As the saying goes, ‘we all juggle multiple hats’ as parents and finding balance seems to be illusive to most of us. Some days we feel we’re acing it, yet I think I speak for most of us when I say we more often than not feel like we are constantly teetering on the edge of exhaustion.
Helen Hopkins is a Wellness Coach and approaches balance from the perspective of habits and how we can find opportunities for balance in those habitual ‘dead times’. You will quite literally be blown away by her simple techniques – a must listen!
Here are the highlights:
(03:05) Helping people find their unique balance
(08:57) Our definition of balance is subjective
(13:13) 32,000 decisions every day
(19:03) Changing habitual habits for quick wins
(25:17) Looking after someone else starts with looking after yourself
(30:00) Give yourself permission
(34:11) It’s ok to not be ok
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To access the free resources mentioned in this episode visit https://drmaryhan.com/library
To purchase your ticket for my next online talk visit 'Tantrums & Meltdowns' on Thursday 23rd February 2023
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Hello and welcome to the How Not to Screw Up Your Kids' podcast. So po alpha cuppa, find a comfy seat and enjoy the conversation. This is episode 74 and today's episode Finding Balance is an interview I was very privileged to have with Helen Hopkins. She's a wellness coach Who knows how it feels to.
Family, friends, work, social life and all that's in between, whilst also trying to stay true to who she is. And I really feel that this couldn't have been a more aptly timed sort of interview because Helen's really practical around how can we find. The unique balance. That's the balance for us. Quite often we talk about this idea about balance and work life balance and fitting all of their various bits and pieces in, but Helen takes it to a super practical and actually very unique and bespoke in that what balance is to me is gonna be completely different to what balance looks like for you, and it's how can we use the knowledge and the power that we have around habits to inform and change and put things in place for.
For us amongst all the, the juggle of what that juggle looks like for our particular family. Now, the give this week is actually from Helen herself and is a phenomenal resource looking at specific habits, and she'll talk about it when you hear the interview as usual. Head over to Dr. Mary hand.com/library where you'll find the link to download Helen's resource.
But obviously, all of the resources across all my podcast episodes, all you have to do is pop in your email address and you'll get instant access not only to this week's to Helen's resource, but all the other free resources across. All my podcast episodes as ever. If you have enjoyed this episode, I would love it if you could follow and review this podcast so that others can find us and we can spread the love.
So until next time, here's Helen.
Are you all in for a treat in this podcast episode? Cuz I'm interviewing Helen Hopkins and she's gonna talk about. Well, various aspects of balanced and being parents and oh my God, you are in for a massive, massive treat. So Helen, welcome.
Oh, I'm so excited to be here. Thank you for having me.
Oh, it's such a pleasure.
This is such an important area and I think something that we probably, I think we talk about quite often in the general terms. I often talk about this idea about self care and how we've gotta sort of take care of ourselves, but I think actually talking about how do we balance being a parent with the other roles that we have, I think it's just so important.
So Helen, just as a bit of an intro, give us a little bit of info about what you do, and I think quite importantly, your role as.
Yeah, of course. So, um, I'm a habit change practitioner. I'm and a woman's wellness coach. Sometimes people call us life coaches. Um, I don't mind what you call me. I just help, particularly parents and women who are finding it hard to balance their life.
I help them find their unique balance. And I think that's really key here. The word unique balance, because everyone's balance looks different and there's been a, uh, a long dialogue about what balance looks like and when. Um, model that from, from our parents, that isn't real life for us. So I help my women really, really find their unique balance and also find themselves within all the hats that they juggle.
So it might be that they work or have their own business. It might be that they're a mum, but also, you know, they're trying to be themselves at the same time. So I look at kind of their entire life. Just the most wonderful job and I'm absolutely in love with it. And as you said, I also am a mom. I have two children, Athelia, who's just gone to secondary school, who is 11 and Eve, who is currently at primary school and is
Oh, that's lovely. I'm sure we're gonna be touching on all of that, um, and particularly the transition with your eldest as well. But I love the fact that you talk. You know, there were, I'm making notes while you're talking, but this idea about unique balance because so often we read things that are very prescriptive about this is what you should be doing, and then when we try and apply that to our lives, it doesn't feel as if it necessarily fits.
Exactly. Yeah, exactly. And I think, you know, um, you know, I'm in my forties and I'm sure many of your listeners at home will be in their forties and beyond, maybe even a bit younger, but there isn't actually that many women who are, we are able to model our lives on within society. You know, your mum probably worked part-time or didn't work at all when you were a kid.
You're, you know, we are all modeling our. Of nothing really in particular. There are some women of our age in the media, but not a huge amount. And it's like, who are we modeling this from? And actually when we start to ask ourselves the questions, What do I want my life to look like? What does authenticity mean to me?
What does balance mean to me? That's when we can create a life with hope and grace and peace, and I think that's what we are all looking for. Something that is really totally unique and bespoke to
us. Yeah, and I think that's key and what you talked about. You know, often we can look at celebrities and they'll, they're no doubt juggling quite often, huge careers, but I think so often we feel very detached from that because certainly our perception, maybe, maybe I'm projecting here and I'm, my perception is that they've got help.
They've got lots of things in place that allows that
to happen. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, obviously we've seen a lot more dialogue around menopause and para menopause, which is amazing. But there isn't much in the media and, um, that we can, uh, totally look at and I guess aspire to be like, in terms of what balance looks like.
We look at some of these celebrities and you are exactly right, you know, There are incredible celebrities like Davina McCoy who has children and balancing an incredible career. But you would assume that she has help. So how does like a modern, everyday woman who is trying to make ends meet, trying to kind of keep their boss happy at work, keep their kids happy at home and find themselves, um, some time in the middle as well.
Like, how does balance look like for that real modern day parent who is probably navigating an.
Yeah, and I think we talk about this idea of balance quite a lot and I know a friend of mine talked about this notion that actually balance doesn't, you know, it's this, We often hear these words about home life balance.
What do we mean? What is balance?
So for me, balance is a feeling of being at peace in all elements of your life. It's a feeling of being enthusiastic and motivated in your world, and a feeling of you being able to be present for yourself and the people that you love. So I think, um, what we need to really understand and one of my golden rules of balance is that it, it is fluid and it's an experiment.
You touched upon my daughter going to secondary school recently. Our balances look different, um, recently cuz she's not going to primary school. She's not walking, she's now on the bus and she's getting up earlier and being picked up later. And so balance is fluid and I think when we understand that as a concept, then actually.
Easier to find, because sometimes we feel like we've nailed balance. Like, this is it, I'm totally balanced. And then something happens like a pandemic or the war in Ukraine or one of your kids has, um, some challenges that you need to help them with. So balance is gonna change. But for me, some of the, and we'll go to talk about this, I'm sure.
I think our balance comes from our daily habits and the way we navigate our, our lives and the way we show up in the world. That's exactly how you are gonna get balanced when you are living your true, authentic self.
Yeah, and I think that's such an important thing that you touched on, is that actually balance is gonna look very different.
And I think that's sometimes the challenge, isn't it? Is that we think, Oh my God, I've absolutely nailed it. I've got balance and I'm doing this and I'm doing that. It, something just blows it completely outta the water, and I think that kind of destabilizes.
It really does. And then suddenly we feel like we are doing it wrong.
And it's not that we're doing it wrong, it's just that we need to like up level our skills or ask ourselves different questions to find the balance that we're looking for. I mean, obviously as we record this, we're kind of navigating towards Christmas. Christmas looks very different in terms of a month than perhaps a month in the summer holidays, or like, we just need to realize that life is gonna change, but we need to evolve with it to create the balance that we cra.
Yeah. And I'm guessing is part of that foundation layer, just how we manage our expectations and our definition of it.
Uh, yes, def and I am always fascinated with definitions because my definition of balance and your definition of balance are probably two quite different things. And when we understand that we are totally unique and that our balance looks different, then we can make the right decisions to be able to create that.
As our reality. And I think part of that conversation is about being open and honest about what your definition looks like, but also about recognizing that other people's definition is different. And that's okay because we all need to live a life with purpose and hope, um, and we need to live our most authentic, happy life.
And that is gonna be different for everyone. Recognizing exactly like we do in our children, that everyone is different. And that those different, those differences make us really unique and really wonderful, and those things can be really celebrated.
And I'm guessing that that can be, Oh God, I hope you can hate me for saying this, but I'm gonna say it anyway, is I think as women, we are often so hard on ourselves and we compare ourselves to others and we assume that everyone else has got their stuff sorted.
So how do we. Because I'm guessing that's such a foundation bit, isn't it? It's how we perceive it and how we then stop that comparison that anyone else.
Yeah. I think part of that conversation is about being really brave and about being open and honest with the way you feel, but also articulating what you want in your life.
I think you are exactly right. You've hit the nail on the head. We're not only hard on ourselves, but we have a perception that we need to be perfect, that we need to be incredible mothers. We need to be amazing at work. Like incredible meals have a tidy house. And the reality is modern living for women is not like that anymore.
Not many people can have all of those things and less, as we've touched upon. You have a lot of help and I don't have much help, but I would love more help in my home to create that as my reality. But it isn't my reality. My house as I walked out to my office is not very tidy at the moment. The, the breakfast stuff is still on the side, but actually I need to recognize that part of my balance is not running around constantly chasing my tail and doing things that actually don't really, really matter to me.
And I think it's. Being open and honest with your friendship groups and with your family as to what that looks and feels like for you. But remembering that when we all start to crack this armor of being more verbal in what we want and what we desire for our world and how we wanna show up, that the ripple effect is massive.
That helps our children know that their voices are important, that that also. Our next door neighbors, our best friends, our moms break free from the shackles that perhaps they have experienced in their lives where they are trying to fit their, their square peg into a round hole, and it's not, it's not working and they're not happy.
Yeah. Oh my God. I, I can just remember some very, You know, very key moments when my two were younger and I was balancing work and being mum and, and had the occasional opportunities to have people over for a cup of tea and coffee. And when I let go of the need to have the house looking immaculate because I felt, oh my goodness me, they're gonna come to my house.
It needs to be spotters. And I actually. One time just sort of went, Do you know what? I haven't got time for this. And then apologized when they came to, said, I'm so sorry. This is the reality. I can't, you know, haven't managed to make it look spotless. The refreshing us for them was like, Oh my God, I'm so glad cuz I never managed to, and now you've taken the pressure off
Yeah, exactly. And that's where true friendship is born, isn't it? Ultimately, if we are all trying to kind of meet everyone's expectations, um, and not living a very happy life actually. We do create friendships, but we don't create those deeper, meaningful friendships where we, where you know, when everything hits a fan and everything has gone wrong, like we need to call upon other women who can understand and who know, who know what it is like to be a modern mother and still trying to do all the stuff that we're trying to do.
So I salute you because not many women actually. Say, Do you know what? My house isn't very tidy, but I've got some delicious cakes and a lovely hot cup of tea for you. Let's just go and find the corner and not worry about it. So,
Helen, tell us how do we, You know, when you, you've talked about this idea that you tend to approach it from this sort of habit perspective.
What are the things that we can be doing practically then to find this balance? .
Yeah, so I think as a habit, habit change practitioner, I think it's important for us all to understand and recognize that you can change every habit in your day. And, um, we, we make about 32,000 decisions every day. And 45% of those are habits, which means that they're automatic behavior.
So anything from the way you get dressed to the way you clean your teeth, to um, the perfect you put on like all of those and how you make a cup of tea, many of those things will be habits and. Many of our day-to-day decisions in the way we show up is totally subconscious. We are making decisions, you know, automatically long before we have consciously thought about it.
You know, I'm sure you've done it, You've grabbed a snack from the kitchen and you've eaten it before you've even thought about it cuz it's just so habitual. So what we need to start doing is being a bit more aware of how we're spending our time and how we're showing up. The impact, particularly on our balance and specifically our energy.
So a great example is when we love a Netflix show and we just keep binging watching it, and we get, you know, each night we watch an extra episode and we get later and later and later. And so, Part of that is a subconscious decision. Part of that is a conscious decision, but if we think about that as a habit, you going to bed later and later does not mean that you get up in the morning in your best energy.
It does not mean that you are enthusiastic and motivated and patient and kind in the morning. And let's face it when we have. Children, we need patience and kindness in the mornings to get them up and ready for school. So when we think about how we are utilizing our, and spending our time and the decisions we're making, we need to start really looking at our habits.
And one of the things that I really like to talk about when it comes to balance is those dead moments in your day. Like how are you spending those? Like when you go to the toilet, do you sit and just scroll on your phone the whole time when you are making a cup of tea? Are you, you know, what are you doing in those moments when you're waiting for someone to dial in for a meeting?
Like, how could we utilize that time better to create more balance? Is it a little bit of, um, you know, five minutes in the sunshine, drinking a cup of tea? Is it some breathing exercises, some stretching? Anything that you can do that makes you feel better, that gives you a bit more energy, will help you make better decisions over the day, which will give you better balance long.
I hadn't even thought of. Isn't that okay? I wrote down a couple of things. So we make 32 a thousand decisions a day that I cannot believe I know. And then 40% of that are habits who, I don't know, can't do quite the math quite in my head, but sort of 26,000. 26,000. What am I talking about? Yes. 12 or 13,000 of those decisions, Yeah.
Are not decisions that we make at a conscious level. They're just habitual.
Yeah. So, and, and those, um, those sort of subconscious automatic behaviors, they will be driven by maybe your emotion, maybe the, um, the place you are in at the time, your environment, you know, And actually we all know it, don't we?
You get stressed and before you know it, that emotional stress, you know, we are all in the Kit Kat or the Magnum um, ice cream drawer, and we're just looking for comfort. And actually those moments are gonna steal your. And the more we're aware of them, the more we can catch ourselves before we fall.
And that is just soli because obviously, you know, using your analogy about the Netflix and so we watch yet another one, and so we wake up feeling slightly tired.
So we then perpetuate the habits that we just do when we are tired in terms of, you know, just keeping ourselves going. But actually when you talk about those dead mo, you know, quite often when I talk, I'll talk about, you know, morning routines and other bits and pieces. I'm talking about it from a place of finding some, finding time to do certain things.
But when we're talking about dead moments, yeah, those are there. It's not extra time. It's time that you literally, as you say, you are logging into a meeting or you are waiting for something to
happen. Yeah, and actually it's amazing. Um, how much time you can find in your day. So, um, I often, um, challenge my clients to find 15 or 20 minutes for themselves in the day and they'll think, Oh, I haven't got any time.
But, you know, it takes three minutes to boil a kettle. So actually that's three minutes. And if you make three cups of tea, then we've won nine minutes already. And it's even things like when you stand in the shower, You could just do some beautiful breathing exercises to just resent yourselves. Catch your breath.
Cuz you know that when, by the time you come out the bathroom that the kids are gonna be shouting, they can't find their pee kits that, you know, there's no fresh milk, the dogs barking at the back door, you know, and actually that those are the minutes tho those kind of small dead moments. Um, that's when we need to catch our breath because that gives us the resilience to get through what can be a very challenging day as.
Yeah, and as you say, 15 minutes would be nothing. If you think about all of those little bits, we could so easily find more than
15. Yeah, and it's just even simply things like drinking an extra glass of water before you have a cup of tea or a cup of coffee, like making sure you are really hydrated while the kettle boils standing outside, you know, even if it's not a very nice day, standing at the back door and having some fresh air on your face.
You know, spending 10 minutes walking around the block or walking the longer way back from the school run. But there are lots of ways that we can win these small amounts of times, and if we are starting from scratch, those are. In your day where you can get, create really quick wins. Of course, lots of my clients are like, I wanna get really fit head, or I wanna change on my eating habits.
And you can do that with habits, but why don't we start in those like quick wins. So you start to feel a bit better, start to feel a bit more energized and more balanced. And then the bigger things are easier to tackle because you have the kind of bandwidth and the energy bank to be able to tackle them.
Yeah, definitely. So how do we start? Cause if we've got 40% of what we do is habitual without us thinking about it.
Yeah. So those habitual habits, if I'm gonna be really honest, they are harder to change. So let's start to think about how we can find you time in your day. So you touched upon morning routines.
Morning routines are amazing. They're gonna set you up really beautifully for your day. So one of the ways that I think, um, your listeners could really help themselves is just grab a piece of paper and write down some of the things that you do where you know that you are waiting around or not utilizing that.
Effectively. So, you know, like scrolling on your phone first thing in the morning isn't best use of your time, but we all do it, don't we, for about 15 minutes while we're trying. Pretend we don't have to get out of bed. So it's like make a list, like what are you, where in your day do you have a little bit of time and what can we insert in those moments?
So what we're trying to do is we're trying to kind of. attach habits together. So let's take the boiling a kettle for an example. Cause I think most people will make a cup of tea or cup of coffee in the day. So you're gonna fill up the kettle and you're gonna put it onto boil. What can you do in the three minutes while you are waiting for that kettle to boil?
Perhaps you wanna start a journaling exercise, or you wanna do a bit more reading. Like you could leave your journal, your book next to the kettle, which means that you read a couple of. You know, all like, what we're trying to do is we're looking at the habits you currently have and saying, Okay, so when you, when you do this thing turning on the kettle press zoom and you are waiting for it to scroll and all start, like, what are you gonna do in those moments?
And in fact, I was working with a young, uh, a mum recently who's got a very young baby and she's like, I'm just really not finding very much time for myself. And I was like, Well, how often does your baby sleep? Will the baby sleep three, three times a day? Okay. So when you put your baby down through for her nap, What are we gonna be doing?
So the baby goes down, she's nice and settled, she's lovely and sleepy, and what are you gonna do then? And we started to talk about all of these options and when you start to think, Oh, actually I do these things, I do these habits, I do these actions every day, and I'm going to utilize that time in a different way.
That's when you can start to see really beautiful balance and beautiful quick wins for.
Oh, that's so good. And as you say, we're starting off with things that we already do, so we're not trying to change something that's become entrenched. It's things that we naturally do, which will probably include things like waiting in the car to collect a child, and you know, all of those bits.
There's probably quite a few things
we can catch. Yeah, and it's um, you know, we don't do it quite so much in my daughter's primary school now, but before we used to have to all queue up to go into the school. Cause obviously we were all keeping socially distance and I used to have used those moments to just use some lovely, nice breathing just in the fresh air.
And I'd be there for three or four minute. Just while I queued up to wait for Eve. And actually those are the moments that really, really help you. And I think you're exactly right. Most people think I need the big grand gesture. I need to do something like massive to change my life. But the reality is those massive things are very, very hard to ingrain, to do with repetition cuz that's how we create habits.
And actually those are the things which you'll probably do for a couple of weeks and they'll fall by the wayside cuz life will get busy. But when we are trying to. Small moments in the day, that's when you can get the really quick wins. And if you miss one, well guess what? You're gonna make another cup of tea in two hours, so it's fine.
So we'll just try again in two hours. Those small moments are gonna make a really big difference.
And that's lovely as well because you're then not into that whole punitive, beat yourself up because you haven't managed to do it. Because as you say, if you're certainly tagging it to a cup of tea, yeah, you're gonna make one later on or you know when you have a meal.
Yeah, exactly. Even when you have your lunch or your b. Yeah.
Yeah, exactly. And so it's about, I think when you are thinking about habits and when you've written down your list of where your dead time is, start to think about how you can really make it easy. So, um, in coaching terms, we talk about setting ourselves up for success, but I can tell you that I prep a lot of food in my fridge because I know that when I feel stressed, the one thing I want to eat is a pack of crisps.
But actually, if I've got carrots and hummus in my, um, fridge or some fresh fruit salad, I go to, I go to the fridge. I consciously make the decision to go to the fridge and grab a snack, which is better for me, and gonna give me better energy and also give me comfort. You know, I still like hummus and carrots.
I just, on an average day, cannot be bothered to cut a carrot up. But it's there and it's able for me to grab. So we wanna think about those. There are times, but then we wanna think, Okay, so how am making this easy? If it's journaling next to the kettle, well, my journal needs to live next to the kettle. If it's.
Like me, a healthy snack, I need to have healthy snacks ready because I'm not gonna bother to make something. If I'm that hungry or that stressed, then I, you know, want a quick fix.
Yeah. And that's so true though, isn't it? Because we, if we, if we all had a chef in our home, we'd all eat much better, wouldn't we?
We'd all eat healthier. So why can we not recreate that healthy chef like scenario by prepping some healthy.
Yeah, exactly. If there is a chef listening, I would like a chef so you can come and live at my house. I'm a very nice person. We've got lovely family, but you know, most of us don't have the, the financial ability to have a chef or the time to create all of that food, and I spend about half an hour, twice a week, and I make up some really great snacks.
They're all in the fridge, they're all ready to go for me and the kids, and it's better for everyone.
Yeah, definitely. And there's nothing to stop you from getting the kids involved as well in terms of creating them so that they can create theirs while you are creating yours.
Exactly, yeah. And there's so many things that we can keep in the fridge for a couple of days.
Um, and it just means that, you know, we have better options and we are able to adjust our habits and we are able to think consciously about how we're spending our time, where we're spending our time, and how we're fueling.
Okay. So we start Helen by looking at our dead time. We start looking at the dead time and then looking at what we can do with that dead time.
We then make it easier for ourselves by trying to put things in place for those moments. So a journal by the kettle, if that's what we're going to do. Maybe a little post-it notes to remind ourselves to breathe, do our breathing by the cattle. Yeah. What other things can we do? And particularly I'm thinking around those moments.
We get the big challenges with our children and they're feeling emotional, We are feeling emotional or tired. What other things can we be doing for those sorts of
things? Well, you know, I'm sure you talk about this all the time, but I think firstly, being really patient with yourself and actually showing yourself care and attention because, um, I know I've had many parenting moments where I've not shown up in my bed best energy because I haven't given myself the opportunity to catch my.
Like recalibrate myself and then have the conversation that I need to have with my daughters. So I think that, you know, the bigger picture is we need to make sure that we're creating balance through our day every day. But when everything hits the fan and the world is a more difficult place when we are parenting this, these are the moments where we need to show ourself a little bit of love, a little bit of kindness, and a little bit of, um, we need to give ourselves permission because.
We can't run on empty. You know, if you are not balanced and then your children have a difficult moment and you're trying to help them navigate that, it's gonna be very difficult for you to be able to catch your breath. And I think in those moments, we need to think about those foundations. Like, am I getting enough sleep?
Am I being kind to myself? Do I need to get some fresh air? Like how can I make my life easier? And I'm sure that, you know, I'm sure we've all done this. You know, I sometimes if I know I've got a really busy period coming out with work and the kids, I'll fill the freezer with, you know, nice food that can be cooked from frozen that I don't need to think about.
Like, how can we be kinder to ourselves? Because if we could show ourselves a bit more compassion, then I think parenting would probably be a bit easier for everyone. As you know, we don't need to be perfect in every moment. We're showing up with what we have, with the tools that we have and the moments that we have, and as we approach those things, wouldn't it be wonderful for you to go, Do you know what?
I'm just doing my best. I'm just gonna do my best in this moment, and I'm hopeful. I'm hopefully gonna say the right things and show up in the right energy, but I'm also gonna give myself a little bit of grace here and I'm gonna allow myself to have this conversation and I'm gonna go for a walk. I'm gonna have a bath, or I'm going to phone up a friend and ask from some advice, or I'm gonna sit and read my book quietly and have a cup of tea.
Like allowing yourself a bit of grace in these moments is really important.
Yeah, that's so important. I love that. I'm just going to do my best. It's almost. You know, it's this mantra that we say to ourselves rather than I have to do this perfectly is right now I can just do my best.
Exactly. I remember having this massive row with my daughter about the wallpaper she wanted in her bedroom.
What she picked is not my style, but she loves it. And at the time I was just like livid. I was like, Why do you want this wallpaper? This is absolutely awful. It doesn't go with the rest of the house. I'm so mad. And I stepped away and I was like, Helen, this is ridiculous. It's not even your bedroom. And if she wants this wallpaper, she should be able to express herself in this way.
And I went back and I was like, Do you know what hands up mommy was? If you want this wallpaper, the decorator's coming, I will order it. And it's such a silly example, isn't it? But sometimes we just don't show up in our best energy. But the other thing is, as we all know, we can reframe. An experience we can learn from an experience and we can walk away going, you know, that wasn't right.
And I'm gonna go back and I'm gonna apologize and I'm gonna recognize that I was, was not showing up as I want to, and I'm gonna model the behavior that I would expect my daughter to model to me or to one of her friends on term. She may have a row as someone, she may then decide she was not in the right and that actually that person's opinion was valid and come back and, and apologize.
And it's about giving yourself permission to be a real person.
Yeah, definitely. And, and that example can come into so many things, whether it's we're having an argument about them, about their food choices, whether it's a television program that what they're watching that we don't approve of, whether it's a friendship, anything where we then take that time to step away.
How do we do that after those moments? Cause obviously in those moments, we are just as emotional probably as our children are. So I, I'm guessing where we get the true. Is what we do in that reflective process afterwards. How can we be, Have you got any magical tips, Helen, on how we can be more compassionate with ourselves?
and I think this comes from some of the, the bigger habits that you will cultivate over time. So I can tell you that about six o'clock every night I have a bath. And the reason I have it then is because it's normally just after dinner or just before doing it, it allows me to recalibrate myself and my girls know Mummy's in the bath for half an hour.
She's catching her breath and she will come back, a different person. And I also, I go to bed at nine 30 every night, which I know lots of people are like, Gosh. Why? Because I love sleep and I go for a walk every morning, and so I have. I have different moments throughout the day where I can recalibrate myself and I can catch my breath.
And I think it's about having and giving yourself permission for a list of things. Like when I feel uncomfortable, when I'm going through something difficult, I'm gonna, I'm gonna give myself permission not to try and have the difficult conversation. Now I'm gonna step away. I'm gonna do the things that I.
Rebalances me and come back to the table when I'm ready. And we say that a lot to kids, don't we? We give kids time out because we need them to like catch their breath. And I think as an adult, I don't know about you, but I often need a timeout and I'm very happy to put myself in a timeout so I can catch my breath.
But it is important, isn't it? And what you've said quite interestingly, Helen, It's this idea that your children know that mommy has her bath at six o'clock and she has half an hour to herself and it's a recalibrating. Yeah. So part of that is about you setting the boundaries and expectations with your, with them.
But I also think the other part is that they then learn because that's what they see model to them, that it's really important as individuals that we have time out for our. And so potentially, whilst they may or may not do that themselves, they know that they have permission to do that because they see that model to them all the time.
Exactly. And we are seeing that more and more with the children actually. Cause obviously the girls are 11, 12, Sorry. Once she's had a birthday, 12 and 10. Now they are. And actually they will often go up to their bedrooms and. Play on musical instruments or play with Barbies or whatever they're doing, the younger one, like actually, and it's really good for us to say, Do you know what?
We don't need to be with people all of the time. And actually we already live in a very noisy world, and sometimes we just need to be with our own thoughts to be able to catch our breath. To be able to know how we wanna show up in the world and how we wanna show up in a conversation. But yeah, the girls do know that, you know, Mummy goes to the spa quite a lot, you know, and they know that that is mommy's time.
Mummy goes off for a walk and they never ask to come probably cuz they don't want to. But also cuz they know that I've put some earphones off. I, you know, go for a nice one walk and I come back a different person. And what a beautiful gift to be able to show children that actually you don't need to be with people all the time.
You can. Catch a breath and then come back and feel much more like yourself.
Yeah. I think that that's so crucial because, you know, I, I just think that's important and it's about giving ourselves that permission and knowing that we're not being bad parents as a result of that, we're actually able to be better as a parent, as a result of it.
this is exactly what I talk about all the time. Like those moments of self love mean that you show up in your best energy. Everything that life throws at you. And actually when we fully understand that and we fully understand our definition of balance, we can start to weave all of that into our every day so it becomes effortless and automatic.
So some of those big decisions that we've been talking about, But my daily birth, I will often be running my bath. Before I've even consciously thought, Oh, it's about bath time now I'm gonna go and have my bath. Or by nine quarter past nine, 20 past nine, I'm like, Oh, consciously I know it's gonna be bedtime.
I don't have to think about those things because I've worked on them for a period of time. And that's how I feel more me. And you know, I come from a long line of incredible women, but quite anxious women, and I'm very aware that I also have that tendency. So for me, Myself balanced cuz I am a bit of a worrier.
That daily bath, the daily walk, going to bed on time, eating good snacks and wholesome food. They are the things that keep me really well. And when I don't do those things, I feel it really deeply. And that's the beautiful thing about balance. When you kind of crack the code and then you stop to do some of the things that, that maybe have been working, you feel it really deeply.
So you can re, you can pull yourself back very quickly, which is really. .
Yeah. And it is remembering, as you said right at the beginning, is this idea about what's the unique balance for you. So it may not be, Yeah, you know what I'm listening. What people are listening now. They may, it may not be a bath, it may, you know, I think sleep is a really important one, but it might, doesn't need to necessarily be nine 30.
It's, it's knowing what you need to do for you to get that balance right for you. And recognizing that yours doesn't have to look like yours, Helen, or mine, or anyone.
Yeah, exactly. And I also think when you are out of balance, don't be afraid to communicate that to the people around you because they will be feeling that too.
Like if you are snappy and irritable and not being present and you know, not listening to the kids' stories and. Canceling social, you know, activities with your friends. Like everyone will know that something is wrong or something is not feeling in, in alignment at this moment. So why not just be a bit more open and honest and say, Do you know what actually this thing at work or this difficult moment with my kids?
Or something's going on, which is not making me feel the best version of me. Let's just be open and honest and talk about those things because everyone wants to help. We are all trying to create a better, brighter world for everyone, and everyone wants you to be the best version of you. And why wouldn't they want to support you in doing that?
You know, you, you staying silent. We talked a lot about. Like, I guess the expectations of women, Like we think staying silent is a real strength, but it's not like share it open up like crack the armor and allow others to understand what's going on inside of you because that helps you, but it also helps them.
Oh gosh, absolutely. And I think, and in lots of ways, I love the language that we are using around this idea about balance. I'm just outta balance. I'm not being a rubbish parent or I'm being grumpy. I'm just outta balance and I need to.
Yeah, exactly. And when you reset, you get more energy, more patience, more motivation, more happiness, more hope like.
And actually when we understand ourselves really, really well, we can start. Rebalance, realign, recalibrate in these beautiful ways. And as we talked about earlier, you know, balance is fluids. There is gonna be different things coming up, like my daughter starting secondary school, and Christmases on the horizon and all those things.
Balance is gonna change, but when you know yourself really well and when you cultivate the right habits in your day. You can just kind of rebalance yourself in those moments. So you still feel as great as you did, but you are just in a different chapter of your world or a different season of your life.
Yeah. No, that's lovely. And I'm guessing, Helen, there'll be some people that will be listening to this as well, who've also had children who've transitioned. What's happened to your balance and how did you redress it when your daughter went to secondary school? Cause I.
So it's, it's been a really interesting time.
So she was sort of part excited, part very nervous. So we had quite a long summer of us talking. We're a talking family, as you may, I may imagine. We talk a lot in this family, much to, uh, my husband sometimes. He's like, Please, can we just stop talking? We do not need to talk anymore, but we talk a lot. So we've been talking a lot over the summer about what this could look and feel like, but within the first week, she was settled.
Happy. Vivacious, she flourished. She suddenly was really, really grown up. You know, she's going on a bus for the first time. She's got a mobile phone, which is all very new. She's WhatsApping her friends. And so it has been a very different time, and I'm gonna be really honest, at the beginning of September, I was like, Okay, I'm gonna clear my diary a bit because emotionally, New for me and I want to be able to support her as well and support the rest of the family.
Cause a lot of the focus is on her and my youngest daughter's like, uh, I'm still here. Does anyone care that I went to dance club today? You know, So we are trying to balance everyone's, um, expectations and what someone's going on. But what has been beautiful is because. She understands her balance. I understand my balance.
I've been able to give her space. I've been able to support her in the difficult moments when we have had, um, difficult conversations like eating quite a lot of cake throughout the week and many cakes for lunch we've had, and you know, it's all quite new for all of us. You know, actually we are able to have that really beautiful dialogue.
But because I knew it was coming, I really thought very specifically about how I wanted. To show up at work during the month of September so I could make sure that I was here for her if she wanted me. Um, she didn't actually need me at all. She was very happy to be very grown up and going out with her friends and on her phone and talking WhatsApp, but I was able to really think about how I wanted to show up for this month, which was beautiful.
Yeah, and that, and I think what I'm sort of getting out of this as a recurring thing, it's about being honest with ourselves in the first place, but also then it's that having that time to think periodically and just check in what might be coming up. And then also saying, because there may be people listening to this whose children have transitioned or are going to transition, that can't necessarily change the way that they're working.
But they can look at how, what other ways can I make? Can I create space and balance? Yeah. Whatever that might look like. Yeah,
exactly. And it could be as, you know, like on a Sunday night, we get all of the, um, All of the uniform out and we lay it all out. So actually it means that in the week we're not looking for the odd pair of socks or the gym kit or whatever they're looking for.
Like there are lots of ways we can set ourselves up for success and we can create habits around them. So on Sunday night, the kids know that they need to go into their cupboards, they need to find all their school uniform, they need to make sure they've got enough pairs of pants, enough pairs of socks to get through the week.
And actually you can create really nice habits to set your. Success even if you are unable to change a working pattern, which obviously I'm very fortunate and lucky to be able to do, but there are other things that you can do around that. You know, you can make sure that you've got your bus pass out and that, you know, they have to pay for the canteen with their fingerprint now.
And it's like, is that, is there enough money on there for them to have enough lunches through the week? You know, there were lots of ways that we can make life easier and that's what we need to do as a foundation really to create really beautiful. Yeah.
And I love that because actually how many times do we have stressful mornings finding that pair of school SCOs or that school top or shirt or whatever it is that on a, at some point on a Wednesday and it's always the wrong day.
Cause it's always the day we've gotta be out to do something as well. But actually, if we set ourselves up, that's a new, that's a conscious habit, I'm guessing, Helen, is it on a Sunday that we then begin to create for ourselves and for our.
Exactly, but over time it becomes subc. It becomes, you know, automatic.
So my kids know on a Sunday that they have to get that ready and if there isn't enough cardigans or pants, then they need to tell me so I can actually do some washing or find wherever these things might be hidden at the bottom of like a school bag or underneath some coats or shoes or whatever, like.
You know, we are all running real lives here, but we can make our lives a lot easier for ourselves if we're just a little bit pragmatic and we put a little bit of effort in in advance, we've wouldn't have is exactly what you said. You know, it's a Wednesday morning, you are trying to rush to get your dog to the vets and the kids can't find the PA lunch box and you know, whatever.
Like we all all had mornings like that. But what if we were just a bit more pragmatic and that is where we can cultivate those nice habits around those.
Yeah, and I think, and it's a great way, you know, parents will often sort of say about getting their children involved more. Um, and the fact that they're having, you know, want their children to contribute and that they're doing all of the racing around.
Well this is a really easy way to begin to introduce that cuz they take responsibility, they take ownership. Obviously we have to help them begin that habit. But once they've got it, they've got a certain amount of independence and that's confidence.
Exactly. And also, yes, we are their mothers. Yes, we're their parents and we need to help 'em do things.
But everything that they do in their day is not the responsibility of us. And of course, I am very supporting. I'm a loving mother, but I equally know that my children need to take responsibility for certain things. You know, I can't be there when they're 25 and 30. I'm not gonna be picking out their clothes for them like in the morning.
I'm not gonna making their beds. They need to. Cultivating some of these habits so they can be a grown up at some point.
Yeah, definitely. And it starts with these, with these what seems to be very small things, but are massive in terms of creating space and time for us so that we can then cultivate the habits for our own balance.
Exactly, and these are often the things that are real frustrating. Like in those moments when you can't find the PE kit or when you know your kids haven't told you that they haven't got the clean kit that they need for that day. Those are the really frustrating moments, aren't they? So it's like how can we cultivate habits and routine around those things so we don't get to those moments?
Because as a parent, what we. Um, or I believe what we want is we want enough energy to deal with the difficult stuff, like the really difficult moments when your kids have had a falling out with their best friend or they're refusing to do their homework. Those are the moments where we want to utilize our energy and our patients so we can talk them through those moments and be the best parent we can.
We don't want to use our energy up shouting at them trying to find their school shoes or their P kit or shout. We want to use our energy in a really productive, beautiful way, and creating routine and habit is one of the ways that we can do that.
Yeah, definitely. Oh my God, Helen, you have been amazing and so many things that we can kind of pick up and we can start doing.
So, um, we will be sharing a free resource, which lovely, Helen has given us all about habits and obviously sharing a link so that you can find her. Um, if you want to know a little bit more about what Helen does and, and. All of her amazing work that she does. Helen, if as we are just kind of finishing up, if there is one thing that people you would urge people to go and do, having listened, what's the one thing that you would say?
If you can only do one thing, make sure you do this one thing.
I think the first thing you need to do is write down that list of all of those moments in your day where you are scrolling on your phone, looking at right move. Thinking about where you could move, like just all those moments in your day where you could be utilizing them.
Differe. I mean, how many times have I looked for a house or right move at like a holiday location? Many times I can tell you, and I'm not moving anywhere. Um, but you know, like where is your dead time and how can you realign that time? Could you condense all of that time and go off for yoga class? Could you condense the time and actually take a lunch break instead of.
Feel like you're chasing your tail because what I would love for you all to take away from today is that there are so many quick wins and you in, you are in charge of your destiny, and all you need to do is work out where those could be and how you can utilize your energy and your time so you can be the best version of you.
And I think that's what everyone wants, really.
Yeah. Oh, Helen, thank you so much for coming.