Louise East

Children: 4 (1 child, 3 stepchildren)

Industry: Coaching/Motherhood

How would you best describe yourself?

Louise is a wholehearted and passionate nurturer, connector, teacher and encourager. I love to help people feel valued and to believe in themselves. I am fiercely committed to my beautiful family and am inspired by making a difference to people's lives through my work. I'm a lover of strong black tea, travel, books, beautiful handbags and plenty of impromptu singing and dancing around the house.

I'm a Mindset and Life Coach for mums, as well as a speaker, educator, and blogger. I help overwhelmed mums release guilt and perfectionism to live a calmer, more intentional life that makes their heart happy. I'm mum to a 5-year-old, step mum to 3 young adults and a very young, cool Grandma to 2 of the cutest babies around!

How has becoming a parent changed your perception of work and career and what surprised you the most?

Like many women, I was raised to believe that I could do it all. However, the conversations in my family were nearly always about career, rather than family, so I gave my career my all and thought that one day I would probably have children. When I was pregnant, I expected that I would be bored at home and would return to the very demanding job that I loved within 12 months. I was so wrong. At 12 months I didn't have the slightest bit of interest in going back to work and I extended my maternity leave to 18 months. At 18 months, I still was enjoying being with my son (even though it was challenging) and I happily walked away from the corporate world without a second thought. I started working for myself and I've never been happier. I absolutely love following my passions, being in control of my own hours, and being able to work around my family. It's not all easy, because there are plenty of demands to manage, but it was absolutely the best decision for me.

What advice would you give your younger self about starting a family?

I had no plans around having a family, except that it would happen at some point. I really didn't think about it that much, and I think it all worked out pretty well! Perhaps I would tell myself to consider it a little earlier, but given that my first marriage didn't work out, I'm grateful that things panned out the way they did. I do often reflect on the fact that if I'd had children in my 20s I would have had a very different experience. I would have been much harder on myself and much more stressed, but the events in my life prior to becoming a mother really helped me grow and prepare for this stage of life.

What has been your biggest challenge so far across the stages of pregnancy/leave/returning to work?  How have you overcome this?

Breastfeeding was a struggle, and more recently dealing with my son's anxiety, but I think the challenge that has had the biggest impact on me has been separation. My son has always been very attached to me and that in itself presents many challenges. At 5 and a half he still wants to be with me all the time, day and night. The most emotionally traumatic time for us both was when we trialed child care. I really struggled with reconciling my expectation that he would go to child care so I could work (part-time) and the fact that he was so distressed by it. The guilt I felt was intense and my heart and head were constantly fighting. I read a lot, sought help from my friends and the educators, but in the end, the thing that helped me work through the situation was listening to my intuition and letting go of the expectations I had prior to actually experiencing the separation myself. I had to trust myself and make the right decision for us, regardless of what everyone else was telling me and regardless of the somewhat blatant judgment I received. That was a clear turning point.

What strategies/initiatives do you use to help you manage the juggle of being a Working Mumma and family?

I have found that when I schedule dedicated time for both my career and family, I am able to be more present, focused, and calm. I know that I will have time for each, so I can be in the moment with whatever I'm focused on. I also remain flexible, adapting to changing needs on both sides, so that I'm not stressed by having to deviate from a rigid schedule. For my work, I have a list of the minimum tasks I need to get done, so that if everything goes wrong, I can feel that I am still on top of things, at least at that level. I have had to accept that my business has not grown as fast as I would have liked in my over-excited and overachieving mind, but that is ok because I have chosen to do it this way. I remember that everything is a choice, I am exactly where I need to be and my family is my why.