Mamas making journals...

It's a bit of a rushed storify this month (I haven't even read it through!) because time is sparse in the first week of school.

But we had a wonderful time at our #somum Make Date on Wednesday, as always, and hopefully we've inspired some mums to take a little bit of regular one or two line mini journalling time for themselves... Read what we got up to below.

It might even change your life like it's changed mine :)

Fairy Tale Chocolate Competition

My fairy tale life would definitely include chocolate, so I'm very excited that we have appropriately-themed chocolate goodies from Fairy Tale Gourmet to giveaway this month!

Win chocolate eggs from Fairy Tale Gourmet with Story of Mum

You could win yourself one of two delicious artisan chocolate eggs from Fairytale Gourmet - and this Easter, you could crack open your very own Humpty Dumpty or steal a Golden Egg from the friendly giants in your house...!

These are eggs to hide from the kids... SO well that you get to eat them yourself ;)

This month is all about fairy tales - and we'll be sharing our stories in My Life, the Fairy Tale. We would love to hear yours - and one of the ways you can enter the competition is by sharing it with us!

Your own fairy tale might be life-changing or silly, small or huge - you choose. Head over here and complete seven sentences to tell us a fairy-tale from your not-so-fairy-tale life...

Our daily battles may not always feel epic, but the truth is, they are.  Most importantly, sharing those stories of how we overcame the scary stuff, (eventually!) reminds others that they can make it through - even if today's quest is simply to tackle the never-ending laundry pile...

You can also enter by tweeting and hanging out on facebook, as you do...

Tale Gourmet are an award-winning company producing hand-crafted and ethical high-end chocolates and desserts, inspired by the literature of fairy tales. Go and explore their website - it's imaginative, original and guaranteed to make you drool...

We look forward to hearing your real-life fairy-tales, and eating chocolate together..a Rafflecopter giveaway

Win a Fairytale Gourmet golden egg with Story of Mum

Start your year with joy at our January Mamas' Retreat

Join a Sunday Morning Mamas' Retreat with Story of MumWe'd love you to join us on Sunday 18 January 2015 for a very special Sunday Morning Mamas' Retreat in Penzance, Cornwall. Come start your year with joy! (scroll down to book your tickets below)

I Am Enough: from OCD Beast to embracing my messy life

Do you feel like you're enough? A first guest post from Scheenagh Harrington about the times when she felt the most inadequate, and her journey to the point where she could finally say "I am enough".

I Am Enough: Scheenagh Harrington on feeling inadequate and becoming enough

Inside my head, there lives what I fondly call my OCD Beast. It makes me straighten pictures, plump cushions, hoover rugs so that the pile stands upright and generally do what I can to make my family neater and tidier. But it can’t prevent the messiness of life. 

In a few weeks, my journalist husband’s current freelance contract stops. Brought to an end by a stranger, whose financial needs outweigh ours. When it happens, half our household income will disappear. Naturally, he’s looking everywhere for something to fill the hole, but by rights, I should be a shivering, nervous wreck. 

This, however, is the latest in a series of ups and downs my brood and I have endured during the past five years - and I know I am strong, smart, resourceful and woman enough to cope. 

I am the sum of all my recent experiences: I am enough. 

Five years ago, my husband and I moved, with our daughter, from the UK to France.

Little did I know at the time that a) my husband, who had spent a month here before us, was thoroughly miserable, and b) the job that brought us to this new life would take us to the brink of divorce. 

There were other surprises, too. A few months after emigrating, I found out I was pregnant. After having struggled for years to conceive our daughter, this was amazing news. Our little boy arrived hale and hearty, but things around him weren’t so hot.  

Problems at work made my husband distant and grey, and I wasn’t sensitive enough to understand what was happening. It took three years of near-constant arguments for me to realise the man I loved was being ground into the dust. 

In hindsight, it was an easy decision to quit - the relief was unbelievable. But then came the real rollercoaster. In France, if you are sacked or made redundant, the state will help out financially. If you quit… not so much.

We spent four frantic months applying for every job we could find, set ourselves up as freelance journalists and formed our own little business, and sweated blood trying to make what little money we had go as far as possible. 

We were granted access to our town’s food bank, after a pride-swallowing interview with a woman from the council. I didn’t want to ask anyone for help, but I had no choice.

When we were told we could feed our children for 5 euros a week until our unemployment benefit came through - three-and-a-half months later - I was grateful and humbled beyond words. 

We downsized from a three-floor, four-bed house with garden and garage to a three-bed apartment, shaved everything we could from our bills and learned to live on very little.

Throughout, we kept talking to each other and to the children, making sure they knew about - even if they didn’t understand - each decision and why it was being made. 

They adjusted, as only children can. Last June, I landed a part-time cleaning job and we were given unemployment benefit. Things were finally settling down. I was happy enough. 

Then, one Sunday came another sideswipe. For months I’d grumbled absentmindedly about having a cyst or something on my ovary. I’d been gaining weight and getting tired. ‘Joy’, I thought, ‘the menopause’. But that day, hands on my stomach, I felt unmistakable movement.  

A test was instantly, insistently positive - I was pregnant at 42! I was devastated - we had no money!

My husband asked what I wanted to do - I knew I was more than a few weeks gone, but I couldn’t consider a termination. It wasn’t possible anyway - it turned out I was five months pregnant with our second boy.

The most difficult year of our lives ended with me staring into the beautiful eyes of our third child. I have never felt so complete.

January 2014 felt like a new chapter, and as regular freelance work started coming our way, I was settled enough to relax after what felt like the longest time… 

Now we face a fresh challenge: a likely return to austerity and uncertainty, unless we find something quickly (and we’re looking, pitching and trying like mad); and perhaps needing to rely again the kindness of strangers and the social security system.

But do you know what? I’m strong, resourceful, clever and imaginative enough to take this setback, too. 

I am happy. I am enough. 

Inspired by this post? Join us in this month's activity: I AM ENOUGH.

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.

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...

To the mother struggling to see the good in the world

The world is a frightening place sometimes. Sometimes the horror can feel so great that it can block out the light. But there is always light. We hope this letter reminds you of that.

A letter to the mother struggling to see the good in the world right now

"Dear brave and beautiful mama,

We hear you.

Sometimes we just need a companion, invisible hand-holding during those dark times. 

Know that we mums are all in this together, always there in spirit.  And together we can be the light that drives the shadows away. 

Whenever you feel alone, close your eyes, feel the strength of our support. This too shall pass. You're not alone. 

When you feel powerless, send love. Open up and be true to you. 

I'll walk with you (if you want me to). 

Believe in love. Keep going. You matter, you are important. 

We are here for you. 

 And you never know just what wonderful souls might cross your path when you do reach out.

The good that people do always outweighs the bad, and today's parents are the best that have ever lived. We can work together to make a positive loving world for our children. 

Look at your children - and know that we all have the capacity to love each other this much as humans. Focus on this, not fear.

Your kids can make the world a better place only with your love and guidance. Raise them with love and a belief in their own power for good. 

They are your gift for change.

We are alive, we love and we are loved. There are no greater gifts in the world than those.

Sometimes the best way to fight is just to hold each other tight.

For in the end, only kindness matters.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." Martin Luther King Jr

With love,

from the Story of Mum community"


Much love and thanks to @BettyBeston @newmansuze @Loulou_Uberkirk @rippleonthesea @SwaziRodgers @NewArrivalBook @kari_herbert @pebblesandapond @IsWasCottage @grubbyfaces @VanessaWilliams @mushroomsmum. And to my beautiful wise 4 year old daughter for her image above, used in one of the Keep Human pictures in our gallery.

Inspired by the words you see here? Please join us in donating £5 to Save The Children's Child Refugee Crisis appeal, by texting GIVE to 61144; or donate £5 to Doctors Without Borders by texting DOCTOR to 70800. Read more here and here.

Read the full storify of our #somum Make Date over here, and visit our Keep Human gallery of framed words that the world needs to hear right now. Please add your own, we want to hear your words xx

Words to inspire us

In challenging times, we need words to inspire us more than ever. And we need mothers.

Share words that inspire you with us for Keep Human: our #somum Make Date

As mothers, we have the power to inspire so many of the people around us. Our children, our friends, our family, our community.

We have an opportunity, and a responsibility perhaps, to think hard about the words we want to share with our family, and with the world.

How do you want to inspire your children?

I quickly storified some of the tweets from tonight's #somum Make Date to capture some of the beautiful words and thoughts shared by our lovely community of mamas.

Read this when you need a reminder that there is much good in the world we want to build for our children. Especially the last question.

And share your own words in our gallery.

Inspiring the hopes and dreams of children

Join our next #somum Make Date this Wednesday 18 November from 8.30pm - 10pm UK time (find world times here) on twitter to share the words the world needs to hear right now. If you fancy getting creative, we'll also create framed images of those words to inspire each other, and our children.

Join our next #somum Make Date to share the words the world needs to hear.

I hope our community can come together this week to inspire each other to keep sending love and compassion out into the world, and nurturing it in our children.

The words that inspire us are the focus of our next #somum Make Date this Wednesday 18 November from 8.30pm - 10pm UK time (find world times here) and we hope you'll join us online to chat, create, or just sit in the quiet together.

Inspired by an exhibition in Cornwall, "Keep Human: Words for a value-led life", we'll share and capture the words that we feel the world needs to hear right now. If you'd like to join us and get creative (you don't have to, you can just chat if you prefer), you can frame and share your words in our gallery to remind others of what matters most to you.

I posted this on our facebook page on Saturday.

"When I took this photo of the pavement markings in ‪#‎France‬ yesterday it was because I was missing my children. Today I see it afresh and I'm sharing it here as a reminder to stand together against violence and horror - for all the children in the world who need our love and support to build a world led by compassion, love and hope.

Whether they be in Paris, Beirut, Syria, on the refugee trail or elsewhere - whether they are running from war and fundamentalism to try and start a new life, facing tragic loss and bloodshed in their streets, or experiencing such horror and mistreatment that they consider horrific extremes of fundamentalism to be a solution.

The hopes and dreams of children, their faith that life holds the possibility of equality and joy, are our only hope of a future where this horrific violence and loss can end.

Continue to spread love. Don't bow to the fear and the horror. Don't squash compassion. Let's show our children what love means, and prove that there is hope and opportunity for all."

Now more than ever, we need words that inspire us to remember this. If you feel drawn to share with us the words that you think the world needs to hear right now, please join us in this month's activity: Keep Human: words for a value-led life

Remind yourself of the qualities that matter most to you, and help raise money to help families suffering around the world.

Your words matter, and together, we CAN make a difference.

How can I join in?

Keep Human: words for a value-led life - share the words you think the world needs now with Story of Mum and support Save the Children

To join in, buy yourself a frame from a charity shop (or make one out of cardboard, we're not fussy, the words are what matter most).

Then choose words you think the world needs to hear right now (it could be a quote you love, a word that comes to you, or something else) and place your words within the frame, any way you like.

You can type them, paint them, print them, write them, collage them, use random objects, whatever most inspires you. 

Share what you make in our gallery.

If you can, please also join us in donating £5 to Save The Children's Child Refugee Crisis appeal, by texting GIVE to 61144; or donate £5 to Doctors Without Borders by texting DOCTOR to 70800. Read more here and here.

We hope you'll join us at our next #somum Make Date on Wednesday 18 November from 8.30 to 10pm UK time.

Come spend time with some kind and compassionate mothers, and together, let's spread the hope and joy that the world needs now.

What is a #somum Make Date?

It's a chance for mums to get together on twitter and tweet while we attempt to do something creative - like doodlingtaking a photowriting poetrymaking stuff or even squidging plasticine.

We give ourselves some creative me-time and connect with other lovely mums. We do it every second Wednesday of the month and we would love you to join us. New friends are always very welcome.

You don't have to be a clever crafter, an artist or wordsmith. We're all about having a go regardless of talent or experience. Most of all, it's about getting together and having fun.

If you just want to chat, that's completely fine. If you just want to make something and lurk and never tell us you're there, that's fine too. We're just happy you're making time for you. 

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