“To be a great parent, make a game with your child out of your day-to-day tasks” With Dr. Ely Weinschneider & Itzel Hayward

As much as possible, I try to think of my day-to-day tasks as something my child and I can make a game out of and do together rather than as something that needs to get done before we can have fun together. It’s a minor shift that makes a major difference in the amount of […]

As much as possible, I try to think of my day-to-day tasks as something my child and I can make a game out of and do together rather than as something that needs to get done before we can have fun together. It’s a minor shift that makes a major difference in the amount of time we engage with each other.

As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Itzel Hayward. Itzel has been a love, dating, and relationship coach and mentor for nearly a decade. She specializes in helping women find the love they want and keep the love they have. After practicing law for 13 years, she left her career as a lawyer with a desire to increase the amount of love in the world. Since then, she’s helped hundreds of individuals live in love.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and share a story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?

Thanks for inviting me! I’m a love, dating, and relationship coach and mentor. I founded my coaching company, Attuned Living, in 2010. At the time, I’d been a practicing attorney for nearly 15 years, and I was excited to shift my focus from conflict to love. I’ve now been coaching individuals and couples for nearly 10 years and I’ve helped hundreds of clients increase the amount of love in their lives, from discovering their own beauty and strength to finding the love of a lifetime.

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

During the week, I spend my mornings and early afternoons working or co-working with other female entrepreneurs. I try to spend as much time as possible in the late afternoons and evenings with my family, although that’s also the time that I do things to help maintain our household — laundry, cooking, cleaning, things like that. I’ll also sometimes complete smaller work tasks late at night after everyone has gone to bed. I do occasionally work with clients in the evenings and on weekends, although I try not to do that more than one or two nights a week.

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 impact their development?

From birth, we’re all social creatures who need love and connection not only to survive but to thrive. In extreme cases, not spending time with a child can result in the kind of traumatic experience that leads to a variety of negative outcomes in adulthood at every level: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. As a love, dating, and relationship coach and mentor, so much of what I do includes helping people overcome the long-term effects of distant and painful parent/child relationships so that they can create close, intimate relationships as adults. From fears (such as the fear of getting hurt, of abandonment, or of intimacy) to harsh self-criticism and low self-worth to everything else, I’ve seen first-hand and understand how difficult the journey of healing from that can be.

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

Spending time with my child is my way of letting him know that he is loved and that his feelings and needs matter. I put so much importance on that because it’s key in strengthening his self-confidence and increasing his capacity for compassion, love, and empathy toward himself and others. Plus, we tend to get really silly and laugh a lot and that’s a lot of fun for both of us!

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 few examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?

I make it a priority to spend some time with my child every day where he takes the lead in the activities that we participate in together. He loves books so I spend a lot of time reading to him. Right now, he’s also into jigsaw puzzles, art, and imaginative play, so we spend a lot of time doing those things too.

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 you do to create more space in your life in order to give your children more quality attention?

Being an entrepreneur and owning my own business rather than working a traditional 9–5 job is one way that I’ve been able to create more space in my life.

That said, I love my work and it would be easy for me to spend 24/7 with my clients on their journeys to finding and keeping love. So, I’ve created firm boundaries for myself around work including phone and computer use.

I also use services designed to help me save time whenever I can. My newest discovery — and also one of my favorite services ever is PocketChefs. PocketChefs sends a professional cook to my home who does either the night’s cooking for my family or makes batch meals that we can freeze and eat all week (my personal favorite) so I can spend time I might otherwise spend cooking with my family.

I have a daily spiritual practice, which helps me better manage the demands of my day and to handle them with presence, playfulness, and joy.

As much as possible, I try to think of my day-to-day tasks as something my child and I can make a game out of and do together rather than as something that needs to get done before we can have fun together. It’s a minor shift that makes a major difference in the amount of time we engage with each other.

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

Children have such expansive and active imaginations! I’ve never felt like I’ve had to inspire my child to dream big. He just does it naturally. I feel like my job is to just keep any limiting beliefs that I might have to myself and instead encourage him and cheer him on as his dreams take flight.

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

I define success as being relaxed and at peace; knowing that my son feels happy and loved; having a close, playful, and loving connection with my partner; and seeing my clients happy and in love with the partners of their dreams.

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

Services that allow me to spend more time connecting with and loving on my family — things like PocketChefs and others — are key for me. Also, when it comes to being the best parent that I can be, working with a coach is invaluable. I can’t think of any more effective way to meet life goals than to work with someone who’s been where you are now and who knows first-hand how to get you to where you want to go.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lessons Quote”? Can you share how it is relevant to you in your life?

I love this quote by Helen Schucman:

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” At the last wedding I went to, the bride called me her “love shaman.”

And I was deeply moved. There’s nothing more meaningful or more important to me as a parent, a partner, a coach, a human being on this planet than to love and to guide others to love.

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