Blogs

Three years old

We're officially three years old today!

To celebrate, we're sharing a couple of stories from Story of Mum mamas about what Story of Mum has meant to them.

Story of Mum is three years old! Hear how the project has helped mums grow.

We are so proud of reaching three years with you all. And of those brave mamas who are sharing their stories here with us today. Thank you.

We'll also be sharing fabulous old posts, and giving away a DIY Mamas' Retreat Kit on twitter (share this post and cc @storyofmum on twitter to enter), and another one on facebook, so look out for the tweets and posts for more info...!

You can also enter to win one by commenting below and sharing your thoughts on Story of Mum... 

That's 3 fabulous chances to win today!

Last but not least, we're celebrating by sharing the picture of us where we look most pretty, (thanks Pat Kelman!)

pippa and penny best, story of mum - credit: Pat Kelman

“I discovered Story of Mum at a time when I was very low and feeling totally isolated. I suffered badly with PND (post natal depression) and had no support other than my husband.

I felt worthless as a woman, a wife and a mother. Connecting with other Mums online through creative activities and discussion helped me realise that I wasn't the only one struggling and feeling like I was failing.

This was the turning point for me as I was no longer alone but part of a friendly, supportive, loving online community. These wonderful ladies are now amongst my closest friends, several of whom I have had the great pleasure to meet.

I highly recommend every aspect of Story of Mum to women everywhere, to help you feel whole again.”

Kat Pearce

Story of Mum Exhibition, The Exchange

““When, in September 2013, I attended my first Story of Mum event - the Mums’ Make Date at The Exchange, Penzance - I had only recently relocated to Cornwall from the West Midlands.  My daughter had started at her first school in Penzance the previous week, and I knew no-one!  I was feeling quite isolated, and having had severe Postnatal Depression after my daughter’s birth, I knew it was not good for me to feel this disconnection.  The Story of Mum flyer had come home in my daughter’s schoolbag, and I promised myself I would summon up the courage to go along.  My goodness how glad I am that I did!    

At the end of that evening the feedback form asked how I was feeling about motherhood… my answer was clear - “Much better than before I came out”. 

That evening, just a brief but eye-opening couple of hours - was the start of a revitalizing journey for me.  Story of Mum, its honest and open approach to motherhood, and all its various madcap, thought-provoking, soul-searching, celebratory activities, has made such a difference in my life as a mum. 

It has helped me to feel “normal” - like I’m not the only one struggling with (whatever this week’s “issue” is) being a parent!  The shared stories - at the exhibition, on the website, on the twitter “Make Dates” - have reassured me, uplifted me, comforted me, inspired me, helped me to laugh at myself, and allowed me to cry – in empathy, in joy, and yes in sadness. 

At times Story of Mum has simply kept me sane!  It has given me more confidence in my abilities as a mum, and helped me to find a balance between being a mum - and being “me”.  I have even felt able (with lots of lovely guilt-free “permission” and encouragement from Story of Mum), to attend a Mamas’ Retreat… 6 months ago I couldn’t have imagined myself ever doing that.     

It has been wonderful to meet, spend precious time with, and share thoughts, ideas, angst, and laughter with such a diverse group of women, face-to-face, and online at the monthly “Mamas Make Dates”.  I have never before been amongst such a group of supportive, non-judgmental mums with not a clique in sight!  I have connected with lots of truly fabulous women, and made friends that I wouldn’t have done otherwise.  Not only has this benefitted me, but also my daughter because of the mums and children that she has connected with, and the happier person that I am.  Truly, Story of Mum is a warm, welcoming and nurturing community which I am immensely glad to feel part of."

Pippa Lilley

I'm a mum and a... 

And as for me? Well, Story of Mum has reconnected me to my creativity, and helped me to find a new identity when I felt lost. It has supported me to make sense of the challenging transition from career woman to mother, and to become passionate about giving invisible mothers a voice.

It has boosted my confidence, got me doing things that terrified me but which felt amazing, and reassured me with humour and honesty when I feel like I'm the only mum in the world who messes up. It has helped me to make time to look after myself, and to overcome bad mummy shame at my horrendously messy house.

Projects like Love Mum Body have helped me to dramatically change my relationship with my body. And I have loved the opportunity to spend time and grow a project with my own inspiring mother (especially when I got to do that in New York...!).

Most of all, Story of Mum has connected me to an amazing global tribe of mamas that support me in feeling like I can do anything I dream of.

I hope it does the same for you, and I am so grateful to all of YOU.

Thank you for joining us on this amazing journey these past three years.

 

Come join our next #somum Make Date on Wednesday 9 April from 8.30 - 10pm GMT (find world times here). We have some more fantastic prizes for you! Find out more here.

 

Thanks to Andra Alexander, Ian Kingsnorth Pat Kelman and Chris Webber for the photos above.

Special events at The Exchange

We've got some more great special events coming up for mums at The Exchange in Penzance this month as part of our travelling exhibition - find out more below.

To book to come along for some networking or retreating, contact miranda@digitalpeninsula.com. Places are limited and going fast, so jump in now!

PS everything is FREE because we love you. The forecast for cake is looking good too.

Find out more about our exhibition here.

flyer for events at the Exchange

Sharing our mama identities at BritMums Live

motherhood exhibitionI've just loaded up all the "I'm a mum and a..." photos I took at BritMums Live this weekend, and the gallery is looking amazing. Let the images scroll on by.

We are the same and we are different and we are all unique. 

It's powerful stuff - funny, thought-provoking, heart-breaking and inspiring, and I'm so grateful to all the mothers (and one brave widower) who have taken part so far.

The gallery will continue to grow day by day as "Story of Mum: Mums making an exhibition of ourselves" travels around England in real life, and the world online. Including a wonderful virtual tour - check out some of the posts so far here.

There are well over 200 contributions to "I'm a mum and a..." now and it's fascinating how some words are starting to come up more often than others...  

Us mums are often also dreamers, crafters, poets and artists, dancers, and there's a wonderful groundswell of writers.

There are nanas, daughters, friends, wives, and referees. 

There are some proud me's reclaiming their identities, and others on a journey to find themselves. 

We're addicted to chocolate, tired and crazy. And we're trying our best.

Visit the gallery here.

Read more about my experience of BritMums Live here.

You can add your own picture at any time by visiting the gallery and clicking on 'join in' (if it still says 'join us' you'll need to register with story of mum first - which doesn't take very long, and means you get to hang out with us some more which can only be a good thing...!)

mum and an ear wiggler   mum and a survivor    mum and bibs award winner    mum and education reformer

PS If you're visiting from BritMums Live! and want to find your own photo to see how absolutely beautiful you look (because, yes, you all did), you can scroll through the gallery or visit the BritMums page here that lists all of the pictures I took there.

PPS If you sign up for our newsletter you get a free book of mums' reward charts. You deserve them. Just saying...

Essential reading for new mamas!

This month's #somum Make Date was a bundle of joy! Mamas of all ages reminiscing about our new mama experiences and sharing our very best tips for new mamas - it's inspirational stuff!

New Mama #somum Make Date with Story of Mum - essential reading for new mamas!

You can read some of the #somum Make Date highlights in the storify below.

The New Arrival - Sarah and Amy BeesonBig thanks to our lovely co-hosts Amy and Sarah Beeson (co-writers of fabulous memoir, The New Arrival) and Catherine Redfern (creator of the New Mama Welcome Pack).

And of course THANK YOU to all the amazing inspiring funny honest brave brilliant mamas who joined in. There are already some fantastic New Mama Mantra's in the gallery - have a peek!

AND you can still enter to win an amazing New Mama Welcome Pack worth £89 (see below) if you share your own New Mama Mantra in the gallery this month (find all the rules at the bottom of this post).

It really is a wonderful thing to make - for yourself, and for new mamas who need the inspiration, so take a few well-deserved minutes to yourself and have a go...!

If you haven't already, you'll need to join Story of Mum to load up your photo, but that's quick - and we're brilliant!

Not only will you get to do something brilliant, you'll also be joining a FREE community to let go of Bad Mummy guilt, boost your confidence, take a gloss-free look at motherhood, and carve out vital time for YOU. And you'll get some free gold star Mamas' Reward Charts ;)

Our next #somum Make Date will be Wednesday 14 May, same time, same place.

Enjoy the storify below and see you there!

New Mama Welcome Pack

The New Mama Welcome Pack

I'm thrilled to be a part of this brilliant project as it's exactly what I wish I had had in those difficult early days of motherhood - support and inspriation from over 60 amazing women (including me!) to face the realities of motherhood, delivered over those first 3 challenging wonderful months.

If you know a new mama, do think about getting this amazing pack for her as a gift (and if you use this link, we get a contribution to support Story of Mum too. Thank you!)

 

Time for a #somum Make Date!

Join our next #somum Make Date on Weds 9 April from 8.30 - 10pm GMT to make New Mama Mantras (find world times here). Let's come together and share our hard-earnt new mama wisdom (and photos if you dare!) on twitter. And we have some fantastic prizes for you!

Join Story of Mum's #somum Make Date on twitter & win a New Mama Welcome Pack!

The lovely Catherine Redfern is giving us TWO copies of her amazing New Mama Welcome Pack (that includes US, along with 60 other fabulous contributors). You can win one tonight (just add #somum to your tweets during the Make Date to enter) and/or another one by sharing your own New Mama Mantra in our online gallery right here.

Win a copy of The New Arrival at the next #somum Make Date with @storyofmumPlus, the marvellous Amy Beeson (remember her My Mum Story film?) is giving us THREE copies of the memoir she has co-written with her own mother, Sarah Beeson: The New Arrival.

Both of these inspiring women will also be joining us to co-host the chat, so be ready to ask them anything you'd like to know about their new mama stories too.

Find all the competition rules below...

What will we be making?

This months' New Mama Mantra activity is all about looking back at those early mama moments and remembering how it felt... And then thinking of the words you wished you had heard (and believed) about yourself in those early days - what would you tell yourself now that you didn't know then? 

Find a photo of you from those early mama days, and add those words (you can see one of my attempts below - I used picmonkey below, but I also doodled one by hand (see it at the bottom of the post) and I love them both, so feel free to make it however you like!

Trust in you, mama: a New Mama Mantra for Story of Mum

So let's create some honest, inspiring, exhausted and beautiful New Mama Mantras to share with other mums - mamas who might need those words, right now...

PS if you don't win and you buy a fabulous New Mama Welcome Pack using this link, we get a contribution to support Story of Mum too. Thank you! :) 

What's a #somum Make Date?

Pop over here to find out more about what our #somum Make Dates are all about.

Basically you just need to pop on over to twitter at the right time, search for #somum to find us - and add #somum to your tweets so we can find you too. You don't have to make anything if you don't want to, just say hello!

We look forward to meeting you.

Want even more new mama inspiration...?

If this gets you in the mood for even more support and inspiration, check out the New Mama Welcome Pack Blog Hop that ran on 7 April, I'm still working my way through all the amazing inspiring posts.

You can find my post here, complete with new mama pictures, and a link to all the other fabulous posts at the bottom of that. 

Join Story of Mum's #somum Make Date to make New Mama Mantras

Other twitter competition rules

  • Duplicate accounts, automated entries, bulk entries or third party entries will be disqualified
  • Winners will be chosen at random from all those tweeting using #somum between 20.30 GMT and 22.00 GMT on 9 April 2014. 
  • The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • The competition will run from 20.30 GMT and 22.00 GMT on 9 April 2014 in Great Britain.
  • story of mum is compliant with the data protection act. While we will share the twitter names of winners (and their tweets) with great excitement, we will not pass on any other details to any third party without your prior consent.

Other rules for uploading your New Mama Mantra picture

  • Duplicate accounts, automated entries, bulk entries or third party entries will be disqualified
  • Winners will be chosen at random from all those uploading a picture of their New Mama Mantra that fits the briefdescribed here to this webpage between 00.01am GMT on 1 April 2014 and midnight GMT on 30 April 2014. Please note that you need to join the story of mum community in order to upload a picture or story.
  • The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • The competition will run from 00.01am GMT on 1 April 2014 and midnight GMT on 30 April 2014 in Great Britain.
  • Story of mum is compliant with the data protection act. While we will share links to the winner's submission, we will not pass on your details to any third party without your prior consent.
  • If you don't want to enter the draw, that's absolutely fine. You can still take part in either activity and load up a photo, just contact us to let us know you don't want to be entered in the competition.

Life after labour...

In the days before becoming a mother, I couldn’t see past LABOUR. How to do it, where to do it, when to do it… (My post for the New Mama Welcome Pack blog hop)

Pre-natal workshops, yoga classes, conversations - were all about the birth, not life after labour.

Life after labour. Story of Mum join the New Mama Welcome Pack blog hop

My first child was overdue, so I had 11 extra days to think about the ins and outs (mostly, the ‘outs’...) of birth. Which was lucky, because other than thinking about labour, I was working, as much as possible. Thank goodness my son knew I needed that extra time and slowed me up a bit.

Looking back, it surprises me that I spent such little time thinking about what life would be like after labour. Neither the physical effects nor the huge emotional impact of becoming a mother. I think I just assumed that something magical inside me would click and I would know what to do, and life after labour would simply fall perfectly into place.

Well, it didn’t.

The physical effects were a shock. No one had warned me about the leftover folds of tummy, the incessant bleeding, the pain of breastfeeding (cracked nipples, and a contracting clenching uterus), the possibility that my body could ‘fail’ to provide enough milk, and oh my goodness, the pain of going to the loo. (Actually, one very good friend did tell me about that, so I had the necessary Lactulose on hand, thank goodness…).

I quickly bonded with fellow new mamas by sharing our best tips on weeing in the bath (get out quickly afterwards for starters…), the benefits of airing nipples slathered thickly in Lanisoh, and the virtues of lavender, witch hazel and other delicious smelling concoctions to soothe our bits.  

Life after labour: Story of Mum joins the New Mama Welcome Pack blog hop

And when you’ve discussed your private parts in detail, you’re pretty much friends for life. Although I didn’t realise it then, it was actually a period of intense friendship-cementing….

But I didn’t see that, because I was struggling to make sense of how I felt, and who I was. The sleeplessness and sense of constant failure (set against the demeaning misconception that all should be easy...), left me feeling very very lost.

That much-anticipated labour had been long and difficult. After ‘failing’ to dilate at the appropriate speed, everything suddenly sped up on the bumpy ambulance ride to the busy hospital. I had been sick, and unable to eat or drink, leaving me completely dehydrated (the one advantage of this was that I couldn’t actually have the drugs I was at this point demanding... an 'earth mother' silver lining) And soon after they'd got me attached to a drip, the labour went a bit haywire. 

Luckily for me, and my son, everything turned out fine. But I do wonder if perhaps that particular experience of labour affected the release of oxytocin – the incredible drug your body creates to bond you with your child. Because although I remember feeling relief and surprise and amazement, I don’t remember the rush of love that people talk about. 

Life after labour: story of mum joins the New Mama Welcome Pack blog hop

I remember ripping open my nightgown to hold my child skin to skin, the most delicious cup of tea and dry toast I’ve ever had in my life, being unceremoniously stitched up, having a very messy bath, and looking down at my huge stomach, feeling embarrassed that people might not know I’d actually had my baby.

And most of all, I remember looking over at my tiny new son in his gigantic car seat as we drove back from the hospital and wondering “whose baby is that?”

There were beautiful gifts, and visitors, and much love -  especially from my husband and my mum (both of whom had been there at the birth), but also from the rest of my family. The midwives were wonderful. My stitches healed well. I was as supported as anyone could be.

And yet I still found these first few weeks, the first few months in fact, really difficult. Breastfeeding was a struggle, and my son fell off the dreaded weight chart. At first, I didn’t want to go out of the house, and I didn’t want any visitors. I didn't want to see anyone because I couldn't see myself.

Life after Labour: Story of Mum joins the New Mama Welcome Pack Blog Hop

The first time I went out, I carried my baby in the sling - partly because I was still trying to do the perfect mother thing, but also partly because I wanted to go back to that feeling of carrying a baby within the old me.

I struggled with the shift from competent worker, defined by my exciting career – to ‘failing’ mother, with no clue how to do anything. And worse, an inability to do all the earth-mother things I’d unthinkingly assumed would just come naturally.

I was hard on myself, and my body was hard on me.

Slowly, I adjusted.

It took a little while for the sense of fear and overwhelming responsibility to become love. But it did.

And I even started to work out what I was doing. To trust in my instincts.

It was a very difficult transition. But maybe that’s how it has to be. Motherhood is such a huge unfathomable miracle, such a gigantic physical and emotional transition, that you can’t prepare for it. You just have to do it.

I just wish I could have been kinder to myself.

I wish I had let the house be a mess, cared much less what visitors thought (because they were too busy delighting in this incredible new baby than judging me), worried less about generic weight statistics in a little red book, and avoided setting myself ridiculous perfectionist tasks like making home-made thank you cards.

I wish I had believed that it was truly OK to snatch any spare moments for sleep instead.

Most of all, I wish I had known what I know now – that I’m not perfect, but I am the perfect mother for my child, flaws and all.

Life after labour: Story of Mum joins the new Mama Welcome Pack

New mama mantra

This month's creative activity on Story of Mum is inspired by those early days, and how I feel about them now: New Mama Mantra. We would love you to join in and share your photo with us here:

When you look back at yourself in those early days, what are the words you would have liked to have heard? What can you tell yourself now? Share a photo from that time, and decorate it with those words, whatever way you like.

You can see two of my New Mama Mantra attempts above and below...

Join our FREE community to share yours - as well as let go of Bad Mummy guilt, boost your confidence, take a gloss-free look at motherhood, and carve out vital time for YOU. 

New Mama Mantra - Story of Mum joins the New Mama Welcome Pack blog hop

The New Mama Welcome Pack - blog hop

This post is part of a blog hop jumping around the world today to celebrate the launch of the wonderful New Mama Welcome Pack - another inspiration for our New Mama Mantra activity. 

I'm thrilled to be a part of this brilliant project as it’s exactly what I wish I had had in those early days – support and inspiration from over 60 amazing women (including me!) to face the realities of motherhood, delivered over those first 3 challenging wonderful months.

If you know a new mama, please do think about getting this amazing pack for her for a gift (and if you buy a pack using this link, we get a contribution to support Story of Mum too. Thank you!).

The New Mama Welcome Pack - win a pack!

You can win one of two fabulous New Mama Welcome Packs with us this month! Just join our next #somum Make Date on twitter on Wednesday 9 April from 8.30 - 10pm GMT (find world times here) or by upload your New Mama Mantra to our gallery. Find out more here.

The New Mama Welcome Pack - visit the rest of the blog hop

              

Being a first-time mama is an amazing experience. The New Mama Welcome Pack blog hop is a celebration of this life changing event!

Follow the links to discover more unmissable advice, stories and essential tips. And if you’re a new mama who wants to rock motherhood without guilt, overwhelm or losing yourself, check out the New Mama Welcome Pack here.

New Mama Welcome Pack / Lotte Lane / Dreaming Aloud / Birthing in Conscious Choice / Natalie Garay / Knecht Ruprecht / Lise Meijer / Naomi Goodlet / A Lifestyle By Design / Story of Mum / Like a Bird / Holistic Mama / Birth Geek / Joyful Parenting / Stroller Packing / My Healthy Beginning / Mums and More / Kate Beddow - Growing Spirits / Ellen Nightingale / Stacie Whitney / Maternity Leavers / Photography for Busy Parents / Close Enough To Kiss / Atelier Susana Tavares / Offbeat Family / Katie m. Berggren ~ Painting Motherhood / Winship Wellness Blog / Liberate From Weight / Jessica Cary / Raising Playful Tots / Peaceful Mothering / Play Activities / Lauren Nenna / The Adventure Mama / Be Wise Be Healthy / Doula in Your Pocket / Making Mom Strong / Adrienn Csoknyay / Joyful Parents / Simple Solutions for Photos / Lynne Newman / Mumpreneur Mentor / A Walk in the Clouds / Parenting on the Fence / MiaMily

What do you remember from those first days of motherhood?

What do you most remember about those first few days of becoming a mother?

I remember the most delicious cold cup of tea and toast that I've ever had in my life. Relief that labour was over. Large folds of post-baby tummy in a red bath. And then the confusion. The exhaustion, and the loss of identity.

What do you wish you could have believed about those early days of motherhood?

The love, yes. But also the self criticism and an often overwhelming sense of failure. 

I wish someone had been able to tell me then what a great mum I could and would become. 

Our activity this month is about looking back at those early mama moments and remembering how it felt...

And then thinking of the words you wished you had heard (and believed) about yourself in those early days - what would you tell yourself now that you didn't know then? 

Create an honest, inspiring, exhausted and beautiful New Mama Mantra to share with other mums who might need those words, right now.

Make together at our next #somum Make Date!

We'll be getting together to make our New Mama Mantras and share new mama wisdom at our next #somum Make Date on twitter on Weds 9 April  from 8.30 - 10pm GMT (find world times here). We have some fantastic prizes for you! 

The lovely Catherine Redfern is giving us TWO copies of her amazing New Mama Welcome Pack.

The pack is the perfect gift for a new mum - it's stuffed with hand-picked digital goodies designed to inspire and support.

Contributions are drawn from over 60 amazing women, and delivered over those first 3 challenging wonderful months of motherhood.

Exactly when a new mama most needs the love. 

(The pack also features Pippa, complete with unbrushed hair and teeth - to convincingly recreate those early days - and many current days If I'm completely honest...).

And a very special Mamas' Reward Chart, encouraging new mamas to celebrate all those little successes that can so easily get overshadowed by the bigger challenges.

PS if you buy a pack using this link, we get a contribution to support Story of Mum too. Thank you :) 

Plus, the marvellous Amy Beeson (remember her My Mum Story film?) is giving us THREE copies of the memoir she has co-written with her own mother, Sarah Beeson: The New Arrival.

The book tells the story of Sarah's experiences as a trainee nurse in Hackney in the 1970s, including lots of work on the infants' ward supporting new mamas... 

Find all the competition rules below.

Join in

Root out a photo, and take a good look at that new mother. What does she need to hear? 

Come play with us on twitter on Wednesday 9 April. We'll choose winners of the 3 books, and the first New Mama Welcome Pack at the end of the Make Date, selected randomly from everyone adding #somum to their tweets.

And if you miss out then, don't worry - there will be another chance to win a New Mama Welcome Pack - by loading your image up to the New Mama Mantra page in April. 

Even more new mama inspiration...

And for even more support and inspiration, check out the New Mama Welcome Pack Blog Hop - you can find my post here, and a link to all the other fabulous posts at the bottom of that. Read and feel better!

Other twitter competition rules

  • Duplicate accounts, automated entries, bulk entries or third party entries will be disqualified
  • Winners will be chosen at random from all those tweeting using #somum between 20.30 GMT and 22.00 GMT on 9 April 2014. 
  • The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • The competition will run from 20.30 GMT and 22.00 GMT on 9 April 2014 in Great Britain.
  • story of mum is compliant with the data protection act. While we will share the twitter names of winners (and their tweets) with great excitement, we will not pass on any other details to any third party without your prior consent.

Other rules for uploading your New Mama Mantra picture

  • Duplicate accounts, automated entries, bulk entries or third party entries will be disqualified
  • Winners will be chosen at random from all those uploading a picture of their New Mama Mantra that fits the brief described here to this webpage between 00.01am GMT on 1 April 2014 and midnight GMT on 30 April 2014. Please note that you need to join the story of mum community in order to upload a picture or story.
  • The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • The competition will run from 00.01am GMT on 1 April 2014 and midnight GMT on 30 April 2014 in Great Britain.
  • Story of mum is compliant with the data protection act. While we will share links to the winner's submission, we will not pass on your details to any third party without your prior consent.
  • If you don't want to enter the draw, that's absolutely fine. You can still take part in either activity and load up a photo, just contact us to let us know you don't want to be entered in the competition.

10 Original Feel-Good GIfts for Mamas

With Mothers' Day on the horizon (30 March in the UK!), we've gathered together some thoughtful alternatives to flowers and chocolates: show a mama how much she means to you any day of the year with this original feel-good treats for mums...

10 original feel-good gifts for mama via www.storyofmum.com

Here are ten original beautiful inspiring gifts  - gifts that can make a real difference to the mamas you love… 

In keeping with this month’s self-care theme, let’s also remember that the mamas you love should include YOU.

So if you fancy any of these goodies for yourself, we hereby give you permission to celebrate just how amazing you are too, and grab one! We're a little bit biased towards the two we're part of, but quite frankly, we want all of them...

Because Mothers’ Day is also a day to celebrate ourselves. Just like every day.

 

Six  gifts for a mama who needs a boost:

Acorn necklace from www.tigerlillyquinnshop.com

1. For that nurturing mama who made you who you are 

Remind your mother of where you came from, and just how much you appreciate that with this beautiful simple acorn necklace from TigerLilly Quinn. (£6.99 - it's in the sale!)

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn"Ralph Waldo Emerson

And remember the acorns you have sewn, amazing mama.


The Bodies of Mothers from www.abeautifulbodyproject.com

2. For the beautiful mama who can't see her own beauty

Jade Beall’s wonderful book of photographs and stories celebrating miraculous mama-bodies comes out very soon!

Together, let’s fill the world with beautiful images of real mama bodies instead of unrealistic photo-shopped versions.

($50 and you're also supporting inspiring mama-loving creative work...)

If you like this, you might also like Love Mum Body.

 

DIY Mamas' Retreat Kit from www.storyofmum.com3. For the busy mama who dreams of time for herself
(especially with her friends)…

A fabulous digital kit (made by us, excuse the self-promotion but it genuinely is ace!) packed with everything you need to host a life-changing mamas’ retreat for the mamas you care about - full of gorgeous printables, videos and inspiration.

Buy a kit for another mama far away, or buy one for yourself and send your mama friends invitations to your very own retreat. A very special gift to give and receive...

£27 (you can also find a sneaky discount code over at our Mama Self-Care Carnival...)


Damn You're a Good Mother T-shirt from www.twistedtwee.co.uk

4. For the mama who wears her heart on her chest...

Now who wouldn't want to look in the mirror and see this inspired T-shirt from Twisted Twee on a bad day?

I know I would (*nudges husband*)

In fact, I think this T-shirt would transform my whole experience of looking in the mirror, especially if I invested in a good bra too... (£20)


Affirmations for Mothers Who Want to Thrive from www.mumsandmore.co.uk

5. For the amazing mama who still doubts herself…

This little ebook: Affirmations for Mothers who want to THRIVE from Kirsten Hanlon is full of inspiring affirmations to remind mamas that they are more than enough.

Being a mother is hard, exhausting, and undervalued - most of all by ourselves. Reminding ourselves of our strengths has enormous power. I used affirmations to prepare for my labours, and I got through both drug-free - there's got to be something in that...! (£1.92)


New Mama Welcome Pack from http://newmamawelcome.com/

6. For the brand new mama trying to make sense of it all…

The New Mama Welcome Pack is a guilt busting, empowering, cheer-leading support package, offering love, inspiration, wisdom, encouragement and reassurance to get a new mama through the difficult newborn days.

Delivered over three months direct to their inbox, the New Mama Welcome Pack is bursting with supportive and uplifting digital goodies from over 60 contributors in 13 countries, all designed to help a new mama make the most of this precious and exhausting time. (£89)

This utterly original pack also features me, sharing the joys of our Mamas' Reward Charts...! 

These links to the pack if (I've done it right), are affiliate links, so if you buy one, we'll get a commission and you'll be supporting us too, thank you x


 four gifts for the mama with passion, but no time:

Recycled flowers from Colleen Attara http://www.colleenattara.com/shop/recycled-window-with-a-vase-of-flowers-eggplant/7. loves flowers, but no time for gardening?

The ever inspirational Colleen Attara has the perfect eco-solution for fuss-free flowers all year round.

So why not treat the mama you love to a stunning vase-load of recycled flowers that never need refreshing and are always blooming marvellous?

Brighten up another mama's day, every day. ($268)


darling dachshunds - Long Rock tote handbag from www.poppytreffry.co.uk8. Loves dogs, but no time to look after one?

Know a dog-adoring mama? Or a mama who's always dreamt of having a dog, but found that a household of kids is more than enough exercise...? 

How about giving her a bag-load of dachshunds from talented crafting mama Poppy Treffry?

What stylish mum could resist the urge to scamper after sticks with this bag hung over their shoulder… Not me! (£60)

Plus if you only have £5, you could try one of Poppy's gorgeous badges instead, as seen above (no dogs sadly, but bumble bees, donkeys, birds, boats, flowers and much much more...)

 

Personalised mama biscuits from http://nilaholden.wordpress.com/

9. Loves biscuits, but no time to eat them before the kids do?

There's no need to share these beautiful mama cookies made by lovely Nila Holden

 Admittedly, this is similar to the selfish/sensible practice of labelling your food in communal student cupboards, but it’s MOTHERS’ DAY so there’s no shame in saving the best for you… or, erherm, that other mother you're buying gifts for...  (£18)


Swimming Gala Duvet from www.sam-osborne.co.uk10. loves synchronised swimming, but no time to shave legs?

OK, we might be aiming at a relatively limited target group here (apart from the shaving thing...). And if she's a mama, it's quite likely that she dreams of sleep, if she dreams at all. But just in case she finally gets some rest, how about this stunning duvet cover from the very wonderful Sam Osborne(£101)

Or failing that, just take the kids and let the poor woman have some time in bed.

If this is a gift for you, hand the kids to a friend and go to bed.


got no cash?

If you can’t afford any of the options above, fear not, you can still gift something fabulous. Just head on over here for 5 fabulous frugal mothers day gifts you can make in just 20 minutes.

So... that should be Mothers' Day sorted then. You're welcome, mama! 

Have an amazing day. And remember that you deserve to be celebrated every single day of the year. 

For more inspiration to look after yourself, take a peek at some of the posts in our Mama Self-Care Blogging Carnival.


Self Care for the Single Mum

Lucy V Hay (aka @bang2write) shares some simple and invaluable self-care tips for single mums, teen mums - in fact any mums struggling to take care of ourselves as we meet the needs of our children. This fabulous guest post is part of our Mama Self-Care Blogging Carnival...

Lucy V Hay gives her self-care tips for teen mums, and shares Lizzie's Story

As any mum knows: it’s hard to take care of yourself when you’ve got kids. You spend so long thinking about others’ needs, you can end up forgetting not only your own needs, but who you are altogether. But what if you never knew who you were in the first place?

Many young people experiment with “trial and error” when they’re young to discover who they are, what they want, what they need. They may do this in a relationship, or single; with friends or alone; travelling, or in education, or in work (or all of the above). Responsibility-free, this may be an empowering time in their lives, or they may have problems of their own; again, for most people it is usually a combination.

So self care is especially hard as a Teen Mum, because there is no “trial and error” period before “real life” with responsibilities (like children) begins. Also, with society’s condemnation on you, it’s very easy to channel that yourself, even if you ARE trying as hard as you can.

Negative thoughts multiply: “It’s because I’m a Teen Mum = I am a bad Mum = my child is missing out. It’s scary how quickly this happens, too and one of the reasons I wanted to explore the realities of being a young, aspirational single mother in my novel, THE DECISION: LIZZIE’S STORY.

So here are my suggestions that don’t cost a penny, to help Teen Mums promote self care in their own lives:

1)    Banish the bad thoughts.

Children only need two things: stability and love. S/he only wants your TIME. My son, now 15, does not remember his clothes were second hand from the charity shop or that he never had the latest gadgets and games like his friends.

Instead he remembers how we went to the local park’s splash pool even when it was raining; or that we made collages together with old magazines that got chucked out of the local GP’s surgery; or he recalls inventing a game called Galactic Football which was a mad mix of tennis, football and dodgeball with an abandoned football we found in a bush.

So say to yourself: “My child is not missing out, because s/he HAS ME AND MY TIME.” Say it to yourself until you believe it – and keep saying it, so you don’t forget it.

2)    Get out of the house

With no money, your home can quickly feel like a prison, especially at weekends and during school holidays. But don’t be tempted to stay home, even if you don’t feel like going out. I made a point of taking my son to the park every single day; I even went alone if he was with his father.

At first, it felt pointless. But as I forced myself out of my pokey little flat, I started to notice my environment more: familiar faces & places, shops, sounds, smells. I even started to enjoy it. I had been hiding away, averting my eyes, trying to avoid those people who would stare at us … Not realising not ALL people like that! I started to see there was more good in the world and a weight of disappointment and hurt lifted from my shoulders.

3)    Be still

Lots of young single mums go to university and/or train for careers, but this means time-keeping, finances, planning AND childcare is one massive juggling act. Just watching your favourite programme on telly for half an hour can make you feel guilty (like all Mums, but especially if you’re a young, ‘cos you’re “supposed” to be working at digging yourself out of the “poverty trap” 24/7).

Protect these times of “stillness”; rushing constantly not only makes you weary, it is bad for your mental health. My son was a terrible sleeper and exceptionally loud in general (he still is!), so I would get up at 6am before he awoke, simply to sit in my kitchen with a coffee and look at the park behind my flat, while I gathered my thoughts for the day ahead. Being still is the best antidote to stress, ever – try it!

Lizzie's Story: The Decision by Lucy V Hay

4)    Communicate

Life can be very isolating as a Teen Mum, but I never had the time or inclination for toddler groups or similar. Before smart phones or social media, I used to put up handmade posters at university and on community noticeboards with my mobile number on: “Wanted: other young mums to talk to/meet.”

I got more than my fair share of weirdoes ringing and texting me, but I also made several good friends I still know to this day. Reaching out is easier than ever now, thanks to Facebook and Twitter. Communicate: you won’t regret it!

5)    Have fun!

Remember point 1? Put this at the heart of your interactions with your kids, then life won’t seem such a struggle, even if you have no money. Always endeavour to eliminate struggle, so even if you’re still skimping, it won’t be as stressful. A happy child has a happy mother, whatever your age. It really is as simple as that.

Concluding:

Lots of people believe Teen Mums “can’t” be good mums. Once upon a time, I was one of them. I was absolutely CERTAIN I must be doing this whole parenting thing “wrong” and that my son would have been better off if I had been even just five years older than I was when I gave birth to him.

But guess what: having had babies at 26 and 31 years of age too, I can tell you it’s ALWAYS hard, just for different reasons. But it’s also not rocket science. Be there for your kids: that’s all you can do – but do it well and you won’t go far wrong. But in order to do THAT … you have to look after yourself. Because without you, what is there?

Lucy V Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via Bang2write. To keep up with LIZZIE’S DIARY, “Like” the Facebook page.

Find more inspiring posts from mamas worldwide about Mama Self-Care in our blogging carnival this month, where we're celebrating the launch of our DIY Mamas' Retreat Kits - everything you need to host a Mamas' Retreat of your very own. As Lucy says, you have to look after yourself.


My own island

Self-care is something I’ve struggled with throughout my life. But never more so than as a mother, when I find carving out that little bit of time for me so much harder. Here's the story of how I started to make islands of time for myself, and a simple creative activity that can help you to start too...

What nurtures you? Inspiration for mama self-care from Story of Mum

Self care is a hard-won battle between that part of me that knows I deserve it, and that voice in my head that is always urging me on to the next thing – the washing, the cleaning, the working, the constant doing. That voice in my head that actually doesn’t believe I am worthy of looking after too. 

Yet my self-care is a precious little island of time for me. That I deserve. An island of time that I make to nurture me. To let go of all the worries and fears I hold for other people, and to be present in my moment.

On my island, there are no limits. Apart from those limiting voices in my head, and I have been working on ways to quieten them down...

My self-care story

I found the transition into motherhood very challenging. I was used to overworking, defining my value by what I 'did' not who I was. And I struggled to 'do' motherhood well. I certainly didn't believe I deserved time off for myself.

A couple of years into motherhood, I started to visit one little self-care island a week. A yoga class.

It was a huge and terrifying step to ask my in-laws to look after my children so I could take time out for me. But I asked. And they loved the extra time with the kids. And it was the first step on a transformational journey.

Now I have a whole archipelago of precious self-care moments.

Collage from Story of Mum's Mamas' Retreat: What nurtures you?

For me, self-care is often physical – because I’ve neglected my body in the past. And because that physical focus helps me to move away from my constant worries, and into myself again. I’m not one for sitting and meditating.

I go to yoga every week – and I’m just about to start yoga twice a week. (The internal voices are of course still up in arms about that, but I'm just about ready to take them on again...)

After getting used to my yoga commitment, I started to join Zumba classes at least once a week too, twice a week if I could get the childcare.

Last year, I had to stop going whenever my husband went away to work (which he does a lot) but I realised that this was when I needed self-care most – busily looking after two kids without him, working late into the night, doing everything alone. And so even though the cost of a babysitter to look after the kids while I go costs more than each class itself, I go. A mountain to climb in my head, but I made it to the top.

I’ve found that for me, making regular commitments to self-care (and not calling them that!) works best.

They start to become so familiar that the internal battle fades away. Instead of consciously being my self-care time, it is just what I do. It's in my diary, and I schedule life around it.

I’m also a big fan of the short pause  - a tiny island of self-care in the middle of a busy day. Not so much an island as a beautiful little sandbank waiting to cast my footprints.

What nurtures me? collage made at Story of Mum's Mamas' Retreat

But I find these random moments much harder to create than my regular commitments. The internal criticism comes back, and I have to really push myself into that moment, into the present.

My self-care pause is a latte in the park, a short walk to breathe in the sea, 10 minutes of stretching.

By telling myself that it will help me to 'do' better afterwards, I consciously allow myself to move away from my computer and all the mess I see around me, and step out into the world. 

These pauses may last no more than 10 minutes but whenever I let myself take one, I am amazed at the impact. Afterwards, I am more productive, more engaged, more joyful.

And at the end of the day, these islands of time are amongst the moments I most remember. As I drift off to sleep answering the question ‘where did your eyes linger today?’, these brief moments come to mind and remind me that I matter too.

Sometimes I let myself visit a larger island of self-care too - like feeding myself a delicious healthy meal (and truly tasting it), putting away my computer and watching a movie instead of working in the evening, and of course, getting creative whenever I can.

Story of Mum is my cast-iron excuse for spending time coming up with eccentric creative stuff to do and then testing it all, (which tricks those inner voices rather brilliantly into thinking it is work…!)

Our monthly activities and #somum Make Dates are little islands of creative self-care for me.

And rather wonderfully, getting creative is a self-care activity I can also do with my kids.

I love getting them both up at the table alongside me making stuff, painting, collaging, while I create something of my own.

Story of Mum Mamas' Retreat

There is pleasure in creating together. Plus, the self-critical voices quieten down because I'm being a good mum at the same time...

What is self-care to you?

We all have different ways of nurturing ourselves. When you're out of practice (and most of us mums are...) often the hardest thing can be knowing what it is that you need in the first place.

So we started our recent Mamas’ Retreat by collaging in answer to the question ‘what nurtures you?’.

This simple collage prompted some fascinating discussions and insights amongst the mamas.

You can see several of the collages here. Every one was completely different, but each offered a rare window into the different ways we can each nurture ourselves, if only we could reach that precious island.

Where can you start, right now, today?

If the very concept of making time for yourself is blowing your mind, and you're wondering how on earth you would even start, try this. Just start by taking 20 minutes of creative time for you. Join us in making a 'what nurtures you?' collage.

Don’t think too hard, just grab a couple of magazines and quickly choose the pictures or words that jump out at you, there doesn't need to be a clear explanation for any of them. Don't judge what you make - it doesn't have to be beautiful or perfect, you don't have to show anyone. Just have a go.

(My collage is the one below – it took just 20 minutes, and I didn't think at all about the images, just went with my gut... and found it hugely useful).

What Nurtures You? collage at Story of Mum's Mamas' Retreat

When you’re done, take a moment to step back and look at what you’ve made. How was the experience of making it? What do you see there? Are there any patterns? Anything that surprises you? What truly nurtures you?

DIY Mamas' Retreat Kit

And most importantly, what could you do in just 20 minutes a week to start to provide more of that time for self-nurturing in your life too?

Create that first tiny island for yourself. Because you need that space mama.

We'd love to hear how it goes. Tell us what nurtures YOU below.

This post is part of our Mama Self-Care Blogging Carnival celebrating the launch of our DIY Mamas' Retreat Kit - find out more and read other posts from inspiring mamas that encourage you to take time out for YOU here.

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