There is a definite wind of change this year; An uprising of positivity and strength by women. Be it in the women’s rights marches back in January, or this month’s International women’s day, or just within the tone of the content online I’ve been reading. It’s a celebration of womanhood, friendships and female strength.
Maybe it’s always been there, and it’s only just become apparent to me, but I suddenly feel part of a sisterhood of women who want the best for each other, I really do.
Women are demanding more. Or to be more specific, they are demanding to be equal. They are demanding the gender pay gap be eliminated, and the ability to work around their family (nice work Mother Pukka). We are raising our two daughters in a time when Women all around us are stamping down negativity, prejudice, sexism and bigotism. It’s a pretty cool thing to witness, and be a part of.
So whilst the masses march for the rights of not just themselves, and their daughters, but for women across the globe – those living in societies in which we can barely imagine, as we pop out for coffee or share our beliefs and tales of modern first world motherhood online, I ask you this – what about the women all around you, right under your nose, right here, right now.
Even in the privileged west, where we joke about our first world problems and groan about whether to have spag bol again for tea or succumb to a take out because it’s just been ‘the worst day’, there is real sadness and loneliness going on. It’s all around you.
Open your eyes to the women in your life – at the school gates, at the toddler group, on the bench at gym, in your road or even someone you haven’t seen for a while. I know that you know the ones that are struggling.
Whilst weekend and evenings whizz by in a happy and chaotic buzz, the long days at home for Mothers with young children are excruciatingly hard when you’re facing them alone.
Not everyone has a support network. Not everyone’s parents are retired and on standby to have the kids for every appointment, club or just to help out and give you a little rest. Not everyone has someone to talk to, or someone to share their Monday to Friday life with, and that just fills me with sadness.
It’s for that reason that I will ALWAYS get behind the people who have tried to create platforms to break these barriers down. Meet Other Mums, The Lovely Mum crowd, Mush, The Mummy Social….they are all real ways that parents feeling isolated can reach out and change their destiny, by making the elusive Mummy Friends that everyone else always gushes about.
We’re all big and ugly enough now to have accepted online dating – and it’s no different when it comes to making friends online. This is 2017.
But for some people, even taking that step is just too hard. So, I ask of you this. You, the happy and content Mum, working the toddler group circuit like a pro and seeming to breeze through Motherhood. (We know that even you have bad days). Remember your humble beginnings. be vigilant, and together let’s make sure No Mum is left behind.
There is a movement amongst us. And it’s not caused by too much coffee. It’s a recognition that Motherhood isn’t all baking and soft play, and it certainly isn’t a walk in the park. Folk like Channel Mum are screaming from the rooftops that You are not alone #YANA, and it’s a powerful thing to behold, and be a part of.
But what can I do?
It’s not the grand gestures I’m talking about here. Such tiny actions could make such a difference to that one person, and they are absolutely do-able with the tiniest of effort from you. Here are just some ideas…
- Pass on a timetable for a local children’s centre to a Mum who’s mentioned they don’t know what groups there are.
- Drop into conversation that you are always there, if they need anything.
- Make time to chat to a new face at a group or at school. Introduce yourself, find out their name and make a personal connection. You might feel silly, but we aren’t thirteen any more – you can do it. Just ask them their birth story, that’ll get you started…
- Offer to help your Mum friends out when they’re chatting about needing someone to watch the kids for an hour or so – even if they never take you up on the offer, it’s such a nice thing to hear (and they might return the favour too).
- I’ll just say it again, one more time. OFFER TO HELP WITH THEIR KIDS. (For the record, you might even find you get some help in return…)
- Set up a whatsapp group solely for Mum related banter, support and random chat.
- Forward someone a blogpost that made you think of them.
- Arrange a child free night out and get some of the Mums out of their usual Mum-zone. A funny movie, a meal with the Mums or just a bit of drunk dancing.
- Make a safe place to talk for someone who is having a tough time – be it family stuff, marriage problems or just a good old rant about how knackered they are. Get them over for a brew and a bacon sarnie.
- Match make: Set up a playdate with two new mums you know need each other more than they know they do.
- Smile, say hello. Be welcoming.
- Listen. To their birth story, to the tale of their bad day, to the distress of the sleep deprivation. Empathise and be sympathetic – don’t challenge them with a worse story, it’s not a competition.
- Praise their children. Offer to hold and cuddle their babies, and remind them how lovely they are. That can bring someone straight back to their happy place in an instant.
- Give someone new to the area your number (or I guess add them on social media if that’s your thing) and let them know if they need any help settling in you are there if they need it.
- Keep hold of any baby bits and pieces you no longer need and offer them to a Mum you know might really need them. It’d make such a difference to them and although you might miss out on a few pounds, sometimes there is value found in other sources.
- Throw open your half term day out to ANYONE who’d like to come. And tell them how glad you were they did come.
- Bring them cake. Or chocolate. Or even a bacon turnover. Look, forget the bikini body BS…turn up or entice with goodies bought just for that Mum that needs a pick me up. She’ll thank you forever for a lunch that didn’t consist of toast crusts.
- Check in. Be it with a text, a whatsapp, a tweet, a facebook poke if they still exist (not there, soz). A simple ‘You okay?’, ‘Better night?’, ‘It’s nearly Friday – how’s you?’, ‘Got a busy week?’. Remind them that they are not alone.
You can’t single handedly save every lonely Mum, but you can make a start. Not everyone will want your help, but never assume that they don’t. Let’s make it all of our responsibility to look out for each other. No ‘I’m alright Jacks’. No exclusivity. No awkwardness.
No Mum Left Behind. #NMLB