I used to have all sorts of vague notions about what a life coach might do, none of which, as it turns out, were terribly close to the mark. Now I’m becoming a life coach myself, I’ve also become a coachee. And what I’ve discovered is that parents (like me) need life coaches.
Everybody, but everybody needs a champion in life. But nobody needs a champion like a parent does. When your life is subsumed by the needs of others, and the minutes of your day are consumed by juggling the needs of your workplace, your home, your children and even your damn pets, and everyone in your world, no matter how hard they love you, has an agenda of their own – you need someone in your corner. You need someone whose sole purpose, even if it’s for just an hour a fortnight, is to meet you exactly where you’re at, be that crabby and resentful or inspired and invigorated. Someone who will see you for the awesome, creative and colourful individual you actually are, draw your attention to it, and help you experience that reality for yourself. There’s not a parent out there who doesn’t need a piece of that.
Because parenting requires a kind of awesomeness that is pretty darned hard to maintain. It requires you to draw deep on faltering resources, to be everything to everyone pretty much as and when they require it of you. Parenting has a most unreasonable job description, yet there’s no HR department to negotiate with. Which is where your coach comes in, with their willingness to help you connect with, and maintain a connection to your untapped inner resources. Their ability to channel the strengths and abilities you see in others, but didn’t realise you actually possessed yourself.
Because parenting requires you to make about a million micro decisions on behalf of your children. Every.Single.Day. And about half a million of those micro decisions appear to have consequences that are far reaching and potentially life altering for them. Which takes up a ridiculous amount of headspace that you could really be doing something more interesting with. So instead of planning the plot summary of your next novel (or whatever it is that floats your boat) you’re spending precious time pondering the relative merits of stopping those god-awful swimming lessons instead. A coach can’t make those million micro decisions go away, but they absolutely can get you really clear on what matters to you on a very deep level, which in turn makes decision making quicker, easier and a heck of a lot less angsty.
Because parenting isn’t everything. There, I’ve said it. It’s just not. It’s huge, beautiful and life altering, and it’s perspective shifting, and it’s ground shaking. But it’s still not everything. And it takes time, and some serious coaching to uncover who you have become since your parenting role came into the equation. And it requires support to really and truly join the dots between the amazing human being you were before you had kids, and the awesome one you are now you’ve got them. Because it’s terrifyingly easy to get swamped by all things parent, and as a result, for the colour to get turned down on all the other incredible things you, as an individual, bring to the table. And boy is it sweet when your coach shows you that your pre-parent energies and enthusiasms are still there, waiting in the wings, ready to be rediscovered, integrated, and put to work. Ready to be unfurled on the world in all their glory.
Because our kids need us to be brilliant. Not necessarily curing Ebola or creating world peace (though more power to you if that’s your thing), but brilliant in our own way in our own life, which will look completely different for each and every one of us. As the impossibly wise Brene Brown points out “we need to be the adults we want our children to be”. And not one of us wants our kids to grow up to be faded versions of their former selves. Not one of us want our kids to go out into the world held back by fears of what ‘others’ might think, or limited by their inner-critic in every aspect of their lives. And when you put it like that, not one of us wants that for ourselves either. And the coaches I’ve met are staggeringly good at helping you get that stuff under wraps. Which frees you up to live and to parent as the very best version of you.
Which has got to be a good thing.