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Growing Parents, with Katerina Di Marco
Episode 1516th July 2023 • I'm Back! • Serena Savini
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Serena talks with Katerina Di Marco, mum of little Berenika, consultant, facilitator, and embodiment coach. She's currently building her own business Pause to Move. She's also responsible for the learning cluster "Parents Grow Too" under the Community L&D Shakers.

You can discover more about Katerina here:

Transcripts

Speaker:

it's exactly how I would like every parent to feel, like not judged,

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but, proudly speaking about what they have accomplished on their journeys.

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Welcome to I'm Back.

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Today,

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I'm really, really happy because we are having a conversation with Caterina Di

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Marco, a mom of a 16 month old Berenica.

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And the consultant facilitator and embodiment coach.

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She's currently building her own business pose to move.

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She's also the responsible of the learning cluster under the LND shakers

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community.

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Parents grow too.

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The aim of this cluster is to connect and empower, working parents

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who believe that becoming a parent does not bring only limitation,

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but also opens new opportunities.

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We are going to explore together all of these and the magic of Welcome, Katarina.

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thank you so much for being here.

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It's really a pleasure to have you on my podcast.

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And I would like to start with the first question.

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That is what means I'm back for you.

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Oh, hi Serena.

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And first of all, so big thanks to you for inviting me.

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I really appreciate it.

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And.

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yeah, I, I remember our first conversation and how nice it flowed.

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And so I'm, I'm very happy to be here and have this another more

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deeper conversation with you.

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And I am back.

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So in general, being back for me, it's about three things.

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It's about a presence and change and opportunity.

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so if I'm coming back somewhere.

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It means I must have been absent for a while, and during the time I must

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have been necessarily present somewhere else, and something else must have

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happened, and with that comes change.

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And it's about coming back in this different state or, with carrying this

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change with you, and instead of coming back the same and trying to fit in

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as we were before, it's about Finding opportunities, how to work with the change

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and what else it can bring and being open to that, and for me specifically,

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we agreed to have this conversation about me, coming back from, let's say,

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maternity leave, parental leave to.

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back to work.

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and I'm, I'm only, it's, it's a process.

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I, I think I back.

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It's also not, point.

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It's not, a day.

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It's not the moment.

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It's, it's something that is, somehow evolving.

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It's, it's a process of, going somewhere.

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How can you balance the presence with the change, especially if you are maybe

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wondering about your new identity?

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Hmm.

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I think it's a lot about acceptance and I'm noticing it a lot as a mom.

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There's a, a lot of expectations and often I want to be present somewhere else or

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I want to be present in a different way.

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And it's really accepting I can only be in one place.

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And with, your little child, it's also about being.

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Acceptance to or accepting that you don't have the full control of things.

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And that is for me, I think the biggest change it's really, becoming a mother.

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I have less control of my choices or of the change that is happening to me.

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Often it's, somehow guided or, decided by my daughter.

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or other circumstances.

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So, yeah, a lot about accepting and, and sensing what is, what is at the moment

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and being, being in the, in the moment.

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Was it easy for you to accept all these things or it was really a process?

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It is still a process.

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I would love to say that I am now like, I got it and I can accept

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everything and it feels easy.

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It's not like that at all.

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I have days when it is easier.

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I have days when I'm really resisting and I'm noticing this resistance

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in myself, in my mind, in my body.

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so it is, it is an ongoing process and there are certain

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things that help me in accepting.

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and I have to be very mindful of not forgetting about them and

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putting them in my daily routine.

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So then accidents comes easier.

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You mentioned the fact that you were returning to work after

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maternity or paternity leave.

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Parental leave, let's say.

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How was that process for you?

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Mm-hmm.

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. So unlike many other parents, I haven't returned to my previous employer.

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So, and I think that that then is, even a different and scenario

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than, than it was for me.

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Cause I really didn't come back to the very same environment.

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But I also changed kind of the circumstances.

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In which I'm coming back as a professional.

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So for me, it's maybe yeah, coming back to my professional identity.

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and.

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I there has been a lot of changing changes in my life.

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Not only me becoming a matter but also us moving countries and me

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quitting my previous employer, and Trying to establish myself as a as a

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business over owner as a consultant.

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So it's a lot of changes in the same time and it is definitely still a process, but

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I think The motherhood, and the fact that I was somehow forced to change, there was

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this change that came with me becoming a mom, and it's something that kind of

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happened without me deciding to change.

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I mean, okay, I decided to become pregnant and have a child, but

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then together, other changes came.

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And I think this has allowed me to somehow reassess.

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who I want to be as a professional and also reassess the

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circumstances I want to work in.

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and obviously, then there are some practical things as well

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to have more flexibility.

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because I, I do not want to do a full time, office job anymore.

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I know it's a choice for many other parents and.

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I think it really depends on the personality, but for me at this very

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moment, it might change in the future, but it is at this very moment, it is

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not, something I envisioned for myself.

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And with that comes also a reflection on what I can do with the time I

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have and, with the skills I have.

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And you are doing really exciting projects around.

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motherhood or becoming a parent.

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Would you like to tell us more about that?

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Yes, totally.

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So, it's a, it's a project that is called Parents Grow Too.

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It's under L& D Shaker's community.

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I think some of the listeners are familiar with it, but if not, it's a

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community, created by Ana Maria Dorgo.

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for learning and development professionals who are very keen to exchange and just

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grow together and learn from each other.

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And, I came across it actually when I was on the parental leave, because I

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was looking for opportunities on how I can engage again with the professionals

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from my field without being in the job.

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And, LND Shakers really Open this door for me.

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and so I joined some workshops and some events and one of

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the events was, on conference.

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it happened in autumn last year and participants were, invited to come up

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with a topic that they would like to discuss with the fellow LND shakers.

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And because parenting was very present for me at the time, I just came with

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the topic of, how can we support working parents as L& D professionals?

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Because that is something I haven't really...

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noticed, previously, in my role or, talking to other, and I need professionals

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and knowing how other HR team works.

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I've seen, there has been quite a lot done on the operational side, let's

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say, but not so much about, learning and development and, yeah, so that's

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how the idea got born and then it took me a couple of months and Ana Maria

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has been supporting me and I also had interviews with, Lots of different

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parents from many different fields about what they would find helpful, what are

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their challenges, and this is how the parents grow to initiative got born are

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actually now it's a learning cluster.

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so, and we have, over 70 people in the Slack channel already and some

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engaged people on LinkedIn as well.

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And we host our very first session, last week, actually this week.

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Yeah.

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Oh, it feels like last week, but it actually was only this Tuesday.

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and the idea behind it is to change the narrative about working

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parents or parenthood and to see it more as a opportunity.

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I think one of the participants in our session this week said, how can we

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strive as parents instead of survive as parents or surviving as parents?

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And I find this twist and this language.

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And so important.

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So let's see where it goes.

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but I'm, I'm very excited about it.

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And, just the fact that we can exchange and share the stories and, openly

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talk about how it is, without any judgment and without maybe fear of,

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Oh, what if I mentioned that I might not be at my best at all the days.

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at work, what will happen, and sharing with other people that it's totally okay,

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but it doesn't make you less valuable.

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But on the other hand, you might have some, skills you developed, as a

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parent that you didn't have before, and it's actually your strength as well.

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Opening up this conversation is the core.

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I'm really curious about the narrative part because from my personal perception,

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I'm not, parent yet, but from my own perception, I have seen many, many

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times, especially in Italy, with our, culture, that if you are a man

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and you became a parent, who cares?

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Because you don't have any...

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visible impact on you, so you are asked to do the same work, perform

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in the same way, and there is not, a lot of discussion about it.

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And as a mom, or, I was saying, as a mother, You are perceived,

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unfortunately, often as less, professional or with, more potential issues.

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and so I have seen many, many times.

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The mothers not sharing in the workplace a lot of their challenges or

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opportunities because they were afraid.

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And I don't know if I'm using strong words here, but what is your perception

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of the narrative around parenthood?

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There's been a lot in the question that I kind of want to reflect on.

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There's definitely the cultural aspect, right?

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Italy can be one case and Germany is slightly different.

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And then I have no idea about artists in India or Africa.

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And I think this is really impacting a lot the way how we then face the coming back.

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so there is definitely this systemic part, that, either opens or closes door for us

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when we become mothers or fathers as well.

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and then

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in.

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Can you repeat me the, the last, last bit, because I got lost in the culture aspect.

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Yeah, what is your perception of the narrative around parenthood?

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Yeah, the narrative, yes.

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Sorry.

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so, we, we say, ah, you go on a parental leave, you go on a maternity leave.

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actually, in Czech Republic, where I am from, you call it,

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Like maternity holidays, it's, and it's, it's crazy, it's crazy.

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And it's really perceived that way, by big part of the society.

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They're like, you're on holidays.

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Hey, and I mean, I'm having a lot of fun with my kid, but it's

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a full time job if you have, if you have your child full time.

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So, I think the narrative definitely depends as well on the, on the country.

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or order community.

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We are in and I have also mentioned before the fact how to maybe move from

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just surviving to striving and, Also, when you come back to the office, right?

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People often ask you like, how are you?

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And you might say, I'm tired.

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I had this sleepless night, but it's okay.

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And you go on.

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So there is not much conversation about, how it impacts you, professionally, or

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I think we should also ask questions.

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What do you need to.

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to be able to, to work as a parent, or what could help you, how could we support

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you, like inquiring rather than just assuming or, how, how to say, just like

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okaying, and, and also, yeah, like to, when we come, when we come to this gender

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topic, right, that's, that's a big one.

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I also don't feel like a right person to go too deep or to, to open it up fully,

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but there has been definitely a difference between how you're perceived as a mother

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or a father and how your colleagues.

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Approach you or, or see you.

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So also changing the language about that.

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like a lot of moms, what I have noticed, a lot of moms, for example, say when

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a husband takes care of their child, they're like, Oh, I'm so grateful he

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took care of my child for three hours.

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It's their child, They both have this child.

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So also changing the way how we, as mothers, Speak about it and speak about

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the responsibilities we have as a family.

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That's another.

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Yeah.

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And if I can add something here, there is also a big difference

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from my legislation point of view.

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Again, speaking out, the Italian context, the fathers can have three days of leave

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and the mothers, let's say five months as a mandatory maternal maternity leave.

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But how can you decide that it's enough to have three days or five months?

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to really go through this really big transformation in your life, in

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yourself, in your family, and how can we, balance the laws that are giving us

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boundaries and limits, our own process?

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Yeah, I, I feel this is very challenging and the rules are not set right,

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they are not equal, and It's not right either for the dads, right?

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There are so many fathers who would love to spend the time with their child.

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And they simply cannot.

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It also comes to the gender gap, right?

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When we speak about the salaries.

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I mean, often...

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Not only talking about the maternity or parental leave, but it's also about

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how much the women and the men gain.

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And then if one of them has to sacrifice the salary, who is it going to be?

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Regardless of who wished to stay with the child.

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so I feel we have still a long way to go as a society to really...

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give the choice to the parents and not restricted with the limited,

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limited times of the parental leave.

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Definitely not by, giving different times for mothers and fathers.

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I've also, seen cases when the mom goes to work after a few weeks and the dad

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stay with the child for a whole year.

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And this should be just possible for everyone to take their own choices.

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How to do that?

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I have no idea.

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I'm speaking more about it, going as a, as an example, if we have the

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possibility to do so, if the circumstances allows us, encourage others to take

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the brave move, even though it, yeah, it might not be to take the whole

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year, but, stay, stay more time with your child also in the free time.

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Yeah, I think they're starting with the small steps.

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I'm definitely not the revolutionary type of personality.

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So, for me, it's really about a small changes, small

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steps and the conversations.

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But you are actually doing that already.

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And I was really impressed.

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To notice that when you open the channel and see 70 people right

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join the channel for me is a sign

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that We need to have this conversation and we are not allowing ourselves to

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have these conversations at the moment.

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And I also love the title of your project because parents grow to it.

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Something so easy to understand and, and somehow it's so important to be reminded

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that parenthood is a learning process.

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Would you like to, say something more about the learning process that maybe

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you are experiencing or that you are seeing in your child goes through

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different phases and they have different lengths from one day or a couple of

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hours to two weeks or maybe two months.

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But the only thing that is sure that it's always going to keep changing.

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So it's really like doing is if I like want to correlate it

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to the work environment, it's really working in those sprints.

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It's like very short periods of time when you learn something and then

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you have to reassess and adjust and You, you're always in this process

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of, adjusting and improving or adapting and you can never just stop

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and say, okay, I know how to do it.

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I know how to talk to my child.

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I know, how to make her put her, put the shoes in the morning because people

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go through so many phases and so many different moods that there will always.

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I will always need to come up with a different strategy.

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so it really creates this like growth mindset and, and I, I think

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to, to, if you approach it from this positive side of you of, okay, this

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is actually a very creative way.

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Oh, your brain can function and how you can, find solutions

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to problems rather than being frustrated because you feel like, Oh.

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It doesn't work.

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I thought I got it, but it's not working.

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And of course, this frustration comes sometime.

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and you're like, Oh, please give me a break.

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I just want to keep doing the things the same way.

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But instead, you always need to learn and yeah, to grow, you

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really grow as a person a lot.

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How can we, empower more parents to recognize, the amazing skills that they

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are developing instead of putting a lot of pressure on them and judgment on them?

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Yeah, this is beautiful.

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And it's exactly how I would like every parent to feel, like not judged,

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but, proudly speaking about what they have accomplished on their journeys.

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it's.

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It really comes again to expectations, I believe, that we put on ourselves as

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parents, but also the society puts on us.

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the fact that, and again, the change, actually, the fact that

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we are somehow striving for being the same and the society somehow

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sees the same as the ultimate goal.

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I feel like we are praised for showing up the same way as

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we were, before having kids.

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okay, if you manage to go out and your child is sleeping in the stroller and

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you can be, the very same, person, you're like, wow, you made it.

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But.

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These moments are so difficult to achieve, and they are always compromising

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something else, and I also feel often It's, we are somehow suppressing some

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part of ourselves to be that same person.

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So, it's a lot about just acknowledging, acknowledging the change and, from

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others, just generally asking of how, how you are, how are you, and,

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and listening and if, if the parents say, I'm okay, maybe asking more.

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what, what, how do you, what have you experienced today, and, and going deeper

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and just trying to uncover and also, yeah, it could be also about what have

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you learned or what was new for you today, asking those types of questions.

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I think it allows to open, open up more and share more and also perceive

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the change as something positive.

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And for me, it's also, share a light on the unique, uniqueness of the journey.

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Because it's so easy for society to say, okay.

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You are a mom like, 1, 000 of other people.

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So it's going to be the same.

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You are not going to sleep.

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It's going to be challenging, but it's the same for everyone.

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And I would like, instead of share a light on your unique and personal

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journey throughout parenthood, what do you feel about that?

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Yeah, I definitely resonate with it.

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And thank you for bringing that up.

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yeah, like anything we do, it's so individual and actually me personally,

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I think a lot of the pressure that I was feeling, especially early

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in the motherhood was coming from trying to be like the other moms.

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Or yeah, because it's, it's a new thing.

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And so, you, you look for advice and you look for kind of, tutorials.

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No, I remember at the beginning I spent so much time just like reading articles

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about how to do it and watching videos.

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And it just, most of the time it only increased my frustration.

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And I found the valuable advice and excite, yeah, anxiety as well.

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So.

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it's a lot about trusting yourself that you do it right, but that for me,

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that's trust really came with the time.

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Actually, I took a long time, I think, and I still feel I could be even more

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firm with trusting myself and, yeah, not, not outsourcing the answers.

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When I, when I feel I, I don't know what to do.

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I just wanted to say that even though the community aspect and the fact

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that there is someone I can go to and ask for advice is also super helpful.

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So also not to neglect that.

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Sorry, this is something I wanted to add.

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that for me the community was a huge support system as well.

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so there is some balance between trusting in yourself, but also being

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empowered by others that are around you.

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And it's really about having a learning journey where you can.

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You to a lot of things and you can decide for yourself what things

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are useful or resonating with you and the things that are not going

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to be part of your, your journey.

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do you have any advice for, parents that you want to share?

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I, I must say I don't feel comfortable giving advice.

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Also based on what we have just discussed and, but it, yeah, it would probably

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really be about the, the trust, trusting themselves, trusting their family,

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trusting their partners and their child as well, because they are tiny.

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I mean, mine one is tiny, then they grow up, of course, but they will

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be always younger than you, but often they know better than you,

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they know better what they need.

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And for example, my.

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Husband has been really amazing in understanding my daughter's needs,

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even when she was just a baby, like not being able to speak, but just by the

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way, how she moved and the sounds she did, he was really so sensitive to her

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and could, could guess what is needed.

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So it's about again, back to the presence and really noticing what is, and sensing

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with all our senses, what is happening and And only after that, trying to solve

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it or to act, instead of, seeing there is a problem, reading an article, trying to

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apply the, the solution and often failing.

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What are you most proud of your personal journey?

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Hmm.

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Cool.

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I'm very proud in all of that I consciously find some time only

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for myself and I dance or move or, yeah, do things I'm passionate

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about and I'm not feeling the guilt.

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I felt very guilty doing this at the beginning and now I can simply enjoy it.

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And yeah, I'm very proud of that.

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That's amazing.

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Can you tell us a little bit more about the future of your project?

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So we have kicked off the ParentGrow2 learning cluster about a month ago.

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And this Tuesday we hosted the first session and I also spoke with amazing

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Timothy Nguyen and he is supporting me.

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Co creating the next steps for, for now, and I believe there's going

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to be more people who are going to engage deeper or even more in

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the next, next week, next month.

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But what we have in mind is to have regular.

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so called parenting circles.

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So at least once a month host a session where the parents from L& D go together.

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we open up some topic that resonates with them, and we discuss it and, and

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see if there's also something we could share with the community outside of the,

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the circle to have any, a bigger impact.

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and where it will go after that, I don't know.

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I think a lot will happen on, a lot will depend on what, what is like

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going to happen in the next month.

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I have some ideas, and my ultimate goal would be really to use the strengths

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we have as L& D professionals and combined it with the topic of parenting.

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And spread this positive, impact or this positive message that parents

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grow to and to let more, parents also outside of L& D to be aware that this

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is a growth opportunity for them.

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It's not a limitation.

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It's not something that restricts their life or shrinks their life.

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It is actually something that nurtures it and opens new possibilities.

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And makes them a more, wholesome human beings, to make them feel

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more confident on their journey.

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This is so beautiful and and so powerful and so needed and I think you

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are doing a revolution, maybe a small one, but you're already doing that.

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So, I would like to thank you with all my heart because as I said, even

Serena:

if I'm not a parent, I really see The need of doing that also for people that

Serena:

maybe are thinking to become a parent.

Serena:

And so thank you.

Serena:

Thank you so much for being here with us.

Serena:

Thanks to you, Serena.

Serena:

Thank you for your beautiful questions and that made me thought and yeah.

Serena:

I really truly enjoyed our conversation as always.

Katerina:

Thank you so much, Katerina, for being here with

Katerina:

us and for this conversation.

Katerina:

I feel that we need to discuss.

Katerina:

More and more the challenges, but also the opportunities of parenthood

Katerina:

and coming back to work after a paternity or maternity leave and

Katerina:

for everyone who is listening.

Katerina:

If you have found this conversation useful,

Serena:

please feel free to share it.

Serena:

Thank

Katerina:

you so much and see you next time.

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