Today, like any other day, is buzzing with activity in Nicole and John Pierotti’s home, just like many other busy working parents who have a schedule that is unrelenting.
The difference between Nicole and the average mother is that she is a parenting expert. Nicole is one of Townsville’s finest psychologists, starting out in a private practice 19 years ago in her home town of Ayr. The majority of clientele were locals who needed help with everything from depression, anxiety, eating disorders, grief, children, adults, substance abuse and family relationships. These early years were the underpinning foundations of what Nicole now calls her ‘building block years’.
“Working in this trusted role in a close-knitted community required me to be multi-skilled and think very differently about how I could contribute not only to my clients’ health, but also extend this to the well-being of the community”, Nicole tells.
It was when Nicole and John were expecting their first child that they realized that there was limited information on foundational skills development for parents who are either planning or expecting a baby. Nicole recalls, “Most of the psychology, paediatrics and general information books I was researching and reading were written for parents on how to correct behavioural issues in their children, rather than to learn the skills to manage and prevent the difficult behaviour.”
So, it was with her own experience as a mother that later triggered Nicole’s entrepreneurial venture BabySmiles with the concept of ‘Happy Baby = Happy You’. As Nicole advanced her training and knowledge on child psychology, she wrote an initial workshop on How to have a baby that is happy and sleeps well for expectant parents. “I designed this workshop to start parents on the right track, give them tried and tested principles that actually work.”
Nicole started out in maternity classes doing a promo of her workshops when parents attended, and Nicole said “their feedback was amazing and it encouraged me to dig deeper into designing easy, practical behavioural educational information for expectant or new parents.”
Nicole then started researching business and marketing information, learning about how to identify a target audience. “It was obvious that I needed to focus on pregnant women”, Nicole tells. So she decided to approach a well-known and respected local obstetrician. “After several knockbacks from the gatekeeper (reception staff) I didn’t give up and just kept phoning back. On about the fourth call he finally accepted to see me briefly one lunch time,” and as every success story goes, persistence paid off, and at the end of the half hour, Nicole had negotiated to move to a spare office at the clinic. “That’s how much he believed in what I was doing, and again, I was encouraged to keep my focus on educating parents on preventative behaviour techniques.”
For the next few years while operating a private practice, (and having three children) Nicole struggled and juggled to find balance. She continued to expand the workshops she offered parents. “I added a Crawler to 6 Month workshop, a 12 Month to Toddler, and Two Year Old workshop, but often attending a workshop wasn’t enough.” As a result of this demand for extra support Nicole continued to see parents for consultations whenever they needed a bit of help or advice to do with kids and behaviour or parenting challenges.
“Parenting (just like business) is downright challenging and not only did I offer an extra service to willing parents who wanted to learn, but my business also thrived on value-adding”.
In 2010, a new round of goals were set and Nicole started to video her workshops. “The DVD added services for parents that weren’t able to attend the workshops.” Again Nicole was committed to ensuring that her popular workshops could reach all parents. “The DVD’s also allowed me to expand globally.”
Both John and Nicole discussed business expansion ideas and decided having a practice and managing staff was not the structure for BabySmiles. “So we decided to branch into information products”. Along with the DVD came Nicole’s idea for writing a book. However between the DVD, being a busy mother, a wife and running a practice that offers workshops on weekends, the idea just wasn’t moving ahead.
Nicole is no stranger to writing. For the past three years she has been a popular columnist for the Townsville Bulletin’s About a Baby weekly section answering parents’ questions, as well as writing a monthly article for Duo Magazine on current family topics.
Nicole knew she desperately needed to devise a plan if she was ever going to find time to write, publish and market a book. “I tried for years, then 12 months ago, I walked… yes, just walked, no appointment or anything, into the office of a business coach. I introduced myself, signed up for a initial coaching session and I must say that this was the push I needed.
“My coach wouldn’t let the excuses ride, and suggested ways that I could find that extra bit of time to not only write, but also helped me to ‘think’ and work like a published author.
“It was important for me to understand that this was not all about me writing a book and selling it, it was about turning the idea into action and seeing how far I could take it.”
In March this year (within 10 months of meeting her business coach), Nicole released her first book and DVD pack, titled BabyCare - Caring for your baby Birth to 6 Months. The book and DVD is about understanding the importance of having the right quantities of sleep and food. “If you can get that right it can make the difference between enjoying being a parent or not.” She says it’s important to set behaviour patterns from the start, rather than unwittingly falling into a trap and having to undo the damage later, which is a lot harder. Especially when it comes to bedtime.
“We’re also excited about the eBook version which has just been accepted and within weeks will be available internationally on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and numerous other sites”, Nicole proudly announces. The last six months she has created a totally new website www.babysmiles.com.au which has taken an enormous amount of work and it still ongoing, once again her business coach recommended just the right people for this project.
With her first book now completed, Nicole is turning her focus to the next two books in the BabyCare series, and aims to write another series of books for parents to follow them through from 2 years old and onwards.
There’s a common theme to Nicole’s story. Becoming a parent is similar to owning and operating a business. You can’t just rely on instinct alone – both take passion, determination, training and the right mix of mentoring and support to make a success story, like BabySmiles.
Baby Care tips for working parents
- Minimise the amount of out-of-school care you use. If you use before-school care, try not to use after-school care.
- Establish family routines and traditions. It could be a weekly family night or Sunday morning brunch.
- Limit kids’ activities. Just say no to over-scheduling. Limit your kids to two or three after-school activities a week. The other days should be time spent with mum or dad, whether it’s kicking the ball around the backyard or playing cards.
- Commit to spending one hour with your children, at least once or twice a week.
- The best way to help your child excel in school while spending time with them is to help them with their homework.
- Stop working on the weekend and go somewhere with limited phone coverage for a night or two.
Published in Zoom Magazine 3rd July 2012