It's a cold and overcast day as Alba Gomez strolls along the South Perth foreshore – but she's warm, bright and dressed for better days.
"First impressions always count," the image consultant and personal brand coach says as she sits down for coffee at the Boatshed Restaurant.
"But I dont believe in looking good only. The thing that I've always loved is how people can use their image to empower themselves, and I want to help women feel beautiful from the inside out."
"In Australia there’s this wonder woman complex where women are so independent and think they have to manage everything on their own, which leaves no time for themselves."
Alba Gomez coaches working mums in Perth.
Hailing originally from Colombia, Ms Gomez moved to Australia for love, marrying a Perth man and settling in a city where she quickly found she was a stranger in a strange land.
"I was not even close to being proficient in English, and I went from being an independent and successful woman with an engineering background to going to business school with students that were eighteen and nineteen year olds," she said.
"Even though it was lovely, I felt like I came from Saturn to the planet Earth."
With that marriage eventually ending, Ms Gomez decided to switch her career from engineering to helping others, combining her life experience and professional acumen to help clients master their business and personal lives.
But though she'll help anyone who asks, she has found at least 98 per cent of her clients are busy mums – and they tend to suffer from what she calls "Working Mother's Syndrome."
“They’ve essentially got it all, but they have lost their identity in the process and they’re left feeling empty,” she said.
“They’re so busy looking after children, planning family activities, cooking, cleaning and furthering their career that they’ve forgotten about themselves and what makes them happy.”
Work and life out of balance
The Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded that "since the 1996 Census, the proportion of mothers who are active in the workforce has increased from 46.1 per cent to 53.4 per cent."
And mothers are increasingly becoming employers or self-employed, rising from 3.9 per cent to 6.7 per cent in the last 20 years.
But while it's clear that mothers tacking on the demands of children and work is on the rise, Ms Gomez said it can sometimes come at a personal price.
"You get out of touch with that part of you that used to be so focussed and directed, because of course you are giving something special to someone else that takes all of your mind and your heart and your soul, so you start disconnecting from yourself, losing confidence in your abilities."
“You are a woman first. Take care of her,” says Alba Gomez.
The main thrust of Ms Gomez's advice for reigniting any lost sparks is simple – rediscover yourself and embrace the things you love that define your happiness.
"It's important that you remember before you were a mother you were a woman, a capable, intelligent, strong person – and there is a place that you can be both brilliantly."
Put your oxygen mask on first
While she doesn't have children herself, Ms Gomez sees the struggles her clients – most of them working mums – go through every day trying to keep everything together.
Now happily married and busy with her business, Ms Gomez said the key to success was to be "a little bit selfish," but in her experience, working mums in Australia could be very reluctant to take even a moment for themselves.
"You need as a woman, who is a mum as well, to take care of your desires, your intellectual needs, your physical needs, and then you can go and be a better mum," she said.
"Mums tend to just give it all to their family and friends and society, we women are great at that, we feel guilty at buying things for ourselves or going to the spa. And then you have a baby and you want to give even more, but it can very quickly become unbalanced and unhealthy.
"Always remember, you are a woman first. Take care of her."
Ms Gomez’s advice to break free from Working Mother’s Syndrome:
- Make time; Make the decision that it’s time to start thinking about yourself, get clarity about what used to make you happy, if it was dancing make a date to do it.
- Morning rituals; Start the day with a 10-minute ritual that’s just for you, whether it’s meditating, writing in a journal or even going for a walk.
- Pay attention to your appearance; Think about your outfits and how you’re presenting yourself, plan what you’re wearing the night before and pick with purpose, clothes have their own energy so it’s important you embrace that to properly represent yourself.
- Body language; learn how to use body language to communicate more confidently
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