Becoming a parent can bring so much joy, but there can be challenges with this new chapter. Here, we explore how coaching can support you
Any time we move into a new stage of life, there is a mixture of emotions that come with it. Even the most positive and joyful transitions like getting married, moving home or starting a family can be stressful. In fact, these are often cited as the most stressful moments in life.
If you have recently become a parent or are a parent-to-be, you may understand this only too well. For some, the transition can trigger mental health concerns including postnatal depression and even postnatal psychosis.
Speaking about the challenges of parenthood can feel taboo, however. With societal pressure to be grateful for what you have and for parenthood to be nothing but rewarding at all times. But, the truth is, many struggle. And even if your mental health isn’t severely affected, chances are you’re navigating a whole lot of change.
This is where, for some, coaching can provide a lifeline. Life coaching for mums and parents looks to help you identify the challenges you’re facing and find a way to move forward.
“Juggling motherhood whilst maintaining a sense of self and purpose can be a challenging prospect.” Transformative life coach Catherine Crawley explains in her article, Life coaching for mums and mums-to-be.
“Many women in today’s society are often ‘something for everyone’, leaving them feeling frazzled, stressed, and often with a depleted sense of who they truly are in life. I am passionate about helping women come back to their real selves, taking responsibility for their self-care and needs in life without losing what the true essence of being a mum means to them.”
Here we take a closer look at some of the ways coaching can help parents.
1. Help you reconnect with your identity (and embrace new ones)
For many, the early days of parenthood are purely about the new arrival. Ensuring your baby is safe, healthy and cared for is top priority and anything else becomes background noise. While this is to be expected, over time that background noise comes back into focus and some parents experience a sense of lost identity.
Your lifestyle is likely very different from what it was before, and you may miss activities you did pre-baby. You may feel as though you have morphed into ‘mum’ or ‘dad’, and that this is all you are now.
Coaching can help you reconnect with your core values and beliefs, exploring what may have changed since becoming a parent, and what’s stayed the same. Your life won’t look the same as it did before, but a coach can help you remember who you are and embrace the changes as they come.
2. Help to overcome overwhelm and parental burnout
Speaking to parents about how they feel after becoming parents, a commonly used phrase is ‘overwhelmed’, and this isn’t unsurprising. Life turns upside down when you start a family, introducing a pile of responsibilities and life admin that can feel incomprehensible at times.
In time, this can lead to parental burnout. “Parental burnout is the result of keeping too many balls in the air for too long,” says psychotherapist and author Anna Mathur in her article, What is parental burnout?
“It’s finding yourself empty but having to carry on regardless. It’s being unable to rest, or finding it hard to take the opportunities that do arise.”
Talking to others about how you’re feeling is an excellent first step here. Working with a coach can help you take a step back and see the situation objectively. Together you can identify what needs to change and how you can make this change. This may mean asking for help, saying no more often and embracing self-care.
3. Help you set boundaries and prioritise health and wellness
This is a key step to helping with the above. When we have children to look after, it’s common for our own health and wellbeing to slide down the list of priorities. When this happens though, we put ourselves at risk of burnout and not being able to support our children in the way we want to. So, while it seems counter-intuitive, prioritising your own health will have a knock-on effect so you can continue supporting your little ones.
A life coach can help here by encouraging you to set (and maintain) clear boundaries that protect your peace. They can help you identify what health and wellbeing goals you have and how you can make time for them, even with a busy schedule.
4. Help you look forward, career-wise
When you become a parent, it will likely have an effect on your worklife. Whether you decide to leave work entirely, are navigating a return to work, or are juggling parenthood and career, the future probably looks a little different than before.
Speaking to a coach can help you clarify what you want and need from your working life, and how you can get it. This may mean introducing more flexibility at work, changing your hours, or even changing industries. Our priorities and goals can often change after becoming a parent, and you may want something completely different now. Working with a coach can help you find your way to fulfilment.
5. Help you navigate new relationship dynamics
If you are in a couple, this relationship may shift once you start a family. While it often brings people closer, it can also introduce new dynamics as you navigate life as parents. You may have different opinions about looking after your child, or different expectations of each other. For some, this invites conflict and resentment.
A relationship coach could work with you to understand these changes, helping to improve communication and make time for yourselves as a couple.
6. Help you cope with feelings of guilt and other difficult emotions
Having children can bring up a lot of different emotions, including difficult ones like shame and guilt. This can be due to a multitude of reasons, from societal expectations to the way you were parented. Feeling like a ‘bad’ parent is common, and it can be hard to know how to cope.
Coaching can offer a solution-driven approach as you work to challenge negative self-beliefs. For more deep-rooted concerns, working with a counsellor may be helpful, allowing you the space to understand where these emotions are coming from.
Here we’ve focused on coaching as a way to get support as a parent, but know that there are many options available. Connecting to other parents who know what you’re going through can help. We love the idea of the Peanut app, which connects women going through similar stages of life. Family Lives also offers a helpline, online forums and area-specific support if you’re struggling.
If coaching feels right for you, you can learn more and find a coach at Life Coach Directory.