Why are parents forgetting to invest time in the most important leadership role of their lives? By Jenny Vanderhoek
Throughout my last 10 plus years in corporate, I attended minimum 2 leadership courses or conferences a year. I always came back feeling refreshed from the learnings and ready to kick off the next project with some of the newfound skills that I had learnt.
When I was pregnant with my kids, I spent a lot of time reading bookings and getting information from new apps about the different milestones of pregnancy and labour. I did this because my doctors, midwives and friends suggested it. After I had kids, I just went into survival mode and even getting through the day was an achievement. I was constantly googling every time my child and I met a new milestone that I didn’t know how to manage yet… tantrums, sharing, biting, fussy eating, hair pulling, whinging- you name it! Once my kids hit toddler age, friends in the same position would often reassure me that the tantrums were just normal, and this was referred to as the ‘terrible twos’ or and was simply a natural progression of growth.
What I didn’t recognise, was how much the ‘terrible twos’ affected me. I felt lost very often as to what to do. I was tired, frustrated and felt guilty that I didn’t seem to be nailing this parenting gig. I was worried that my kids behaviour might have been due to my poor parenting. When you talk to other parents about it, you would often get recommendations for books or articles or gurus to follow on social media. However, I must admit, not one of these solutions ever truly resonated with me as it always felt inauthentic to me. I was always trying to be the parent that someone was telling me to be, and it brought on a lot of guilt that I wasn’t perfect and I sure as hell wasn’t nailing motherhood.
That all changed for me when I met Dina Cooper. She was introduced to me because we shared a passion for helping working parents. She changed my mindset immediately and the guilt literally dripped off me over a two-hour coffee meeting. She kept saying ‘leadership’ and it didn’t click with me that leadership can be applied in all aspects of our lives including parenting.
The top 5 leadership skills that I’ve learnt:
- Be Authentic. I am the parent that I want to be, NOT what a book or someone else has told me that I should be.
- Own my shit. There are still days that I scream, get irritated and have absolutely no idea how to handle situations with my children. I’m vulnerable to that but I own it and I own up to it with my children. It has allowed me to be real with my children and show them real emotions and that it’s ok to have them as long as you own it.
- Two-way Communication. I used to talk and talk at my children to get them to listen, or ask them repeatedly why they are crying. Now, I wait until they calm down and I talk to them about it and I am amazed at what my 4 year-old says to me and the invaluable feedback that she gives me.
- Turning a negative into a positive. I didn’t realise how much my own childhood and upbringing would impact how I parent. I was always frustratingly trying to get my children to listen but now I’ve learnt to reframe, and instead take a differed approach. For example: ‘I can see that you are really loving that tv show and maybe you might like to watch more tomorrow’ instead of “that’s it I’m turning that off”.
- We need to define family values. Even though I chose to marry my husband, it didn’t mean we shared the same exact family values and parenting styles. It showed me how important it is to sit down and manage these together.
Conclusively, I urge any parents that are feeling the way that I did, to spend the time it takes to develop yourself as parents. Get back into enjoying your time with your kids and rid yourself of the guilt (it’s not serving anyone!). To get you started, I highly recommend Dina Cooper’s ‘Smart Parenting’ book which can be ordered via her website www.dinacooper.com.au
Cooper doesn’t tell you how to be the parent you “need to be”, she allows you to discover the parent you want to be and know you can be!
As a mother to two young children, I know firsthand how hectic life can be as a working parent. After 10 years in the corporate world as a senior strategy analyst for an FMCG company, I decided it was time to take my next business leap. Mynder was the perfect opportunity to pursue my dream of building a brand that makes life that little bit easier for working parents everywhere.
I have a real passion for Mynder—it’s more than just a Saturday night babysitter. It’s the ‘my kids are sick but I have to work’ relief, the ‘I’m travelling for a wedding and need someone to pick up the kids’ problem-solver, or the ‘we’re going on an overseas holiday’ support.
It’s the go-to solution for busy parents everywhere. To contact Jenny or sign up to Mynder visit www.mynder.com.au