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Mum-tal Health.

Today, on world mental health day, I wanted to talk about an area of passion for me in my life and work, Mums.

When I first became a mum 13 years ago aged 33, people talked to me about how my body would change, how I would need help to look after this tiny being 24/7, that I should get fresh air, stick to some sort of routine, eat well, sleep when the baby slept and try and get breast feeding support from my midwife and local NCT group.

What no-one spoke to me about or even acknowledged, was the fact that I may suffer from a massive identity crisis, feelings of mis-placement, that my confidence may come crashing down and my self-doubt may rocket skyward. I found myself in a career mind-spin dilemma, as I battled confusion between wanting to spend every second of the day with my beautiful new-born boy, tucked away in our little Cornish cottage and getting back to a career in Television Production that I had worked so extremely hard for throughout the course of my entire life. The guilt was impalpable and the anxiety was huge. Who was I now? What did I want? What did I need? It felt like the biggest elephant in the room of my life. I felt cheated and let down that no woman had told me about this and for a long time, I wondered why. Now I think I am beginning to understand the answers.

Becoming a mum impacts all areas of your life and although you can prepare to a certain degree for your new bundle, the culture here in the UK often still struggles to give appropriate support emotionally, financially and within many career situations for these women. Having completed my research on the well-being of working mums for my MSc dissertation, it further highlighted to me the continued lack of opportunities at work for progression after having a baby and that general mental health support for mums is still severely inaccessible to many, despite huge numbers of women suffering nationwide.

It seems that many mums still battle outdated philosophies surrounding the responsibility of domestic chores and childcare at home, as well as often being our own worst enemies trying to shake off years of the 'doing it all and not complaining' mentality. It's not easy but change is possible and it all starts with speaking out. How will awareness spread and change happen if we don't voice all the intricacies of this huge life changing responsibility that are both good and bad?

In the early days of my motherhood journey, I wanted someone to sit me down with positive honesty and say, 'Everything is going to be just fine. You will grow from this, you will do different and better things.You are strong, amazing and have countless skills that can be used in so many ways. Life is different now, but the best is yet to come. You are not all washed up! Don't be scared, be excited.'

I think this would have helped me to relax and enjoy those first tentative mum years so much more, rather than battling what felt huge confusion and worry around my professional life. Many women go back to their pre-baby employment after childbirth but for others, it just doesn't fit any more.

It is my mission that no-mum feels guilty for change should they choose it but that they can understand and embrace it with confidence, clarity and ultimately, THRIVE like never before. I am passionate about working with peoples strengths and acknowledging a mums strengths is so very important, it can provide understanding from within, help to raise self esteem and contribute to direction of next steps.

In the coaching and workshops that I do we also address the move-ability of individual strengths throughout different stages of life and how this can be embraced not feared. We explore the idea that identity doesn't have to be attached solely to our careers and that having children can often for the first time, uncover the real you in all your glory!

Mums, you are not secondary to the small people that you care for, you are amazing and you deserve the very best. As a favourite saying of mine goes;

'Each part of life requires a different version of you' ....and I think, that is 100% ok.


Summer Bradshaw is a Positive Psychology Practitioner & Coach that lives in Devon with her husband, 2 sons, 3 cats and Tokyo the escape artist hamster.



Issue 5 ~  Autumn '22
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