Menaca Joji: Not spending time with your loved ones, particularly your children, is detrimental not only to them but for you too”

As a working parent, you are always juggling many balls and time is a luxury. I believe not spending time with your loved ones, particularly your children, is detrimental not only to them but for you too. I’m not an expert in this field but I am a working mother. Psychologists and research suggest it […]

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As a working parent, you are always juggling many balls and time is a luxury. I believe not spending time with your loved ones, particularly your children, is detrimental not only to them but for you too. I’m not an expert in this field but I am a working mother. Psychologists and research suggest it creates a void in children psychologically and emotionally affects their self-confidence and self-worth. It can also affect their relationships with themselves and others in the future.

As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Menaca Joji.Menaca is an entrepreneur, international award winner, public speaker, author, business and resilience coach. Menaca successfully sold her Dental practice after 23 years in the industry and decided to move into the world of coaching, putting her personal and professional experiences into practice. Menaca overcame adversity after walking through the jungle barefoot during the Sri Lankan Civil War. With a degree in NLP, hypnotherapy and coaching, Menaca is helping others to take control of their lives and turn their dreams into reality. Menaca’s mission is to empower women globally for them to fulfil their potential, regardless of age, education, ethnicity, life experience or background. Menaca helps others to discover their passion and overcome challenges so that they can live more fulfilling lives. Menaca is in the final stages of publishing her book which will reveal her personal story emerging from her experience of the Civil War to where she is today: a mother, dentist, business owner, entrepreneur, mentor, coach, public speaker, empowerment crusader and resilience leader.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?

I come from a loving family, which I consider to be a blessing. I grew up in the brutal Sri Lankan War and I witnessed loss, suffering and death regularly whilst living in a war zone. Strangely this had made me realise how precious life is and how interconnected our lives are in this universe. I learnt the gift of loving and sharing under these punishing circumstances and how we can enhance someone’s experience regardless of how little you have or who you are.

After experiencing and witnessing the atrocities that were occurring, I knew I needed to leave. I successfully established myself in a new country and moved to India to complete my university studies. After qualifying as a dentist, I moved to the UK and set up my own practice. I successfully increased the customer base by five times; however, this wasn’t enough. I decided to use my expertise to educate others. I chose to pay it forward by teaching other healthcare business owners how to grow their practices.

After suffering my own personal challenge, I decided there was more to life. In 2018, I successfully sold my practice and chose to continue my role as an educator and expand the reach of my help. I have begun to coach, mentor and empower women through their own personal and professional barriers that are holding them back.

Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?

I was involved with women empowerment in my teen years, influenced by my mother and a teacher. As I grew up and became a professional, I got sidetracked by my profession and family. A few years earlier, after a short break due to health reasons, a conversation with a friend made me look at my life at a deeper level. I started thinking about what makes me truly fulfilled and what is my real purpose. I rekindled my writing habit and wanted to delve into coaching, mentoring and working with women. I became passionate about advocating for women and preventing burnout, of which I suffered. I wanted to work with entrepreneurs and organisations to help others overcome adversities preventing stress-related illnesses. I created an ecosystem to empower women to design their destiny regardless of their background where we can encourage, support and inspire each other as a community.

Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?

Although I have relatively a simple life now, I used to be the woman who was trying to be everything and everywhere to everyone, which was a recipe for disaster. I was never ‘good enough’ and let what others around me say and do affect me profoundly. I now make sure to have time for self-care and self-development. I stick to my to-do list with a vengeance and prioritise all my tasks in different categories as they arise, which I find immensely useful. Moreover, I found accepting myself for whom I am with my strengths and flaws competing only with myself continuously trying to become my better version of yesterday very refreshing. I make time for family and friends and ensure to have fun and find happiness in simple silly things in life. I now forgive easily, laugh often and love unconditionally.

Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. This is probably intuitive to many, but it would be beneficial to spell it out. Based on your experience or research, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be detrimental to their development?

As a working parent, you are always juggling many balls and time is a luxury. I believe not spending time with your loved ones, particularly your children, is detrimental not only to them but for you too. I’m not an expert in this field but I am a working mother. Psychologists and research suggest it creates a void in children psychologically and emotionally affects their self-confidence and self-worth. It can also affect their relationships with themselves and others in the future.

On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is so important to make time to spend with your children?

Research suggests there is a more profound benefit to spending quality one on one time with your children increasing their sense of security, self-confidence, resilience and self-worth, behaviour and even academic performance. There is evidence to suggest it even lowers stress hormones and have a feel-good factor on their mental health.

According to this study cited in the Washington Post, the quality of time spent with children is more important than the quantity of time. Can you give a 3–5 stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?

It is about the energy, attention and quality of time you spend rather than the quantity of time you spend with someone. Be present fully, be attentive, involve wholeheartedly, listen actively and mold into the child’s world for that time.

When my daughter was quite young, I used to come home an hour before her bedtime as I was working quite far away. When I got back, the first thing I used to do was to spend some quality time sharing what happened at nursery or school, listen to stories, helping her with homework and reading night time stories. We used to play board games, go to the park or watch a movie snuggled up. Although as a single mum I couldn’t spend much time with her as she grew up we would often go out for a cup of coffee, shopping or a meal out to have girly time.

I think the quality time I spent with her when she was young and the bond we created has helped us to sustain an open, close connection during the challenging teen years. I think the one thing I appreciate the most about our relationship is that we speak openly about many difficult topics and are willing to show our most intimate feelings and vulnerable sides to each other. Over the years, she is my strength, and hopefully, I have taught her the benefit of showing vulnerability and failures without fear and turning them into our strengths.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives to give our children more quality attention?

Self-care and self-love are essential as you cannot give what you don’t have. As the adage goes, you cannot pour from an empty cup. The mistake many of us do is not to incorporate time in our schedule for a self-care routine, which I have been guilty of in the past. Planning your day instead of leaving the day to lead you is the first step. Time management is a gift you give yourself to be able to create space and having fulfilling relationships. Prioritise your tasks and schedule them accordingly. Find your most productive time, which varies from one to another and complete your most important tasks which will get you closer to your goals at that time. Do one thing at a time. Multitasking has become the norm for modern-day women. I have only realised the importance of concentrating on one thing at one time later, but the benefits have been tremendous. Gratitude is the best attitude. Be grateful to everything and everyone you have in your life. The more grateful you are for everything you have, the more you attract. Remember, there are many people out there who would love to be in your shoes at any given moment. Always concentrate on the things which went well, the beautiful people you met and your small success stories before leaving home. It sets the day for you to have quality time.

How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?

In my opinion, there is no solid definition of a good parent; it’s a very transitional term depending on many factors. What defines you as a good parent might be unacceptable to another depending on your cultural, social backgrounds beliefs. I think a good parent is one that fundamentally provides a safe, supportive environment where a child feels loved, supported and encouraged to develop physically, emotionally and psychologically.

When I had a setback a few years ago, I openly discussed it with my daughter and it was amazing to see how her way of thinking was uplifting and gave me the confidence that I had done something right. The reason for sharing is for our children to know it is reasonable to fall or fail sometimes. They need to know that we are there, regardless of what happens, to support them; it encourages them to share their failures and difficulties with us, providing us an opportunity to support and encourage them.

How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?

I’m a firm believer of “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” I continuously tell her inspiring people, motivating stories I hear from others, how you can help others and how one can impact the world, however you want, regardless of who you are. The only limit to what we can be, do and become is ourselves.

There are many instances where we share stories and talk about the life examples around us. We talk about the barriers people have at school, amongst friends and family. When someone we know has had a setback, we discuss how they have managed to overcome that. When I started writing my book, I explained how I had to overcome my linguistic barrier, not studying in English during my school until I went to university. It was a self-limiting belief I had overcome to reach my goal.

How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?

Success is many things to many people; for some, it is the bank balance, career or freedom of time. For me, success is being able to lead a fulfilling life, doing what you are passionate about, being with people whom you love and having the freedom to choose and being able to make a difference.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?

‘How to talk so Kids will Listen’ collection, ‘Calm Parents and happy kids’ and ‘Positive parenting.’ I find the best resource is speaking to other parents, having open conversations and learning from each other. It makes you feel you are not alone and it’s normal to have challenges along the way.

Can you please give us your favourite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”- Mahatma Gandhi.

When you alter your thoughts and change your beliefs, how you feel and the actions you take alter. As your actions become your habits, your inner world shifts and you start viewing the world through the same lenses. What we see and how we experience the world is through our tinted glasses. The only person you can change is yourself. You can change your thoughts, attitude, behaviour and your reality. You are in control of how you think, feel and react to things around you can although you are not in charge of people and events around you.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I want to create a society with a positive mindset and cultivate a more robust, resilient generation equipped with the toolkits for tomorrow’s world.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Email: [email protected]



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Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

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