Way back at the end of January I committed to using my last month as a stay at home Mum for good. In a stroke of luck and timing, I was asked by Child.org to champion their #TeamMum campaign and try and raise some moolah for Mums in Africa who frankly put my Mum muddles to shame.
What hit me hard was that it doesn’t matter where you landed on the geographical lottery, being a Mum is tough, it’s daunting and it’s a bloody steep learning curve.
Whether you were born in Stoke on Trent or Singapore, Henley on Thames or Halkidiki, Merseyside or Meru, Nairobi, the same issues face new Mums although perhaps are compounded in different ways by the different circumstances.
A baby born in the third world may still cry relentlessly, may still struggle to latch on, may still develop reflux. A first time Mum in the third world may not have a support network and feel isolated, may feel overwhelmed and may feel inadequately informed on how to care for and raise a small human being.
The hard fact is that in Kenya, 1 in 23 babies don’t live to their first birthday. A devastating statistic caused by the insufficient access for new Mothers and communities to health care, support and knowledge.
What was #Mumathon?
I decided to put my legs to use and set out to get running for the Mums of Meru across the month of March. I’m far from marathon ready, so I decided on a marathon distance, spread over the entire month, comprising of two official 10Ks (seven days apart) at Minnis Bay (Kent coast) and Bedgebury Pinetum (Tonbridge). The rest of the 26.2 miles (42Km) I’d make up during the week and the challenge would have a fitting end on Mothers Day, 31st March 2019 at Bedgebury.
I did it
Seeing as it’s the first of April, it’s time to stop running. Well, maybe not entirely, eh?!
I did manage to complete the challenge, and in fact, go over my target of 26.2 miles, hitting 35 miles across 31 days in March.
Despite thinking that the challenge might have been too easy, I can confirm that there was NOTHING easy about running three times a week through the storms and wind of March. I might do running but I don’t do cold.
There was definitely an alternative way to spend Mothers Day morning than have to wake the girls up at the equivalent of 5.30am (clocks changing darn it) and drive for an hour to a freezing cold field by 8.30am. And it was COLD…so so cold.
The fundraising target
I had hoped to raise £250 for the campaign by getting sponsorship from friends, family and well, anyone really! Around half way through the month I realised I was never going to hit that target without pushing a little harder and casting the net a bit wider.
And so, I reluctantly plugged the fundraising page a bit harder, sent it to everyone I could think of, and told a few family members on no uncertain terms to get their wallet out! After all, whats a fundraiser if you don’t raise the funds?
As of today, 01 April, I have raised £385 which is mindblowing – I never thought I’d hit my target let alone go over it. I know a few folk have pledged to sponsor me so that figure should rise, and the close of the campaign is the end of this month so plenty of time to still donate.
What’s even better is that the campaign is backed by DFID UK Aid Match, so every pound donated before the end of April will be DOUBLED by the UK government.
Of course, all mums pass life-lessons on to their children. The valuable knowledge that mums acquire at these support groups will be passed down through children and grandchildren.
But this project is also about transforming communities. Child.org will train health volunteers, improve local healthcare, and run sessions that champion the respect and support of pregnant women to all members of the family. By doing so, they’ll ensure that the community is equipped to support and nurture healthy new mums independently for generations to come.
All the match funding received from the UK government will be spent on launching our new pregnancy support groups in rural Kenya. Your original donation will be invested in this project and in the future of our Team Mum programming – so you can be assured of a long-term impact on our small charity. After we launch the pregnancy support groups, Team Mum will work to design, fund and deliver more solutions like this for mums and babies in Kenya and in Sierra Leone.
What I learnt about Running
Over the past month I discovered a few things about running. Those ranged from how to prevent knee aches, the importance of fuelling and hydration, having the correct equipment and how to improve your stamina. That’s a whole blog post in itself.
I mixed up my routes so I found joy in the beauty of the places I ran and I listened to podcasts as well as banging tunes, and on occasion silence as I pounded the pavement.
I recruited a team to run with me at Minnis Bay and the shared experience was one of the most memorable moments of the Mumathon month, beside the sea in the sunshine.
Most importantly, despite the rain, wind, early mornings and painful knees, I learnt that I love running. But then again, maybe I already knew that.
What I learnt about myself
It can be hard to find the motivation to get out and run, but knowing this was for a clear reason and goal gave me the motivation to keep going. The stories of the women and children in need of aid remained in my mind through every tough moment and this couldn’t have been a more perfect way to end my time as a stay at home Mum; by giving something to other Mums who aren’t as fortunate. Doing things for other people, well, it feels good.
Having time to think, appreciate the sights around me both on my doorstep and further afield has brought me some peace and calm in the chaos of daily life. To escape the four walls and the never ending list of chores and to expand my routine beyond coffee mornings and cleaning.
I guess I didn’t find running the distances a struggle which really surprised me. (The cold was another matter!). I suppose my general fitness has come along way in the last 6 months since giving up booze and turning to exercise for that release. Perhaps a real marathon isn’t so unachievable after all?
There is still time to make a donation…