Jamie Woolf is the author of Mom-in-Chief, a new book which offers tips and strategies for the working mother. She recently spoke with LoveToKnow Kids about her book and her philosophy on how to use leadership skills in day-to-day parenting.
Please tell us about yourself
I've been a leadership, organization development consultant for 25 years. I work in universities, hospitals, non-profits, and corporations helping to foster good leadership and teamwork. I live in Oakland with my 11 and 15 year-old daughters and my husband. When I'm not battling the chaos of family life or juggling work demands, I'm hiking in the hills, playing tennis, or curling up with a good novel.
What inspired you to write the book Mom-in-Chief?
When I had my first child 15 years ago, I realized that bringing leadership skills to parenting not only made perfect sense but also seemed like a good survival strategy!
What are some common frustrations that parents experience?
We parents are a bunch of worriers. We rescue, overprotect, and hover. The good news is we're on to us. We worry that we worry too much. Quitting the worry habit is no easy task. Other frustrations: we're just too darn busy, but how do we make a living, get dinner on the table, do the laundry, snuggle with our kids, and maintain a friendship, let alone a marriage, and not be busy?!
What tips can you offer parents for handling the chaos of family life?
A good antidote to endless chaos may seem counterintuitive, but here it is: pursue your non-parenting dreams. I've talked to enough parents who have lost precious parts of themselves while busy taking care of the needs of others. This tends to be especially true for moms. In coaching leaders, one of the first lessons I teach is this: to perform your best and inspire the best in others, you need to step back from the pressure and nurture yourself. Whether we are running a company or a carpool, when we don't take a breather and focus on our non-parent selves, our joy is too often displaced by feelings of resentment and pointless stress. And besides, how can we expect our children to pursue their dreams, when we defer our own?
Do you have any other advice you'd like to offer?
You can develop your leadership skills by becoming aware of your "mom mode" or parenting style. Knowing your mode helps you amplify your unique strengths and bring out the best in yourself. It's also crucial to understand how your parenting mode can backfire when you're stressed. You can take an abbreviated assessment from the book on my website at Mom-in-Chief.com.
Another key bit of advice - When you lose perspective, focusing on your "big-picture parenting goals" can ease the worry. The challenge is to keep your bigger goals in your mind as you break up the sibling battles, insist the homework gets done, and find yourself swallowed up by worry.
I begin most of my parenting seminars with a question: What are your primary goals or core values at home? Typical responses include:
- "I want to raise a self-confident child."
- "I want my child to contribute to the greater good."
- "I hope my children find work that is meaningful."
- "I hope my children find relationships that are fulfilling."
Focusing on your big-picture goals changes the burden of daily worries and relentless demands into something more uplifting. The challenge is to keep this mental picture in your mind as you find yourself stuck in the chaos.
Where can we read more about you
You can purchase my book at your local bookstore or Amazon. Also, I have two websites: Mom-in-ChiefandThe Parent Leader. On both sites, you can sign up for my newsletter that I send out periodically. Besides my book, I have a chapter in an upcoming book called Courageous Parenting titled, "I'm Worried I Worry Too Much But How Do I Stop?" Subscribers of to my newsletter will be able to download the electronic version of the book at no cost. Courageous Parenting is edited by Amy Tiemann, author of Mojo Mom, and you can read more about it on her website: Mojo Mom.