One to One Coaching

I offer free 30 minute telephone/Skype consultations for people wanting to find out more about coaching on the 'baby decision'. Email me at mailto:beth@ticktockcoaching.co.uk and assistant Laura will respond and arrange an appointment with you. Visit http://www.ticktockcoaching.co.uk/ for more information about my coaching services.

Friday, 26 August 2016

How to maintain friendships across the 'Baby Divide'

Another sunny week in London!  In London, everyone seems more relaxed and happy - the pavements are full of people relaxing and socializing.  I've also been finding myself meeting friends more often as the nights are lighter and the warm weather makes for relaxed and easy socialising.

Thinking about friendship and the importance of friends in my life has sparked me to explore a difficult issue on the blog today - what happens when a friend has a child.  Does it impact a friendship negatively?  Is there indeed a divide or barrier that can be put up between parents and non-parents?

This article recently appeared in the Stylist magazine Female Friendship and the Great Baby Divide - written as a one person story from a new mother on the impact that having a baby had on her and her friendships.    One of the key factors the writer talks about is that  of suddenly being in a very new and different situation from friends without children means there is a need to connect with other new mothers.

You’re at your most vulnerable post-partum; your relationship feels like it’s taken a battering, your body is a mess, and your mind has scarpered to some far flung place. And yes – you desperately want to tell your child-free mates the initial horror of it all. But you don’t want to scare them off the locomotion of tears, Teletubbies and tantrums. Equally, you don’t want to dish out the breast pump blather – they’re too sassy, they’re lives are too polished for this social lumber.

I really could relate to this very well. As many of my regular readers know,  I came to coaching women on the baby decision due to my own indecision.  After a year of wrestling with my own ambivalence I decided to have a child and I had my boy Sam.

However much I thought I was prepared, I wasn't.  I found the first year very difficult.  And what I hadn't anticipated was would be the distance I would feel from old friends of mine.  I had someone entered a very different world - one where I was perpetually tired, obsessed with nappies and sleep routines.  I also found my ability to travel round and get places with a baby very limited.  I moved from being as someone used to hoping on and off public transport with ease to cross London to visit friends to being someone who rarely left her neighborhood.   Looking back, I can see how difficult to understand my limited availability was to my friends without children.  Like the author of the Stylist piece, I also didn't want to burden my child-free friends with boring and obsessive baby musings.  But I also treasured those occasions of being with my friends without my child - of being able to meet for coffee without a baby to worry about, to be able to go see a film or have a drink.  And as my child grew older, these became more and more frequent.  Now that my child is more independent, I feel as though I have gotten most of my old life back - most of my ability to socialise freely has returned.

For those without children, it can feel like you've been abandoned.  Many of my clients say that they end up feeling isolated - particularly if they are the only one of their friendship group who isn't a parent.  Sometimes they find themselves excluded which can be hurtful - for example when children's birthday parties are held and only the parents with children are invited.  

So how can you maintain your friendships across 'The Great Baby Divide'?

Remember that the 1st year is the most difficult and absorbing for new parents.   If you are the friend of a new parent, you will probably find yourself making more of an effort to visit and travel to meet your friend and her baby.   You'll probably have to listen to many stories about baby-hood that seem boring but know that this is just a phrase and it will pass.

New parents can remember to connect with old friends even though you will definitely need the support of new mom friends whom will sympathize with current struggles.   Sometimes just acknowledging the situation and that you are aware that for a while you might not be as available but as soon as you can you will be up for a trip to the movies/dinner/a drink.



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Friday, 19 August 2016

How do we determine our life path?

I've been having a break from the blog as I have been on vacation - I had a lovely time in Canada (in beautiful Nova Scotia actually) visiting friends and family.  And I then flew down to one of my all time favorite cities, New York!  London and NYC are the same kind of world class, cosmopolitan, diverse city.  And yet, there is such a different energy about each city - NYC has a particular vibrancy about it. London is still my home and it's nice to be back in the UK and back to the old routine.  I've been coaching a number of clients from different parts of the world over my vacation  - what is great about Skype is that I can still coach clients whether I'm in Nova Scotia, NYC or London.

Today I am thinking about purpose - and what it means to live our live on purpose. Many of the people who come to me about the decision to have children or not also find themselves questioning the idea of purpose.  'If I don't have children, then I want to be leading a life with meaning and purpose?' is often a question posed by my clients..

One of the points I always make about purpose and the 'baby decision' is that I don't think that having children gives you your life's purpose although for some people, this may be the case.  However, in addition to my 'baby decision' clients, I see many clients for general career and life coaching who are also parents.  Many of the parents I see are also struggling with the concept of purpose.... and the questions they are coming to coaching include: how can we live a live with purpose, how can we make a difference in the world and have an impact?  Something I learnt from the wonderful US coach Dave Ellis who works with high-net worth individuals is that someone might have all the material wealth and success in the world but if they are not living life on purpose or making a difference in some way, they will not feel fulfilled.

I came across this very thoughtful piece in the Guardian from early this month  by Oliver Burkeman called Misery, failure, death and a slap in the face.   The premise of the book, written by James Hollis is we need to look beyond the ego - or the surface part of us that wants to be happiness.  Most techniques for happiness and becoming happy, claims Hollis, are bound to fail because we are staying on the surface level of the ego.  We need to listen to what Hollis called 'the forces of unconscious' want from us.   I love this because part of what I try to do as a coach is help people get underneath the surface of the ego and find ways to tap into our intuition.

Hollis had a wonderful question - which I think of as a coaching question - which he felt would help people who are at a crucial crossroads of their life.   The question is  'Does this path, this choice, make me larger or smaller?'    Usually, at some point during my coaching with baby decision clients, I tend to ask a similar question.   Because a question about happiness - whether the decision will make me happy or not, never has the same resonance.