[On-Air Consult] Parenting with Patience Across Two Homes with Amanda Berlin


Leonardo Rocker

[On-Air Consult] Parenting with Patience Across Two Homes with Amanda Berlin

Welcome to the fourth episode of Impressive. Doctor Kimberley chats with Amanda Berlin, a former corporate publicity strategist and currently helps business owners with her expertise on PR. In this on-air consultation, Amanda seeks advice on how to deal with the frustrations when her five-year-old daughter is having a meltdown when trying to learn new things. Enjoy:

  • Learning patience while encouraging kids
  • How co-parenting works in separate households
  • Decisions of a new mom when finding the business suitable for starting a new chapter in her life

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About Impressive

Impressive is a weekly podcast that sheds new light on the world of parenting. Join host, Dr Kimberley O’Brien PhD, as she delves into real-life parenting issues with CEOs, global ex-pats, entrepreneurs, celebrities, travellers and other hand-picked parents.

In an approachable on-air consultation style, she listens to some of the smartest, kindest parents share their latest parenting challenge with their incredible kids. Together they brainstorm solutions and Kimberley offer handy tips and valuable resources to help bring out the best in toddlers, teens and in-betweens. Drawing mostly on two decades of experience as a child psychologist, Kimberley also shares her personal insights as to the mother of two and entrepreneur with a passion for problem-solving.

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Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 00:08

Hello, I'm Dr. Kimberley O'Brien, a child psychologist, entrepreneur, and mum with a passion for problem solving and family adventures. Join me each week for practical tips and on air consultations with the smartest, kindest parents and their incredible kids. Find answers faster, do things differently, and take your family further. This is impressive. This episode is sponsored by britechild.com. Now let's get started.

Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 00:34

This is episode four of Impressive, and I'm your host, Dr. Kimberley O'Brien. Thanks for joining us this week as we speak to Amanda Berlin, who is a New York based PR and local media expert, and also the host of Empowered Publicity, a weekly podcast that I highly recommend, and Amanda's also a speaker. She does a lot of things.  I saw her speaking last week in LA at the Biz Chicks Live Conference, which was a really good opportunity for female entrepreneurs from all around the world to get together and talk about their businesses and share resources. So that was amazing, and I'm really happy to say that I'll be introducing a bunch of new podcast guests coming up because they're all high achieving individuals that are doing things in so many departments, like the way that growing their businesses and managing their families, and still open to asking for help when it comes to little parenting issues and doing that online in a podcast.  

Amanda Berlin: 01:36
It's just humbling, and I'm so thankful to be part of that Biz Chicks Live community. So I look forward to more of those online consultations coming up soon. If you'd like to find out more about the impressive podcast, you're welcome to go to britechild.com That's britechild.com/impressive. To find out about some previous episodes or click the subscribe button on your podcast app, and the episode will pop up each week on a Monday in Australia. All right, so now it's time to listen to Amanda Berlin as she digs into who she is and what she's done in terms of her business, and then onto some of those parenting challenges around managing a five year old and their frustrations. I hope you enjoy, this is impressive.

Amanda Berlin: 02:27

I'm so thrilled for the opportunity to talk to you, and I think that it's interesting because my business and my daughter were kind of born at the same time, so they're very much, the  story of my business is very much interwoven with the story of my parenting and my daughter. So I worked for 12 years in the New York City  publicity agency world, in the PR world. To make a long story short, I felt like my soul was dying as I was helping companies like pharmaceutical companies and consumer product companies just be louder than their competition. These were  major companies in the US here from  Pfizer in the pharmaceutical world to Dove in the consumer product world and some of them had great messages, and it was a joy to bring their message to wider audiences, but some of them I felt misaligned with.

Amanda Berlin: 03:33
And certainly in retrospect, I realised that  it wasn't actually so much that I felt misaligned in the work, it was that I felt misaligned in the corporate culture, and I was working in a company that just did not have good values and good corporate culture. So  morale was really low, and I was determined when I actually got released from that job, which I use as the term for when I got let go, because the company eventually went out of business that I felt at the time that I didn't want to do anything related to communications or PR. I just wanted to go and do something that felt more of service to the world. So for about a year in 2012 to 2013, I kind of was searching around for what my business was going to be all the while I had gotten married in 2011. And  for the entire time that I was married, I was the breadwinner for our family.

Amanda Berlin: 04:44
So it wasn't like a situation where, oh, someone actually at the gym recently asked me what I did, and I told her that I had my own business. And she was like, Oh, well it's so great that you probably have a  husband who helps you,  allows you to do that, or something like that. And I was like, Actually, no, very important to me that it's clear that I created this on my own and I had to figure out how to make ends meet on my own. So for the first year,  I was trying different things and bringing ends meet by bringing in some freelance work in the communications world, but it was always sort of begrudgingly I didn't really wanna be doing it, I pursued a life coaching certification and I pursued some fitness certifications. I really,  I thought I wanted to be in that world.

Amanda Berlin: 05:42
And then in 2013, in February of 2013, I got pregnant and I realised being in the position that I was in as the breadwinner of our family, I really have to figure out what I'm doing here. So I  approached an organisation that  does some holistic learning and they hold meditation classes and coaching certifications and nutrition work and all these kinds of classes, like an educational institution that I really believed in  New York City. And I said,  again, with this chip on my shoulder, this is what I used to do in my old life. I know I could help you guys. What do you think? Cause I just knew I needed work. And the executive director of the institution said to me, yeah, sounds good. Here's a proposal and so as I was putting together the request for proposal, it really dawned on me a major light bulb moment that I really liked doing the work of communications for entities that I really believed in.  

Amanda Berlin: 06:58
I felt very energised by it, so I had the realisation that I could create a business around translating my  expertise that I had earned from my 10,000 hours as Malcolm Gladwell would put it in the corporate world into a service that I could bring to entrepreneurs and business owners and non-profits that I really believed in. And it was right at that time, I remember getting that  contract with that organisation and going in and talking to the executive director and telling her that I was five months pregnant and that I don't intend to  stop working, but I might need to take a little break in order to give birth. So  it really was at that same moment that I found my business, that I  found out that I was going to be a mother as well. And  just kind of fast forwarding to October of that year when I gave birth, I really didn't, and this'll maybe kind of  play into some of the other things that we talk about.

Amanda Berlin: 08:12
I didn't really get to take maternity leave or have  a lot of that nesting time with my daughter because I had the responsibility of supporting us as well. So those early year, that first year was really the hardest year of my life. 2014, I said that to my mum recently. That was the hardest year of my life. So that's kind of my business now. I  work full-time with entrepreneurs, helping them to figure out what visibility is going to work for them, what kind of publicity, what kind of collaborations, what partnerships, what efforts are going to get them in front of the people that are going to buy from them and that are going to be their evangelists.

Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 09:02

Thank you so much for that introduction. And also, I'm gonna link in the show notes to our episode we did when you were doing on a coaching for me not so long ago, and just saying, Get that  podcast out there, Kimberley. Just do it. So that was really motivational and it helped to birth the podcast. I'm really interested also in the way that you birthed your daughter and your business at the same time. How did you manage to find the balance when you had two really important competing demands in that first year? Was that 2014?

Amanda Berlin: 09:34

Yes. It was really hard. It was really hard. I it was hard on so many levels. I felt like I wasn't showing up for either of those tasks to my greatest capacity. So there was   immediate guilt associated with motherhood, and because I felt like I wasn't doing a good enough job, I felt like I didn't fit in with any of the other mums because I  I went to a new mum's group and they were all talking about reflux and breastfeeding, and I was  drowning in, I have to work, I have to make the money. My husband is lying on the couch. I have to be the mother, I have to be the breadwinner. I felt like the pressures on me were so much different than other mothers that I was coming into contact with. And I didn't fit in with the working mums because I had a flexible schedule and I didn't fit in with the stay at home mums because I had all of these other pressures. So it was very isolating. And  that first year I was  just drowning.  

Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 11:01

I can relate in that we actually birthed Quirky Kid the same year as our first daughter was born, and going to those mothers groups or play groups, I used to also find, I just couldn't actually focus on where I was at. I was more thinking, I've got things to do at home, I've got things to do with work. So yeah, it is a tricky time for entrepreneurs when they have two important jobs to do. But you found a way through and your business is now thriving. Can you tell us a little bit more about your five year old and what's happening with her? She's maybe just started school this year and what's her name?  

Amanda Berlin: 11:41

Yes. So her birthday is in late October, so here in the States in New Jersey, she actually just missed the cutoff for kindergarten. So she is in her first  year at the public school in pre-K, which  is a great blessing because not every district in our state has a public pre-K, a full-time public. So it's really a great opportunity to have her in the public school and have her in the age group that she needs to be in. She is, So her dad and I have been separated since I guess for about a year and a half now. And  prior to that, we had kind of separated on and off several times. So I don't know if she even remembers us ever living together. It does seem like a long time ago that we had lived together last. So  I'm certain that there are actually I'm curious as to what the impact of that is or will be on her.  But for the moment, she seems happy. She seems happy with both of us. She seems to prefer her dad, I think because there's more YouTube watching and more candy eating at his house.

Amanda Berlin: 13:19
And I  was talking to a friend earlier today about how she prefers him. And my friend was saying I was kind of making jokes about it, and she was like, I recognise you're using humour to get through this, but it must be challenging. And I think it really does play into how I felt in the beginning, how I felt like just I was drowning that first year and that I didn't really, I link it all back to that  I didn't do a good job in the beginning and I was drowning and I didn't connect with her in the way that we should have and  all of this. So  I think there's a lot of  lingering questions for me, but all in the reports I get on her from people who meet her and  all of the feedback I get is all positive. She's happy and  gets along with others and befriends the smallest kid in her class so that she can be the big kid and be the helper. So  yeah, that's kind of where we are right now.

Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 14:31

Yeah, I feel like  just that idea of inconsistent parenting styles where one's doing  one thing and the other is doing the other. It can be so hard to find the balance when there's two separate households, but kids are usually well at adapting to mum's rules and dad's rules, and it can just be those little transitions  two or three days sometimes as they adjust to the new rules in the  other household. But I also hear that you're still carrying some guilt from that very first year around, oh, maybe I didn't spend enough time with her or haven't bonded with her, but I just want to reassure her, reassure you that I think that where she's right now, where there's no conflict  in the household and that you've moved onto a arrangement, which means that she gets to see both parents, it sounds like the optimal arrangement.  So I don't think she'd be holding onto what happened when she was less than 12 months old.

Amanda Berlin: 15:26

Right. Thank you. That's good to hear.

Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 15:31

Yeah. Now let's talk about  the optimal arrangements when it comes to separation. Have you managed to live in the same suburb or do you do  drop offs and pickups at the school? How do you manage the access arrangements?  

Amanda Berlin: 15:47

So we actually live on the same street.

Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 15:50

Perfect. That's amazing.  

Amanda Berlin: 15:52

Yeah, so just about seven houses down on the same side of the street, so it's very convenient. Incidentally, right now it's  evening in New York and  on a night where I would typically have her. So I actually picked her up from school and her dad came and picked her up to have dinner with him while I do this interview. So we're very amicable and we try to help each other out. There's obviously little things between the two of us and the way that we handle these interactions that I would love to see tweaked a little bit, but by and large, I think it's pretty functional.

Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 16:33

Have you got any tips for other parents  going through similar situations in terms of how to create that scenario where you managed to live on the same street and have a really good working relationship? What do you think would be your top takeaway from that experience and  what would you suggest that might be the  most important ingredient?

Amanda Berlin: 16:58

That's a really good question, and it's really the first time that I have maybe even been far enough away from it to feel like I could even offer any kind of advice. So I thank you for the opportunity to reflect on that I would say. So for me, what was really important to me was to be certain that I was making the right choice in separating. And so I maybe stayed in it for a little bit longer than I should have, but it was more in deference to my certainty than it was trying to hold onto something that I knew wasn't going to work. So I guess the takeaway from that is I've seen people do it a different way, which is staying in the relationship and just being passive aggressive and mean to the other person so that they would be the one to end it so that they would get so fed up that you wouldn't have to do the hard work of actually ending it and pushing them away through passive aggression and  just incivility.

Amanda Berlin: 18:12
And I think that because I really don't pretend that I did it perfectly, because I think I could have been stronger in the beginning or trusted myself more to just cut it off earlier, but I was pretty dedicated to not being mean to each other and handling it with respect and civility above all, and conversations inevitably devolve from time to time. But I think just remembering that, I guess one of my guiding principles in life, just in general is  I want to walk away from as many interactions as possible, feeling proud of myself. And I don't want to look back and be like, man, I was a real whatever, in that conversation. And  sometimes that definitely leads me to hold things in when maybe I shouldn't or have too much, give someone too much latitude or whatever, when I probably should have better boundaries. But by and large, I think if you can just remember that you want to walk away feeling proud of yourself, then that's a good guide.

Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 19:35

Nice one. I like that. And I  think also the idea of sticking in it until  what you really want to do, rather than being spontaneous. And then sometimes that's even more unsettling for the young person, but it sounds like you got to a point where you're a hundred percent sure about what you wanted to do and that you are a role model for your daughter because you've  created something that you're proud of and you've managed it in a way that you can hold your head high and feel like it's the best thing for both of you. So yeah, I think that sounds like the ultimate win obviously it's very challenging for parents to make that decision and no one wants to have a negative impact on their child. But yeah, research shows that if there is ongoing conflict and parents are not happy, then that's not the best environment for a young person. So well done for just taking those steps and doing it in a way that sounds like it's worked out really, really well.

Amanda Berlin: 20:27

Thank you. And that was really one of my biggest motivators was I just felt like a shell of a person. I remembered, actually a friend of mine who I met through my coaching certification, we became very close and she was a little bit older than me, maybe 10 or 15 years older than me and maybe even more than that. So she had lived some more life than I had. And she told, I remember  early on when I first met her, something she said stuck in my head that she had just come back to New York where she was from  living in upstate New York, which is vastly different,  it may as well be a different state.  She had gotten divorced and she came back to New York City and she said, Amanda, I was a shell of a woman. I didn't even recognise myself when she left her marriage.

Amanda Berlin: 21:24
And I was seeing that there was a reason why that stuck in my head when she said it to me. I did that coach training in 2011 maybe, and in 2014 was when I was   recognising that I needed to leave my relationship. So there was a reason why that stuck in my head and I realised that I just wasn't showing up as the person that I wanted to be in life, and that now I had this daughter who I needed to, I believe that I needed to make whatever change I needed to make in order to show up as the person that I wanted to her to know  

Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 22:08

I love it. Yeah, that's really powerful and I'm so grateful to you for sharing.  It is, it's quite personal, but you're just doing it in a way that is really inspiring for other   people in similar situations. And we know that separation is really common,  like 51% of relationships and in Australia and in divorce and separation, but it's not often talked about. And I just love that you bring such positivity to it. So I really appreciate you doing that. Thanks so much, Amanda.

Amanda Berlin: 22:37

Thank you.

Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 22:39

I just wondered, now moving on, you talked a little bit about the transition between homes and we talked about parenting inconsistencies around YouTube or at one house, but maybe not at the other. Can you tell me what your current greatest parenting challenge is at the moment?

Amanda Berlin: 22:55

So my greatest parenting challenge at the moment I would say is, so this is something that's actually relevant  right now today in the last two days, but I've noticed it as a  bit of a trend or characteristic. And so I found these drawing tutorials on YouTube for kids, and it's a dad and a daughter. The daughter is seven, and  I don't know how old the videos are, but in the video she's seven and they sit side by side and with a white piece of paper and a sharpie marker. And he guides her in doing these simple drawings and they both create their drawings and they  re teaching the kids to draw along the way. And so we  did one yesterday and it was a long day. My daughter had school and then she had gymnastics, and then we were eating dinner and doing this drawing thing, and she just melted down like hardcore because her drawing didn't look like theirs.

Amanda Berlin: 24:07
And she's five, she doesn't have the dexterity. I know that not to expect her drawing to look like this, 35 year old dad's drawing professional artist,  but she melted down and she just was inconsolable and  just didn't wanna do it anymore. And then I tried to explain to her that, and they say in the video, everyone's drawing is gonna look different, that it's not better or worse, it's just different and everyone has different abilities.  And I added to that explanation that this is the first time that she was trying it and the only way to get better is to keep trying it. But she just was inconsolable. And then today  the same thing, she wanted to try it again. And the same thing happened today, I guess I tried to be as patient as possible both times, but I don't have a high threshold for a quitting attitude.

Amanda Berlin: 25:18
So I needed to measure my response and be encouraging while also trying to instil in her this,  we don't give up kind of  mantra, but I've noticed it in the past. So back during the summer, we were playing outside with a friend and we did this kind of  run to that corner, then run back and then run over and touch the bucket and then run back. And we set up this little obstacle course for them, and it was getting to be time to leave, so it was gonna be the last time that we did it, and she just wouldn't do it  again,  inconsolable kept saying  she didn't do it right the last time, so she wasn't gonna do it again. And I would try to tell her,  Well, this is the last chance and she just wouldn't do it. So  I find it A, challenging to find my own patience in these moments because of the melting down and the quitting and B, encourage her to try even though it may not be perfect, and  how to even explain that that would be the seed,  how to I'm, I am a communicator in my job, but I find it so challenging in my personal relationships and in my relationship with my daughter to find the right words.  

Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 26:47

That's a good question. I think  often it's not so much the words, but it's also in the modeling of the behaviour. So the two feelings that I get when you tell that story are frustration and how to help your five year old cope with frustration when things don't pan out as she wished. And also there's that element of frustration coming through in   that she's making a lot of noise and she's not trying, and it kind of pushes your buttons in that you feel like she's quitting. So it feels like you're both  feeling frustrated at that point. So I would try not to use too many words just to slow everything down and show her how you cope with frustration.  It might be that you just walk away, take some deep breaths, have a laugh at that. It's so hard, isn't it? It's so hard. I know.

Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 27:36
It is so hard just to give her the words because when she's making all that noise and melting down, if she could just say, mum, it's just so hard. That would be a massive breakthrough because she's using words rather than her body to express that same frustration.  There are certain,  I  like to use visual resources in the clinic when I work. So instead of trying to explain to them what frustration might feel like using pictures, so there's a resource that Quirky Kid has produced called Face It, and it's 35 different feelings faces that. you can use, It's  a poster as well as some beer coasters, thick kind of cardboard cards. And you can use it as a game where you match up the faces and put them on the poster. And as you put it down, say that's why I felt yesterday when I couldn't untie that knot.

Dr Kimberley O'Brien:28:24
That was so frustrating. So giving examples while you're putting down the cards, or you could just use it as a point chart and stick it on the fridge. And at a time when she's not melting down and she's happy first thing in the morning, you could be saying, Do you remember yesterday when we played that game at your auntie's house and touching the bucket? Oh, I felt like this at the beginning, and then I felt like this at the end. How did you feel? And hopefully she'll point to how she felt and go, okay, so she's kind of  tuning into that feeling rather than closing down and saying, I don't wanna talk about it. It's like you share how you feel, she shares how she feels, and then eventually try and get some words to match that face. And also you could draw it out. So if you wanted to  do  little boxes  before, during, and after, you could, if she's open to it, come back to it and say, This is how I felt before we were playing, There's the bucket. And then this is how I felt after when we went home and we were calm. How did you feel in the middle? What was going on there? If she can't put it into words, let's work out how we can take that piece out of the puzzle so we can do the fun times with the bucket game at the start and then going home feeling good, and then work out how do we take that piece out of the middle? because it wasn't a great piece. We could walk away, take a deep breath, use our words, and then you could even role play it for next time. So if I feel frustrated like that, I'm just gonna say something, just give me a minute or I'll just put the time out, kind of sign up using a nonverbal just to say, Let's just pause here for a sec, and then we'll skip that bit and go into the good part that comes afterwards.

Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 30:11

That's amazing. That's fascinating. That sounds really useful. I'm glad that this is recorded so I can listen back. I did take some notes. I think it's very,  yeah,  so as I was describing the scenario, I was actually wondering to myself,  Is this significant enough?  Is I really want to use my time with you as best as I can Kimberley, But it actually feels really important because  I know for myself, I struggled with frustration because I  would cry, cry as a child, and I never could pinpoint why I was crying. And certainly I didn't realise that I was crying out of frustration until I was much older and I was always told just to stop crying. And so being able to  identify the emotion I think is something that I need to learn. I needed to learn and need to learn how to teach my daughter  

Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 31:13

I love it. I might call this episode something like struggling with frustration because I think it's so common for parents and kids to feel the same way. And sometimes it's just, it might feel like anger, but it's not anger. It's triggered by usually that  need for support. I just need some help right now. Where's the help when I need it? So being able to express that before it starts to escalate to frustration. And then when you become nonverbal and emotional, then you can't really ask for help. So if you can recognise it early, get what you need, and then come down from that feeling,  Yeah, everyone feels more in control and that's usually where it feels safest when we're in control of our emotions.  

Amanda Berlin: 31:59

I love that. Right. I love that. Very helpful.

Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 32:02

I love talking to you, Amanda. I feel like  this is just kind of the crux of the  Impressive podcast, talking to really accomplished individuals that are doing so well in so many areas who are also selflessly able to ask questions about how they can   tweak these little parenting issues. Because I think sometimes talking to a psychologist is something parents like, Wait  too long to do. They might get to a crisis point and then it takes longer to fix. So these little things are  what I love to brainstorm. So thank you for asking.

Amanda Berlin: 32:35

Oh, absolutely. This is gold. I so appreciate your insight, and I know this is gonna help me on many levels because I do fear that my impatience has a negative effect on my relationship with my daughter. And being able to go to some of these tools I think will help us both just move more easily through these challenging moments.

Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 33:00

Love it, love it. So just lastly before we wrap up, I wondered how you would like things to be. So if you had a magic wand and you could just make things as  good as they can be with your five year old, how would it look on a daily and a weekly basis?  

Amanda Berlin: 33:19

On a daily and a weekly basis? I see us as friends. I see us as compadres, as two people who have adventures together and do fun things together and have great conversations. But I also see us with that healthy separation between friend and parent. I want to instil in her values that were instilled in me, like work ethic and integrity, and even things that I think I adopted later in life, like self love and self care and giving yourself what you need and so I hope that I can be a great teacher as well as someone who allows her to be who she is.  

Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 34:23

Sounds amazing. I really can't wait to meet your daughter at some point in the future.

Amanda Berlin: 34:29

Oh, I would love that.

Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 34:32

Thank you so much for joining us this week on Impressive. And thanks so much again to Amanda Berlin for being such a gracious guest. If you'd like to be part of the conversation, you're welcome to join us in the Facebook group if you search up Impressive podcast and let us know what you thought of this week's episode. Otherwise, you can also click subscribe and you'll find out about new episodes as they drop usually on a Monday in Australia. It's been a pleasure talking to you again this week. I'm your host, Doctor Kim O'Brien, and this was impressive.

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