20 Jul

Are you a family in transition? We are…

Where have all the years gone? Come September our youngest son Ardyn is off to High School to embark on a new and exciting phase of his life.

Hand-in-hand with his excitement, walks fear – as it does for all of us…

  • Will I find friends?
  • Will I find my way around the school?
  • Will I be able to keep up with the work?
  • What is expected of me?

The change however is more far reaching than change for Ardyn. Ardyn finishing Primary School brings to a close a whole phase of our family-life. This milestone brings to an end almost 10 years of two daily trips (in term time) to school and being our boys primary carer I am feeling it quite strongly…

Almost a decade of PTA meetings, after school clubs, dress-up days and play dates. It is all morphing into something quite new, not better or worse, just different. Although part of me can’t help but grieve for the connectedness, the craft, the impromptu crazy multi play dates (which included my friends and my boys friends).

It is all changing as they both embark on this new phase which is specially designed to help them distance themselves from their parents and to become independent individuals. (SeeThe Interdependent Stage’ in my May blog).

I don’t miss the sleepless nights, the endless nappy changing (and washing), the tantrums… but I am beginning to miss the connectedness, the blind devotion, the being the centre of their world…

So emotionally I am struggling at times with the grieving of what I am ‘loosing’ but as always, each day brings new delights, which are often unexpected…

  • The witty and insightful response to a teasing question…
  • The ongoing questions about how things work…
  • The asking for advise about girls…
  • The request to play a game…

Being a parent is at the same time the hardest and yet the most rewarding thing I have ever done… The ongoing mystery of each moment never allows it to become boring. From moment to moment I may see something I am mind-blowingly grateful for or that makes my skin crawl. I can just never tell which it is to be!

And so the process of growing-up continues in our house.

I am finding that despite spending the past 6 years working towards my personal goals of becoming a coach and helping other mums with their transitions, I am in dire need of my own coach right now!

My regular sessions with my coach (Kristen) help me to connect with what is most important and give me the time and space to listen to my heart around what I need to be doing. I am extremely grateful to Kristen for her assistance in helping me be the person I really want to be and to lead the life I want to live. It is not always easy, but it is never boring!

I truly believe that every person should have a coach.

xx Tina

04 May

Parental Development & Stages of Parenthood: We change as our children do

In my first Video Blog in March I spoke about parental transitions. Here I want to take a closer look at the developmental stages of parenthood and the transitions we undertake.

As parents we take on new roles as our children develop, transforming our parental identities as the developmental demands of our children change.

Because parents are critical to a child’s development a great deal of research has been focused on the impact of parents on their children.  Far less is known, however, about the development of parents themselves and the impact of children on parents.

Parental Development

Parenting is a major role in an adult’s life and there are Six Stages of Parenthood:

1. The Image-Making Stage (pre-birth)

Prospective parents get used to the idea that they will become parents soon and what parenting will bring. They think about and form images of there roles as parents, what type of parent they want to be and may evaluate the relationships they have with their own parents as a model of their roles as parents.

2. The Nurturing Stage (child between birth & approx. 2 years)

The parent’s main goal during this stage is to bond with their baby.

Parents often have to reshape their conceptions of themselves and their identity as they work out how much time for the baby and how much time to devote to other aspects of life. Parenting responsibilities are the most demanding during infancy because infants are completely dependent on caregiving.

3. The Authority Stage (child between 2 and 4 / 5 years)

Parents decide what kind of authority to be, how rules are set, what rules are, when they are enforced and what happens when they are broken.

4. The Interpretive Stage  (child approximately primary school age)

Parents respond to their children’s (easy and not so easy) questions and concerns as children are increasingly exposed to the world outside the family. This causes parents to review what they think, believe and value and to pull together their own beliefs so they can translate them to their children. This is a demanding and challenging process. Parents have to negotiate how involved to be with their children, when to step in, and when to encourage children to make choices independently.

5. The Interdependent Stage (child in teenage years)

Parents need to deal with many problems that they feel inexperienced in handling.

Two important facets to concentrate on:

  1. Communication with teenagers.
  2. Setting limits and giving guidance.

Parents must accept that the teenagers’ major task is developing a separate identity. Separation is a gradual process. Through this stage the parent / child relationship is redefined. The new relationship involves swinging backwards and forward between distance and closeness, separation and connectedness.

6. The Departure Stage (when the child leaves home)

At this time when the child leaves home parents evaluate the entire experience of parenting. They must redefine their authority and renegotiate their relationship with their adolescent child who is increasingly making decisions independent of parental authority and control. Parenting in this stage involves a complex set of tasks; caring, being available, helping without controlling, accepting the grown child’s’ separate identity. In accepting this separate identity, parents learn that to accept separateness implies the beginning of a new connection. This stage usually spans a long time period from when the oldest child moves away until the youngest leaves. The parenting role must be redefied as a less central role in a parent’s identity.

Quote from Associate Professor Marissa DienerEach of the above stages bring new challenges and things to learn for parents There is constantly a need for new strategies and techniques to support our children to grow through their own developmental stages. These stages also require different amounts of our time as parents, for example a newborn child requires 24 hour care, where as a teenager is often largely independent, but it is important for parents to be around an the ‘right’ times and this can be highly unpredictable.  The key is to maintain a strong connection to your child while pursuing and fulfilling your own life’s desires. No small task!

Parental Transition

I see parenting transition as the movement between these phases of parental development. I myself and many of my clients are currently in the midst of parenting transitions and it is something that isn’t often talked about. When our children move from one phase to the next our focus (understandably) on them – their excitement, hopes and fears – but I would like to focus here on development and transitions for us as parents.

As my youngest son Ardyn is off to High School in September I find myself reflecting on how these big changes affect not only Ardyn, but also the entire family – as needs change, logistics are rearranged and our lives morph into a new version of daily life.

Small transitions are constant (such as being able to help out with tricker chores or as they grow from one size of clothing to the next), but the change becomes more apparent at these types of milestones. Inevitably parenting transitions as I see them are integrally linked to our children’s developmental stages and consequently our schooling system. Here is a brief summary of the major ones (although as mentioned this is really almost continuous and different for everyone).

  • Becoming a parent
  • Deciding to return to work (or not) after maternity leave
  • Youngest child starting Primary School
  • Youngest child starting High School
  • Last child leaving home

Parenting is a complex process in which parents and children influence each other. The complexity in families further increases with additional children and sometimes complex adult relationships.

Knowing the best way to support our children as they develop can sometimes be challenging.  But recognising that we are constantly growing and changing as parents as our children grow and change can help us give ourselves permission to not expect perfection, as we don’t expect perfection from them. Each new challenge we face is a new challenge for both us as parents and for our children.

If your child is coming up to a big transition soon, (e.g. starting primary school, starting high school or leaving home) know that you are in transition too and give it is natural to be feeling challenged. The best way to support your child through big transitions is to allow yourself the time and space to get a clear idea of what you want and need in the future yourself. This piece of mind for yourself allows you to be more relaxed, calm and able to be more fully focus on your child’s transitional needs. Above all remember to be gentle with yourself and your expectations through this complex time of new experiences and emotions.

It was because of my struggle through parental transition that I created my signature programme – The Revitalise Programme for Mums. I wish it had been around when I was in the midst of my struggles! It is specifically developed to help mums navigate this challenging but exciting time of transition.

I am working on a wall chart to more clearly show how the developmental stages and transitions fit together along with the common questions and decisions at each point. If you would like a free copy of the wall chart please email me tina@yournewwings.com and I will be happy to send it to you.

Yours in parenting

Tina Smith



Diener, M.L. (2017). The developing parent. In R. Biswas-Diener & E. Diener (Eds), Noba textbook series: Psycology. Champaign, IL: DEF publishers. DOI:nobaproject.com (http://www.nobaproject.com)

Galinsky, E. (1987). The Six States of Parenthood. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books


09 Mar

3 Countries, 3 Continents, 6 Years – Lessons learnt from moving our family around the world…

Just over two years ago our family arrived in the UK to make a new life for ourselves. We have moved countries every 2 years for the past 6 years, moving around for Vaughan (my husbands) work.

There have been many challenges, big decisions and much uncertainty over this time period, but as I reflect back on our adventures I feel very grateful to have lived such an interesting life!

Our last 6 years has found us move:

Australia ==> Brazil (our boys aged 5 & 7 years)

Brazil ==> Australia (our boys aged 7 & 9 years)

Australia ==> United Kingdom (our boys aged 9 &11 years)

It is a strange feeling heading into a third year in the same place and I must admit that I am not in any great hurry to move again just yet!

We can only choose from what we have in front of us. We are given choices every day. We can choose to be courageous or to be safe.

As Vaughan and I tussled with the pros and cons of the possibly of moving to Brazil we looked at it from every angle, researching the city, the statistics, the language. We spent hours, days, weeks researching, discussing and contemplating.

One of our biggest fears as we explored the opportunity of moving to Brazil was not knowing what impact our moving would have on our boys…this was in the forefront of our minds as we made this first critical decision, to go or not to go.

The way Vaughan and I finally decided if to take the leap and head to Brazil with our boys (5 and 7 at the time) was by asking ourselves… “In 10 years are we going to look back and say we were glad we went or glad we didn’t go?” For both of us the answer was crystal clear… we would be glad we had gone.

When we took this ‘big picture’ view all the challenges and uncertainties faded into being almost insignificant. And if asked the same question today I can truly say that we are glad that we went. It was even more challenging than I could have imagined back then, but I am a wiser, more patient, more empathetic, more confident, more grateful and a more generous human being from having the experiences we have had. I see these qualities in our boys too, and even thought there have been huge struggles for them, they too have developed complex and unique parts of their own personalities. Would I choose the same again?… In a heartbeat!

Third Culture Kids - Growing up among worldsA wonderful book that was recommended to me by an expat friend is “Third Culture Kids” by …Having personally grown up in the same place for my entire childhood (a small farm in rural Australia) I had no personal experience of how our new lifestyle would affect our boys… this book help me to see the pros and cons of living and growing up outside our passport country…It helped us put strategies in place to ensure they maintain a connections with the things that are important. I would highly recommend it for anyone contemplating a change of country with children.

Some of the lessons I have learnt over the past 6 years are these:

  1. Fear of the unknown is normal, healthy and needs balancing with courage, research and faith
  1. When we are challenged – we grow
  1. We are not aware of what we are truly capable of until faced with challenges to overcome
  1. A coach is an enormous support during the upheaval of moving countries

Our first move was the toughest, in lots of ways that is always going to be the case. But one of the things that stands out for me as a big difference between the first and subsequent moves is that for the first move I didn’t have a coach… In later moves my coach was an enormous support for me (and therefore for our family) each time we have relocated. There is always so much to do in what seems like so little time. My coach helped me to get clear about what was most important and what I could let go of. Each move brought different challenges, but each time my coach helped me to stay grounded, focused and (relatively) calm. For anyone who has gone through something similar you will know that there are often sleepless nights, not only coming up to the actual move, but also well before that as you attempt to make the correct decision regarding every aspect of your current and future life!

And so if you are facing a big move in your life -be it your first or one of many – I would recommend a coach. A coach can help smooth out the bumps in the road, and this can be a lifesaver when your energy reserves are hitting rock bottom!

I am extremely grateful that I can now look at each challenge that I face, and overcome, to be a blessing. Each time I get through a challenge I am growing, becoming more resourceful and more able to deal with whatever comes next.

xo Tina


24 Nov

Time Management: Part 2

Mum juggling everythingKey time management tip for busy mums

I had the honour of working with some wonderful mums over the past 2 weeks who were brave enough to add one more thing to their to-do- list and come along to my free workshops.

These workshops were designed to delve into what time management is for each of us.  Everyone’s situation is unique, but there are some common threads that run though all our lives can hold the key to dealing with time management.  In preparing for this workshop I reflected on my work with mums over the past 4 years and pieced together these threads to identify what we all, as mums tend to struggle with.

What I have discovered is that as mums we…

  • Are on duty 24/7 – it is RELENTLESS, we don’t often get a break
  • Place enormous EXPECTATIONS on ourselves
  • Never feel like we are doing ENOUGH because there is always more to do
  • Often don’t see our SELFCARE as a priority
  • Are EXHAUSTED from all the decisions – big and small
  • Feel GUILTY that whatever we are doing it is not the right thing
  • If we are not making MONEY we don’t feel like we should spend money on ourselves

In line with these threads and in wanting to bring you an acronym to help you remember my tips (I still recall the order of the planets and the colours of the rainbow thanks to my school learnt acronyms!) I offer the following tips…

STRUCTURE – Seek structure that works for you

SUPPORT – You are not alone – work as a family team

   PRIORITISE – Self-care is not selfish

   PLAN & DREAM – Work out your medium & long-term goals

   OBSERVE – Notice how doing things makes you feel

   REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS – It doesn’t always need to be perfect!

   TRUST – Trust yourself! You are doing an awesome job

So my key time management tip for busy mums is to seek internal and external support.


1) Seek internal support by looking inwardly as summarised above, doing our own internal work, which is totally within our control.

2) Seek external support, as shown in my diagram above. To seek external support from those around us who support us not only in our day-to-day endeavors, but also help us to understand what is going on within us.

The truth is that time is finite, we can’t make any more of it. So it is what we choose to do with our time that is important

I realise that these tips are not just about time management, but also about life in general. Remove time from the equation and it boils down to what is important to us and ultimately who we want to be…

I feel that this post is inadequate in that I have not provided the stories and reasoning behind the ‘tips’ as I did in my presentation. I am endeavouring to work out how to record my free workshop presentation which would allow you a deeper experience… so stay tuned as I get that to work… (I am feeling a little technologically challenged right now… but I keep telling myself doesn’t need to be perfect!)

Yours in support


03 Nov

Time Management: Part 1

Mum juggling everythingWhy is time management particularly tricky for parents?

Our free workshop this month is all about Time Management Tips for Busy Mums. We are running two workshops in Warwickshire and would love to see you there if you get the chance.  Register here.  As the lead up to Christmas has begun we all find ourselves in an even more time poor state than usual during this busy time of year!

Time Management will be the topic of my next 3 blog posts. In each one we will look at different aspects of time management and the last one will include a free worksheet. If this post looks familiar that might be because you saw a condensed version of it in the latest Warwickshire Families Magazine…

There are no easy answers or quick fixes when it comes to time management. For most of us being a parent often means operating while overwhelmed. Our time management is particularly complex with lots of variables! So what makes it particularly tricky for us? Everyone’s situation is unique but here are a few thoughts…

  1. Unpredictability – The needs of the family are constantly changing. Different phases require different strategies. Humans are programmed to look for patterns so it’s a problem when there is often no pattern, or just as one begins to emerge – something changes! Try to relax into the chaos, know that you are doing the best that you can and that everyone else is dealing with this too! 
  1. Contaminated time– sometimes also called fragmented time. This is mental pollution that comes from having to deal with so many things at once, (for example – while writing this article I am also cooking dinner, baking a birthday cake, monitoring homework and writing the shopping list) and making it difficult to focus on one thing and feel like you are doing it well or even finishing it! Accept that occasionally it is important to isolate yourself, take time to recharge and allow yourself the luxury of focusing on one thing until it is done.
  1. Expectations – We all have expectations of what we should be able to achieve. Our expectations combined with what we believe others think we should achieve can create stress and anxiety. Look closely at where should is showing up in your life and ask yourself why you think you should.
  1. Proactive vs. Reactive – We hardly ever get a chance to take a step back and determine what we want and consciously aim for it – instead we are reacting to each crisis as it comes along. Setting aside time to plan (monthly, weekly or daily – your choice) can help with this.

Hang in there. You are doing a better job than you think. Only about 10% of our thoughts are conscious, so no wonder we feel like we are often on autopilot, because we are! Parents are constantly juggling priorities, making decisions big and small. Add things like a bit of sleep deprivation, a house move or a sick loved one to the list and it is no wonder we often feel overwhelmed.

Yours in overwhelm!



26 Sep

My Autumn harvest soup

Feeding my family…

Feeding my soul…

My Autumn harvest soup…

It is Autumn in the UK and yesterday I was exploring what I need to do with my garden in this new phase. In contemplating this I found myself drawn to deeply connect with nurturing my family and celebrating what we have managed to grow over the summer months. I reflected on how, in our modern life, we have come to be so removed from the process of growing what we eat. My grandparents on their dairy farm were almost totally self sufficient, and we today as a family are not.

I have a garden as a hobby. I love to be connected to the earth and the pulse of life. It slows me down, it helps to keep me sane…but at best what I grow is a supplement for what we buy in to eat. I realised I wanted to see what it was like to eat only what we have grown and thus created our Autumn harvest soup…

Collecting items and preparing our soup was a hugely grounding and humbling experience. It was a meditation that brought a deep appreciation for and gratitude towards those earlier generations who were deeply rooted in the earth and spend a large proportion of their lives simply putting food on the table.

Our family all enjoyed our soup dinner last night…the only ingredients not from our garden were…the salt … and the butter…

With ease and joy


08 Sep

Any task can be a meditation

I am reminded today that any task can be a meditation! It helps when you are doing something you love, for someone you love, but I find that the more practice I get the easier it is becoming.

A few years ago I attended an ‘Introduction to Meditation’ training run by a Matthew Young who set up the Melbourne Meditation Centre in 2005 http://melbournemeditationcentre.com.au. The main thing that I took away from this session which remains very vividly with me today was that meditation does not need to fit into any preordained rules… Matt helped me to see that I didn’t need to plan my day to include meditation – something I had been intending to do for years (and very seldom achieving), that I could weave it into my day in lots of little ways that would allow me to have the benefits without the feeling of yet another thing I should be doing. As mums we often just don’t have time to add another job to our list of things to do!

This week being the first week of the kids being back at school after the long summer break here in the UK I still don’t quite feel like I have my life back under control…The house is still a mess with half finished jobs, my office / spare room looks like a bomb hit it and the kitchen, well I will leave that to your imagination!

But amidst this mess the trigger for my remembering how any task can be a meditation was decorating my sons 11th Birthday cake this morning.

I have discovered 3 ways that I can weave meditation into my day…

  1. A moment of pause… For example when I arrive at school a few minutes early for pick up – I close my eyes and take whatever time I have (often only literally a minute) to focus inwardly.
  1. I am doing chores… the dishes, cooking dinner, vacuuming… I become mindful of my body and concentrate on what I am doing. I get out of my head and give it a rest from the constant chatter of what else needs doing next.
  1. Doing something I love… I have always loved making Birthday Cakes… there has always something special to me about begin able to pore love into the creative process for this special day…

Even with all the other things going on and pulls on my time as I worked this morning I recaptured that feeling of being in exactly the right place, doing exactly what I should be doing. When I feel like this I can relax, push the ‘chatter’ to the back of my mind, focus and enjoy being totally emerged in the moment!

What tasks are meditative for you?