Suzy is a mother of two, a Chartered Psychologist, Yoga Teacher, and Health Coach.
Her first book ‘The Self-Care Revolution’ published by Aster, is due out 28th December 2017, and available for pre-order here!
I ‘met’ Suzy on Instagram where we share a lot of similar ideas. I am endlessly fascinated by her tools for self care and how she juggles such an interesting profession whilst also raising her beautiful children. Here’s her guest spot for our Mumpreneur blog.
Suzy Reading writes;
My business – why I started it and how it’s evolved
There have been many twists and turns in my business, which keeps evolving with my life experience, but finally my mission to empower people with the tools of self-care makes sense of my disparate training in psychology, yoga and fitness! I’ve been self-employed for over the last 15 years spending half of that time working as a personal trainer and private yoga coach and more recently, specialising in wellbeing psychology infused with a therapeutic application of yoga.
It was motherhood colliding with the terminal illness of my father and my ensuing energetic bankruptcy which first lead me to the concept of self-care. I don’t know whether it was postnatal depression, exhaustion or grief, but I really struggled. I think anyone would’ve given those extreme variables. In partnership with a wonderful psychologist, we worked on creating a new self-care toolkit, given so many of the things I used to do to nurture myself were inaccessible with a newborn in my care. We also focused on self-care activities that helped heal my frazzled nervous system and this is what I am now passionate about sharing with mums.
Self-care was the thing that helped me process my experiences, to heal and recover and it also helped provide a buffer to future stresses. I know it works because four years ago we packed up our Sydney life to move back to the UK, while 12 weeks pregnant, to be with my father in law in end stage heart failure. Second time around it was still painful and like wading through treacle, but I didn’t wind up flat on my back. I’ve come to appreciate that this is just life in its full glory and no one is immune from challenges and curveballs. After clawing my way back to vitality, I felt I’d earnt my stripes and I reclaimed my psychological practice. Now my mission is to empower others with the tools of self-care, and I have a special focus on mothers because we need a whole new toolkit that takes little time, energy and one that is healing and soothing after the upheavals and change we face physically, emotionally, mentally and energetically.
What business looks like and how family life has shaped it
I love that my business keeps growing and changing and this is largely due to my family commitments. Work life before kids was full on. I’d see about six personal training or private yoga clients a day, often starting at 6am and finishing with a few late evenings a week, totally unsustainable long term for my health but also unmanageable with kids. When my first cherub came along, I needed to take time out to heal so I didn’t return to my coaching work until Charlotte was about a year old. I’d duck out and teach a session during her nap time and stacked all my clients into Saturday when daddybear could look after her. When Ted came along, we’d just moved countries and I was in the throes of having a baby and building a business again, it felt like having two babies simultaneously. When he was little I diversified my offering to include 90 minute workshops – long enough to share my gems but short enough that I could duck out between feeds. Ted never took a bottle which made work life away from home challenging.
I love that one of my first forays back into work was adding a new class to my schedule – ‘mummy and baby’ yoga – I got to take both baby Ted along as my demonstrator and my mum came to assist if he got fractious. This is still one of my favourite classes because I get to really give energy and support to new mums who so desperately need to receive for a change! As both my kids have grown I have been lucky enough to shape my business around their schooling and I focus on corporate ‘lunch and learn’ sessions so I can be home in time for pick up and Skype coaching sessions after they’re in bed. It’s a jigsaw puzzle but it allows me to be present as a mum but still active and rewarded professionally.
During those early days with Ted, my competing goals to build a business and be there for Ted were a fabulous recipe for frustration. I had to get creative on ways that I could simultaneously do both and this is where the idea to write a book was born. I remember furiously tapping away at the keyboard while he slept and three years later my book, ‘The Self-Care Revolution’ is about to be released!
Work and what it gives me
I think we need to get really clear on our ‘Why’ when it comes to work, otherwise that Mum Guilt can literally eat away at us. I adore my work and love that I can help mums make the transition to motherhood and I can support people in the midst of grief, stress and change. I am uplifted and energised seeing people bloom when they learn the skills of self-compassion, self-love and commit to a daily ritual of self-nourishment. I jokingly say to my kids that my clients actually want to hear what I have to say and my yoga students actually follow my instruction – this makes a lovely change to the realities of parenting! There are no pay rises in motherhood, no promotions and very seldom are we thanked for a nappy change or for any the meals we painstakingly provide.
I appreciate too that I am role modelling for my kids how to be of service and my financial contribution means that we can get back to Australia to make some more memories with my mum. Remembering my ‘Why’ keeps me motivated and energised despite the challenges I face juggling work and family life. My work provides me with a chance to express myself, with variation, to use different skills, wear different clothes, and be a different me! It gives me balance, an opportunity to be of service and make my unique contribution – this in turn makes me a better mum. I think it’s healthy to have an opportunity to miss your kids.
The highs and lows
These twists and turns in my business have honestly not come easy. There’s been some really painful resistance to letting go, and a natural grieving that I couldn’t work in the same shape as I used to before having kids. I also gave myself a hard time at first when I was away from my kids so I could work, but I am getting better at giving myself permission to do what I need to do to feel happy, energetic and whole as a person. It’s a constant process of clarifying my values, refining how I work and mother, and making peace with the fact that we can’t be all things to all people all the time. I am still finding it challenging to pace myself and despite a robust self-care toolkit, I fall into the habit of relentless pushing. When ‘Scary Mummy’ or ‘Moany Wife’ show up, that’s my hint to re-evaluate and slow down. It’s a constant work in progress. The highs, are seeing my kids blossom and their excitement that mummy has a book coming out soon. I can’t wait to see their faces when we nip into Waterstones to see it on the shelf. This is such a bucket list, peak life experience and my hope for the future is that there will be more where that came from. Something just for mums next time! Watch this space
Suzy is a mother of two, a Chartered Psychologist, Yoga Teacher, and Health Coach. She specialises in self-care, helping people manage their stress, emotions, and energetic bank balance. It was her life experience of motherhood colliding with the terminal illness of her father that sparked her passion for self-care which she now teaches to her clients, young and old, to cope during periods of stress, loss and change and to boost their resilience in the face of future challenges. Suzy is a contributing editor for Psychologies Magazine and the Psychology Expert for wellbeing brand Neom Organics. She figure-skated her way through her childhood, growing up on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, and now makes her home in hills of Hertfordshire, UK. Her first book ‘The Self-Care Revolution’ published by Aster, is due out 28th December 2017, and available for pre-order here:
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