Ah, spring has arrived. Thoughts of spring make me think of blooming flowers, new babies and life pushing forward. With that in mind I thought it would be appropriate to speak with one of our own Parent Coaches.
Karen Bierdeman is a Parent Coach living in the Seattle area. She is currently my teacher in course 2 of 4 for a certification in Parent Coaching. She specializes in coaching moms and the name of her website is, appropriately, the guilt free mom.com.
To demonstrate what a small community coaching is: Iâ€™ve barely been involved in coaching 6 months. One day I get an e-mail from our blog moderator, Kathy Mallary, asking if I know Karen Bierdeman. That same week, in one of my Parent Coaching Institue Certification Classes Karen asks me if I know Kathy. It turns out Kathy is Karenâ€™s business coach! I canâ€™t wait to experience more connections like this one â€“ what fun!!
What sustains you personally? Exercise and scrapbooking! I need movement and I need to create something colorful. I am a better mom, coach, wife and friend when I do both of those things.
Who are your supports? I’m blessed to have 2-3 really close friends that I can be “real” with, that I connect with on a very deep level. Also, my husband and I are very close, and I bounce a lot of ideas off him. I’m a very creative, energetic soul, and he helps keep me grounded by listening, helping me prioritize, etc. I’ve also been coached a lot during the past three years, and that has helped me a ton. Without it I would’ve been stuck in overwhelm and indecision!
We all have down days, how do you self-motivate? Great question! Actually, I am very hard on myself, and it has taken practice to notice what I’m doing well. I think I self-motivate by imagining what I want often and by acting as if what I want has already happened. I also break tasks down into smaller pieces and acknowledge myself for completing them. To prevent those down days, I consciously move away from comparing myself to others. Comparisons usually leave me feeling blue. I am keeping a gratitude journal (actually, it’s more like a list) that helps me realize how much good there is in my life.
Can you share a clientâ€™s â€œAh-haâ€ moment that impacted you personally? Sure…One of my clients realized that the quality she had been admiring and pining over in other moms was actually one of her biggest strengths: being proactive. She hadn’t connected the dots that much of what she was already doing was contributing to her children’s success! I think that focusing on her strengths, and having her connect to a time when she was literally “at her best” helped her to come to this “A-ha” moment. The woman that was in the peak moment in the past was still showing up as now as a very proactive mother!
In the same vein, can you share a story that tickled both you and your client? Today, I just shared with one of my clients a story about my spirited, intense daughter. This client has an energetic, intense, often-defiant son, and often feels as if she is the only one who is dealing with tantrums, power struggles, etc. I told her about how my almost-six-year-old daughter “melted down” in Disneyworld last week. The scene was full of drama and tears (my daughter’s, not mine!), and my daughter was frustrated at me for hearing the word “no” to a request. We left Disneyworld with me carrying her through the turn styles, kicking and screaming. The friendly employees waved at her and said, “Don’t cry, Princess..It’s going to be okay..” My daughter, not one to be easily mollified in such situations, screamed, “Don’t call me a Princess! I’m not acting like a Princess! Leave me alone!” It took about 20 minutes for her to calm down, and much of that time we had an audience. I shared this with my client who said, “Oh, wow…even a parent coach has to go through parenting drama…that’s so COOL!”
How did you first learn about the field of coaching? A few acquaintances were leaving their jobs and becoming coaches, so that piqued my curiosity. Then, I saw Cheryl Richardson and Martha Beck on Oprah, and was really intrigued.
How did you get started in coaching? Was it a conscious decision or was it a â€œnext stepâ€ process? I had been teaching since 1991-first a teacher of children with behavioral issues, and then as a first grade teacher and literacy specialist. More and more, I was seeing that parents needed support with parenting from someone who was non-judgmental and supportive. The parents I was seeing were overwhelmed with guilt about “doing it wrong” and were unsure about how to set limits in ways that really worked, and that were respectful of their child. When I, on a whim, Googled “parent coaching” and found the Parent Coaching Institute literally less than an hour away, I knew I was onto the next part of my path.
What were your first steps in establishing your coaching practice? I took a deep breath (gulp!), and took a leave of absence from my teaching job. Then I got a website (my first one was not very effective), and started telling people what I do. I really floundered about how to get the word out about what I do. That’s when I hired my first business coach. I thought, “If I’m asking people to hire me to reach their goals and dreams, I could stay in my integrity, put my money where my mouth is and hire a coach!” It was difficult to afford, but I did it. And it was the single best thing I could have done to propel me forward as a parent coach in business for myself. One of the most important things it did was to help me take myself seriously as a business person and to help me really see myself as a professional coach, not just a hobbyist.
When I was researching parent coaching, before starting any training, I found your website. I remember it because itâ€™s so inviting (it reminds me of scrap booking). Who does your website? How much input did you have in its design? Thanks for the kind words about my site! I worked with an excellent web designer who specializes in working with creative women (coaches, writers, etc.) who want a strong, compelling Internet presence. Her name is Beth Cole, and her business is The Web Servant (www.thewebservant.com). She knows how to help coaches brand themselves and works with a talented graphic artist to help the website really reflect the coach’s intent. My site’s design and colors reflect my energetic personality and my love of scrapbooking. One of the MAJOR plusses of my site is that I can update it myself. I just login and it looks like a Word document and start changing whatever I want. It’s great because I change my web copy often. I’m about to do it again!
I know you have a business coach, our own blog moderator â€“ Kathy. Have you always had a business coach? I’ve had two business coaches. Kathy and I just finished up some great work about a month ago. She really helped me put together my “Signature Coaching Program” and I feel so much clearer about who I am as a coach, whom I serve, and what I do. Before that, I had my first coach, who coincidentally, happens to be a close friend of Kathy’s (though I didn’t know that at the time!). Without the business coaching, I believe I would have floundered even longer.
Do you have a VA? Not yet! My goal is to get one by the end of summer. I am all for delegating technical details that frustrate me so that I can free myself to do what I’m good at and enjoy!
What have you discovered to be great time savers? Time wasters? Time savers include having a niche (I think this is so important–it guides everything I do), knowing at what stage of my business I’m in and having a plan to reach my goals (i.e., have a “first-level” product in my product funnel, just after the free e-course I offer, that people pay for like an e-book or workbook of my Signature Process), and envisioning the night before what I will do the next day. The tasks may change somewhat the next day, but I find myself more motivated when I picture myself being purposefully working on my business. Without a doubt, one of the biggest time wasters for me is surfing the Internet! I love to read articles, blogs, and message boards, and with the Internet, one site leads to another and I can easily spend hours. I’ve had to really be intentional about getting other stuff done first before I let myself do that. It’s a constant desire for me, though. I love information, and having it literally at my fingertips is enticing! I also think housework is a huge time-waster, though I haven’t yet gotten brave enough to not do it.
Youâ€™re niche is moms of pre-schoolers, how did you decide on this niche? I originally decided on this niche because so many of the moms that were coming to me for help were moms of preschoolers. They found me! I am now moving towards helping moms of any age children who struggle with challenging behavior. So many times, it’s about empowering the mom and not just about the kids’ behavior. I’m excited to expand my reach.
You practice the AI (appreciative inquiry) approach to coaching; can you describe the process? The Appreciative Inquiry approach is focused on what’s working, and what gives life and positive energy to a situation. Instead of just problem-solving, we focus on what moms DO want more of (the “Big Picture”), and using their strengths and supports, help them get it. It’s a wonderfully supportive tool, especially for moms who struggle with guilt about not being “good enough.” Who wouldn’t want someone to focus on all that’s wonderful about them so that they can reach their parenting goals? I also find that using Appreciative Inquiry helps moms to tap into those inherently strong parts of themselves that sometimes get lost in the stress and overwhelm of being a mom.
If you could wave a magic wand and all mothers of preschoolers would know one thing â€“ what would it be? How do you help your clients come to this realization? I would want them to know that with the right kind of tailored support, they can be effective moms who enjoy their kids. Our culture doesn’t always make it easy, but it can be done. I help moms come to this realization by helping them get clear on all the good they already bring to the table, and what exactly, they want to see happen in their parenting. With clarity there is POWER. I also help moms tap into positive emotions such as joy and hope, so they have the necessary energy to make changes. Lastly, I have a very strong background in childhood behavioral issues, and I can help brainstorm solutions with moms so that they experience more peace in the home.
Kim Woodworth, M.A, is a Parent Coach working specifically with parents and the unique issues they face. Do you want to have more energy for yourself, your spouse, and your children; and to experience fulfillment in your role as a parent? Contact Kim to discuss the possibilities. http://www.ourcasa.com/