I had it all planned. I was going to get everything about being a mom right. After all, I had degrees in child development and I was also willing to consult the experts to make sure I was providing the most perfect, appropriate, nurturing environment for my children.

And then, my first colicky baby was born. And then my second. And then, a year later, I got divorced. My kids were high energy from the get-go, determined, tenacious, and it was all I could do to get to the end of the day some days. None of this was part of my plan!

Parenting is one of those uber-high-stakes areas where getting it wrong seems like the worst thing you could possibly do! The books, the coaches, the consultants abound for how to not mess up those sweet children of yours who may be keeping you awake, driving you nuts, rebelling against you at every turn, and so on.

So who decides what the ‘right’ way to parent is? How do you determine what is good for a child, a family – and often the least common denominator in the whole equation: you?

What if you and your children could actually decide that together? What if you know way more about what works for you and your family than any expert? And what if your children are actually the experts on themselves?

Here are 3 tools I have used that have totally changed my life as a mom.

Trust your gut

You know your children more intimately than anybody else! What may be good for one child may not be at all what is going to work for another child. You have an intuitive sense of your kids and your family that you may or may not be aware of. What if you could just trust it?

There were so many moments early on when I overrode my intuition to trust what an expert had to say about parenting. This pretty much never panned out. The last parenting coach I worked with had so many opinions about my kids and what I should be doing that I finally got fed up and started listening to me. Every time I got on the phone with her, I found myself bracing against her words. When I finally decided to let go and trust me, the change I was looking for showed up almost instantly.

Empower your kids

Do you hover over your kids – making sure that they don’t mess up their bodies or their lives? Do you see your role as a parent being one of teacher and caretaker? What if you could empower your kids to find out about the world by allowing them to make their own choices – and discover what happens next? When you allow your kids to explore the world in this way – you send them the message that they can be trusted to make choices for themselves. You also give them the gift of discovering life in a very different way than a lot of kids are given the space to. Your kids are experts on themselves. What if your job as a mom was to empower them to know that?

My youngest son was particularly fond of a certain swear word when he was quite young! I never told him not to say it, or that it was bad or wrong. I asked him questions like, “What would happen if you said that word at school? Or in front of grandma?”

He knew even at a young age that it would land him in the principal’s office or with a very unhappy grandmother on his hands… and he never, ever used it in those contexts.

Have fun, get help, and let it be easy

Parenting? Easy?!! For years, I thought that being a good mom was something I would earn by working, sacrificing, and struggling for my kids. There was one problem with all of that effort to prove how good I was – I hated it! When I realized that, I vowed to change it – no matter how ‘bad’ a mom I had to become as a result. With limited income, I hired somebody to do everything I didn’t enjoy. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, school pick-ups, even homework. My business grew instantaneously, I got a lot happier, and I started to thoroughly enjoy these two amazing kids I have. Since then, I have always had more quality time with my kids than most parents ever get. We have an extraordinarily ease-filled household, and we have a lot of fun together!


Are you willing to be so different as a parent that you do what truly works for you and your family? To me, the best parenting in the world is being present with your kids and facilitating them in navigating the world so they can find out who they are, and what works for them. If your family is enjoying themselves then you may have achieved what few people in the world actually have – and something I would propose is an aspect of great parenting: happiness.

Heather Nichols, MSW, is a bad mom, a movement and meditation consultant, tantra practitioner, somatic psychotherapist, entrepreneur and Being You Adventure Facilitator. She combines a master’s degree in Social Work with 20 years’ experience in the world of entrepreneurship and expertise in mind-body therapy to facilitate people toward a fuller, more joyful, experience of business, life and family. Follow @heatherknichols.

When you have young children, going to your office job can sometimes make for a really nice change of scenery. Being among co-workers instead of children can feel like an entirely different world. For example;

  • There’s no requirement to tidy up after everyone else, clean up their spills or wipe their bottoms.
  • There’s no piercing ‘muuuuummm’ requests stabbing at your eardrums every four minutes.
  • You can go to the toilet and no-one will follow you into the cubicle and try to climb all over you.
  • There are adults there, with adult things to say, and nice sophisticated conversations that do not involve the words bum, fart or undies.

It can be really quite lovely.

When you have young children, going to your office job can sometimes make for a really nice change of scenery

But while you may circulate in this whole other world, and even relish in it, you are not entirely inconspicuous. There are clues to the parenting world in which you also exist. You may try to cover up as much as you can in the name of professionalism, but there are some tell-tale signs.

Here’s 10 that might sound familiar:

  1. You look in the bathroom mirror a few hours after you arrive only to find that your top is on inside out.
  2. You have baby wipes in your handbag.
  3. You gasp at your phone when caller ID shows it’s the daycare centre calling, imagining the worst-case scenario.
  4. You only wear jewellery which cannot be broken with a swift yank of a small hand.
  5. You randomly laugh out loud when recalling something cute your child said that morning.
  6. You work super-productively because staying back late is not an option.
  7. You have narrowed the possibilities of the stain on your black pants to be either snot, toothpaste or vomit – none of which would be yours.
  8. You spend your entire lunch-break running errands.
  9. You have a strange nostalgic smile on your face when your co-workers complain of hangovers from bars and clubs they went to last night.
  10. You probably consume more coffee than anyone else in the office.

However, there are some things your co-workers may not know, and might not want to either.

Like how when you sat down at your desk to begin the day at 9am, you had already been up since 5am. You bathed, dressed & fed multiple people, did two loads of washing, cleaned the kitchen, vacuumed, walked the dog and managed the school drop-off without forgetting the show & tell. Give yourself a pat on the back for this, but perhaps don’t expect your colleagues to – they will find this information excruciatingly boring.

Another thing they might not want to hear about is how the pictures on your desk represent the little people who give your life a depth and meaning you have never experienced before. They are the reason you are doing all this. They are your little rays of sunshine and you wouldn’t have it any other way … and you simply can’t wait to get home for cuddles, giggles and to pretend to be the pirate queen of the dining table ship.

But you don’t need to tell your colleagues that, keep some stuff to yourself. They know enough already.

What do you share with your co-workers about your life as a parent? Share your comments below.

Sally Miles Sally is the Women’s Editor at Leaders in Heels. She is a wife and mother to two children and spends her working hours as a publisher at a global education company.

Featured photo credit: Lotus Carroll via photopin cc