WORK / LIFE: Career Coach for Moms, Christine Walker Reflects on Family & Biz After Quarantine

This past few months have been…tricky, frustrating, hard, challenging, restorative, weird, surreal, purposeful, confusing, foggy…. 

At least this is what we’ve heard from the MyNestwell Provider community. 

As business owners, mothers, partners, sisters, and humans, we’ve shared a collective experience, and I think it’s safe to say that quarantine challenged the proverbial work-life balance for everyone, causing many of you to switch, pivot, or pause your services.

As we look for a silver lining in all of the hubbub, we’re chatting with Christine Walker, a Career Coach for moms, on what she hopes to take away from this unprecedented time as both an entrepreneur and a mother of four boys, even after the Stay-at-Home orders have lifted. She encourages us to focus on what we’ve gained during this time rather than focus on what we’ve lost.

Describe what your “stay at home” life is like.

My partner and I are working from home full-time. My husband works uninterrupted in an upstairs room, while I share the main office with my 9 year-old and occasionally help him with his school work. My other three boys have created office spaces throughout the house to complete their school work. When I have a client call, I escape to a quiet space because privacy is critical to my work. With all of these makeshift offices, my house definitely feels a LOT smaller than it did a few months ago!

What did you initially struggle with the most with this new arrangement- professionally and personally?

All of the interruptions. I love to get in a zone when I’m working, and I’m used to having several silent hours every day while my children are in school. Being interrupted constantly has been a huge challenge for me. I found myself resenting my family and then wondering if I needed to quit working so that I wouldn’t resent them. It was a tough few weeks. Fortunately, once we all settled into this new rhythm, I was able to build the space I needed to be productive. It’s a very different schedule than I’m used to, but I’m adapting.

Sometimes a drastic change in our personal, family, or business routines makes us realize that what we were previously doing could be done differently – or better. Did that happen for you in any area of your life?

Oh my goodness, yes! For sure. We’ve always been a busy family. I have a lot of energy, and so do all of my children, so busy is our natural state. Knowing this, I have always tried to be mindful of overscheduling. However, even though my rule has always been only one sport or extra-curricular activity for each child at a time, with four children, that adds up to a lot of commitments—especially when they start making elite teams that travel every weekend and practice every day! 

Being forced to slow down in such a dramatic way has really shifted my perspective. Suddenly, we are eating dinner together again, and we plan a family activity to do together after dinner, usually a game, and we’re really enjoying each other’s company a lot. I’ve been doing more yoga, and my boys are getting along better than they have in years. We’ve also had some incredible, spontaneous discussions with my older sons about important life topics.

I wasn’t unhappy with our lifestyle before, but this slower pace of life has helped shift my priorities. My children are still at the top of my priority list, but organized sports and activities have moved a lot farther down, and I’m grateful for that. 

Is there anything you miss about what things were like before that won’t be the same, at least for a while?

Touching people. I’m not a super touchy-feely person, but it’s really hard for me to work with a client who is crying and not be able to hug her or even just touch her shoulder afterwards, and I miss that a lot. There’s so much that can be communicated through a simple touch.

What advice do you have for other maternal wellness professionals as they start to emerge from quarantine and reflect on what this season can offer them?

There have been many challenges and untold losses that we have collectively experienced recently, but with challenge also comes opportunity, and I hope we all take advantage of the potential for growth this season will inevitably provide. I hope that we will reconnect with ourselves and remember why we have chosen to do the work we do. I hope this pause will help rekindle our passion so that we can re-emerge even more committed and motivated than we were before.

I hope that those who enjoyed the slower pace of quarantine life will realign their work to accommodate more of the same in the future. 

I hope that those who felt trapped and anxious to get back to normal will do so with renewed gratitude and appreciation for our way of life. 

I hope that those who felt their circumstances were unjust will do whatever they can to fix the system that failed them. 

I hope that no matter what our experience has been that we will use it to focus and inspire our actions moving forward.

Finally, what advice do you have for those maternal wellness professionals who may be slower than others to re-enter the working world as to how they can continue to foster professional and personal growth while not client-facing? 

When you align your choices with your values, it’s very hard to go wrong. 

Do you value learning? Use this opportunity to refine and develop your skills. There are so many courses that have moved online, and many of them at a steep discount!

Do you value connectedness? Use this time to strengthen your personal connections with your network. Reach out to people you haven’t spoken to in a long time, and you’ll be surprised how rewarding those conversations can be.

Do you value creativity? Use this time to brainstorm new ideas or to explore new ways to solve the problems you’re currently facing. 

Think about what you value, and use this time to pursue whatever that is in a new way. Research has shown that doing this can help increase happiness, decrease depression, and improve life satisfaction. 

Anything else you’d like to share that you think would be helpful to our community?

Whether you’re a new mom or a wellness provider, I want to encourage you to cultivate a spirit of self-compassion. It’s human nature to compare ourselves with others, but when we look outside ourselves to gauge our value, we often come up short. Instead, practice measuring your growth and development against your own goals and priorities and give yourself credit for any progress you make. And in those moments when you do fall short of your own hopes or expectations, practice being gentle with yourself. Talk to yourself the way you’d talk to a dear friend and become your own biggest cheerleader. I promise you will make far more progress this way than you will beating yourself up.

Thank you, Christine!

Christine Walker is a Career Coach for moms at Christine Walker Coaching and mother of 4 kids based out of Brewster, NY. She helps busy moms discover balance between their family goals and career goals, so that they can feel more confident and less overwhelmed. You can find her here on MyNestwell, at her website, or on social media

Category Work / Life
Tags career

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