Blogs

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.

Remembering mothers, capturing motherhood: Stella Tooth

Joining our occasional series on motherhood and creativity, artist Stella Tooth shares how her art links to her experience of mothering, and talks about her upcoming group exhibition "Motherhood".

The exhibition takes place at the Chelsea Library in London from 20-30 March, featuring all of the portraits of mothers she shares below, and many more.

Katherine Firth - Annette - Mother: from the Motherhood exhibition/book

I am a mother who often communicates with her children through art.   When my son had his nose broken - and the surgeon's realignment was unable to straighten it out completely without leaving a bump - I reached for my paintbrush to record his new image. 

It was almost as if I was willing my paintbrush to put right what the surgeon couldn't.   But, being a figurative artist, who specialises in portraits, I can only paint what I see and, as I looked, I realised he was the handsome, loving son I knew, but with a mark of life on his face that added character to it.

Then, as my mother aged, I found myself, near the end,  stepping in and out of the role of a daughter and, strangely, that of a mother - caring for her as she had always cared for me. 

When she died, I turned again to art - this time to help supplant the last images I had of her in hospital. 

Mum left me a hand-held projector and family transparencies which evoked memories of a happy ‘60s childhood.  The colours, back-lit, seem almost to vibrate in glorious technicolor.  Mum wears a full skirted Chanel New Look dress which banished the austerity of the post war years and a smile dad mentions in a poem about her: “that enthralling smile that lights your face”.

Mum and I by Stella Tooth - Motherhood exhibition/book

She stays, in the present, with the viewer forever, where I can be seen in background seeking adventure.  In painting from this reference photo, my training as a figurative artist in working from life helped me remember and capture, in the face of someone I had observed over a lifetime, the varied expressions that denoted her character and personality.  

'Mum and I' (seen above) will be on show as part of 'Motherhood' - a Chelsea exhibition and book celebrating mothers, for Mother's Day, by the Lots Road Group of artists.  The free exhibition features 16 portraits by figurative artists, many of whom are mothers and fathers themselves, who met when studying portraiture at The Heatherley School of Fine Art in Lots Road. It runs at The Chelsea Library, Kings Road, SW3 from Thursday, 20 March until Mother’s Day (30 March).

Four Generations of Mother by Colleen Quill, Motherhood exhibition/book

Viviana Macchi di Cellere - Standing before me - Mother. Motherhood exhibition/book

The book contains all the portraits featured in the exhibition which are executed in a variety of media from oils, acrylics and pastels to print.  Some were completed from life, others after death from studies and photographs.  One - called Four generations of Mother - (by Colleen Quill, shown above) shows clearly the bond we have with those we were once a part.

It also provides a fascinating insight into the craft of portrait painting: from the artist who set aside her oils for speedier pastels to portray her mother with life-long back problems, to another who describes the quick work required to capture the likeness of a mother-in-law, suffering from Alzheimer’s, who would ‘forget’ her presence, to another who listened to the music she used to share with her mother to help her complete the portrait begun before her death. 

It also features a foreword by Heatherley’s Principal Emeritus, John Walton RA, who writes about the portrait he painted of his own mother. Motherhood is available price £16.69 here.

The Lots Road Group was established to facilitate camaraderie and provide a platform for exhibiting and maintaining professional networks.  In 2014 they have come together to create this tribute to motherhood.

For updates please visit us on facebook and our website.

Sharon Low - Storytime, Grandmother and Grandchildren - from Motherhood exhibition/bookArtworks above:

Katherine Firth - Annette - MOTHER
Stella Tooth - Mum and me - MOTHER
Colleen Quill - Four Generations of Mother - MOTHER
Viviana Macchi di Cellere - Standing before me - MOTHER
Sharon Low - Storytime - GRANDMOTHER AND GRANDCHILDREN

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more inspiring posts on motherhood and creativity here.

Mamas deserve high scores for...

We had another funny, honest and insightful #somum Make Date last night, celebrating the official launch of our DIY Mamas' Retreat Kit, co-hosted by the lovely Kate on Thin Ice.

Mum Trumps - at #somum Make Date - from Story of Mums' DIY Mamas' Retreat Kit

To start us off, I'm sharing a storify of our monthly living breathing example of Mama Self-Care: mums taking time out for ourselves, to get creative, to explore who we are, and to connect with other mums at our #somum Make Date on twitter, open to all.

The storify below doesn't capture everything we talked about, but it should give you a taste - and hopefully inspire you to take a little time out for yourself too.

Amongst many many other things, mamas deserve high scores for... getting out of the house, cleaning up puke (and worse...), surviving without sleep, creating imaginary worlds, balancing children in improbable places while multi-tasking, working miracles, gaining PHDs in distraction techniques... and for making time for ourselves.

We'd be especially excited if you'd like to join us in making your very own Mum Trump card celebrating your own special skills, mama battle techniques, impressive agility, mama IQ and arch-nemesis, we'd love that! Join in any time this month over here.

If you're looking for a very special Mothers' Day gift for yourself, your friends or your own mama, we'd love to share our new DIY Mamas' Retreat Kits with you:

Story of Mum: DIY Mamas' Retreat Kit

It's a fabulous way to support yourself, your mama friends, Story of Mum, the Museum of Motherhood and Womankind Worldwide in one fell self-care swoop!

Plus, it features these fabulous Mum Trumps as its bonus activity, what more could you want...

Check our Mama Self-Care Carnival page for some inspiring posts reminding you to take time out for you every day this month.

 

Join us on Weds 12 March for our #somum Make Date

We're celebrating the launch of our DIY Mamas' Retreat Kits with a Mum Trump themed #somum Make Date from 8.30 -10pm, followed by a Mama Self-Care blogging carnival reminding mamas to make time to look after ourselves...

Join our #somum Make Date: make Mum Trumps cards & win a DIY Mamas' Retreat Kit

Because we want you to make time for you, mama!

What's happening on twitter when?

We'll kick off all the fun at our next #somum Make Date on Wednesday 12 March from 8.30 - 10pm UK time (find what time that is for you, wherever you are, here).

Lovely Kate of Kate on Thin Ice will be co-hosting, and we'll be doodling Mum Trumps cards and talking about the special mama skills we could celebrate together...

We'll be using both #somum and #groovymums hashtags to find each other. We'll ask you some questions to get you thinking. Then we'll all doodle a card of our own to share, just like one of these here.

You could win a copy of our beautiful Kit too (featuring fabulous Mum Trump printables amongst many other delights!), designed by the very talented Sam Osborne.

Join our #somum Make Date and win a DIY Mamas' Retreat Kit

If you've already bought one, thank you! (And we'll refund you if you win).

How do I enter the competition?

All you have to do is add #somum to your tweets between 8.30 and 10pm UK time on Wednesday to enter the competition, and we'll use Twitterdraw to choose a random tweeter at the end of the Make Date.

So let's get together on twitter to make time for ourselves, to get creative, and to chat.

We'd love you to join us.

How do I join you?

Just jump on twitter at 8.30pm, add #somum  and #groovymums to your tweets so we can see you, and search for #somum to find us.

And if you're wondering what on earth a #somum Make Date is, you can find out more here.

what's the Mama Self-Care Blogging Carnival

For the rest of the month from 12 to 31 March, we'll be sharing links to some fabulous posts about self-care for mums, from bloggers all over the world: a 'Mama Self-Care Carnival'! Find out more here.

Because we all need reminding.

To nurture your children, you first have to nurture yourself.

Making time for YOU is vital, mama.

So start by coming to play with us on Wednesday...

Creative Business-Mamas: Naomi Goodlet

We have another lovely Creative Business-Mama to inspire you: Naomi Goodlet on why sharing the truth about her anxiety was the best career move she ever made, and how skype is a working mamas' best friend...

Naomi Goodlet shares her Creative Business-Mama story on storyofmum.com

Describe how you are feeling RIGHT NOW in three words?  

Grateful, Overflowing, Excited.

What's the story of your creative business?

I became a qualified Spiritual Healer in 2006 and left my corporate job shortly after, thinking this is what I wanted to do. I knew that I wanted to work one on one with people and I found healing work so effortless that I thought it was my calling, but I yearned for something more.

Over the next few years I studied Acceptance & Commitment Therapy and Mindfulness and I knew that I wanted to share these powerful teachings with the world. I overcame my anxiety disorder using what I had learnt and finally I resonated 100% with what I was teaching my clients.

Now I work with Gen Y’s (mostly) to help them live a life filled with meaning, guided by their core values and that is grounded in the present moment!

I still use many aspects of my healing training too, like forgiveness and inner child therapy. I also create meditations, online courses and downloadable kits to heal and inspire.

I absolutely love being able to use my story to help and inspire others and teach them what I know about how they can make their lives better. It truly is a blessing!

What are the best and worst things about being a mother running a creative business?

My daughter was born in 2012 and after taking some time off to recover and sink into motherhood, I have shifted my business online.

I tried to see clients just a few weeks after giving birth and I realized that having people in my house for appointments was causing me a great deal of stress! I have adjusted well though, now I only see my clients on Skype and I don’t have to constantly worry about cleaning up and getting the house presentable. 

Naomi Goodlet

I try to be a present, engaged and attentive mother but I do sneak in a little bit of work on the sly, my daughter doesn’t seem to mind.

The hardest thing for me now is just finding time to create everything that I want to create in my precious spare time while also nurturing my relationship with my husband and my friendships too.

The best thing about my business is that it is based at home and I can slot my tasks into the little chunks of time that I come across and then see clients at times when my daughter is with my husband or at childcare. 

Tell us about the most difficult day you faced and overcame as a creative working mama 

Just one?! There have been many. The biggest challenges have always been around either my daughter or I being unwell and just trying to make it through the day (or night!).

She always comes first, I do what I need to do to accommodate.

What's the greatest thing you have learnt from running a business?

I have learnt so much about self development, psychology and also just about running a business in itself. In fact I’ve now included business coaching as part of my offerings because I love it so much.

What's the greatest thing you have learnt from your child/children?

My daughter is the biggest blessing in my life. She is a brilliant reminder for me to practice what I teach, living in the present moment!

What advice would you give a mama starting a creative business?

Just start. Don’t wait for things to be perfect, don’t wait until you’ve finished your course or study, just do it now, make it a part of your life.

naomi goodletWhat are you working on right now that you're most excited about?

I'm launching my Anxiety Hacker Coaching Program which is specifically designed to guide people to overcome their anxiety in just 7 hours.

It is proving to be a huge success already and I've only just launched it officially. For the first time I amsharing my story of anxiety – every aspect of it, from my darkest fears to my recovery gratitude for it all. My hope is that it will help people to feel like they’re not alone in what they’re going through.

I’ve been there, I know how tough it is and I’m thrilled to be the one that gets people out the other side of their struggle with anxiety.

If there was a Creative Working Mama Fairy, what would you wish for?

A personal assistant to help me with time consuming tasks like video/audio editing! Oh and a chef, that would be rad!

What does being a creative business-mama mean to you?

If you'd like to share your story with us, we'd love to hear from you.

You can read other guest interviews in the Creative Business-Mamas series here.

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