Alexandra Hughes

Coaching Mothers to a Place of

calm & joyful living

Receive 3 simple strategies to joyful calm

happy day

Morning stress and self-talk {muses on a hair flippin’ morning}

I was walking proud.

I was feeling good.

No, really good.

It had been a no-scream, no fight morning.

I’d just had a lovely time with my 7 year old boy during his class’ open house AND been stopped by a mother on the street and complimented on my blog.

Every second Thursdays parents are invited to spend time with their kids in their classrooms.

The children are so delighted to share their work. And although I often approach this opportunity as an inconvenience, I always end up appreciating the uninterrupted one-on-one time with my boy.

It was one of those Thursdays.

AND in addition to the successful open house, I had no post-morning guilt tainting my aura.

happy day

photo credit: fauxto_digit

That’s right.

We’d gotten to school on time (sort of, last in the door…nevermind).

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How to mindfully get your kid to sleep {managing evening thieves & sleep monsters}

It’s 8 o’clock p.m. and he’s not only wide awake, he’s excited.

It’s 8:30 and not much has changed.

It’s 8:45. He’s still awake and mildly charged.

It’s 9. Oh my God! When will this end?!

It’s 9:30. It’s official. He is evil. (And yes, he is still wide awake).

 

I remember the evening after I confirmed that my 4 year old boy could officially be categorised as a “highly sensitive person”, an HSP.

“He certainly has many of the characteristics”, the expert told me. “It is normal that given the way he is wired, he will have a difficult time settling down”, he said.

“What do I do?” I asked in desperation.

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photo credit: Jo Ann Deasy

Once Upon A Time…

In a Not So Distant Land (i.e., around the corner) there lived a Mom.

Let’s call her Ana. 

Ana loved her children more than anything. 

But despite her bursting heart, her days were plagued with a deep sense of sadness and worry as a mother… 

Because deep down inside, our dear Ana believed she was failing – failing her children, failing her partner and, worst of all, failing herself.

She was a busy mother and the juggling act of motherhood was stressing her out. 

The small stuff was getting to her in ways she’d never imagine. 

Spilt milk and messy meals stopped being about, well,  spilt milk and messy meals.

They became about her inability to raise tidy and polite children. 

Being late for school stopped being about a tardy pink slip.

It became about her inability to raise responsible college bound children. 

Dinner-time tantrums stopped being about hunger and fatigue.

They became about her inability to manage motherhood. 

With every mistake and slip up she saw herself making as a Mom…with every emotional outburst (her own or her kids’) Ana suffered tremendously. 

She’d threaten. She’d blame. She’d shame. She’d yell.

And then she’d feel horrible.

The guilt! The shame.

She started doubting herself as a mother. 

And with each hot head moment, the guilt mounted – one brick after another – each and every day on her already burdened shoulders.

With each new guilt brick she would promise herself that she would stop: “I won’t yell again.  I can keep it together. I’ll stay calm.” 

But she couldn’t.

And she started really hating herself for that.

Each and every evening, by the time bedtime came around, Ana was so emotionally drained that she didn’t feel like snuggles or reading with her little ones.

She wanted time to herself and for the kids to be in bed already. She’d go through the motions and sure, sometimes she was present. But alot of the time, she wasn’t. She wanted her “me time” desperately by then.

But once the kids were in bed, instead of enjoying that “me time”, she’d lie there (with that pile of parenting books next to her) wishing it had been different; wishing that those few moments together with the children had been good moments. 

She’d already gone through so many parenting books and even done a couple of the workshops.  She’d even seen a therapist for a while, but change wasn’t happening.

And when push came to shove…when that sense of overwhelm and stress took over, she saw red. And that was that. 

“I will regret this”, she’d say to herself.

“My poor kids. I’m ruining them, too.” she’d worry.

Ana wanted to shift this pattern of reacting badly. She needed practical solutions and support. 

Last year, Ana found her way to a Coaching Circle with other mothers sharing similar stories. 

Together the Circle was guided on an inward journey of self-awareness that helped them to understand what was provoking their reactions at the so-called “small stuff” on a deeper level. In fact, even after the first gathering, Ana already felt the hot head Mama inside of her losing her grip. 

This transformative group coaching journey, coupled with personalized emotional intelligence and tools and techniques, equipped our amazing Ana to step into the authentic mother she always knew she was.

Sure, she was still passionate and emotions would flare. And sure, she’d lose it every once in a while (we’re all human after all!). But the pattern was broken.

She began to see spilt milk for spilt milk, a pink tardy slip as tolerable and dinner time tantrums (of which there were fewer) as part and parcel of the journey. Less explosions meant less exhaustion and better times.  

And the most beautiful truth about this story is that Ana and her children are friends now. Not  only is Ana feeling wholeheartedly good about being the Mom she is, but the quality connections with her kids are strong and they are learning how to manage their emotions, too. 

Ana’s story here is presented as a Fairy Tale, but it is actually based on the combined experiences of many mothers who have participated in my Calm Mom Coaching Circles. Ana’s story is actually a true story! 

If any part of Ana’s story rings true for you or reminds you of a close friend, please give the gift of this Circle. 

Mothers are marvelous.

We love are kids but we are busy. Life is so full these days and while it’s become normal to  feel overwhelmed and to doubt ourselves, we deserve (more than anyone!) to be supported and to learn the tools and techniques to helps us feel (and do) good as mothers.

We deserve this and so do our kids. 

Registration is open and there are still some spaces left.  Click here to learn more about the Calm Mom Coaching Circle.

With love & gratitude,

Alex

P.S. If you have any questions, please email me: alex[at]inessencecoaching[dot]com. Let me know what you want to know – I will respond to every email. xx

photo credit: jeyheich
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeyh/

TOP 3 QUALITY TIME ZAPPERS & THE BAD MOTHER HABITS THAT FUEL THEM

When I ask Mamas what their biggest obstacle is to ditching overwhelm

The answer is always TIME

Lack of it.

Not enough.

Too little.

 

Or it might be framed as:

Too much to do.

Too much stuff.

 

Kids = More stuff.

Kids = Less time.

This ends up being the basic problem.

 

Ouch.

 

And so it should not come as a surprise when I ask them:

If you had a magic wand, what would you wish for?

And they answer without pause: I would wish for more hours in the day.

 

So then I ask: To do what?

To spend quality time with my kids.

 

Of course.

 

Because right now it probably looks like:

As soon as I get the dishes done, I’ll spend some one-on-one with the little one…

Or, “let me just fold the laundry and I’ll be with you…”

“I’ve got to check this email first…”

 

The thing is, there are only 24 hours in a day.

Time is the one thing we just cannot get back

 

Moments.

These precious moments

No matter where you find yourself in the motherhood season

Each moment only comes about once

This is it, after all.

 

And we all know it…we’ve heard it before.

We may have heard it so much that we end up wasting precious time (and energy!) feeling guilty for not getting this whole time management thing right.

 

Double ouch.

 

In truth, a lot of the time it is simple bad habits that get in the way of quality moments.

Habits that become obstacles to a more intentional and meaningful use of our time.

Here are three of my top ‘quality time’ zappers and the habits that fuel them.

By just shifting one of these, I promise you, Mama, that you will have made a significant step to creating more quality moments with those you love.

 

‘Quality time’ zapper #1. Bad sleep

This is basic folks.

We all know how critical sleep is to our overall health and, of course, our capacity to thrive as human beings.

But because there are not enough hours in a busy mother’s day, we do the obvious…we try add more.

We might stay up late finishing that report, tidying up the kitchen, or enjoying that precious “me” time that just didn’t happen during daylight hours.

I so totally get this!

The thing is that staying up late is a short-term solution because over the long term, lack of sleep impacts our clarity of mind and productivity levels.

Have you ever stayed up to finish something that required cognitive effort, only to have to redo it the next day because with morning eyes it didn’t make any sense?

Or have you ever invested in “me” time watching that great series, convinced that this “me” time was a necessary balance and would ultimately make you more fun as a Mom. Only the next day you are so tired that you lose your cool after pick-up because you just didn’t turn the tv off when your body was pleading for shut eye?

It is not an easy habit to break…

Some Rest-is-Best habit-breaking tips:

  1. If there is too much going on, you need to figure out what can wait and what can go undone because letting your body rest is critical to being the best mother, woman, human being that you can be. Period. (My free CHALLENGE is designed to help you do just that, BTW!)
  2. Once you’ve done that, start to set up a bedtime routine for yourself that (obviously) helps you to wind down and leads you towards a reclined position on your mattress.
  3. Baby steps. If you are currently getting 6 hours of sleep, aim for 6 ½. If you are getting 7, aim for 7 ½. You get the picture.
  4. Nice naps. And if you can’t fit in more sleep at night, consider a relaxation meditation during the day that takes you into alpha mode. (This 20 minute deep rest meditation saved me from my Tyrannosaurus Rex self when my kids were little).

Break the habit and get the rest!

I promise it will make your awake time more quality.

 

‘Quality time’ zapper #2: Screen seduction

This is for all those device holders who have found themselves saying out loud (or to themselves): “I’m just going to quickly check that email…” and then end up on Facebook for 45 minutes while their kid expresses his Picasso-esq talents on his bedroom wall.

Immediate child-self-entertainment consequences aside, isn’t it wonderful to hear from and reach out to old friends in far away lands, or to read inspirational words and images that keep you going.

Adult world here I am.

Take me away!!

Wonderful, yes.

The thing is these devices do take us away.

They take us away from the here and now.

From the opportunity to create and be in quality moments of connection.

What would it feel like to designate a time where you separate from your device so that you can, hey, be in the here and now with the human beings around you?

Where you are present enough to look in their eyes.

See their little hands.

Hear their stories.

 

Not all day. Maybe not even every day.

But in cutting your umbilical chord with technology you may find that you become more efficient (because you are actually focusing on only one thing – that thing you are doing)

And that you also become more consciously responsive to your own needs and those around you.

Sassy Screen tip. 

Designate a regular screen-free time of the day – half an hour, an hour, two hours (!!)

During this time, have all screens in a different room (muted) and hold the intention of being present, breathing the air around you, hearing the sounds around you, interacting with the people around you.

(Crazy, I know.)

Try it anyway.

 

‘Quality time’ zapper #3: I’ll take care of me after I…

This is so typical “Mom”, isn’t it?

I’ll sign up for that art class after the kids are in school.

I’ll go for the walk after I’ve tidied the kitchen.

I’ll get to the yoga class if there’s time…

 

But the after and the extra time often don’t happen.

(And besides we don’t know what will happen in between that’ll get in the way of our soul nourishing self-care time!)

So the self-care waits.

And if we’re lucky it sneaks in on a Saturday morning

Which keeps us in the groove until Sunday afternoon (because let’s face it, weekends are hard!)

But it isn’t quite enough.

 

So here’s the deal…

In order to be a happy giver yourSELF, your bucket needs to be full.

And the only person you can count on to do that is YOU.

 

Quality time will not happen if your bucket is empty.

It’s as simple as that.

 

Tip.

Fill your bucket. Fill it regularly.

 

I’d love to hear what came up from you and, even better, if you are going to commit to shifting any of these habits to invite more quality time into your life.

One quick and easy step to help you is the CLEAR MIND | PRESENT MAMA CHALLENGE that I am hosting. It’s free and it starts on Monday. If you are looking for a community to hold your hand as you ditch overwhelm and create more quality time then you can join by clicking here.

 

xx

 

Alex

 

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This is it.

This morning I woke up to hear little hands playing with lego in the next room.

I did not wake up to a sleepy-head face staring at me with ‘lets cuddle’ eyes

Or a little body nudging me over sneaking into our bed for an early morning cuddle.

 

So, this is it, I thought.

This is it.

He isn’t doing that anymore.

Hmmmm.

 

And the other day my daughter left for school without us.

I had told her that we were running late;

That if she wanted to get there on time, she was welcome to leave a bit earlier.

And so she did.

 

The boys and I got out the door minutes later

And of course I rushed them so that we could catch up to her

So that we could walk together as was the tradition.

 

But before we did I looked ahead and saw a young girl, a young lady, really.

Walking up ahead.

Independently.

Competently.

Just like she will do every day next year on her way to middle school.

 

So, this is it, I thought.

This is it.

 

Tomorrow my mother’s house no longer becomes my mother’s house.

The title will be transferred

The keys handed over

It has been emptied.

My sister has her stuff and I have mine – beautiful relics that help us to feel our mother’s presence a bit more.

 

But the house, that dear old house where life happened for our family of 3 for so many years.

Always open to friends.

Dinner parties.

Christmas.

Sun filled breakfasts in pyjamas.

Studying chemistry with my best friend.

Boyfriends.

Creaky stairs.

Broken fans.

A run down washing machine.

Tears.

Laughter.

Good food.

Summer evenings on the backporch.

Hugs.

So many hugs.

 

Well that dear old house that held us all in so much love.

It’s being handed over now to another family.

 

This is it.

As with everything else…

The end of an era.

 

There were so many years that I wanted to sleep in without interruption.

That I dreamed for a Sunday morning lie in.

That I complained about the lack of bed space, the lack of shut eye.

 

And there were so many moments I pushed Mia towards more independence,

So I could deal with the smaller kids.

 

A mother’s time.

And now I want it all back.

 

But hey, all we have are those memories.

The recollection of those moments.

 

In my good moments I am present enough to create those moments.

To take the cuddles when I can

To notice the little-ness of their hands

Or the innocence of their questions

 

And I am grateful for these moments

For the clarity of mind I have to be present in them

Wholeheartedly present.

 

Because, you see, I was not always so present.

And I am still not always present.

 

I stress easily

I get lost in the small stuff.

And when the overwhelm kicks in

Or the to do list begins to own me

These moments simply don’t happen.

 

And so because my biggest fear is to relive years as a mother without such moments (as I did long ago when my first two were babies)

I hold the intention of clarity of mind and presence of heart with me

Always.

 

It means keeping my mind sorted,

My actions aligned with priorities

And keeping myself well

Well enough to be here in the now.

In the this-is-it.

 

Alexandra [pronounced Alehandra]”, my mother would say, “change is the only constant.

I know, Mum, I know.

But letting it all go isn’t easy.

 

And then, as though she sends an angel to my side,

My middle boy walks in.

He asks why I’m crying.

I tell him that I am thinking of Abuela Marta’s house

That I will miss it.

 

He touches my heart and says

She will always be here, Mom.

He then offers me the gift of a hug

The gift of a moment.

 

With love and through tears,

 

Alex

 

P.S. There are many reasons to keep your mind clear. For me it is about keeping myself centred, my eyes and heart open so that I can see what is really important and be there ready and present for it. If you would like to join me in the first steps towards a clearer mind and more present existence as a busy mother, please join the CLEAR MIND | PRESENT MAMA CHALLENGE, launching on March 7th. You can click here to join.

 

 

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