Practical Parenting expert: Amy Taylor-Kabbaz
By Practical Parenting Team
September 24 2018
Amy Taylor-Kabbaz was all set for the birth of her first child, but a thyroid condition turned motherhood and her career on its head. Three children and a zillion life experiences later, Amy has found the answers!
Amy Taylor-Kabbaz is a writer, producer, speaker and mother to three young children. After more than a decade covering breaking news and current affairs for the ABC around the country, her 'traditional' career took an unexpected turn when she found herself lost, overwhelmed and diagnosed with a thyroid condition after the birth of her first daughter.
Nine years - and two more babies - later, she is now the founder and editor of the online magazine for mamas, ‘Happy Mama’, is the host of the ‘The Happy Mama Movement’ podcast, runs numerous online programs for mothers all over the world, is an international award-winning coach and best-selling author of Happy Mama: the guide to finding yourself again
Here's a little behind-the-scenes insight into the girl with the wise words...
Q. How did being a first time mum with an illness affect your work, life, relationships?
A. How didn’t it affect it? Every single part of my life changed when I became a mama, and has continued to change as two more babies came along. The greatest change, however, has been that I have had to learn that I am not SuperWoman. I can not do it all, all of the time, just by ignoring my body and pushing through. Ten years of broken sleep and a thyroid disease means I have to listen to what my body tells me, on a daily basis. Not always easy to hear, though.
Q. What organisational and emotional strategies did you adopt to help you manage?
A. Meditation, meditation, meditation. Before mamahood, I thought meditation was that thing I should do at the end of the yoga class but generally fell asleep during. But when I was faced with a scarily-premature baby due to my crazy busy and stressed out lifestyle, I decided I better change something - and meditation was the beginning of it all.
Q. Finish this sentence: "When I hear myself yelling at the kids…
A. ... I know I haven’t looked after myself properly today. I now know that I only yell, lose my cool, and act in a way that is not aligned with who I want to be when I have prioritised everything else over myself. It’s often the times I haven’t had enough to eat, I’ve been on my phone too much, I have too much going on in my head.
Q. What do you say to mums who feel like their partner is non-supportive or understanding about how much ‘she does daily’!
A. I get asked this on an almost daily basis! The hard truth is - the world we live in doesn’t value what we do each day. It’s not just your partner’s fault - it’s the whole society we live in. I speak a lot to women about valuing themselves differently, and changing the way they look at what they do, rather than relying on someone else to say ‘wow, you are so amazing!’. We have to start with ourselves.
Q. Many women find themselves a bit lost after having a baby. What have you discovered the common 'new mum' thread is along your journey?
A. We are the generation that was brought up to focus on breaking through the glass ceiling and taking on the world - and so when a baby comes along, we completely lose who we are. No longer do we have KPIs and outside acknowledgement of what we do each do. And it’s scary. After coaching more than 500 mamas over the years, I have found the best way through this time is to allow yourself the space to stop, reflect, and figure out who you are now. Your dreams may have changed. Your whole world might be different. You need to find a new definition of success that reflects where you are in your life now.
Q. How did you find the inner strength to think ‘entrepreneurial’ when you were at a low point?
A. It wasn’t always easy! I’ve had to learn and relearn the lessons of balancing mamahood and my life, over and over again. But in the end, I haven’t really had a choice. My body screamed at me that my life wasn’t working, and my relationships were not what I wanted them to be. And so, eventually, I had to concede that maybe I should look at it a different way. Giving myself lots of compassion and space to look at what I really wanted my life to be about, and getting coaching, reading an enormous amount of books, and doing a lot of reflection, has allowed me to find this new way.
Q. Did you ever worry about having more children after an emotionally and physically stressful first time mum experience?
A. Hell yes! But, there was always a part of me that felt, after my first child, that ‘surely it can be better than this?’ Going into my second baby, and then my third, there were moments of fear, but I always reminded myself ‘I got through that, I can do anything!’
Q. Tell us about Happy Mama: who reads it? What do they say?
A. "Happy Mama is all about changing the way we value being a mama in this day and age. Instead of the mantra of so many other websites that we need to hustle to do it all, Happy Mama is all about honouring this time in your life - and finding a way to be happy without trying to be Superwoman. We do this through meditation, mindfulness, an enormous amount of community support, and stories of other women who are bravely saying ‘no, I don’t want to chase that crazy busy life anymore.’
Q. What do you hope to achieve personally from the Happy Mama site?
A. My ultimate goal is to create a space that brings conversations about REAL balance and the pressure we are putting on women to the mainstream. I used to think meditation was only for those beautiful boho Byron Bay mamas - and I am determined to change that for everyone. Honouring ourselves, prioritising our own care, making sure we are not worshipping busy-ness is the key to being a happy mama and happy woman. That’s what I’m here to talk about.