Sunday, August 20, 2017

How mothers can deal with stress and learn how to be confident

Motherhood is a prime source of anxiety and stress

Before becoming a new mum, you would never have believed the amount of stress that could come from expecting yourself to be perfect. Not only do mothers expect themselves to be the perfect parent, but there is added internal and external pressure to be the perfect partner, friend, employee, family member and so on... So it's no wonder so many mothers report feeling stressed about not being able to get enough done in their day, or feel anxious about regularly falling behind. These feelings often lead to further stress and a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem.

The best cure of stress is to take control

When you are feeling anxious or stressed, it can be very debilitating and can lead to procrastination or inefficiency as your mind is not is an efficient state to cope with all the demands on your plate.

However, one of the keys to feeling calmer and more composed is to take stock of what you can and can't control. For instance, as a busy mother, you may have a huge list of tasks to get through in your day. You have made the assumption that you can achieve this 'monster' list because you expect that when you place your child down for a nap today you will have 2 hours of 'free-time' to get everything done. Unfortunately, something has upset your child today and she has taken much longer to settle and only sleeps for 30 minutes. You normal reaction might be to feel like a failure, to get angry or upset and to even criticise yourself for not being able to control this situation and have your child in a regular sleep routine. But what if you decided to rethink about what you can and can't control. This scenario is a very common one for mothers with young children. There is an expectation that babies SHOULD just follow and routine. What mothers are often not considering is, like adults, children are not always predictable. How many times have you struggled to get to sleep or to sleep well because you were feeling sick; it was too hot; you were uncomfortable; you were upset; you were too cold and so on? A young child or toddler is unable to explain why he/she is having difficulty sleeping, yet parenting experts claim children just need to be placed in a routine to sleep and everything will work out fine. So it's no wonder that mothers blame themselves or their child when things don't go according to the experts' plans.

If on the contrary, in situations like these, you stopped yourself from feeling upset about the 'uncontrollable' situation and you re-evaluated your list of tasks, you would begin to take control of your emotions and amend your routine throughout the day accordingly. For instance, you may decide to play with your child for a while and then engage in the activities you had planned together. Even if you were planning on getting some chores done, you could let your child play next to you whilst your cleaned. You could also make the safe assumption that your child will most likely be extra tired that evening, so you could get those chores completed then. Either way, YOU have taken control and adapted to the 'uncontrollable' in a way that has reduced your stress levels and still enables you to complete the things on your list - with much less stress.

Gaining control reduces depression

Depression comes from a feeling of being helpless and hopeless, so it makes sense that when you regain a sense of control, you begin to feel happier and more hopeful about the future.

how to be confident, how to deal with stress

When you take control of your own health and wellbeing, you also reduce stress and boost self confidence

Some good examples of this are taking control of your:
  • Wellbeing: Committing to reducing salt and sugar intake

  • Self esteem: Being mindful of negative self-talk

  • Relationships: Taking a breathe to think before speaking in a 'snapping' tone to your partner or kids

  • Finances: Making an appointment to see a financial planner
  • Career, Taking stock of what will truly make you feel happy and balanced now that you have a family

  • Personal life: Feeling comfortable with your parenting decisions and your personal beliefs and values
All these examples above are ways that you can regain control of your life. It is through this behaviour that you can boost your self confidence in times of stress and provide guidance and support for those you love most.

Take a few minutes now to think about what you would like to regain control of this week and commit to doing this as soon as possible.

If you need any additional tips on self esteem, jump on to the Help For Mums
website for great free support.

All the best

Lizzie O'Halloran
Personal Development Coach
Happy Life & Help For Mums

Friday, June 30, 2017

How To Effortlessly Transform Your Work/Life Balance

It's Undeniable That Mothers Are Expert Jugglers

One of the most difficult aspects of being a mother is juggling all your roles inside and outside the home. Most mothers juggle the role of cleaner, cook, financial planner, financial budgeter, carer, professional, social organiser, school mediator/advocate, hairdresser, first aid officer and so on. It’s clear to see why many mothers find it difficult to live ‘in the moment’ and to stop thinking about all the tasks they have to undertake throughout the day. Of course, many partners are providing wonderful support for mothers, however, in general, mothers are still managing a great deal of the household and professional chores.

Getting Organised is the key

Being organised with the requirements of each role is vital in order to function and feel as though you are succeeding as a mother. For instance, if you are working outside the home, or have a home based business, simplifying your life and committing to being very well organised will ensure your life runs much more smoothly. It will also increase the amount of quality time you have available to give those you love most.

One of the major keys to reducing guilt in motherhood is allocating time for things you love (like playing with your children) and in those moments ensuring you are 100% fully present in the ‘moment’. Engaging more fully in the moment will in turn heighten your awareness of all the great things you are achieving throughout your day and hence will reduce the guilt associated with striving to ‘do it all’ as the perfect mum.

In order to manage all your roles, take some time to organise your home and work spaces, so you can transition more effortlessly from one role to the next. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I have a list of all the roles I am participating in within the home and outside the home?
  • Do I have a clear space at home for my work items?
  • Have I organised my home to be able to find what I need, when I’m in a hurry?
  • Have I set aside specific times/days for particular jobs/projects
  • Do I need any external help with tasks I never seem to be able to undertake and if so, can I afford to pay for this outside help?
  • How can I best switch off mentally from work when I arrive home?
  • Have I allocated time for the things I love?
  • Do I have what I need at home to prepare healthy meals?
  • Have I dedicated time to play with the children?

Excerpt from Perfect Mum: How To Survive The Emotional Rollercoaster of Motherhood

By gaining perspective on your life, you become much better organised and create an easy to manage work and life balance.

Lizzie O'Halloran, BBSc, MASR, NLP Prac
Personal Development Coach & Author
Help For Mums
Giving Busy Mums Peace of Mind & Permission to Be Imperfect
C/o Happy Life, PO Box 317, Prahran VIC 3181

8 Scientifically Proven Tactics To Dramatically Succeed In Your Relationship

Do You Crave More Intimacy?

Cultivating intimacy when there is a lack of intimacy in a relationship takes work. Intimacy develops out of a relationship based upon integrity, trust, commitment, passion and respect. Many people confuse sex with intimacy. Sex should be viewed as a manifestation of the quality of one’s level of intimate behaviour. Sexual expression will rarely sustain a healthy relationship that is devoid of intimacy. Intimacy, however, can sustain a relationship that lacks significant sexual involvement.

8 Scientifically Proven Tactics To Dramatically Succeed In Your Relationship

  1. Be open and honest about you’re feelings
  2. Listen without judgement
  3. Remind yourself regularly of why you love your partner
  4. Complement your partner regularly
  5. Display physical intimacy outside of the bedroom (for example by holding hands)
  6. Show appreciation towards your partner
  7. Make time for sexual intimacy and value it as a bonding aspect of your relationship
  8. Create an environment of trust

A very easy way to incorporate intimate time in your relationship is when the children are asleep at night. Plan a special evening at home together where you are not allowed to talk about stressful events, then make time for being intimate, but are not allowed to have sex. This may sound strange in the context of trying to increase intimacy, however you are allowed to engage in foreplay, but no intercourse. Sexual arousal originates in the mind, so we often find it tantalising to be told we can’t do something. You are likely to find that the sexual chemistry is so strong that you end up breaking this rule. The point is to make it a taboo subject, so you become more enticed to engage in it.

There isn’t one rule of thumb with respect to the perfect time to be intimate and the amount of time spent during intimacy. There is also no definitive rule about how many times per week you and your partner should engage in sexual intimacy. The most important thing is to communicate both of your desires in an environment of trust, non-judgement and honesty. Simply ensure you both agree (and are comfortable) with your level of commitment to intimacy in your relationship.

Be mindful that in a long term relationships each individual’s libido and general energy levels can change (particularly as a result of increased life stress). Thus, there needs to be a forum for expressing how you both feel and being open to discussing challenges along the way. It is also vital to create a level of trust within your relationship so that you both feel comfortable discussing intimacy issues. It is particularly important to regularly discuss how you feel about changes to your level of intimacy throughout your lifetime together and plan how you will regain the intimacy in the future.

Lizzie O'Halloran, BBSc, MASR, NLP Prac
Personal Development Coach & Author
Help For Mums
Giving Busy Mums Peace of Mind & Permission to Be Imperfect

Life Changing Steps to Blast Self-Doubt In Motherhood

Crushing self-criticism in Motherhood

Self-criticism can be very (negatively) powerful

The words you say to yourself are often meaner than anything you will ever hear from someone else. So, you can imagine the effect your self-criticism can have on your self worth, desire to feel needed and on your ability to trust how good you are as a mother, friend, partner and so on. It is crucial that you silence (where possible) your internal negative critic.

Below is an example of self-criticism and how to combat the self-talk to cope better with the situation being illustrated:Situation: My mother just put me down by saying “in my day I always fed you guys perfectly by never leaving out key vegetables”.

Automatic self criticism: “I’m obviously not doing the right thing. My child is going to end up getting sick because I’m not organised enough”

How to cope

Start noting down what your child eats on a daily basis, so you can be confident  your child is eating all the key ingredients for health. Armed with this knowledge, the next time your mother makes a comment about this aspect of your parenting, simply respond by saying “Thanks for your input.  I’m happy with what I’m doing at the moment, but if I need help, I’ll ask”.

Curbing self-criticism by reducing labelling your child

When you’re upset with your child’s behaviour, the natural instinct is to label your child as “naughty’, “cheeky”, “rude”, “selfish”, “silly”, “grumpy” and so on. Your child invariably will become very upset by these labels and YOU will in turn most likely feel very guilty as a result of upsetting your child through name calling. However, if, instead of labelling, you spoke about your feelings and focused on the negative behaviour in isolation, you would have a greater impact on your child, your child would not be as upset and you would reduce guilt and hence reduce potential future self-criticism.

It’s not always easy to remind yourself to separate behaviour from the individual, however, it’s a good thing to practice. It allows you to deal with the issues at hand and avoid assuming things are worse than they appear in the moment. For instance, when you hear yourself saying your child is always grumpy, it disqualifies all his happy moods and does not provide a clear directive for change.

Below are some example  alternative statements you could use to address negative/disruptive behaviour:

Situation: Your son is crying because he doesn’t want to eat the breakfast you served today

Instead of saying:
“You’re always so grumpy in the mornings”

You could say:
“The way you are speaking to me is not acceptable”

Situation: Your daughter is ignoring you when you tell her to stop running towards the cars

Instead of saying: “You are being so silly and rude today”

You could say: “It’s important to listen to parents for safety reasons”

Situation: Your daughter is speaking back to you when others are around (for example, telling you to get out of her room when she is having a play date)

Instead of saying: “That is very naughty”

You could say: “I’m happy for you to play, but that’s not the way to ask me to leave”

Of course this type of language takes practice. However, if you practice when you are in a calm mindset, you will find it easier to address behaviour in this manner, rather than waiting until you are at your whits end. Remember, this dialogue is not about trying to be a better parent. It’s more about how you feel when you label your child and increasing the chances of obtaining a more desired reaction from your child. If you can reduce this guilt and feel good about the way you are addressing behaviour, you will find your level of self-criticism will dramatically be reduced too.

Lizzie O'Halloran, BBSc, MASR, NLP Prac
Personal Development Coach & Author
Help For Mums
Giving Busy Mums Peace of Mind & Permission to Be Imperfect

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Revolutionary Trick To Painlessly Lose Your Baby Weight

The Easiest Weight Loss Solution

Overall, happiness and wellbeing are very closely linked to health, yet, they are often neglected in motherhood. For example, mothers are often extremely focused on how well their children eat, so their own health is often not given all the attention it deserves. However, a mother’s health directly impacts on her ability to care for her children. Tiredness often results in less patience, tolerance and lower levels of concentration. Poor diet also often results in lower energy levels, irritability and lower self-confidence. Thus, a mother’s wellbeing is as important for her, as it is for her child.

Are Your Suffering In Silence?

In a 2009 paper, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that “in 2007, 45% of Australians aged 16-85 years (or 7.3 million people) had, at some point in their lifetime, experienced at least one of the selected mental disorders (anxiety, mood, or substance use disorders)”. Specifically, mood disorders, such as depression, dysthymia and bipolar affective disorder, affected 6.2% of people aged 16−85 years in 20078. These figures are alarming and give an indication of how significant the issue of wellbeing is for the Australian population; and mothers are no exception.

Eating a Guilt-Free Diet

Eating a balanced diet is at the core of good health. The types of foods consumed directly effect mood and energy levels. Similar to the links made between behaviour and food in children, adults are affected by food on a daily basis, often without much awareness of the causal link between food and mood. Eating the wrong foods can quickly result in less patience, less energy and an increase in feelings of agitation. In addition, the more health is ignored, the higher the chance of being forced to take additional supplements, medicines and herbal remedies to counteract poor eating habits, not to mention countless visits to health professionals in an effort to improve wellbeing.

As a mother, you need all the energy and patience you can obtain, so skimping on your health should not be an option. All individuals living, or working in caring roles need to look after their health because they are taxing roles. Those being cared for directly count on the carer’s strength and endurance to manage and survive. So, whilst it may seem desirable to put everyone else’s needs above your own, it’s in other’s interests for you to be happy and healthy too. Thus, your needs are just as important as the needs of those you care for.

Speeding Up Your Weight Loss with Feel-Good Food

One of the easiest ways to boost your mood through food is to select foods that are higher in serotonin. This ‘feel good’ chemical originates from tryptophan. Tryptophan can be found in many foods, such as turkey, tuna and chicken. There is debate in the literature about whether foods (such as bananas) which are high in serotonin can improve mood without passing the blood brain barrier. However, recent research suggests the impact on mood is mediated by the ratio and level of tryptophan. Anecdotally I can attest to feeling the immediate effect of increased alertness and concentration after consuming a tin of plain tuna in springwater. This positive mood boost lasts until I consume other food (such as bread, or rice).

Typical foods associated with feeling good:
  • Sardines (canned in oil) and fatty fish
  • Eggs, Turkey
  • Fruit such as strawberries, peaches, nectarines, pears, apples, cherries, pineapple, mango, kiwi and ripe bananas
  • Tomatoes and green leafy vegetables
  • Brown rice and sesame seeds

Certain types of foods have different reactions in the body. For instance, protein rich foods like meat, milk, eggs, cheese, fish and beans release dopamine and norepinephrine which increase alertness and concentration. In contrast, carbohydrates, such as grains, release serotonin and induce feelings of calmness and relaxation.

Being more aware of the impact food can have on your moods empowers you to make more informed choices and hence increase your energy, happiness, tolerance and patience as a parent.

So begin your healthy living journey by starting to pay closer attention to how you feel after eating certain foods. That way you will begin to link feeling good with better foods and your brain will naturally gravitate towards what it now remembers made you feel so much better.

Lizzie O'Halloran, BBSc, MASR, NLP Prac
Personal Development Coach & Author
Help For Mums
Giving Busy Mums Peace of Mind & Permission to Be Imperfect
C/o Happy Life, PO Box 317, Prahran VIC 3181

Do You Crave Guilt-free 'Me Time'?

Do You Suffer With Guilt?

As a therapist one of the things I often hear from  women of all ages and stages of life, is that they feel guilty. Mums in particular are prone to this guilt because they often feel as though they are being pulled from one person, commitment and  place to another. So it's no wonder mums often feel like they can't give 100% to any one thing at a time. The super juggling mum evolves quite quickly in motherhood, so no longer do many mums feel they can savour moments, because often these moments are filled with anxiety, or at least overwhelming thoughts about the next tasks to complete on their list.

The Guilt Cycle In Motherhood

When you become a mother, you have an idea of what it might be like, but nothing can really prepare you for the business and demands that are placed on a new mum. Often as a new mum you place very high expectations on yourself to have fun all the time and to be the Perfect Mum for your child, but of course this unrealistic expectations often leads to feelings of failure, as reality sinks in.

The cycle of guilt begin with a Mum feeling guilty for not doing something (e.g. buying a crying child a toy). She holds her ground, but doubts her decision because her child is still upset. After a moment she either apologises or gives in. Thus, reinforcing the behaviour she was trying to extinguish and creating an even greater opportunity to feel guilty later on.

What also tends to happen is as a mum you might focus a lot on not playing enough with your kids, so this perceived failure feels like it is 100 times worse than it really is. This feeling is most likely perpetuated by not being fully present when you are engaging in 'play' and thus not really registering the amount of time you are giving to your kids. When you are busy and your child pesters you to play, but you can't, you begin to feel guilty again and either give in and play, now feeling guilty about the other task you're currently neglecting, or say "no" and feel bad because you didn't give in to your child's requests.

So How Can You Dramatically Crush Mothers Guilt?

There are two very quick and easy ways to reduce motherhood guilt that I have used very successfully with mums in therapy sessions.

Method 1

The first one is to develop a schedule. This weekly schedule must include times when you play with your child every day - even if it's just for 30 minutes every day. This schedule achieves four great things:

  1. It keeps you accountable
  2. It gives you a point of reference to explain to your child that this is your special time and nothing is going to interrupt it
  3. It reduces your guilt because now you become aware of the time you are spending together
  4. It gives you permission to really enjoy this time together, as you schedule other times for work, socialising, household duties etc.

Method 2

The second way to reduce guilt is to ask yourself a few key questions when you begin to feel that guilty feeling:

1) Did I have a right to this action?
2) Am I/Did I do anything to deliberately try to hurt someone?
3) If I did hurt someone, have I done what I could to appease the situation?

As long as you can answer YES to questions 1 and 3 and No to question 2, you have no reason to feel guilty.

Let's use the shopping experience as an example

You are in the supermarket and your toddler has grabbed a toy off the shelf. You do not want to buy this toy and so you say "no" and take the toy away. Your toddler begins to scream and everyone is staring at you. You begin to feel guilty and so ask yourself the following questions:

1) Did I have a right to this action?

A. YES... I have already bought the same toy last week and my child does not need another one.

2) Am I/Did I do anything to deliberately try to hurt someone?

A. NO.. I was calm in talking the toy away

3) If I did hurt someone (intentionally or unintentionally), have I done what I could to appease the situation?

YES. I have my toddler a hug and explained that we are not buying the toy. Then we walked into another isle and I started being silly with him and showing him all the other things in the store and he finally calmed down.

If you simply apply these two methods into your life, you will see a significant reduction in your levels of guilt and stress and can begin to parent with much more assertiveness and confidence too.

If you would like any additional support in motherhood, visit

Have a great day

Lizzie O'Halloran, BBSc, MASR, NLP Prac
Personal Development Coach & Author
Help For Mums
Giving Busy Mums Peace of Mind & Permission to Be Imperfect
C/o Happy Life, PO Box 317, Prahran VIC 3181

Alarming - "9 out of 10 Australian Mums are Damaging Their Health Trying To be Supermum"

In Search Of The Perfect Mother

The pressure to be perfect, has resulted in many mothers experiencing bouts of self-doubt, guilt, anxiety and depression. This pressure is often the result of having (unmet) high expectations of parenting, career advancement, financial income, social status and health. With, or without the support of a loving and helpful partner, or paid service professionals, many modern day mothers are left feeling overwhelmed, inadequate and unfulfilled.

As a mother, it’s very common to focus externally, giving all your love and devotion to your children. Young children often reward mothers for this devotion with love and affection in return, which makes this external pouring of emotion very rewarding. However, as children grow into toddlers, young children and adolescents, it can be quite a shock to experience tantrums, insolence, attempts to control every situation, attachment/rejection, arguing and anger.

At some point as a mother you are likely to experience your children becoming angry when they don’t get their own way, ignoring your requests when they simply want to behave in a different manner, telling you to “go away” when a better playmate comes along, refusing to listen and in general, misbehaving. When you’re feeling strong, it’s much easier to see these incidents as natural stages of development and not take things personally. However, when you’re feeling more vulnerable (a common consequence of trying to ‘do it all’ and be the perfect parent), it’s very easy to allow these incidents to affect your self-esteem. Add to this, the misconception that everyone else is doing a better job, it’s no wonder so many mothers feel emotionally drained from time to time.

The modern role of motherhood

Whilst mothers have greater access to professional help in the home, they are often expected to
balance their careers and motherhood by:
  • working outside of the home
  • being a supportive friend
  • raising high achieving, high self-esteem, intelligent and popular children
  • maintaining youthful looks and a high libido
  • staying fit, energetic and positive
  • managing the family social calendar
  • creating and sustaining a harmonious home
  • managing the family budget
  • undertaking most of the household chores
  • cooking the family meals, and so on...

More recently, men are taking on some of these roles and as such are also feeling strained. An article published in the Age Newspaper on 17th May 2013, reported that working fathers and mothers felt under pressure, with 47 per cent of fathers feeling they were always pressed for time, compared with 62 per cent of mothers. The research presented in this article from the Australian Institute of Family  studies also highlighted that mothers with children under the age of 5 spent:
  • 41 hours per week on childcare
  • 32 hours a week on housework
  • 14 hours a week in paid work
Thus, many mothers are working two jobs; one in the home and one outside of the home. In addition to the varied practical tasks required of mothers in the modern world, mothers are somehow expected to also cope with the emotional, physical and psychological aspects of motherhood, such as feeling exhausted, rejected, insecure, unfit, self critical, financially stressed and lonely.

It is for this reason that building resilience and self-esteem in motherhood has never been more important. Caring for your needs and ensuring you do not place your needs last, will also help you to be a stronger, more confident and happier parent.

Lizzie O'Halloran, BBSc, MASR, NLP Prac
Personal Development Coach & Author
Cover-motherhood-and-baby-smaller Help For Mums
Giving Busy Mums Peace of Mind & Permission to Be Imperfect
C/o Happy Life, PO Box 317, Prahran VIC 3181