Sitting down to write this post, it’s harder than I expect to cast my mind back 12 months and feel exactly what I was feeling then. Not About The Kids wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye. I had been at home taking care of the house and kids for seven years, very happily, but always with my mind on what I was going to do next. And my mind buzzed all over the place. I considered interior design, upholstery and taking a law degree. I thought about setting up an events company or getting into marketing. I looked at retail, teaching and going back to my old job in the media. But something about being a full-time mum had gnawed away at my confidence, and all of these grand plans never went further than a Google search.
Whatever the idea, I seemed unable to move forward, quickly finding reasons why it would impossible to manage around the kids, or that I just wasn’t up to it. I told myself that while for the past 7 years everyone else had been moving forward with their careers, I’d fallen into a parenting black hole. When I people asked me what I did, I would often reply “oh nothing, I’m just at home…“.
Now though, I don’t feel this way anymore. Even if this blog didn’t exist, I would answer the full-time mum question differently. What changed? It started when I did some life and career coaching with the lovely Stephanie Smith who has helped me to write this post. We’ve each come up with our top 3 confidence tricks. They are so simple it makes me smile. If only I’d known sooner.
First, my top 3
Find the value in what you already do
This was BIG for me. The day that I realised that I had actually been working all the time the time I thought I wasn’t working was a revelation.
Once I sat down and listed my mum-skills I realised that for the best part of a decade, I’d been managing a household, scheduling, caring for and meeting the changing needs of everyone in the family. I’d been maintaining our home and social life, and educating two kids. As a co-chair of our school’s PTA I helped to organise events for hundreds of people. We virtually doubled the charity’s profit and I launched an online booking system.
It turns out I hadn’t actually fallen into a black hole after all. Mary Berry is a hero of mine. She has always, always seen the value in her skills, and monetised them from a very young age. We should all be more Mary (another blog post for another day).
If I was going to get a tattoo would say Just Start. My friend said it to me a year ago and it resonated then, and it resonates more now. Take one small step and see where it gets you. You don’t need to know exactly where we are going. I launched Not About The Kids with just the vaguest idea of how it could become a small business.
These are the small things that I did, and everything else followed. I booked 5 coaching sessions, I went on a 3-hour how-to-do-Instagram course, and I bought a domain name for my blog. If I had never started, I would not know what I do today, or what I will know a year from now.
If you are interested in getting Instagram working for you, click here to read my beginner’s guide.
Invest in yourself
I had wondered whether career coaching would help me for years before I booked a session. Years. But I never did anything about it because it seemed like an unjustifiable expense.
Finally taking that step and spending the money was liberating. It’s ok to invest in yourself. All I do to square it off is make sure it is money well spent. In every course or training I take, I do the reading, the homework and try to apply whatever I had learnt.
Maybe money is not the investment, maybe that’s not possible for you, but time could be. Allow yourself to carve out a bit of time just because you want to pursue something.
And here is Stephanie and her top 3 confidence boosters
You are you
Even if your career has been taking a back seat, you are still the same person. You may feel completely different but you still have the strengths, experience and characteristics you had while you were at work. You have not been static while you’ve been away. You will have added loads of things to your skills and experience. Actually, calling it a career break isn’t helpful because it implies you’ve stopped working for a while whereas, in fact, you’ve been working harder than ever – just not getting paid for it or holidays or sick leave!
Get into your uncomfortable zone
Comfort zones can feel uncomfortable. In fact, they can feel smothering. So although it feels scary to think about stepping out of your carefully balanced comfort zone, it’s pretty unlikely that the sky will fall or your children will end up destitute. Remember, kids are continually changing as they grow up which is why they are usually way more adaptable than we are.
Take action (this is Stephanie’s Just Start)
Take action. Taking action, however small, is the best way to overcome the inertia we experience when our confidence is low. Think about the tiniest thing you can do towards getting to where you want to be. It can feel like such a BIG thing we’re doing; to the point that we scare ourselves in to not doing anything. Stop thinking about THE thing and think about A thing. It could just be researching a course and then booking it. Each time you do something, no matter how small, and it works or is enjoyable you are learning that things are OK and that the worst hasn’t happened.
I’d love to know what you think, comment in the box at the bottom of the page and we can chat.
I’ve written more about how coaching helped to change the negative conversation in my head, you can read that post HERE.
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