With the rise of social media, the prevalence of judgement on other parents has reached epidemic proportions. A recent US study* found that 90% of Mums and 85% of Dads feel judged by others, and nearly half of all parents feel judged almost all the time. According to Sunshine Coast business coach and mother of twins, Lauren Marie, this constant demand to conform to others' rules not only undermines a parent's wellbeing – it also stifles their ability to follow their dreams and create new financial opportunities for themselves and their families.
'Sadly, as parents, particularly mothers, are busy trying to conform to society's standards, they are limiting their ability to thrive, create and – ultimately – make more money," Lauren advises.
A passionate entrepreneur with an unconventional pregnancy story, Lauren is concerned that most parents regulate many of their life choices in order to be seen as a 'good parent". As the expectations grow around them, new mothers and fathers begin to stifle their natural impulses, sacrifice their dreams and place more emphasis on society's unwritten rules than on personal fulfilment. In doing so, Lauren believes that parents limit their actions – and therefore their possibilities for true happiness and financial wellbeing. "What if becoming a parent could allow you to create more, not less?" she suggests. 'What if you are not expected to be -perfect'?"
As a Joy of Business facilitator working with mumprenuers from around the Sunshine Coast, Lauren has seen first-hand the self-imposed limitations that parents, particularly mothers, place on themselves around business and money. 'The standard point of view is that children somehow restrict the ability to own and run a business, but I reject that notion. In my experience, my children can, and do, contribute to my business. They are a part of the creative process," she shares.
Lauren often hears the following -Myths of Motherhood':
1) It is not possible to be a Mum and run a business: Lauren asks, 'What if being a mum allowed you to create more? Why not have it all? Why not use being a mother to your full advantage? What if becoming a Mum could allow you to create more, not less? What if you having a business was a contribution to your kids, not a sacrifice?"
2) Being a good parent is all about sacrifice: 'Have you started making sacrifices -for your family'? Have you started giving up parts and pieces of you -for your kids'? The problem with that is, the more you give up, the less of you there is in the world. And the lessening of you is never a contribution. Not to your children, to you, or to anyone!" Lauren warns.
3) You must maintain balance: 'I hear this all the time: setting work hours, attending gym three times a week, yoga every morning, creating -husband time' after the kids go to bed. I tried this … and I fell asleep," Lauren remarks. 'Today I answered emails and Skype calls while pushing my kids in their swings. Yesterday I listened to a lecture while I made dinner and the kids' dad played with them. It works much better for all of us if we go with the flow!"
Lauren believes that children thrive in environments where their parents place emphasis on creativity, possibility and personal and financial fulfilment. 'Your children will learn how to be and what to be based on what you be and do. When you choose more for you, they learn that it is ok for them to be more to."
Lauren Marie is a Joy of Business facilitator, life coach, acupuncturist, entrepreneur and mother of young twins. She travels worldwide with her babies, facilitating classes and changing her clients' point of view about life, health and business. Born on the outskirts of Washington D.C., Lauren relocated to Queensland's Sunshine Coast after falling pregnant with twins in a foreign country in a brand new relationship and with an irregular -job'. She holds a Master's Degree and is National Board Certified in Acupuncture by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Maryland with a B.A. in Psychology. Lauren founded The Element Center for Integrative Health, a multi-disciplinary wellness center in Denver in June 2007 after building a successful acupuncture practice in Denver. A passionate creator and conscious rule-breaker, Lauren seeks to inspire other mothers to see the possibilities others overlook and to embrace every challenge and choice that parenthood brings.
Question: How does it make you feel that 9/10 risk their health trying to be a -super mum'?
Lauren Marie: Women, in general, have bought into the point of view that they should be perfect. When they become mothers, many take on the role of 'super mum," which seems to mean that they work themselves to the bone, doing everything for everyone else around them, never including themselves in the picture. And it's never enough!
We define being a 'super mum" as everything we think we are not. Notice that we never acknowledge ourselves for the ways we are already being a super mum…. it's always the things we believe we are not doing good enough or the things we don't think we don't enjoy doing but believe we 'should" do.
Obviously this level of constant self-judgment leads to burn out, fatigue, and even health problems, anxiety or depression.
We can take a lot of the responsibility on to make sure our children have the best lives possible, that they get every opportunity in life.
The sad thing really is that this is all unnecessary. What if you started looking at what your children are actually asking for, rather than all of the 'shoulds" and 'supposed to's" based on someone else's point of view?
Children are powerful creators. The only way they are small is in the size of their bodies! They are not helpless in the least! What if you started asking them questions rather than assuming you must do everything for them, and get it all 'right"?
I remember on my 7th birthday, my mum spent 2 hours trying to make the perfect icing for my birthday cake. She broke 2 mixers trying to whip up the fluffiest frosting. Why? Did it make her a better mother? Did I care? Did any of my friends care? No. I just wanted her to be happy. All I learned from that experience was that I was supposed to try to be perfect too.
Children learn how to be based on what they see you doing and being, not based on how perfect you are or how much you sacrifice for them.
What if you empowered your kids by showing them your joy of living and encouraging them to do the same?
Question: What are parents doing to be seen as -good parents'?
Lauren Marie: Parents are looking from the outside in, at what other people's judgments of 'good" parents are around them. This could be being at every school activity, helping their kids do homework every night, or whatever else is 'right" to do in their community.
What if parents stopped caring how they were seen and looked at what would actually work for their family?
They don't seem to trust that by being themselves and trusting what they know they are being the greatest gift to their children.
They aren't asking their children what they require. They aren't asking themselves what they can do to 'be" more. It's all about doing, doing, doing based on other people's judgments and how they will be seen.
We are all unique – including our kids – each kid has their own set of requirements and quirks. We always seem to look at the failures rather than the joy and exuberance of living!
Question: What are the 3 myths of motherhood?
Lauren Marie: You must make sacrifices
Having children changes things – a lot! Its not just you anymore. But that doesn't mean you sign your life over to just taking care of them. How you use your time changes but that does not mean you do not get to have fun too, and do things you enjoy. You can still love, adore and take care of your children and you at the same time. The basic point of view that sacrificing anything will contribute to your family is a lie. Include YOU in everything you do and not only will you be happier, but your children will learn they don't have to sacrifice them when they grow up either. Don't assume your kids want you to spend all your time with them. Grown ups are boring! Get them a playdate, a baby sitter, or even a good movie or game to play. Take that time to do something for yourself. You will come back rejuvenated, and so will they.
You have to choose between career OR motherhood
The time in a woman's life when she becomes a mother can be the most creative, generative time in her whole life. It's a point at which she looks at creating a bigger, more expansive future for the sake of this new life she is bringing into the world. Capitalising on this time, and the years to come, by really committing to her life, adding to it, not taking away any possibilities or choices, can allow her to have a career, be a great mum, and have lots of fun along the way.
It has to be hard
What if it could be easy? What if even when it isn't easy, you could have ease with it? If you stop judging everything you do as right or wrong, good or bad, you can have ease with anything. It just is what it is. When having a rough day, ask 'what would it take for this to be fun?" Don't be surprised if the answer comes in a form you didn't expect! Be willing to be a bad mum and to get it wrong. Sometimes doing what is right for you and your kids will be wrong in someone else's eyes.
Question: Can you talk us through how your pregnancy was unconventional?
Lauren Marie: I would be considered high risk based on my age and the fact that I had twins. Yet I had no complications throughout my pregnancy. I didn't suffer much at all… my biggest complaints were being tired and the smell of everything. I was really sensitive to smells. Later on it became difficult to sleep because I couldn't get comfortable in any position. Other than going into labor early, which is common in twin pregnancy, me and the babies were completely healthy the entire way. I elected to give birth vaginally, rather than have a c-section, because it was something I knew my body could do, and something I felt would be easier to recover from afterwards. The doctors were surprised I didn't require any medication or intervention throughout the pregnancy. I continued to work up until the morning my water broke!
Question: How did you ensure your pregnancy would not limit all aspects of your life?
Lauren Marie: I didn't buy into the idea that I had to have a pregnancy like anyone else. Anytime something came up in my body, like nausea, for instance, I would ask 'is that mine?" And 9 times out of 10 it would go away instantly. When it didn't, I would ask my body what it required. I used a form of energy work called the 'Access Bars," light touch energy points on the head, several times a week and that helped tremendously. I drank peppermint tea constantly, because my body craved it and it eliminated heart burn and reflux. I slept as much as possible whenever I could, which wasn't much … but I trusted that my body knew what it required and would be fine.
Question: What is Joy of Business For Mums?
Lauren Marie: Joy of Business For Mums is about creating the life YOU would like to create. Business is the adventure of living! The Joy of Business was created by a brilliant woman, Simone Milasas, using the tools of Access Consciousness. There are facilitators all over the world doing classes on the Joy of Business, and I am one of the ones doing these classes especially for mums.
Anyone can use these tools and take these classes, whether you are a stay-at-home mum, a corporate mum, or anything else. If you would like to create more in the world, have more money, more fun, create a greater future for your family - it's for you!
This is the weirdest, wildest stuff with the most pragmatic tools too… and they actually work!
Question: What inspired the creation of Joy of Business For Mums?
Lauren Marie: Mums are some of the most creative, brilliant people on the planet and all too often I see them giving themselves up, making sacrifices, and believing that they can't have everything they know is possible in the world. I want every mum to know that she can do anything, have everything, and what if becoming a mum would allow her to create MORE, not less?
My biggest worry when I found out I was pregnant…with twins… was that I would have to give up my work. I love what I do! It brings me so much joy, and it is one of the greatest creative outlets for me.
Using the tools of the Joy of Business showed me that I could be a loving and caring mum and be a contribution to my twins and also do the work I love. I am far more satisfied as a mother knowing I am free to choose what it is I would like to create. I love seeing my kids happy and healthy and I feel I can be more of a mother when I am being more of me!
Question: Can you talk us through the classes Joy of Business For Mums offers?
Lauren Marie: At my classes, people bring their questions, no matter how big or small they may seem. There is no such thing as a stupid question – what I always find is one person asks a question that many others want to ask but haven't! They are fun and interactive. You get to explore what it is you would like to create as your life, wherever you are with your job, career, or business.
Business 101: Business Done Different is a one day event. We have a manual that we work through, but each class is unique, based on who is in the class and what questions they have. Kids are welcome in all the live classes. They usually just bring an iPad or toys to play with so they don't get bored but kids love to come to class and play and be creative too. They get this stuff much faster than the adults.
There are taster, evening classes as well, telecalls and online classes with different themes such as:
• Creating Your Own Financial Reality
• Getting Out Of Your Own Way With Business & Money
• The 3 People Your Successful Business Requires
• 7 Easy Ways To Make Money
The classes are for everyone. If you want to go out and work, start your own business, or stay at home with your kids and explore what would create more for you there, or even if you have no clue – these classes are for you. They are for mums of small children and of reared children off out in the world and women considering children.
Question: Do you have advice for parents who feel guilt when they work?
Lauren Marie: Yes! Stop judging yourself! The number one question that I get asked is how to go to work or travel and not feel guilty. Guilt's only purpose is to distract you from what you are really aware of. Whenever you feel guilty, recognise it isn't real, it doesn't mean you are doing anything wrong, and ask, 'If I wasn't feeling guilty right now what would I be aware of?"
Other people, including your kids, will use guilt to control you. If they can make you feel wrong, then you will be more likely to do what they want you to do! What about what works for you and your kids?
Instead of feeling the need to justify spending time at work, what if you were to look at the real reason you are choosing to work? Do you enjoy creating? Do you enjoy the break from your kids? What if you didn't have to justify your choices and it was okay to just choose what worked for you?
Question: What advice do you have for those who work from home?
Lauren Marie: There is a difference between being present and being focused. Focus means eliminating your awareness, presence means enhancing your awareness, being totally aware. You want to be present in every moment, aware of everything, not focused on your work or your kids.
There are distractions when working from home - you'll hear your kids fighting or crying in another room and it's tempting to want to intervene. If they're in the care of someone you trust or are old enough to care for themselves, give them space. Resist the temptation to control everything and run to the rescue. Kids quickly learn how to deal with each other and with care givers if you give them the chance.
Ask your kids to contribute to your work, your business and your income, no matter how young they are. This is an energetic thing! As they get older, educate them on what you are doing. Let them know that when you spend time in your home office you are making money for the family so you can do fun things together. They'll assist you and contribute to you if you ask, especially when they get that it is to their benefit too.
Also, remember, you will never regret something if you are totally present in each moment. People talk about regretting missing a child's milestone because they were busy doing something else, like working or traveling. When you're present, you know where to be when.
Interview by Brooke Hunter