Welcome back to this week’s Real Mums interview. This series started as a way of sharing the stories of everyday mums as a way to encourage, motivate and inspire mums in their own personal motherhood journeys. I’ve been very fortunate to chat with a variety of gorgeous mums, and today I am delighted to introduce you to the lovely Kara! She is a dedicated mum, entrepreneur, blogger, business woman, public speaker, and overall inspirational lady who has continued to encourage and motivate me even beyond our interview. I hope you are as inspired by her story of overcoming behavioural issues and challenged as I have been.
Hi Kara! Welcome to our Real Mums blog series! It is so great to meet inspirational, real mums who can share their stories with us. I always like to start by asking our mums to introduce themselves and their families. So can you tell us a bit about you, your family, and what you do with your time (both business and pleasure!)
I’m Kara, mother of two boys, Hudson (7) and Ari (2.5 years) and wife to Marty. I currently run two businesses, Kara Vaina (Authentic Branding for Women in Small Business) and Keopha (inspirational and mindfulness pliary [a combination of a planner and diary]). My husband is a partner in a construction business so that keeps him busy. We love to spend time up in Echuca, travel and are blessed to have great families on both sides that we spend time with. We have quite a large social group of friends so we are always on the go, birthdays, christenings, parties, catch ups so it all keeps us busy and out of trouble lol.
It was obviously very difficult for you working through your youngest son’s behavioural issues, and you even thought at one stage it was possibly Autism (which you have written about in detail on your blog HERE). Can you tell us what was going through your head at this time and how you were feeling?
I really struggled with him as he was having major behavioural issues, biting, kicking, pinching and even throwing things at me. The hard part was that he would only do it at me so I really felt he hated me. This caused me to question my parenting, me as a person and I would lock myself in my bedroom and cry because it was the only way I could get away from him or not want to hurt him. He isn’t talking which is late and I’ve had his ears checked, had a peadiatrician chick him and am working with a child psychologist and speech therapist to help him. I’m not one for labels so whether he has Autisim or not (I don’t believe he does but does need help) I just want him to be happy and able to communicate the easiest way for him. There is nothing worse than watching your child scream and cry all day long…..we all want to see our kids happy and laughing…..which is where we are getting to and is happing more often now.
How did you work through these issues with your son? What were the key strategies you used that might help other mums going through the same thing?
I started seeing a Child Psychologist for both my son and I (joint and individual sessions) where she would give me tactics to help manage this. He wasn’t and still isn’t talking so I’ve had to communicate with him different ways mainly through picture. With his tantrums I would use a mindfulness approach, through conscious thinking, taking a deep breath and talking to him in a positive happy tone. I would sit with him when he tantrumed and tell him his behavior was unacceptable and say “I won’t let you hurt me, once you calm down mummy is here to give you a cuddle” as well as “this is not the right behavior to get what you want, once you calmly point to say ta mummy is happy to give it to you”.
Conscious thinking was a really big part in my approach, instead of snapping, answering in a negative, angry tone I had to consciously decide I was going to talk in a nice, happy, cheerful tone to him. I also had to use lead in play instead of directing him all the time. He’s not a child I can say “pick up your toys and put them away” so I need to pick up the first one or two toys and then leave for him to do, encouraging and praise him at the same time.
Moving on to your business life – You have a very experienced background in recruitment, human resources and travel consulting (to name a few!). What was this like? Did it have any impact on your life or role as a mother?
My Recruitment, HR and Executive career was all prior to having children however it set the foundations financially for having children. These positions taught me organization skills and negotiations skills but more importantly working under pressure. All skills we as mothers do and need. My Travel Consulting role was after I had my first son and it brought my love of travel and exploring out which allowed me to go on some fabulous family holidays and create wonderful memories.
I would say these had an indirect positive impact on motherhood.
You are currently a very busy woman! You are a blogger, run training and workshops (with a passion for inspiring and encouraging others), and you run your own business at Keopha. How did all this start up, and most importantly, why do you do it?
After having my first son and pregnant with my 2nd son, I really wanted to do something for myself so I gave Network Marketing a go. I learnt a lot and was around a lot of inspirational people but what I found was I was coaching, mentoring and helping everyone else out and not actually building my own business. I think this was a great stepping stone for me. It helped me find a real passion for helping and inspiring others so I stepped away from Network Marketing and moved more into One on One mentoring and started to run workshops on “Selling through your Authentic Why” as well as Authentic Branding on Social Media as I was continually being asked to assist people. From there this grew into running workshops around Melbourne consolidating it all and with a close friend who has a Social Media Management business.
During the early months of struggling with my son, the fact I felt I had lost my identity and didn’t have my shit together I started drawing and colouring as a form of meditation (I did this a lot when I was younger). I was also looking for a diary but couldn’t find exactly what I wanted. So I started to play around with all of the things that I wanted. Layouts, To Do Lists, Colouring, Recipes, Mindfulness information and motivation/inspirational quotes to keep me positive (I’ve always been a positive person but it needs to be visual for me). I had also found that the Women in Small Business I was working with through my workshops were feeling isolated and demotivated as they were constantly working from home with their kids so didn’t have a lot of adult interaction and inspiration. So…..the journey began!
Why do I do what I do? Well there are two reasons, because I’m extremely passionate about helping others and inspiring them to follow their passion but this has also taught me so much for myself, my patience, conscious thinking and the fact that mindfulness helped me get through a really hard period in my life. So if I can help others out there realise that not every day is rosey, that there are tough days but there is a way through it then I’ve helped someone. Even if it’s a small impact on someone’s life then I really feel I’ve done my job.
A lot of mums (and people in general, for that matter) often ask how you find the time to do all these things. Especially with your youngest son and the issues you’ve been working through, how do you find the time to manage everything you do?
How do I do it? Sometimes I ask myself the same question lol. My eldest son is at school and I put my 2 yo into home daycare 2 days a week for social skills, child interaction and also to give me some time to myself. However those two days have fast become my two working days. He also has an afternoon sleep for three hours so I really work around him, when he’s in care and at night when I can get some peace. It’s a juggling act I’m not going to lie but I find that the time I spend with him now I’m more present and give him my full attention and then can work around him. Planning is also a big factor. I plan out appointments a month to two months ahead, hence why a diary plays a big part in my life. A lot of my work is online, online Zoom workshops, emails, website maintenance, social media, learning etc so its done from home.
Finally, what advice would you pass on to new or prospective mums? Is there a piece of advice you received that helped you through your motherhood journey?
My mum used to say to me “I have to parent you and your sister differently” and I never could understand why until I had two of my own to parent.
Motherhood is not a text book and everyone loves to give you advice and offer their two cents worth. Listen to the advice, but then do what works for you and your child. Each child is different and you must roll with the punches and do what works for that individual. I think we put too much pressure on ourselves to be that perfect mum as we feel we get judged by others and seek their validation. At the end of they day they don’t know what you/we are experiencing with your son/daughter. So, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for help if you are struggling because I did (after a long time struggling) and it was the best thing for me and my son.
If you’d like to check out more about Kara, here are her deets: