Life Lessons from Life Coaches

Lifelessons 315

“There’s not enough time in the day!”

You’ve likely uttered those words before, perhaps often. Finding time for everything people need and want to do and finding a balance between home and work demands are common problems for many people — particularly parents who work outside the home.

Life coaching, according to The International Coach Federation, is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. We met with three life coaches in North Carolina to discuss the most common issues parents face when trying to find a balance between work and home, as well as how best to deal with those issues.

Many parents say their greatest amount of stress comes from not having enough time to do everything. Penny Sommer of Powerful Edge suggests that parents consider making a distinction among their different roles and what it means to them to be successful in each. Ask yourself, “Who am I as a parent? A professional? A friend? A volunteer?” Clarify your values in each of those roles. Says Sommer, “This kind of clarity enables parents to make decisions aligned with their vision — saying ‘yes’ to the things that are important, ‘maybe’ to some that are nice to have and ‘heck no’ to things that don’t support their values.”

Sarah Levitt, an executive coach and motivational speaker, asks clients about their priorities but notices that what they say is often different from how they’re living, and that’s when frustration sets in. Ask yourself, “What are my priorities? How do I want to spend my time?” Be aware of the thoughts you have. A demanding and stressful schedule is real, but if you spend your time fretting, you won’t be able to focus on the tasks at hand. Instead, get in the mindset of “My schedule is full, but I’m going to be in the present where I am now.” Rushing out of work and taking children to activities is simply a fact of life for many families, but make the most of your time in the car. Turn off electronics and talk to your children.

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Not being able to achieve perfection in each area of life is another cause of stress for many parents. By attempting to be an overachiever at work while also cooking gourmet dinners and helping children make homemade valentines seen on websites like Pinterest, parents end up feeling like failures at everything.

Sommer urges parents to ask, “Is it realistic to be the best at everything I do? Do I truly consider this to be important, or am I accepting someone else’s belief about the best way to live my life?” Role models are wonderful, but they can lead to accepting a belief that we need to be performing at a certain level. Consider whether it’s important to you that your house is immaculate or that your child is involved in four activities.

Life Coach Penny Hazen of Hazen Life Coaching believes the best thing a parent can do is spend a little time in his or her child’s school. Take 30 minutes of your lunch break and, for elementary students, eat lunch with your child. For older children, observe a class and watch how your child interacts with friends, his teacher, etc. Just a few minutes can keep you abreast of your child’s development.

Another common problem is that working parents don’t take time for themselves. “Part of being a good parent is taking care of yourself,” says Hazen. Levitt reminds us that like the rule of putting an airplane’s oxygen mask on yourself before helping your child, you must nourish yourself to be your best for the others in your life. Ask yourself how you want to show up to the most important people in your life. Do you want to be attentive? Nurturing? Or exhausted, resentful and distracted? Decide what it is you are missing from your life. What is most important?

One full-time working mom refuses to work through her lunch break, using that hour each day to rest and rejuvenate. Some parents find it helpful to set the morning’s alarm 10 minutes earlier and have a bit of quiet time before the day begins. On the drive home, put your phone on silent and take a few minutes to breathe deeply and rejuvenate yourself.

Levitt has a personal friend she kept missing because of their busy schedules. They finally scheduled a weekly phone date and made it a priority. She taught her family that for that one hour each week, everyone has to stay in his or her room quietly, and she doesn’t schedule anything at that time. If you have a parenting partner, take turns giving the other a night off each week, allowing that parent to have some alone time. Single parents can make similar arrangements with other parents. Levitt suggests identifying your priorities and then focusing on strategies that will keep them priorities.

“Each of the issues mentioned results in stress that manifests itself internally and externally,” says Sommer. Only when we begin to identify the actual cause of the stress will we be able to find strategies for eliminating that stress. “Remember,” says Levitt, “small changes can add up to big results.”

Lisa Hassell is attempting to balance life’s demands while living in Indian Trail with her 4-year-old son.

Related links:

The New You: Reinventing Yourself for Success

Tips and Tricks for Juggling Work and Life

Stylish Tips for the Working Mom