likely to ask for help. But if that is the case, then I’m going to have to take more time off work, because I don’t currently have the time to support these more extreme demands; I was planning on tackling them later.

What do you reckon? I’d really appreciate any feedback (be gentle please!; so I’m going to offer a copy of my book ‘getting the hang of gratitude’ to one of the people who leave a comment (I’ll use some random fair way of selecting!).

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It’s All Change On The Western Front

It’s been a weird 6 months, I appear to have been in mega ‘declutter your life’ mode.  You would have thought that giving birth to little dimples, and curly headed boy going to primary school would have been enough really, plus getting really sick.  But I appear to have been on a mission.

Maybe it’s because now I have two kids, there really isn’t any space for anything that is irrelevant or takes up time/space I can’t afford?  Did anyone else find a similar thing happened to them after having a second child?

I’m also much more aware of my age (41), and am having no problem in remembering to eat healthily or take vitamins and minerals that I probably wouldn’t have been reliable about beforehand.  I realised that if I’m to see my grandchildren, then some serious work needs to be done to get it into working order.  Perhaps it’s a big reality check that happens in your forties?

Or is it because it’s my ‘saturn return’ in astrological terms or ‘mid-life crisis’ in psychobabble terms?  My lovely astrologer (seriously, if you ever wanted to try it, he’s a lovely guy, brilliant value, very good at it and it doesn’t matter where you live) did say that it was hitting me this year.

I’ve found a wonderful woman locally who will take all the stuff  you just haven’t managed to get round to selling on ebay and do it for you (if you near St Albans and want her name, feel free to leave a comment below).  Although she takes a fee, I reckon that she makes more on the sale anyway, so it’s well worth it.  She took a car load, plus sold a bike and a dog kennel that got picked up from our home.  Then even better was the discovery of freegle (used to be called freecyle), which is a yahoo group where you can offer ANYTHING for free and within 24hrs it’s gone; FANTASTIC!

We had a flood from the shower, so downstairs is going to be refloored (we have holes in the floor from the dog scratching) and the walls painted in industrial child proof stuff!  So the house is getting a make over too.

I even in a fit of madness went from this, to this (plus yesterday I had all the grey dyed out!):

Meanwhile big northern hairy hubby is also at it, with a sudden fitness regime and a success at losing weight that he hasn’t had in 10yrs.  I think that we would both admit that our relationship needs a bit of polishing after all these years (21, how scary!), so there is change afoot there too.

The biggest change came as I decided what to do about my work.  I found it increasingly hard to work out how things would work with the second baby.  Now that I’m just focussing on Mums and am just overseeing my more general therapy business, it was easier, but also I realised that coordinating our schedules was almost impossible.  Plus for Mums I really needed to be able to provide incredible value for service for a really affordable price, but without making it pointless me working.  I was seriously considering just giving up work.  After all, I could be a stay at home mum (SAHM), and in the time I would normally work, I could get fit, look fab, and then when the kids leave school I’ll be about 60, so pretty much ready to retire.  There would be a hell of a lot less juggling to do.  But there would of course be the downside that I lose my sparkle when I don’t work at all, so I might look better, but I wouldn’t be much fun.

By the way, you might not know what I actually do?  I’ve updated by about page and background, just incase you are interested as to where I came from, and what my qualifications are.  But basically, I’m not a parenting coach.  I call myself a ‘mummy whisperer’, because I’m just here to help the mum to be clear on who they are, become more contented, get more sparkle in their lives, and create a strong family with less conflict and stress.  (There’s lots more information on this blog about the ‘fun creation equation‘ and my services, plus on my main site).

Then out of the blue I found my solution!  It’s so exciting, I’ve kept quiet about it all summer, because I wanted to show you what it would look like before I mentioned it.  I’ve found a way, that I can provide help for Mums ANYWHERE, at ANY TIME of the day, 24×7, ANY DAY of the week, for ANY LENGTH of time.  Plus the amount of stuff I’ve put in the package is well worth about £7000, but I can sell it from £379, with the option to pay by paypal/credit card over 3 months, so it is really affordable.  Plus, it will be there for the Mums FOREVER, to reuse over and over again, for that one price.  Plus, for anyone who can’t afford it initially, I’ve got a FREE INTRODUCTION, and will be adding a £27 product to help people sort out their finances.  It’s way better than just 1to1’s because all the information is there to be referred back to at any time, and better than workshops, because no one can slip through the cracks and pretend that they understand. (Please forgive me for the shouting in capitals, but I’ve been keeping quiet about this all summer, so I’m kind of over-excited!!).

‘So what on earth is it?’, I hear you ask (hopefully?!).  It’s using a product called **jigsawbox, funnily enough created by another Mum who must have been in the same situation as me.  It means that I can put my workbooks or workshops online into packages.  When you login, there will be different modules, inside of which will be videos, audios, and text explaining that particular subject.  Then to help you learn it properly there are exercises for you to fill out.  But the best bit is, when you press [send to coach], I can then add my own feedback, so we can interact online.  There will also be the option for free webinars, or to add 15min skype chats or longer 1to1 sessions for some Mums who need more assistance (for example, if there are relationship issues, PND, or past abusive relationships).

Now I haven’t done a video to show you properly yet, but I will do, so keep a look out for it.  But in the meantime, you can get a free introduction to this fab system, plus start to have a look at your own identity and how your family is working at the moment, by signing up for free email list (see RHS).  I’d love to know what you think, so please do leave comments below.

So how come has all this come about?  Well, it might sound a bit tree hugging, but I’m sure there is a vibe of change in the air.  I was too late to get involved in *** Josie’s (a well known mummy bloggerwriting workshop about change last week, but there seems to be a lot of it about.  It’s the jewish new year, and schools always start at this time of the year, so maybe we are all programmed to be thinking about it around now.  There are days when it feels exciting, and others when it feels very scary, and almost like I’m grieving for something being over.  I cried buckets on the last night of big brother, and when curly headed boy started school, but in a way they were just opportunities for a few tears to do with something deeper.  As my mentor says ‘the greatest transformation happens at the border of order and chaos’, i.e. nothing gets changed without some discomfort!  So onwards and upwards, one step at a time, is my motto at the moment.

Is life changing for you too, or is it just those of us in the mid-life crisis?

** I am now an affiliate of jigsawbox as well; of course, because I think it is fab, I want to share it with other coaches/therapist/trainers out there.  If you decide you like it after hearing from me, feel free to email me for more info, and I’d really appreciate you using my affiliate link.  I haven’t found anything else that even matches it a little, it has been going for over a year, so the kinks have been sorted out, and there is tonnes of support.

*** Josie is one of the 3 mummy bloggers who recently went to bangladesh with Save the Children, and have started a Press for Change campaign to push Nick Clegg to commit to making the huge rates of child mortality in third world countries a thing of the past.

School: The Problem Is They Can’t Do Everything

I’ve unravelled some of my discomfort last week with curly headed boy starting school, so I feel much clearer this morning.  Apart from the obvious Rite of Passage, it’s because there has to be a compromise and there is no such thing as a perfect school.  Please Note, I’m a very fond mummy, but I’m not clingy, so don’t assume that was my problem, I’m a bit sleep deprived and might get grumpy if that steriotype is put at my door ;o)

What can a school give your child: learning, academic results, confidence, sport, individuality, life lessons, art, creativity, experiences, friends, discipline, so many things.  But none of them give it all, that’s the problem.

Let’s look at our decision process when it came to picking schools.

State Schools: The UK has a good state primary system and I had always said I would NEVER pay for a young child to go to school.  But when I heard myself say that, I did get a little uncomfortable, because ‘never say never’, and sure enough it didn’t work out.  We moved into a lovely new estate when I was pregnant, with dodgy local school, but lots of fab schools around us.  So the plan was to send him to one of several.  However, a few years and a big baby boom later, and the only option was the local school (sadly I’m not catholic, otherwise there are lots of catholic schools around).  Now, I’m not suggesting that this school would have ruined his life forever, and he would certainly have experienced a different kind of reality.  But kids do need to feel like they fit in, and I winced when seeing 5yr olds swearing leaving the schools, with Mums smoking and swearing back.

Tree Hugging: My next plan was to go for a Steiner School, which I had again always assumed would be a good choice for me.  I happened to be offered a table at their fair, and was incredibly impressed with the confidence and individuality of the young teenagers as they strolled around the corridors busking and looking much cooler than the standard wannabe fashion follower.  But as I learnt more about it, I realised that it just wouldn’t work for curly headed boy’s values.  He wanted to learn, learn and learn some more.  So waiting until 7yrs to read and write wouldn’t have worked for him.  Plus it was a risky choice as we have often moved due to job changes, and he might then end up in a place without a Steiner school and have a huge amount of catch up to do.  He wasn’t the type to want to spend an extra year at school either, although I see that it makes a great deal of sense.  Plus I was a little uncomfortable with the deeper beliefs in the school system and knew that with the training I had over the past 10yrs, I would have been in major disagreement with some of their most deeply held philosophies.

Private Sector: Inevitably we moved onto the private sector, but it was a bit late in the day, I was naive, and had no idea of the amount of competition involved.  I thought that if you had a relatively bright kid, you applied to one school, and that was that.  I soon realised this was not the case and had to apply to 4 in total.  (I do understand that I am lucky to have this option, but it’s neither an easy option to decide to spend that kind of money every year on schools).

Option 1: Had the most holistic feel of them all, but this year a big sibling intake, a new headmistress starting and unfortunately I had inadvertently moved to a nursery the rumour is that they didn’t like.  Their assessment day was weird; a long line of teachers march in, randomly pick a child, and walk off with them.  I suspect that curly headed boy took a dislike to the teacher, so despite a very successful open day and private walk around with the head we didn’t get offered a space (the teacher wouldn’t explain why she needed to keep the 2 photos of him that she had, and that she’d been given them by me anyway, so he could just ask me).

Option 2: Had a lovely concept of EVERY child learning to do EVERYTHING, but the downside to that was saturday school.  I had a strong feeling that we wouldn’t fit in there with the other kids, which is very important to Curly headed boy.

Option 3: Seemed to really concentrate on creating programs that would encourage and bring out the best in your child, whatever that was.  The problem was they only had 4 spaces as they only had 1 class, already full from the nursery.  Plus, there would have been no one there that Max knew, which would have been very against his values.

Option 4: A very traditional school.  People pick it because they can rely on the results that it gives, and thinking about it this week I can see that this gives a huge amount of security as it’s not necessarily the private education that counts in our competitive job market, but the academics you get.  A large number of Curly Headed Boy’s friends are going here, and it is massively comforting for him to meet them in the play ground (there are 3 classes here).  Plus, there is a great mixture of backgrounds, which he likes.  His old nursery had all your ‘standard’ backgrounds of white, asian and black, but also russian, french, jewish, oriental; and he loved meeting lots of different types of friends.  But as you see from last week, there is very little ‘touchy feely’ stuff and so I’ve been uncomfortable about the lack of information provided and the lack of forethought in helping the kids to fit in.  Some people would probably consider me as a bit ‘bloody minded’ as I don’t tend to just do something, just because I’ve been told to or am expected to!

As it was, it was Option 1, 2 and 3 put curly headed boy on their ‘reserve list’, and Option 4 offered him a place.  I could probably have pushed 1/2/3, but decided that I would go with 4 as they wanted him from the get go, so I trusted that they knew he would fit in best there.

So there are the options we faced:

  • State sector, which would have saved us lots of money and given him a good ‘normal’ academic start, that we could easily have afforded to add to if he wanted to learn something extra on the side.  But the problem of the baby boom, leaving us with a less attractive school.
  • Steiner system, full of individuality and community spirit.  But also with it’s problems.
  • Private Option: where the education is more focussed on academics.  When watching a TV program yesterday called ‘My family’s crazy gap year’, I realised my big concern was about ‘life experiences’ and a more holistic view of life being missing.  Both of which are very important to me.

I firmly believe that there are no mistakes and that there are as many pros as cons to all options.  Today I realised how come I have picked the ‘right’ option for curly headed boy.  The option I have picked works for his high value on learning and friends.  Meanwhile, everything that I am concerned is ‘missing’, I (and big hairy northern hubby) have all the skills to fill in.  I love doing creative stuff, know how to support/encourage him when he is unconfident, can add some extra sports classes at my gym and he can do lots of sport with hubby.  Meanwhile, having had a chat with hubby yesterday, we can fill in the ‘life experiences’ with holidays that ensure he and little dimples gets a broad education.

So phew: that’s one thing sorted off my brain anyway!  It does feel very uncomfortable when in a situation that feels very opposite to your own values.  It’s about working out why it is, and then looking for the balance.  Mind you, I will keep my eyes open to options as he gets older, and not count out a ‘crazy gap year’ of our own oneday ;o)

Seriously, Why Am I Crying, He’s Just Starting School?!!!

  • I cried the last morning morning I dropped curly headed boy at nursery 8 weeks ago.
  • I cried when I picked him up.
  • I cried when I bought his school uniform 3 weeks ago.
  • I cried when I cuddled him last night.
  • And I cried when I dropped him off this morning at primary school.

Seriously, what a sap!  Luckily he didn’t notice apart from last night when he said ‘but mummy, there are actually tears in your eyes’, said in his best scientific experimenting voice.  Then he started wondering whether aliens had put them there and off he went on one of his little chats with me before bed time.  As you can see from his picture above, he was fine this morning, if a little serious at times.

You know how you walk out of the house and know you’ve forgotten something, but can’t remember what?  That’s how I feel.  Some of the Mums today were looking sad.  I didn’t see any other tears, but then we were going at different times.  Some Mums where old hats at it, as they already have several kids at school.  A few looked like they were skipping down the path on their way back from the class room!

So I drove home thinking, what on earth it was that makes my heart feel like it’s breaking.  The good news is how fast the last 5yrs has gone.  A very wise man once told me that the faster time feels, the more you must be doing what you love, and I really do love being a Mum.  But the problem is that means that the next 5yrs will go fast, and the next, and the next, and he’ll be off away, followed nearly 5yrs later by Little Dimples.  I can’t grab the time, I can’t hold it.  When I got sick a few months back I realised that one day I would have to leave my kiddies behind, and it was a horrible feeling.

But how lucky am I.  Despite not sleeping through the night for the past 5yrs (Little dimples took over where curly headed boy left off on the sleep stakes), a stone in weight I’d rather be without, lots of new grey hairs, struggling to juggle working and being a Mummy, I know I am just the luckiest ever.  This life works for me, it suits me.  It was blinking hard to come by and a bit of a surprise having been told so young that I’d never have kids.  All my troubles (people don’t go into my line of business without some ‘life experiences’ to encourage them) paid off with a great big pay off.  So, I’m lucky that I’ll be looking forward to picking him up from school.  Some Mums are not so lucky.  The pressures of what the world says they should be like get the better of them, and can create such a problem for their own identity that all the sparkle and love in the world literally gets sucked out.  So these are ‘lucky tears’ really.  OK, now I’m crying because I feel grateful that I was crying, seriously!

This afternoon, Curly Headed boy will be pleased to see me, and hug me just that little bit more tightly.  A bit of distance can bring you together sometimes.  I’ll remember that each time I drop him off and savour the chats in the car on the way to school, and the ability to listen to music on the way home all on my own for 15 minutes (little dimples still screams in the car, so she stays at home; post to come about that!).  Even when he’s big, there will still be a little bit of him that is the baby, toddler or pre-schooler that I’m so desperate to hold onto today.  I know this, because there are days that I would dearly love to have a parent to cuddle me.

Meanwhile, I reckon I’ve found a way to juggle work and mummydom much more easily;  Oooohhh I have so much to tell you from the summer holidays, I’ve got lots of exciting news!  So it’s time for me to wipe my eyes and catch up on emails and plans for the next two weeks.  (Can you imagine what I’m going to be like when Little Dimples starts primary school in 4yrs time, I’ll need a whole box of tissues, not just one!).