What is at the base of your pyramid? Firm Financial Foundations built on you
Updated: Jul 10, 2021
You probably won’t know this about me, after all, you’re reading the blog of a family money coach. I went to Law School for my undergraduate degree. In my last year of my undergrad, I specialised in Comparative Constitutional Law – which is where we analyse and study the constitutional structures of different countries, to see what their legal system, their laws, rules and regulations, are based on.
I loved CCL. So much so that I decided to apply to do a postgraduate degree in it. When I applied for my postgrad I had to decide exactly what my thesis was going to be on, and I decided to focus on the Egyptian Constitutional Law system – because of its unique blend of religion and politics.
None of that is relevant to being a money coach, but the reason it’s made it into my blog post for this week is because I mentioned to a fellow financial coach (someone I consider to be a bit of a mentor), that I studied Egyptian Constitutional Law at university – and they said “you should make a blog post out of that!” And so, here we are.
So how exactly do you create an allegory for Egypt and financial coaching for new parents? Well, allow me to show you.
As you’ll know, a pyramid is made, as all pyramids are, by having the biggest “section”, the sturdiest foundation, at the base. As the height of the pyramid increases, the sections reduce in size, until the top of the pyramid is a small triangle with a narrow point. Now I want you to imagine your brain as a pyramid. Yes, that’s right, your brain. I want you to imagine your mind, the place where you think all your thoughts, hold all your to-do lists and your internal monologues, as a pyramid.
The thoughts that consume the majority of your brain-space are the base, the foundation of your pyramid. Each set of thoughts that you have about something else that take up less “time and space” in your mind become another individual layer as we build our pyramid, getting smaller in size until we reach the pinnacle point, with that pinnacle thought being the one that we barely give any attention to – after all, we are thinking about so many other things before we reach that layer.
To accompany this particular blog, I have built us a pyramid. You can see a picture of below – it looks lovely doesn’t it? A few differently coloured layers, neat, symmetrical and pleasing to the eye. What we don’t yet know is what each of these individual layers are made up “of”.
What are the thoughts that have created each layer? Well, to help us, I have provided another version of that very same pyramid. Now we can see writing in each layer. What does the writing mean?
The first section, the foundation, the sturdy base from which we build is: Baby. Why? Well, in this version of a pyramid, we are putting ourselves into the frame of mind of being a new parent – of just having had our baby. It’s likely as a new parent that the thought most consuming your mind, all the time is your child. You’ve just given birth to them, or your partner has, right?
It’s natural therefore that thoughts of them, what they need, how they’re feeding, sleeping, developing is at the very forefront of your mind 100% of the time. Heck, they’re at the forefront of your mind even when they aren’t brand new children, so it’s highly likely you know the feeling of being totally focused on your newborn that I’m talking about.
The next layer, slightly smaller, but still taking up a fair chunk of our brain’s “real estate” is: worry. That doesn’t sound great, does it? Although none of us like to admit it, we spend a lot of time as new parents worrying. We worry that we are not doing enough, that what we are doing isn’t right, we even worry that we are being judged for not doing parenting in the way that “everyone else” thinks we should. We worry so much about our performance as parents that worry can sometimes feel all-consuming, even to the extent that we worry we are worrying too much. Hopefully the next layer is a bit more cheerful…
I hate to burst your bubble, but there’s no rest for the wicked here. We arrive at the next layer, totally focused on our baby, consumed with worry about our parental performance, we might be hoping for a rest. But no. Unfortunately we hit upon the next most common thought as new parents (and new mums especially) – trying to look after everyone else. I had it as a new mum, I’m willing to bet you did too. Once you have the baby, everyone wants to come round to “see the baby”. Not “help cook a meal”, or “run the hoover round” or even “make their own cup of tea”. No sooner are you trying to deal with a new baby and all your anxieties and worries around being a parent, than you also find yourself playing “host/hostess” to an army of well-meaning, but poorly-timed, visitors.
Is there any space left in your mind to think about ANYTHING else? I’m guessing that the answer feels like no, because it certainly does in my head! If there is, then we still have to build the pinnacle of our pyramid – that narrow triangle that crowns the whole feat of engineering that is new parenting. And what’s in it?
Finally, it’s you. Time to think about yourself, you as a couple, self-care for the mind and the body. But wait. You’re exhausted, aren’t you? Your mind is completely boggled – addled by the foundational layers that we’ve talked about, how can you possibly have any time for self-care? Funnily enough, that’s the point.
As new parents we don’t have any time for self-care, any time to think about ourselves, what we want and need to look after our sanity and our health. And that, my friend, is a problem.
Have you ever tried building a pyramid using the narrowest point at the top as the base?
That would be stupid, wouldn’t it? It would fall straight over and crash into pieces.
Let me show you another picture.
Can you see how silly this pyramid looks? We both know that that won’t stay “up” on it’s own. It’s not wobbly, it’s downright structurally incompetent.
And yet, this pyramid is exactly what we all try to build as new parents. We focus on building a pyramid of thinking about baby, worrying about our parental performance and catering to the needs of others, with hardly any attention given to ourselves. Without that, we just aren’t the strong foundation that we need to be.
So what if there was another way? What if we could build a different pyramid of parenting, one that took us into account at the very foundation of it’s structure? Well maybe there is:
Well this looks a bit more like it! A structure that is based on caring for you and baby? A structure that recognises you as being as fundamental to the family unit as the baby that you just brought into your world? That’s a structure I can get behind.
While we’re at it, I can get behind each of these layers. Layers that focus on caring for your baby and on what you need to do that in a way that supports your parenting choices, whilst simultaneously easing the burden of needing to do everything else.
You might be looking at that pyramid and thinking “yep great, love it, thanks. But in reality, that’s never going to happen”. I can hear you saying it as you’re reading. My question is why not? What is actually stopping you, me, any of us, from building this exact pyramid in our minds? The answer is simple.
Pride. Fear. Embarrassment. No emotions that have ANY place in being a new parent. Having a child IS daunting. It IS overwhelming. It IS totally and utterly consuming. We all KNOW that. Everyone who has ever had a child KNOWS that. So by asking for the help that you need, when you need it; by saying “not yet” to visitors, or insisting that they come armed with a cake and can definitely locate the kettle on their own is NOT unreasonable. It is totally and completely EXPECTED. Anyone who disagrees probably hasn’t had a child, or if they have, it was long ago so they’ve forgotten the “new parent fog” that you’re living in.
You might have read of all of this and thought “I thought she was a family money coach? There’s no money coaching in here”. That’s true. There isn’t. But what there IS is family coaching, and I’m all about the “family” when I coach. The truth is, whilst the finances ARE important, whilst they are the bread and the butter of my job, a great financial plan for your future is nothing without also having the time and the mental space, to implement it.
I spend a lot of my time with clients who haven’t yet had their baby; planning out exactly what the finances will look like, what the income and bills split will be etc, etc. That’s great, I love doing it. Then my clients actually HAVE the baby. And for a while, all those financial plans go out of the window, because they aren’t the most important thing in my clients’ lives. So instead, I have sessions where I hear about their fears. Their worries. Their anxieties. Their need to just. Slow. Down. To be able to focus on their baby.
I don’t know who needs to read this blog post this week, but I do know that even though I’m a family money coach, I want you to take away one lesson. That your family isn’t built on your finances. Your family is built on YOU. And once YOU have the “brain-space”, once you have taken care of yourself, I’m here to help you with the finances. Here to help you collaborate as a couple to create the perfect financial structure that supports your pyramid – whatever you choose to put at the base.