Parent Coach Lorraine Thomas discusses how to deal with problem toddlers.
Eils Hewitt: The Parent Coaching Academy provides help and support to new parents. It's developed a unique seven day model that motivates parents to tackle family problems with a practical action plan. Lorraine Thomas is the Academy's Chief Executive. Thanks very much for coming to chat to us today. So you have written this book, the 7 Day Parent Coach. What is the essence of the book? Lorraine Thomas: The 7 Day Parent Coach, people say to me can you really make a big difference in the stress and strains the parents feel in seven days. And I thought of the 7 Day Parent Coach because actually parents are fantastic problem solvers. So actually, once they sort of focus on a particular area of their life, a particular problem, they want to make some changes in, really set their mind on doing it, they can make a huge difference in seven days. And I think the essence of parent coaching is really closing the gap between where parents are now and where they want to be and how they can get from where they are today to where they want to be. So I work with them. I think as a mom or a dad, it's the most rewarding job, isn't it? But it's also the most challenging, isn't it? I think nobody can ever explain it to you what a difference being a mom will make in your life, can you? Because it's like a complete roller-coaster, isn't it? You have the high, the emotional highs and lows in the space of five minutes. So I think with parent coaching, I am just taking on board that moms and dads are doing most challenging job they can ever do and to try make it as enjoyable as possible by helping them identify some of the areas, some of the problems that are causing them stress and draining their energy and helping them to focus on particular areas and come out with a practical action plan. So we don't just sit around and talk about the problems and think about them. We actually say, okay so what are we going to do about it? And it's very focused on the solution. So we look at the problems that parents face and -- Eils Hewitt: What would be the most kind of common problem? Lorraine Thomas: Well, I work with parents of all ages. Actually but parents with new babies are a key area for me because it's such a shock, isn't it? And so there are lots of areas to stress. I think, being a parent is the most important job you will ever do in your life, isn't it? And I think it's a huge responsibility, it's a fantastic responsibility, but there is so much to take on board. And I think one of the key areas of stress that moms I work with particularly is they have the new baby and they are coming to terms with broken nights and they are passionate about being the best mom they can possibly be but they want to be the perfect mom. They try to do everything for everybody and I think moms are particularly good at shuffling themselves down the pack. They put their baby first and their partner if they go on their friends, the family next door neighbor, the strangers, down the road. Eils Hewitt: And still try to get meal on a table at 6 o'clock. Lorraine Thomas: Absolutely. And they put themselves right to the bottom and that's what moms are fantastic at doing. They are carers and they look after everybody else. And actually as a parent coach, I say to moms, it's really important that you look after yourself, because you are the engine actually, and if you are feeling tired and stressed and you can't cope and your life is spinning a little bit out of control, then that's going to impact on your baby and all of your relationships. If you are feeling in control, motivated, you are feeling really positive, then that will have a great effect. So I work with moms to be fun not frantic moms. And I think as a new mom, there kind of seems so much to do and you want to do it all so well. And I think if you try to be the perfect mom, you are setting yourself up to fail, because there is no such thing. The perfect mom doesn't exit, the perfect child -- Eils Hewitt: So we have unrealistic expectations of ourselves basically, don't we? Lorraine Thomas: I think it's great because we are passionate, we want to be the best moms we can possibly be, but it's unrealistic. And so moms give themselves a really hard time and actually any group of new moms and I have got two children myself and I know this is absolutely true. If you put them together, they will spend quite a lot of time telling each other what they haven't done, should have done, could have done best, wish it was - and that's healthy in ways that could kind of -- unloading all of these kind of these things. But actually moms achieve a huge amount on an hourly basis. And we spend a lot of time telling each other what we haven't done, or should have done or would do differently if we are doing it again. But actually, we very rarely stand back and say, hang on a minute; we achieve a huge amount, because moms achieve a huge amount. Just by 8 o'clock in the morning, I think as a mom, you are the Managing Director of your own company. It's the most important company in the world and you will deal with budget, strategy, crisis management, personnel, you will do it all the way. So I think trying to be the perfect mom and feeling that you are not coming up to scratch is one of the big traps and it's easy to understand why we fill in there because we want to be great moms. But actually sometimes you can get such a hard time by not being the perfect mom that you forget to enjoy yourself. And your babies, they are really small for such a short time. So you want to be enjoying and enduring being a mom. And I think with moms, there are some sort of key areas. I work with lots of moms -- all sorts of family situations. Moms who go out to work, moms who full time, moms at home, and there are some sort of very common causes of stress in their lives. Eils Hewitt: I was going to say presumably sleep deprivation must be up there as certainly top three. Lorraine Thomas: Yes it's there, it's up there. I mean it's a form of torture and I think anybody who says so uses that phrase sleeping like a baby obviously never happens -- Eils Hewitt: What kind of a practical advice can you give or did your book give about handling sleep deprivation, deprivation basically? Lorraine Thomas: I think if you are suffering from broken nights and every new mom at some stage is going to go, because you are coming to terms of that whole change in your body, emotionally, physically, everything. And I think you really have to look after yourself and I say to new moms, make sure you sleep or treat when the baby sleeps because one of things that lots of new moms will do as well is I think, okay the baby is asleep, fantastic, I will just do the eye and they will catch-up with the house work or I want to do this -- Eils Hewitt: I think you can't do it certainly the first couple of months, your baby is all consuming and you can't actually do anything else. So it's very difficult to sleep, isn't it, when your baby is sleeping, because you realize there is plenty of other things you can be doing. Lorraine Thomas: But actually it's really important that you find that time because if you are on the clock 24x7 and you are always on call, your energy level is just being reducing and reducing. You have got to give yourself time to recharge your batteries. And even if it's just 30 minutes to have a nap, or if you are not going to have a sleep, you have got to give yourself a treat, because actually if you read the paper or have a bath or go to the toilet by yourself, it's all those things that new moms can't do when the baby is out, whatever it is, you will find the after 30 minutes, you are fairly a bit more energized, you are fairly a bit more - I think also stop talking about sleep deprivation is another thing that we do because it can consume your waking moments can't it? And again, it's very easy to -- I think other new moms are trying to help new moms. You are right, you look a bit tired Eils Hewitt: Yeah, which is so hard, oh yeah, you are looking tired. Lorraine Thomas: I think as a new mom, one of the things to do through today is don't think about being tired, you might be exhausted, your body might be telling you it needs a break. But don't talk about being tired because actually all it does is it makes you feel worse. And you can become a sleep expert kind of and have three hours and 24 minutes, you know minute by minute, don't you? Eils Hewitt: I don't count the hours. Ever since I have the baby, after this week, I realized actually it was unhelpful to try and add up the sleep that you have got across the day and night time - just throw out the clock and you are fine. Lorraine Thomas: I think lots of moms relive the sleepless night before instead of thinking, okay what's going well? What's good? And so I say to moms, if you want some energy, if you ever want a quick energy burst, cuddle your baby, hold them tight and tell them out loud what you love about being a mom and you will find, I think that really - it's that love, isn't it? I think we think love when we say I love my baby. Actually cuddle them and tell them it is you love about them, that little person you are holding in your arms, tell them what is you love about being a mom, tell what is you love about how it has changed you, helped you to grow in a really positive way. And I think today, put the tiredness to the back, and put the positive thoughts to the front. Eils Hewitt: So with parent coaching, a lot of it is the perspective and how we view ourselves as well. And just to summarize, I wonder whether you could just give us the key points to 7 day plan, what would be your - do you have like kind of three key points or something you can leave us with? Lorraine Thomas: Well, I think in the book, I take the 10 top issues that moms and dads come to me to ask for help with. So with each of the issues, there is a seven day plan. So I have got parent taming for parents who end up sort of shouting or losing their cool, then I have a chapter on finding more time to do the things you want. But it's different for each of the issues. The three key things I would say to new moms which apply across the board, are just - is to just really enjoy being a mom and really looking at your baby and think wow! This is fantastic. And tell them what you love about being a mom. When you go to sleep at night, instead of going to sleep thinking I haven't done, this I haven't done, or I wish I had done -- I feel so guilty about this and the other, instead of reliving the bad moments in the day, go to sleep thinking about what you have done well, and what is it that makes you really good mom today. That is what you want to go sleep with. And I think make sure that you know that you can bring about changes in a really practical way, you can bring about changes. And if you do want to bring about changes in any area of your life, really focus on that one area on what you can do to change it because, I think you are a mom, you are really practical, moms are practical problem solvers. I had one woman, she was here and she said, I try to go out to take my baby to the nursery in the morning and I have got a toddler, and by the time I get to the office, I just feel, I have done a day's work, already I am stressed, and I just don't know what to do about it. And actually she came up with three things - so we talked about it, and the thing about the parent coaching and making changes in your life as parent is they can be incredibly simple things. They are not huge, they can bring about huge changes, but they can be really - and these are the three things she did. So she said, okay when I drop the baby off I just feel so stressed, he is often screaming and I have to peel him off me, it's awful. I go in and I am late dropping the other one also in the other nursery. So she said -- so she decided this is what she is going to do, and this transformed the mornings in her house. They are simple things and every mom can come up with these simple things today. So she said, I am going to go out quarter of an hour earlier than I normally do, because I won't have - instead of waking up when I hear the baby scream and suddenly going into overdrive, I want to give myself ten minutes with the cup of tea where I really feel, this is really -- and so she did that. She also got into the habit of just switching on the television in the morning, switching on the television. And then when she was trying to do things, or move the baby or take the baby away, she said, I felt guilt about putting the television on but you know then I had things to do that sort of - if they really have to -- Then there was screaming and shenanigans not just with the baby but with the toddler as well, but the tele is on. So she just decided to a have a no TV zone in the morning and it was great actually. Eils Hewitt: She really felt the difference. Lorraine Thomas: It's a little thing, but she felt in control. So instead of kind of that big stress of switching off and trying to get them out through the front door. And the other thing that she decided to do and she said, it's just a small thing and it really helped was when she got to the office, she would always be thinking about what her baby was thinking about, my baby is thinking, if you really love me mom, you wouldn't leave me here. She is giving herself a hard time. So actually what she did is, she makes an appointment, she talks to the staff and she said tell me what my baby enjoys most, when they are there with you what they do that she really enjoys and she put a picture of her baby smiling on her desk. So whenever she was at work and she felt guilty about being away from her baby, she would look at the picture and she would think, oh great, Holly is having a fantastic time, she is smiling and - Eils Hewitt: That is such a good tip. Lorraine Thomas: Because she was giving herself a hard time for no -- that wasn't happening in the nursery. The baby was really happy. But as a mom, away from the baby, she was drawn towards this image on the baby, where is my mom, if she loves me she would be here, and having an awful time and it was really having an impact on her stress levels at work. So she actually puts the photo there and she thinks about him, that's what she sees, her little baby smiling. And she looks forward, when she is leaving she holds her head up high, and says I am going to look forward to seeing-- I am not going to feel guilty about being away for a day. Have a -- organize your day, spend - just how positively how you are going to spend your time with your little one, not thinking about what I haven't done or I would have liked to have done, organize a play day and get out of the house. As a new mom there are lots of distraction in the house. So you put particular times into each day, once a week or once a day, whatever works for you and actually organize a play day with your baby and as they grow up to a toddler, if you - get out of the house if you can but do something positive, decide what are the fun things you would like to do as a mom, be a fun not frantic mom. That's when you will look back. Eils Hewitt: And we have given loads of advice. Thank you so much for your comments and no doubt you certainly have helped a lot of new parents out there. Thanks very much indeed. Lorraine Thomas: Thank you.