Anna Williamson is a local Hertfordshire mum who you will also find regularly gracing your telly screen. She is a TV presenter (This Morning, Good Morning Britain, National Lottery Xtra), a radio show host (talkRADIO), and is also a qualified counsellor, life coach, and Master NLP practitioner. Anna is an official ambassador for mental health charity, Mind. Oh, and her first book ‘Breaking Mad: The Insider’s Guide to Conquering Anxiety‘ hit the number one spot on Amazon UK (find out more about Breaking Mad here).
Breaking Mum and Dad: The Insider’s Guide to Parenting Anxiety
Anna’s second book, ‘Breaking Mum and Dad: The Insider’s Guide to Parenting Anxiety‘ was released last month.
We all know how hard those first few months of parenthood can be. They can be extremely challenging – both mentally and physically. ‘Breaking Mum and Dad’ is described as a ‘therapist in your pocket’, and is packed with helpful advice, shared stories and practical guidance. If you’re struggling through those tough, sleep-deprived months, then this is the book you need on your bedside table. I certainly wish I’d had a copy of this five years ago!
I’m so pleased that Anna agreed to an interview with Mums Off Duty, despite being so busy. Here, in her usual warm and friendly manner, Anna shares honest, practical advice on parenting and looking after you.
Thank you Anna for taking the time to chat with us.
Interview with Anna Williamson
What inspired you to write Breaking Mum and Dad? Was it your own experience of becoming a new mum, or observing other new parents and realising we’re all in need of a bit of help?
Becoming a mum 18 months ago was without a doubt the most life changing moment ever….in both a good and not so good way. I’ve always wanted kids but the shock and overwhelm of suddenly having one was something that threw me completely and scared me big time! As I grappled with my new role, I realised that so many other new parents were, and are, feeling as I did/and do at times still, and we are often too embarrassed or ashamed to admit we’re not loving it all the time, that it’s harder than we expected, and that our mental health can take one heck of a wallop. ‘Breaking Mum and Dad’ is the book where I vocalise it all….every thought and fear…good and bad and reassure parents that they’re normal and doing well!
What do you wish someone had told you when you first became a mum?
That bonding with your baby isn’t always instant…not for many of us, and that’s ok! It will come…in good time. You can’t rush any aspect of parenting.
Mums Off Duty inspires mums to invest more time, money and energy in themselves. Do you invest in you, and how?
Absolutely I do. I’m a huge campaigner for looking after one’s own mental health, and recognising your strengths and weaknesses is key. Also not measuring yourself against anybody else, and knowing when you need time out and help to repair and restore your mind and body. I often take some time out to go for a walk, go to the gym, read a magazine with all of my devices off. It’s hugely important to me to switch off for a period of time each day. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary to be a good mum.
In those very early days of parenthood, I remember feelings of overwhelm suddenly washing over me at unexpected moments, when I would realise how drastically our lives had changed – and then feeling like I’d been run over by a bus! What would you say to a new mum reading this post who also experiences those kinds of feelings?
Firstly, you are far from alone in those thoughts and feelings. I felt exactly the same way and there are times when I still do when things just get too much and on top of me. It can be such an overwhelming thought that you are responsible for this little human being forever… the relentlessness can feel scary at times. But just remember to take each day as it comes. Some days will be great, some days not so much. Focus on what you do enjoy about your children and parenting, and accept that in order to really enjoy the good days you have to sometimes experience the bad ones too. Also do not suffer in silence. Tell a friend about how you are feeling if overwhelm happens. You will often notice that they can empathise…and that helps!
You’re mum to gorgeous little Enzo, wife to Alex and have a very successful, high profile career – I expect this is quite a juggle! We all seem to be striving to find ‘work-life balance’ but I think it’s a tricky one, as it means different things to different people. What does work-life balance mean to you?
I think so many of us nowadays are trying to find that all important work-life balance, and I think the main thing to remember is that it is what works for you and your family. Keep tweaking and changing it to make sure it is working as effectively as possible. Keep conversations and communication open to bosses and colleagues, and keep checking in with yourself each week or month to see how you are feeling and where you could perhaps adjust if needed. To me, having a healthy work-life balance is to be happy in both parts of my life and to feel that each one is complementing the other. If I feel the balance is out, I address the one that needs a bit of TLC.
Our mums get the dreaded mum-guilt about, well, everything! Do you get this? What is your top tip for managing mum-guilt and not letting it get you down?
I find that guilt can be such a wasted emotion most of the time. Another way of thinking about guilt is to view it as a positive emotion in that you care about whatever is making you feel guilty. Reframe your guilt, and give yourself a break, reminding yourself that you are doing your best and that is all we need to be doing. We don’t have to be perfect, nobody is.
I think we all need that one thing, that one passion, that takes us to our happy place and gives us focus (aside from being a mum). What’s yours?
For me it really is as simple as a sunny day with a good book. I just so enjoy sitting, and just being. It’s taken me many years to work out that my happy place really is this simple and effective.
Any other advice you’d like to share with our mums?
Just take each day as it comes. And stop striving for perfection. There is no such thing and it only creates unnecessary pressure. You are doing a great job!
Buy the book
I think all parents could do with a copy of this! You can order Anna’s new book from Amazon here: Breaking Mum and Dad: The Insider’s Guide to Parenting Anxiety
Share your thoughts
Have you read ‘Breaking Mum and Dad’? Did you struggle as a new parent? Please share your thoughts below.
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