It might seem a strange time to be talking of new ventures and fresh starts, but that’s exactly what we’re doing at Happy Mums. The long months of furlough are at an end, but this is not life as we knew it.
Things were always going to be different: we had planned to launch the new project #HappyMumbria from April 1. We would leave the bigger building at Aglionby Grange and take our groups out into communities – getting back to the heart of our success. Coronavirus put all this on ice – and indeed threatened many aspects of the new project as it relied in part on income from training.
But plans A-Y behind us, Plan Z has emerged blinking into the sunlight and we can start planning for #HappyMumbria in a post-Covid world. The creche has become our office – the toys packaged up and we have said goodbye to Kerry and Amy with such love and gratitude for all their work.
The hiatus has provided an opportunity for reflection: we know how much mums have been suffering in our absence and desperately want to make a difference. So how can we create a new project which helps women but also sticks to the principles of self-care? How do we stay true to the ethos of Happy Mums but also maintain a healthy work-life balance and keep our own heads above water?
This is the conundrum all peer support faces. By definition we have struggled and continue to struggle ourselves with mental illness and parenthood. Katherine set up Happy Mums to plug a gap she saw in her own recovery. I attended as a depressed mum and have gone on to volunteer and work here. We can be fragile too.
That’s why we really must practice what we preach. Just as mothers must tend to their own health needs to be able to care for their children, so must we nurture our mental health if we are to offer sustainable and safe spaces for peer support.
We will continue to expose our vulnerabilities, to move towards a world in which such vulnerability does not mean weakness but rather strength.
So, we’ve got new stationary and we’ve made the furniture. We’ve all got our own stapler and hole punch, as well as designated chairs. Now all we need to do is run some support groups, so watch this space for news on how you can get involved in #HappyMumbria over the coming weeks…