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After a difficult start to the year, thanks to a major lifestyle change, an exhausting move, and a second miscarriage, I had reached a point where I felt majorly burned out. I was feeling depleted, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Worst of all, I felt like my personal turmoil was causing me to be a downright crappy mom to my four young kids.
Knowing that I was not being the kind of mom I wanted to be spurred me into some kind of action. I decided to try a somewhat new trend in the parenting sphere and hired a mom coach to try to help me be a better mom. OK, so you’re probably thinking, “What is a ‘mom coach’?” Well, I’ll tell you.
A “mom coach” is technically a life coach. All of the coaches I spoke with work primarily with women and mothers, but they don’t see themselves as “just” one type of coach, because, well, humans are complex. Mom coaching is about encompassing every part of a woman and mother (because they’re all intertwined), and acknowledging the unique challenges that motherhood can bring.
Nicola Gibb, 39, a UK-based life coach for mothers, explains that mothers especially can benefit from a coach, because despite our wide-held cultural belief that mothering is the most important job on the planet, it’s still a job that receives the least amount of support. She’s found that many women who benefit from coaching are what she calls #stuckmamas — mothers who may be spending more and more time procrastinating (sound familiar?) and just need a little help getting jump-started on their own lives.
“They’ve been on the conveyor belt of education, career, love (possibly marriage) and then babies — and then they find themselves asking WTF they should do now,” she observes. “Some feel they have no sense of self identity and it has a huge impact on their mood. They need help to get themselves unstuck.”
Sarah Olin, PCC and founder of Luscious Mother, tells Babble that all mothers, especially those who feel overwhelmed, can benefit from the gifts and clarity that coaching can bring.
“I don’t know one single person on the planet who couldn’t benefit from having a coach,” she adds. “Every mother needs this.”
Lara Galloway, 47, founder of Mom Biz Coach based in Southeast Michigan and coauthor of Moms Mean Business: A Guide to Creating a Successful Company and a Happy Life as a Mom Entrepreneur, specializes in working with mothers who are entrepreneurs. She notes that many moms, like me, turn to her when they are dealing with tough transitions in their lives. “I joke that I’m a hired decision maker,” she says.
I’m happy to report that in my hour-long session with Coach Galloway, I was able to dramatically shift my life. I threw a lot at her — from the grief over my losses and a new business idea I’ve been considering to my struggles with deciding whether or not to try for another baby and the mama guilt I’ve been experiencing.
Luckily, Galloway was up for the job. She helped me sort through some of my emotions surrounding my miscarriages and encouraged me to look at the reminders in my own life that I was a good mom (Clue #1: good moms worry about not being good enough moms). She also gently talked me through the realities of taking on more than I could handle, and perhaps most importantly, instructed me to take a freaking break.
In talking to her, I felt ridiculous admitting that I couldn’t even name the last time I had taken a true break from work. I even worked through labor with my fourth child three years ago and ran an online class while I was physically miscarrying last month. It was almost embarrassing to speak my truths out loud, but when a professional told me I needed to take a real break, it actually felt like an enormous sigh of relief.
Immediately upon hanging up the phone with her, I felt lighter. I was able to instantly schedule an appointment to see a therapist (because coaching is never a substitute for therapy), book a massage for myself, text friends I had been neglecting to meet up with in person, and make plans for some one-on-one time with my daughter.
I focused on doing as little work as possible over the next week, went on a spontaneous overnight getaway with my husband, read a book just for fun, and spent time re-energizing myself and connecting more with the important people in my life. Galloway encouraged me not to focus on figuring out all the answers I wanted right this second, but on healing myself first to allow space for those answers to become clear to me.
And honestly? That was exactly what I needed. As Olin explains, coaching boils down to regaining control in our lives as moms. “It’s really is about [uncovering] what’s running the show and ‘how can we get back into the driver’s seat of our own lives?’” she notes.
If you’re looking to try out a coach for yourself, Olin suggests using a coach credentialed through the International Coach Federation. “I have two coaches!” Olin admits. “I walk the walk, that’s very important to me.”
You should also consider the personality of your coach, as a coaching relationship is just like any other relationship, and not all personalities will be a perfect fit. Cost is also a major factor, especially because the investment to work with a coach varies widely. For example, my one-hour session with a coach cost $200. Some coaches offer one-one-coaching over a few months and other experts offer small group coaching to help cut down on the costs.
Today, it’s been a little over a week since I first talked to my mom coach, but the difference has been remarkable. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I’ve gotten a little bit of my “spark” back. I feel more like myself again. I am feeling stronger every day, and I’m showing up with more intention for my family.
My experience working with a coach was incredibly positive and empowering, and it did exactly what I was hoping it would: it helped me find my way back to “me,” so I can be the mom I want to be.