Category Archives: parents

The career coaching paid for itself!

One of my early career coaching clients was a Teacher’s Aide with 17 years’ experience who wanted a career change. Her part-time role had really worked for her and the family in the past because of the hours and time off for school holidays. With her youngest child in their final year of high school, she was able to increase her hours just at a time that the school was scaling back hours as a result of reducing enrolments.

My client had no idea what she wanted to do next or how to go about getting a job. It had been a long time since she applied for a position and lots had changed with the advent of the internet. She recognised she needed help and decided to invest in career guidance despite her husband’s view that she was wasting both her time and money.

We started the process by looking at my client’s career story through an activity called a Timeline. By identifying everything she had ever wanted to be, was, or still wanted to be (including paid and unpaid roles) and then considering what had influenced her towards or away from these options we were able to draw out a lot of valuable information about her career preferences and influences. The next step was to identify what she liked or disliked about the roles and what tasks and skills she would like to take forward to future roles. Through this activity it became very clear that my client had a strong interest and aptitude for administrative work.

The next stage of our work focused on presenting her fit for administrative work in a market where she would be competing with career admininistrators. While we couldn’t change her Teacher’s Aide job title, we were very particular about presenting her administrative and other relevant transferable skills rather than the technical skills related to teacher’s aide work. It called for a very different resume and cover letter than if she were staying in the same field.

After only a couple of weeks my client successfully landed a full-time administrative role, managing to double her salary between the increased hours and the higher rate of pay associated with the administrative role. We both loved that she was able to silence hubby by demonstrating that the career coaching had paid for itself.

If you’d like to talk about how career coaching can help you, call Donna on 0419 120 601 or email

Unlocking needs leads to better parent/child relationships

raising children

I recently attended a course that I was hoping might give me some additional parenting tools. At 24 hours spread over four SUNDAYS, it felt a pretty big investment but then I do love personal growth and this parenting gig is one I take pretty seriously! Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.), simply put, focuses on genuine communication between parent and child and basically assumes that conflict arises from an unmet need.

So here I am a month after the course and I can honestly say that it has been one of the most significant influences to my parenting style to date. So often we take some training and promptly forget what we learned, but in this case, I have successfully transferred the lessons to my real life and continue to incorporate and build on the skills I developed.

To illustrate the change, I’d thought I might share an example of an interaction that I experienced with my son which resulted in a totally different outcome as a result of using the P.E.T. approach. One morning Matthew said “Mum, I don’t want to go to swimming today”. Whereas I would have once said something like “well we’ve paid for the lesson and you have to go”, I tried my new skills instead. “So Matthew you don’t want to go swimming?” To which he replied “no”. I said, “That seems strange, you usually enjoy swimming, has something changed?” and he replied “Yes, I keep getting water up my nose when I swim backwards”. After some discussion about how he could tackle the problem we arrived at the idea that he ask his swim instructor if he had any tips on how to avoid the problem. We rehearsed the conversation in the car on the way and  I later watched my five year old confidently raise the issue with the instructor who told him “sure mate, you just put your chin here”. The pride and pleasure I felt when he reached the other end of the pool and gave me a thumbs up was immeasurable! The thing is, this isn’t an isolated example, as we continue to have honest conversations and enjoy more conflict-free time.

What I love most about my new P.E.T. skills is that I have the tools for more authentic conversations with everyone – family, friends, clients and colleagues. I also feel far more confident that our son will have an increased chance of not needing to recover from his childhood between my new skills and the ones that I can see him developing as he sees this needs-based communication modeled.

If P.E.T. training sounds like it’s for you, Kathryn Tonges, currently runs workshops on the Sunshine Coast and on the northside of Brisbane.

Finding flexible work

woman working with son

The challenge of finding flexible work is something that our clients frequently raise as a key barrier to balancing paid work and family. If you’re looking for flexible work you might like to check out the article Donna wrote for the School Hours website recently. Click here.

Supporting parents gives a laugh

This morning I finally met up with Leigh, the Director of School Hours Pty Ltd. I have been communicating with Leigh by email for some time now because I regularly promote School Hours as a flexible work resource in CareerSmart Mums workshops and wanted to know more about the site.  When I arrived at the designated coffee shop, I noticed a male sitting at an outside table and also that there were very few other patrons.  I approached the counter staff and asked whether “L-e-i-g-h” was a male or female name in their experience.  As we wondered and chuckled, the seated male rose and walked into the coffee shop, clearing up the answer to the question. Turns out that my assumption that I was communicating with a mum all this time was totally wrong!

The element of surprise didn’t stop there.  It was awesome to hear the School Hours story and to recognise our shared passion for supporting return to work and working parents.  Leigh offered me some wonderful ideas and tips and I’m super excited about future possibilities in our respective quests to support parents.