Swings and Roundabouts: A Self-Coaching Workbook for Parents and Those Considering Becoming Parents

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The first two authors of this coaching workbook are themselves parents who have been on a journey of "swings and roundabouts" - experienced the highs and lows of having children. Having difficulties knowing how to parent in many situations, which was not made easier by the conflicting advice in the media, made them unsure of their own parenting skills. This was one of the reasons that they entered into the field of parent-coaching. They were trained coaches who wanted to use their coaching skills and experience as parents to help both themselves and other parents get the understanding and trust in themselves to be the parents they dream of being. As an educational and child psychologist, Irvine was able to contribute an evidence and psychological base to the project.Parents often feel alone and the authors have found that running courses for them created a space where they could share experiences with each other as well as experiment with different ways of parenting. It is their intention to give back some of the awareness they gained in this comprehensive and invaluable self-coaching book.

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Chapter One: Choosing to have a Baby or not

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In this section we will explore if you want to become a parent, what you want to get from it, and what you want to contribute.

The first step in becoming able to deal with these challenges is to deepen our understanding of ourselves and how we are likely to respond. In doing so, we can also become more accepting of change and increasingly able to build personal resilience. You will also benefit from going through the self-reflection exercises in this chapter when you are pregnant or if you are already a parent. It's worth recognising that the more you know yourself and look after yourself, the more you are able to look after your children, and the happier you are likely to be. By taking time to acknowledge yourself you will be giving your children a valuable message about your worth.

We will be taking you on a journey of reflection about what's important to you in your life, as well as dealing with change and looking at whether or not to get pregnant, pros and cons of having a baby, parenting styles and practical considerations you may want to take into account when making such a big life-changing choice.

 

Chapter Two: Pregnancy

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This section is designed to help you examine your situation and the information you will have collated about pregnancy. We intend for you to identify what is going on right now, prepare for the inevitable changes that will take place at home and at work, and take control of your situation.

We will explore ways of dealing with the new experience of being pregnant and help you manage all of the information which is available (in books and online) so that you can work out what is best for you and your situation. We don't intend to provide information as that is readily available (see Useful Websites section at the end of the book); rather, we aim to help you use what you already know and have learnt and apply it to your circumstances.

Looking after yourself or your pregnant partner

Women today tend to be fitter and healthier than in previous generations and more capable of having babies into their forties. There are some typical symptoms and changes that pregnant women (of all ages) may experience:

 

Chapter Three: Birth

ePub

You and your partner are probably feeling a mixture of excitement and fear now that you are facing the birth of your baby. In this section we will take you through a number of issues you may want to consider before, during, and after the birth.

We will examine how you feel about labour and birth and what you can do to try to have the birth that, ideally, you would like.

Where do you want to have your baby?

The birth of your baby is undoubtedly a key event in your life. You do need to plan what sort of birthing arrangements are best suited to your needs and preferences, bearing in mind what is available locally to you.

It is important to keep an open mind as things can change during the birth process and your medical needs as well as those of your baby also need to be taken into account.

There are three places to plan to have a baby:

At home

In hospital

In a birthing centre.

Activity 3.1: Choosing where to have your baby

What kind of birth would you ideally like?

What medical conditions or complications, if any, need to be taken into account?

 

Chapter Four: The First Year of your Child's Life

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As new parents we spend a great deal of time choosing what kind of birth we would like. We are also likely to spend some time gathering information about practical day-to-day issues such as feeding, bathing, nappy-changing, sleeping etc., and adapting our lives to such changes. We are less likely to spend time reflecting on the emotional changes we are going through following a birth and the introduction of our child into our world. Whether we like to admit it or not, having a baby (especially the first one) can seem like a culture shock, and it is perfectly normal to experience a roller-coaster of emotions, from the euphoria of being infatuated with your new baby to feeling very low due to lack of sleep. When you consider all these feelings to be normal, you are more likely to feel in control and content.

Having a baby: a culture shock

Having a baby represents a fundamental change in your life and it is very common to experience it as a form of culture shock in the midst of the happiness of being a parent.

 

Chapter Five: Next Steps

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“Creating a warm, caring, supportive, encouraging environment is probably the most important thing you can do for your family”.

—Stephen R. Covey

You have managed to get through the first year as a parent. Congratulations! In this section we will cover practical issues you will have to deal with as a parent, different types of feelings and behaviour you and your child may be experiencing, and invite you to reflect on how you can create a great relationship with your child in the future. We also invite you both to reflect on your role as a parent and to ensure that you take care of yourself. We will furthermore ask you to imagine what the world looks like from your child's perspective.

How will you manage household tasks?

Activity 5.1: Your role as a parent

What do you think/feel about how you are managing household tasks?

How has having a child changed the way you share/manage household tasks?

How can you communicate constructively with your partner and find a way to manage the tasks that suits you both?

 

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