“We have grown up thinking we can have it all, but we don’t realise that that means ‘do it all’. And we’ve got to look good at the same time…”
The rarely-spoken about challenges of being a mummy have inspired a hypnobirthing teacher to set up a new motherhood mindset mentoring program.
Mum-of-two Keri Javis, 32, of London Road, Westcliff, has helped more than 200 women have hypnobirths – yet grew frustrated with how the support for women seemed to end as soon as the baby was born.
She said: “When my first son was born, the transition into motherhood was such a shock. Once the initial excitement of meeting our baby had faded, and everyone else went back to their own lives, (including my husband 8am-6pm, five days a week) I felt utterly blindsided. I spent a lot of time alone with Louis, because when I forced myself out to groups, I just didn’t feel a connection to the women talking about how well their babies slept or some version of how amazing it was to be a mum.
“I just didn’t feel that way. My experience was dominated by boredom, loneliness, being overwhelmed, sadness, guilt and resentment. Of course there were moments of joy, elation, connection like I’d never anticipated. I loved him so much. But I didn’t love what had happened to my life. And then came the guilt.
“I found myself slipping into very unhelpful, negative thinking patterns, that served to reinforce my unhappiness. It was only when I started to do mindset work with a focus on business growth when Louis was around 18-months-old that it occurred to me that I could apply it to motherhood. I saw some small benefits, but didn’t commit to it consistently.
“When Rory came along, I thought I was an old pro and that I would fare much better. But each baby brings new challenges. I had very little help available, and I pushed away that which was offered to me, again because I wanted to be ‘the best’ mum I could be. I wanted to do it all, needed to be there for my baby, needed to prove I could cope.
“It was when I went on a holistic business retreat when Rory was 11-months-old, and I was challenged to delve into some truths about myself that I realised how much responsibility I needed to take for my own unhappiness. My perspective had to change, otherwise I was going to waste years of our lives.
“Since then, I’ve thrown myself in to daily mindset work, and the impact on my emotional wellbeing and my capacity to mother in the way I want to has been huge. Doing this work has literally turned me into a different person, and I know it can do the same for many others.”
Keri, whose Do It Like A Mother hynobirthing business has just moved to 801 London Road, launched her motherhood mindset mentoring program in July.
It all takes place online, with a Facebook group running alongside it.
But what is the aim?
“The aim is to give mothers like me the tools to live happier lives, and to therefore raise their children in the way they aspire to – generally calmly, positively, responsively.
“By becoming part of a community of women who share their experience, they are able to release guilt- it’s not just them.”
What’s the one most important thing Keri wants mums-to-be to know?
“A healthy baby is not the only thing that matters at the end of it. Of course, it’s the most important thing – but when did you stop mattering? Your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing matter too. You are more than a vessel – you are far more capable than you imagine if you frame the experience in the right way.”
And how about those new mums, just embarking on motherhood?
“Rest! You just grew a human and it came out of your body.
“Do not be making cups of tea for anyone. Five days in bed, five days on the bed, five days around the bed. When everyone else goes back to their lives, you will be left literally holding the baby – your recovery is paramount.”
Does Keri think being a mummy is harder today than ever before?
“It’s so tough, mostly because so many of us are doing it away from the support of our own families.
“People used to live in family units, and close knit communities. Women could see the reality of mothering before it was their turn, and have realistic expectations. They could take turns watching each other’s kids and find strength in numbers. So many of us are isolated in early motherhood now, and entering it from a life that is such a contrast.
“We have grown up thinking we can have it all, but we don’t realise that that means ‘do it all’, and that it’s a lot to handle all at once.
“And we’ve got to look good at the same time…”
To find out more, go to www.doitlikeamother.co.uk
This feature was first published in the Echo newspaper on Tuesday, August 8: www.echo-news.co.uk