One to One Coaching

I offer free 30 minute telephone/Skype consultations for people wanting to find out more about coaching on the 'baby decision'. Email me at and assistant Laura will respond and arrange an appointment with you. Visit for more information about my coaching services.

Monday, 8 February 2016

How will becoming a mother affect my work/career

One of the concerns women my have about deciding to have children or not is whether having a child would have a negative impact on their career.

Research  carried out by scholar Heather Boushey published in the  journal Feminist Economics, Opt Out Revolution? New Evidence to the Contrary: (January 10, 2008), suggests that the conventional wisdom for women leaving the  labour market due to having children may not be correct.

Boushey shows that the number of women leaving jobs to take care of children has decreased dramatically over the past two decades. She points to changes in the labour market, not children,as a cause for somewhat lower rates of women in the workplace more recently.  Using data from a nationally representative survey of the US population, the Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic Survey (ASEC) from 1979 to 2005, Boushey did not find any evidence of an increase in opting out. In contrast, she finds that especially for women with a high school or college degree and for single mothers, “the estimated marginal effect of having children at home has decreased
sharply over the past two decades.” She finds that the ‘‘child effect’’ on women’s  employment has fallen since the end of the 1970s from 21.8 percentage points in 1979 to 12.7 percentage points in 2005. (Source: Green Parenting Blog January 2008)

So all is not lost for working mothers.  Many women successfully combine working  with having a family and there are many role models of women who have combined having a family with a successful career including: Louise Bourgeois (Artist), Nicola Horlick (Business Woman), Harriet Harman (Member of Parliament) and Kirsty Wark (Television Presenter).

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Emotions and the Baby Decision

When women (and some men) first approach me, they are often racked with emotions such as fear and anxiety. Some of the things I've heard from clients include:

'I can't get to sleep - sometimes I wake up thinking and thinking and thinking about whether I should become a mother or not.'

'I'm completely worried I'll make the wrong choice - that I will regret not having children... and then I worry that I will regret having children!'

'It's taking over - all the thoughts about whether I'm ready to be a mother or whether I should remain childfree''

 The first thing I encourage all my clients to do is to I think we have to acknowledge and put our negative fears on the table - without that, they just keep going round and round and round.

Once we do that, I think it's important to be able to put our fears and anxieties to one side.

Interestingly, some research has been done on the role of 'negative' emotions in decision making.

In the article   Understanding the Dynamics of Decision-Making and Choice: A Scoping Study of Key Psychological Theories to Inform The Design and Analysis of the Panel Study by Bryony Beresford and Tricia Sloper , the researchers explored different models of decision making which involved emotions.  In one, the researched said that a successful decision making model people would be engaged in:

-  Minimizing the experience of negative emotion while making the decision and
 -  Maximising the ease of justification of a decision to oneself and to others.

This very much tallies with a coaching approach where we work with clients to help them put to one side negative emotions such as fears or anxiety through finding ways to explore more positive mindsets

When I work coaching clients, I usually encourage all my clients to write all their fears and anxieties.  Often we do this as a mind map - I then take some of the most powerful ones and I encourage clients to write them on large pieces of paper and really look at them.  If we are in the room together, we will look at them together and I sometimes get clients to move and step into the space beside the fears.  I we are doing a phone or Skype session, I might also encourage a client do this.  We really explore how powerful is that fear - where do they feel the fear in their body for example.  I ask clients which of these fears about having and not having children are really fears driven by their saboteur.  And then, we look at how they can put that fear aside - even if just for five minutes - in order to look at the baby decision from a less fearful mindset.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Motherhood terrifies me

The whole idea of motherhood can seem overwhelming to many of us  - and very scary.   Some of these fears are based on our inner critic or saboteur voices.  The saboteur is the part of is that is negative, fearful and doesn't want change.  This part of us can hold fearful beliefs that, when we examine them in the light, turn out to be false.

Other fears are based on our knowledge of structural inequalities or challenges. When we look at the working women we know in our lives and all the problems and discrimination faced by these we know, it can seem like it might be totally impossible to be a mother and have a life as well.

Many people express a fear that they might feel regret if they have children - regret at options or futures that may never happen if they have children.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Being afraid to say we want kids

As I've mentioned before, I see a number of women who do want kids but they find themselves in circumstances were it's challenging - sometimes they are with partners who don't want children or they are dating someone new and don't want to scare them off.

'There are so many unspoken rules when it comes to talking about wanting or not wanting kids — a little bit like playing poker. You keep the poker face on and don't talk about it while you're dating someone, because you don't want to scare a partner away; when, and only when they are ready to talk about it do you discuss having them. And if it turns out after all that that you really don't want kids, and aren't just ~saying~ you don't and waiting them out, you run the risk of scaring away a partner for the complete opposite reason.' - Emma Lord, in Why we need to stop being so afraid 

Apparently, according to Emma Lord author of the article Why we need to stop being so afraid to say that we want kids  iits's part of a larger problem for the Millennial generation that saying you want kids is something to be embarrassed about.

I wonder if one of reasons for this could be because Millennials are coming of age in a time of particular insecurity - the economic climate is still bleak and many Millennials struggle to get on both the housing and career ladder.

If the challenges of how you will earn a living and where you will live are so difficult, it must make the decision of whether to have children or not doubly difficult.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Why stay child free?

In this article 5 signs that you shouldn't have kids   the writer looks at reasons that you shouldn't have children. Yet, I think that it can make the decision more difficult if we frame it in a negative context.
Of course, I think we have to acknowledge and put our negative fears on the table - without that, they just keep going round and round and round.  Once we do that, I think it's important to be able to put our fears and anxieties to one side.  I'll be exploring this is a later blog.

But meanwhile, I think it's great to read a perspective from someone who has made this choice!


Thursday, 21 January 2016

If you have a mental health issue, making the decision to have children can be doubly difficult.  In this article, a woman with bipolar disorder writes about how difficult the decision not to have children was for her.

Monday, 18 January 2016

On not being a grandmother

It's always interesting to read first person accounts from people who made the decision not to have children while they were in their 30's and who are now going into their 50's and 60's. 

When I was writing Baby or Not? One of the most interesting interviews I did was with a woman in her 60's who had decided not to have children.   She has had a rich and varied career as an artist and had never had the desire to have children.  She did say that occasionally now she felt once in a while a small pang of regret now that many of her peers were becoming grandparents.  Yet her feeling was that those small pangs of regret were part of being human - that we would not be fully human if we never had feelings of regret.

I found a lovely article is from Jane Fallon reflecting on how the decision not to have children made many years ago impacts on her now.  In the article, she talks  many of the issues that my interviewee mentioned as well.

I love how she acknowledges the conflicting emotions  that she feels about her choice now and then how the article ends on a positive choice to look at how she will address the unintended consequences of not having children.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Adopting as a single mum - Single motherhood by choice

In a blog post a few days ago, I looked at the difficult dilemma of when you want a child but your partner doesn't.  One option that women explore is deciding to have a child on their own as a single parent.   Often, women look at IVF on their own but more and more people are turning to adoption.

I'm a big fan of adoption although for many of my clients in this situation adoption feels like a very difficult step  And the process of adoption in general (not even just for single parents) can feel very off-putting and difficult.  This article talks to a number of women who have adopted for adoption as a single parent and explored the positives and the challenges of doing so.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Parents who regret having children

It's very rare to hear from parents who regret having made the decision to have children but here is an article with interviews from parents who have been honest about their regrets.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Being a supportive adult

One of the crude misconceptions of people who decide not to have children is that they don't like children or don't want to be around them.  Nothing could be further than the truth.  I've spoken to many  women who don't have a huge desire to have children but who are worried they will be missing out on a wonderful connection with a child by not being a parent.

When I'm coaching someone who is thinking about being childfree,  one of the options I often explore with these clients is how they can be connected to children if they do decide not to have children.  If you have siblings who do have kids, an obvious way to do this is through nurturing your relationship with your nieces or nephews.  Even if you do not live in the same area (or indeed country, you can still develop a good relationship.  Here is a link to what I thought was a lovely blog post from an aunt about her relationship with her nieces and nephews who live far away.

Loving someone who doesn't want children (but you do)

I see many women in my coaching practice who do want children but whose partners don't  want children OR whose partners are saying they are not ready yet. For many women who are aware of the limitations of their biological clock, and who are in their mid to late 30's this can put them in a difficult dilemma.  Do they stay in the relationship OR do they leave the relationship?  Do they press their partner and offer an ultimatum? Will they feel regret in the future if they don't children?

I think it's one of the most difficult and painful places to be - being in love with someone and wanting to have children with them but knowing they don't want this as well.     I've worked with individuals like the women featured in this article in the Mail who have had to make this difficult decision.  I do think it's possible to come to a place of peace and resolution but the pain and sadness that goes along with whatever choice you make needs to be acknowledged.  I think if clients can mourn and find a way to say goodbye to either the relationship OR the dream of having children, then it is possible to move on.  That's why I've picked this image of people letting go of Japenese lanterns at the top of this page - because it's important to do rituals and acknowledge what we are saying goodbye to

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Australian woman struggling with the baby decision.

Just found this article by a woman in Australia who is trying to decide whether to have kids or not. Although the article To breed or not?  is slightly tongue in cheek, we can see the underlying dilemna - do I give up my freedom or not?  I often find that at the heart of the dilemna for many people is a polarity issue.  It can be between Freedom vs Commitment or Order vs Chaos or Known vs Unknown.  I wrote about this polarity last year in this blog post: