Mama Matters – The Reality Of Motherhood
Mama Club Workshop
I was privileged this month to attend a wonderful workshop run by the talented Claire Whitehouse who founded Mama Club. When I read about this event it sounded right up my street as it included a morning Pilates session and breakfast followed by two workshops with lunch. This equated to a full day of “me time”. Plus, the thought of having breakfast and lunch without small hands grabbing my plate, with like-minded mamas, in itself was appealing.
On top of that the workshops on offer, were prevalent to me. The first being “managing my energy as a busy mama” and the second “Ditching the mama guilt to be the best mama I can be”.
I am mother to two small children (2 and 3 years) I work part time and I run my own business. Life is hectic. If I could have summed up my feelings and thoughts on a day to day basis, it would be truthful to say that I feel tired most of the time and carry around a tremendous amount of mama guilt. So, when I saw Claire’s workshops I was excited to see what was on offer.
The Pilates session was run by the legendary Anya Hayes, who is on a mission to empower women through the journey of motherhood. Pilates was a brilliant way to start, as we let our minds and bodies unwind in a safe and comfortable space. Pilates is something I plan to fit into my schedule from here forth.
Anya is not only a fabulous Pilates teacher she is also an author and wrote the book “The Supermum Myth” which is about embracing the perfectly imperfect, not falling into a negative way of thinking and being realistic with your goals. I have just begun reading the book and cannot put it down (definitely worth a read). It was an absolute pleasure to be in her presence and the contributions she too gave to the day were unquestionably inspiring.
WORKSHOP 1- Managing my energy as a busy mama
Claire talked to us about how being a mama requires a “full tank of energy” however, like me most of the mamas in the room described themselves as lacking this exact resource. Claire introduced us to the realisation that it’s not just physical energy that we need to be the best mamas we can be but also mental and emotional energy.
What was interesting was looking at the types of energy we use in the day (both positive and negative) and what personal triggers push us into a negative energy state. For many it may be a comment made by others or one seen on social media, or it may be a never ending to do list or dwelling over the household chores that you cannot get on top of.
Whatever the trigger Claire taught us strategies to identify these and act on them before they become a negative source. For instance, it may be that you need to break the focus on that trigger by going for a walk, taking a deep breath and counting to ten or listening to music. A realisation for me was that I need more “me time” to fill up the energy tank again rather than continuing to run on empty, draining the last parts of the resource tank.
WORKSHOP 2- Ditching the mama guilt to be the best mama I can be
This workshop needed no introduction. It’s fair to say that most mama’s, if not all experience a sense of guilt every day. Claire taught us not only how to understand what guilt is but to discover why we feel this strong emotion and how to manage it.
We were asked to explore some of the things that we feel guilty about. For me an example was:
Not always feeling present for my children. This is hugely prevalent and something I battle with daily as even when I am with my children, my thoughts can be somewhere else, like the fact I need to tidy the house, or my never-ending work to do list, or the urge to check my phone etc and this makes me feel guilty.
But using the skills taught by Claire helped me to break this feeling down and look at the bigger picture and consider the reality: I am with my children, I am playing with my children, they are laughing, they are happy, my mind may wonder but I recognise this and bring it back to the room, I love my children and they know it and what’s more they haven’t even noticed my head space may have wandered. There I have re-framed that sense of guilt and got rid of it. I plan on using this strategy to stop guilt in its track and diminish it.
This course was a game changer for me. It felt like a form of therapy. Talking with other mamas and realising that the trivial things that people say or do can really affect you emotionally. Plus the internal and external pressure that we and society portray means we carry around a huge amount of (most of the time) unwarranted guilt in a body that lack both physical and emotional energy to deal with it.
Also realising that you are not the only mama that experiences these thoughts and emotions. You are not the only mama to wash your clothes three times, because they smell damp, when you have forgotten to get them out of the machine and you are not the only mama who feels that other mamas have their shit together because you have seen the evidence on social media.
But the most powerful thing for me was watching the clip that Claire played at the end of the course. The clip showed a study of mamas who thought that they were being interviewed about their feelings as a mum, in which all of them described their feelings of fatigue and guilt and how they do not feel good enough. However, it soon came to light that the women were not there to be interviewed but rather were shown a video clip of their loved ones describing what a wonderful job each and every one of them was doing as a mother.
The emotion portrayed by these women when they heard the kind words from their husbands, partners, children and relatives was amazing. We watched them succumb to the realisation that they were doing an excellent job and were enough. As most of us in the room wept upon the sight of this it highlighted the pure vulnerability that all of us mums feel when it comes to wanting to be the best mama that we can be and the doubts we have about getting it right!
Well done Claire for delivery such a truly warm and inspiring course and allowing mamas like me some mama time! I would recommend these sessions to all mums. You won’t be disappointed.