Released On 05 July 2022
Meet the Expert: Rachel Vecht
In the latest interview with our fantastic expert panel, we talk to Rachel Vecht, the founder and CEO of Educating Matters about her background as a teacher and how that influences her business, the big issues she helps families and schools with and how she looks after her own wellbeing.
WLC: Rachel, please tell us about your background and how you built your expertise in parenting, diversity & inclusion and work life balance.
RV: I started out my career as a primary school teacher working in both the state and independent sector and also trained and mentored student teachers. I soon realised, despite my very best efforts in the classroom, that parents are actually a child’s first and most important teacher. I also noticed that attitude and self-esteem were the most fundamental areas to focus on, to maximise learning in the classroom. I researched techniques to get the very best out of children and started to share them with the parents of my students.
So many parents were asking how I was teaching and motivating their children. Being a parent is probably the hardest job in the world with the least amount of training.
When my first child was born in 2001 I founded Educating Matters. I passionately believed that I could have a greater impact on family life by working directly with parents, as opposed to teaching children. I also wanted to find a way to work more flexibly than I could as a school teacher. Along the way, I had 4 children and constantly draw on my experiences raising them (now aged between 21 and 12). Each age and stage brings new joy and challenges. Even though I have spent nearly 30 years talking about parenting, that certainly does not make me a ‘perfect’ parent – there is simply no such thing.
Educating Matters provides guidance and support on all aspects of educating and raising children, along with successfully integrating work and family. Most of my days are now spent supporting working parents in a corporate setting. Either through webinars, workshops or 1:1 consultations.
This has given me the platform and privileged opportunity to share practical strategies with tens of thousands of parents globally, along with a deeper understanding of the different challenges that families face.
Over time, our offering expanded more broadly to provide talks on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion topics such as: carers, neurodiversity, LGBTQ+, allyship, mental health, wellbeing & personal development.
Outside the workplace, I deliver talks in schools, create online parenting courses and 1:1 consultations to parents globally. I also contribute a lot to podcasts, the national press and online blogs.
WLC: What aspect of your work do you enjoy the most?
RV: I absolutely love being in front of a large audience, sharing practical, tried and tested realistic strategies. It is a wonderful feeling to receive feedback from parents shortly after a session, confirming that the techniques I have shared really do work and are helping them to transform the environment at home and build their relationship and connection with their children.
Some parents get in touch 10 or in some cases even 15 years later, telling me they still remember what I shared and giving examples of the impact it made on their approach to raising their child.
My work gives me a tremendous sense of purpose and achievement. It has also provided me with the opportunity to meet people from all over the world with a vast range of backgrounds and experiences.
Around 80% of parenting is modelling, so if the parents I engage with are modelling how to raise children who feel heard and understood, hopefully their children will mirror that when it comes to raising their own. It can have a powerful ripple effect.
There are endless parenting courses, podcasts, blog posts and books. I love constantly learning and reading up on parenting, psychology and personal development. What I aim to do when I work with parents, is to take all the knowledge I have gleaned along with my experience, then summarise the most effective, powerful elements to share with others. There is an overwhelming amount of information available at our fingertips but very few people have the time to plough through it. I help parents / carers to access it in a very tangible, practical and memorable way.
WLC: What are the big issues and challenges that clients talk to you about at the moment?
RV: There is a great deal of concern about the state of children’s mental health, which has become more acute since living through a global pandemic.
Probably the most common question I am asked by parents with children of all ages, is “How do I get my child to listen to me?”
Having experienced a very extended period of ‘home-schooling’ , I am having less questions about topics like the challenges of homework and more around how to get children off their screens or ensure they use them safely and responsibly.
In the workplace, one of the topics I feel most passionate about and address very often with my corporate clients is around striving for greater gender equality.
Societal bias and norms still assume that women are the main caregivers and will want to work part-time and require more work-life balance than men.
I want to get to a stage where the role of a father is respected and acknowledged equally to that of a mother. Where initiatives and culture in organisations focus as much on fathers as mothers.
We also need to ensure that change happens in our own home, as well as the workplace, to challenge stereotypical gender roles and share the domestic division of labour.
WLC: If there was one piece of advice that you could give to someone who was struggling to balance work and home life, what would it be?
RV: The first thing I would suggest for any parent struggling to integrate work and family, would be to encourage them to establish their purpose and their why.
What is really important to your life that drives you forward?
Taking time to think and verbalise this will help you to feel more fully engaged and empowered in your work and life.
If you know that you are being true to yourself and your core values, you will feel more motivated to keep working no matter how difficult it gets.
Living by your values and goals should be the unstoppable force that allows you to understand the decisions you make and progress in both work and life. You can keep revisiting them, as they may change over time.
Articulating your values and aligning your time and energy to them will undoubtedly lead to greater satisfaction in all areas of your life.
WLC: How do you look after your own health and wellbeing?
RV: I always liken self-care to our finger prints. Every finger print is unique and every individual needs a unique recipe to enable them to function well.
Although I speak about setting boundaries and not sacrificing yourself on the ‘altar of parenthood’, as a mother of 4 and running my own business, along with being there for my wider family, friends and community, I don’t always get this part right!
The key ingredients for my own self-care and feeling sane, are sleep (although working to get this right at the moment as with age and hormonal changes, its not nearly as easy to sleep as it used to be) and exercise. Since Covid, I have been using the Peleton app for exercise, which is way better for me than going to classes at the gym, as I can do it at any time that suits me.
Extensive studies have shown that social interaction is the key ingredient for longevity in life. This was something I really missed during Covid. Spending time with good friends or even having a chat on the phone, really energises me and helps me step away from being a mum, wife or business owner.