Our "March of Inspiring Mums" interview series celebrates women who are doing some amazing things, whether through business, a campaign or just being fabulous!
Our latest interview is with Judy Claughton. She is mum to an 8 year old son as well as a Meditation Teacher, Wellbeing Consultant and Advanced Reiki Practitioner.
She works with businesses and individuals to support mental wellbeing, inspiration and rejuvenation for mind, body and spirit. Judy says her passion for helping people is infectious and is always inspired by her playful and spirited son.
Today, Judy shares a few tips for finding a work-life balance in the juggle of parenthood and how to inspire minds of all ages. She describes how a "crisis" in her late 20s led her to the edge of a breakdown which has ultimately led her on the path of wellbeing today.
She runs her business, BalanceTime, which is embracing the ActionforHappiness campaign Mindful March sharing mini meditation tips and support. Judy has set a target to inspire a hundred minds in a hundred days to take action on stress in their lives by tapping into the power of meditation.
Tell me a little about yourself and how you got into the job you’re now doing?
I have worked for almost 20 years in Communications, and my work-life balance ‘crisis’ actually came before children. In my late 20s I was working running Marketing Communications and Business Services for the charity Groundwork and a combination of pressures at work and unhappiness in my personal life, led her to the edge of a breakdown. The charity offered me coaching support and signposted me to counselling but the problem wasn’t my past, it was learning better ways to deal with my present. Then I discovered an introduction to meditation course, and it changed my life.
All of a sudden I had access to tools and techniques I could do myself without relying on anyone else that made me feel happier, more confident and able to cope. I started a life-long love affair with meditation and am already 15 years on in my journey – which includes study through the British School of Meditation, training as an Advanced Reiki Practitioner and study with a number of meditation gurus.
After a new job and a number of meditation retreats and courses I realised my determination to explore the business of wellbeing more fully. I left my full-time job 12 years ago and took up as a freelance PR and communications consultant, aiming to work just 4 days a week so that I could use the remaining day for study and development of my wellbeing work.
Things changed when I got pregnant 9 years ago, and my journey with meditation stepped up as I began meditating daily to help me in my pregnancy. I found I had a new-found joy for life and a positive way of coping with constant morning sickness. A combination of meditation and hypnobirth enabled me to have a virtually pain free labour when my son was born at the end of 2010. Then came the realisation that many communications and PR roles are not easily compatible with being a mum who wants to be there for her son and dealing with a number of heart wrenching miscarriages in trying to have more children.
The meditation work started as a hobby business to keep me sane but in May 2018 I made the decision to focus on the business full time to bring together a wonderful team of experts working across Wellbeing in the Workplace, as well as increasing individual wellbeing support through both face to face and online live programmes and running transformational retreats.
From daily tips and advice to inspirational training and retreats that are a positive alternative to the traditional ‘spa day’, BalanceTime is now rising up to the challenge of sharing this work to help individuals, families and businesses to make a difference to their mental and physical wellbeing.
Tell me one interesting fact about you?
I have sung (on three separate occasions) at the Royal Albert Hall. I qualified initially with a first class BENG Honours degree in Civil Engineering, before retraining in communications and then in meditation.
One of the projects I worked on was the A38 Marsh Mills Viaduct in Plymouth which at the time was the longest bridge slide in the world (this is where for reasons of convenience to road users and environmental impact the new road bridge is deliberately built next to the old bridge, then after demolition – slid neatly into place on the site of the old bridge – and no it is not as easy as it sounds!)
Please can you share your 3 tips for managing the juggle of motherhood, life and business?
- Embrace Meditation on your own – make time to pause even if you don’t adopt a formal meditation practice. Build in time to simply ‘be’ for a few minutes each and every day. You can win back time by trying mini meditation techniques such as:
- Stop time travelling when you walk – when you walk to pick the kids up from school or back from the shops try to avoid thinking about what has just happened or all the jobs you need to do next. Try to be truly present as you walk. Notice the colours of cars, trees, doors. Take in the sounds you can hear and switch your attention from one sound to another. Notice the textures of the hedges, pavement, clothes of people around you. Get curious about any smells on your walk and really observe what is happening in this moment.
- Invite Mindfulness into your life as a family – you can make this idea of being present, wondering and delighting in the moment part of a game and day-to day routine. Here are a few top tips for being mindful as a family.
- Avoid devices on your way home from school/nursery - instead of checking your work emails and voice mails as soon as you have picked the kids up, be present to what they have to share and say about their world. If your kids have a phone or device don’t rush to switch them ‘off’ from the world and invite time to talk, to be interested in each other and reconnect.
- Try mindful photography – get your kids to rethink their devices by going out and taking photos of beautiful things that inspire them. Can you all take one picture a day of something that makes you smile?
- Be bored (together and on your own)– ensure you all have time to be ‘bored’ to not rush to switch on the TV, laptop, tablet, games and spend time lost in your own imagination. Children will find ways to play made up games on their own or together. And us grown-ups will find ways to unwind without just switching on a screen – you just need to give yourself permission to pause.
- Gratitude – take time to be thankful as a family – in asking your children how their day was – rephrase this to ‘What 3 things made you happy today’ – you will notice them open up much more. You can even start a gratitude jar at home to fill with each day’s happy thoughts and enjoy opening this together once a month or so.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give a new mum?
Find your own way. Every mum (yours, your husband's, mums in the shops you don’t know, mums you have just met at a parenting class or baby group) will offer you their advice, tips and horror stories. It is easy to compare yourself to others and feel like you aren’t good enough.
Be kinder to yourself. Trust your intuition, having a baby helps this to be really strong. Take all advice with a pinch of salt and if it feels right to you try it – and if it feels wrong – it’s OK to change your approach, routine etc.
If this is your first and you just have one – try to make time for you with a power ‘nap’ of a mini meditation while baby sleeps. You’ll feel more refreshed afterwards and it will help you gain a moment for you after all those sleepless nights.
Colour can make a real difference to our mood - what’s your favourite colour? And how does it make you feel when you wear it?
I love bright colours and my favourite changes! Currently my favourite colour is red, when I wear it I feel confident and strong. A splash of red to a darker outfit makes me smile.
What’s your favourite activity to do with your child?
I love being outside together, my son doesn’t like the idea of simply walking, so we mix it up and play games exploring what we can see, collecting ‘treasure’ such as leaves and feathers and making crafts from it at home. Finding pleasure in taking picnics out in all seasons and exploring and loving the world we live in brings me real joy.
What do you like to do for some me-time?
No surprise but I love to meditate, now I have built the habit of at least 20 minutes of meditation every day, it is something the family appreciate and embrace and actively encourage me to maintain. As well as meditating at home on my own, I love to catch up with a friend and meditate together as well as having a good natter and I love to go on short retreats and learning days – helping me in my work but also helping soothe me in my mind body and soul!
Thank you Judy for sharing your incredible journey. It's so inspiring to hear a personal crisis led you to a path of wanting to help others. As a qualified massage therapist myself, I totally resonate with the importance of holistic therapies and taking time to look after yourself and your wellbeing. Thank you for sharing your tips and mindfulness techniques.
If you've enjoyed this interview, you can read our other blogs and "March of Inspiring Mums" series here
And if you like bright colours like Judy, check out our range of jewellery to add a pop of colour to any outfit