Ruth James

I was tired, fed up and angry.

I was cleaning the bathroom at the end of another exhausting week at work resenting the fact I was the only one who did anything around the house (if not true… felt like it). Juggling 3 teenagers and a demanding job was just not fun.

I was a full-time working parent for over 25 years, pulled in all directions, often feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. 

Family life was a finely tuned energy draining machine which never stopped.

The juggling never stops

Since returning to work after my first maternity leave I managed front line services whilst juggling mum duties. I know what it feels like to be constantly tired, grumpy and perfected the art of overreacting to my teenage daughters after a busy day!

And that is before we start talking about guilt and pressures of the day job with its transformations, restructures, emails, performance targets, increasing demand, “special staff” and demanding managers.

But as parents we just get on with it. Cope with the crap and learn to survive because that is just how it is, but is it?

I know from experience that when I had more energy it tipped the balance in favor of a calmer family live, happier children, a less stressy mother and a more straighforward day-to-day life.

Choices and consequences?

As a parent I never realised how hard it would be trying to achieve the work-life balance I wanted. Constantly trading off work pressures against time at home with my children – often feeling guilty about missing stuff at home or regretting lost opportunities at work.

We want to have it all but we can’t. Our choices have consequences, often making those choices is even harder.

I don’t know if I got it right. I did try to make conscious decisions and had some painful choices – there were constant trade-offs – time? money? career? family life?

One difficult choice for us was deciding that my husband would be a full-time house husband while the children were in primary school. This did make day-to-day life easier, I could go to work early and didn’t have to finish at a particular time. The children came home after school and school holidays were covered.  

But it was not an easy choice as it meant that money was limited.  I often felt guilty about not having enough money to always do what others did.  I often got caught in the trap of comparison… never a happy place.

Unfortunately, guilt seems to come with being a parent, but we don’t have to constantly beat ourselves up, something I explore on my courses.

Energy – the missing ingredient

I didn’t find life easy and often lacked the energy to do what I wanted to do. I know that some of the stuff I know now, I wish I had known because it would have made such a difference.

Even though I managed my day-to-day I was often so tired and continually struggled with a constant ‘to do’ list, negative thinking cycles, unhelpful comparisons, worrying about the children, their friendships, homework…

Tiredness makes cowards of us all .

Tony Robbins

I certainly refined the art of avoiding things on the ‘too difficult’ pile and even making the simplest of decisions could take weeks.

My struggles

Even though I managed my day-to-day I often struggled with lack of confidence and negative thinking – looking back I realised I avoided so much that was on my “too difficult” pile.

I certainly refined the art of avoiding and procrastinating when decisions were too hard.

I spent too much time (and energy) comparing myself to others and avoiding people and places that, in my head, reinforced the fact that I was not a good enough mum.

Although something I still struggle with I have learnt to manage it. On my courses I don’t wrap things up, I am honest but focus on moving forward, working together on practical solutions that help us in our day-to-day family lives.

Why Work-Life Balance?

Because we all juggle work, life, parents, children, partner, friends, hobbies, volunteering and struggle to get it right!

People often blame their “work-life balance” for all their problems, however it is often something to blame rather than the reason why we aren’t satisfied with our life as it is.

I love talking to people and encouraging them, we are all wired in our own unique way which is why my programme allows you, as an individual to work through what is important to you and how to get the life you want.

We need our own unique work-life balance, for some of us we want more time and energy for our working lives so we can improve our performance, earn more money and progress our career.

Ruth James

For others it may be about having a more satisfying life outside work, serving our community or having more time at home with our children.

Often we are pulled from pillar to post, reacting to circumstances and making decisions on the hop. My programme provides you to stop this and learn to get on the front foot with your life.

My programme gives you time out and helps you to explore what you do want, what are your priorities and values, what is the vision for your life, what are your goals? It also gives you the skills to use in your date-to-day life to achieve what you want.

Why focus on work-life balance now?

All parents have had a tough pandemic and been disproportionately affected with trying to juggle home-schooling with work.  Many may now have more time at home but still struggle with their work-life balance.

So perhaps now is the time to re-evaluate what we want out of our life, make changes we have always wanted to make, start having a more positive attitude to ourselves.

Numerous pieces of research shows that parents are struggling with increased levels of anxiety, worrying even more about their children as well as doing what they need to keep their day job.

They are worn out with it…

And I know what it feels like.  In 2020 I simply ran out of energy.

In the previous 4 years, I had had 2 breast cancer operations and had been made redundant twice. Then came the pandemic… I just wasn’t myself and too tired to be bothered to do anything so I didn’t

As life gradually returns to “normal”, it is a good time to take time out to look at our lives, our priorities and our thinking.

Taking time out is a sacrifice for any parent so I promise to open your eyes to new ways of thinking and living that will help you find more energy for the life you want.

All too often we don’t help ourselves. Are we our own worst enemy or strongest supporter? Are we self-critical or do we self-coach?

It was in December 2020 whilst listening to a group of women discuss the one thing that was holding them all back from setting up a new enterprise was their work-life balance.

My fascination with parenting skills

2-year-olds terrifying me and I had no idea what to do… I remember wanting to go out with my toddler and watched her running around thinking I have no idea how to get her to put her shoes on and get out of the door!

Discovering that parenting was something I could learn about was a revelation which is probably why I became fascinated by the theory behind parenting and how to help other parents make their lives easier.

My “invest to save” approach to parenting

My logic was that “as I have little time with my girls, I wanted to make this time count and make life as easy as possible for me… I wanted them to be well-behaved and be able to have a calm and straightforward family life” so this is where I invested my time.

I focused on the usual’s: maintaining boundaries, consistency and managing behaviour. I invested time and energy in building positive family relationships. I do feel it paid off in fewer arguments and less hassle in day-to-day family life.

However, my difficult choice was investing time in my family rather than friends. It was right at the time but looking back I do wonder if this was always right. Was I using my family as an excuse to avoid people?

However, as the girls get older, I enjoy seeing them grow into themselves and am relieved that they have a strong relationship with each other.

We only need to be good enough parents and the evidence is clear that we only need to get it right 51% of the time but it is easier said than done sometimes.

Surviving Teenagers

Having 3 teenagers in 2012 (fun times…!) I was sucked into the psychology around understanding teenage behaviour and translating the research into simple, practical steps parents can take to make their busy day-to-day family lives that bit easier combined with better outcomes for our children.

So I set up Surviving Teenagers, a micro-business, to share what I learnt. I developed and delivered my own range of courses for parents of teenagers focusing on helping to build resilient teenagers.

I helped parents:

  • Manage emotions for a calmer family life.
  • Build positive relationships.
  • Build their children’s self-esteem and confidence.
  • Better manage behaviour.

Listening to the difference my courses made in many families was so encouraging, however, it was taking too much time and energy to keep it going!

Well over a thousand parents attended my courses and I loved this work. Seeing the difference my courses made in many families was so encouraging, however by 2019, I was running out of the mental and emotional energy to keep it going.

My lightbulb moment

It was a lightbulb moment, I realised I could blend my parenting skills courses with leadership & team building skills courses and offer working parents something to help them manage their work-life balance.

I just knew this is where I could make a difference to so many people struggling with their work-life balance. 

My next, more exciting, lightbulb moment happened when I read the Harvard Business Review by Schwartz and McCarthy (2007) entitled Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time.” I was buzzing!

This told my story, I think it was where I went wrong, I know that my tiredness and lack of investment in refuelling my energy meant that I struggled to get the life I wanted.

Time is fixed, we have 24-hours a day, but understanding that we can do so much to manage our energy levels started a new and exciting journey for me.

I cover managing time in my programme by focusing on how we make decisions against our priorities.

I am so excited

The 3 things I love (apart from my family of course…):

  1. I get energy from exciting new concepts which can be translated into helping people in their day-to-day lives. Which is why I have loved putting my new programme together.
  2. Doing long story short – I enjoy pulling out the best bits from different books and sharing the top tips on my courses. You don’t have to read the books because I do!
  3. Pulling together my research and experience as a people manager and a parenting expert into my courses in a unique, practical way which I am confident will help people in their day-to-day lives.
  4. I love seeing the difference I can make by helping people make their lives easier and more fulfilling.

Action not theory

My courses focus on action not theory – you get a list of books if you want to find out more.

If you are like me, I like to get the essential points which can make a difference. I know my courses work because I do tried to practice what I preach! 

Getting on the front foot

Too often we are pulled from pillar to post, reacting to events and making decisions on the hop.

My Course gives you the opportunity to take time out and stop the treadmill for a moment.

It encourages you to decide what you want out of your life and will give you practical the skills to make any changes you decide.

My programme: evidence-based

Running parenting courses drilled into me the importance of having a firm evidence-based, integrating the latest research and helping parents make practical day-to-day changes in their attitudes and behaviour to improve family relationships.

Reading about topics including people, behaviour, mind management, confidence gives me energy, I absolutely love it.

Over the last 10 years I have probably read over 100 books and have the unique knack of being able to do long story short and pull out the key essential elements which can make the biggest difference in day-to-day lives.

Therefore, my programme focuses on action not theory – I give you a list of books if you are interested in the theory. However, if you are like me, I just need the essential points which is a core value for everything I do.