Mums matter

Mums matter

Mums do matter. A cliche’, yes, it may sound just about that, however, this is today’s theme for peri natal mental health awareness week. The week long campaign serves to raise awareness on this not talked about issue of mental health during and after pregnancy.

Mental health in certain communities is difficulty to talk about because of misunderstandings and misconceptions of vulnerabilities in people. How can you be sad/overwhelmed, unhappy or depressed when you are carrying or having Gods blessing? Yes, our children are just that, blessings. Sometimes those blessings come with challenges.

image from @metro

I remember how excited we were on finding out that we were expecting. Unplanned as it was, we were elated. Soon after, the vomitting commenced and it got worse by the day. By the time we got to second trimester, the plastic bag on my daily commute into work had become my friend. I was literally worn out on daily basis, couldn’t stomach much apart from the TM buns, ham and black tea. I looked forward to the weekend lie ins and not getting out of bed at all.

To a certain extend, I was fortunate to be at home in Zimbabwe ‘surrounded’ by family even though they did not know how to help or support me. The challenge with mental health is that even the sufferer does not know when to seek help because most of the time one is able to just smile through it.

So what are some of the symptoms and signs of pre, peri or post natal mental illness? According to charity mind, around one in five women will experience a mental health problem during pregnancy or in the year after giving birth. The charity goes on to highlight that there are a varied reasons as why one may suffer mental illness, mainly

For us we had a few risk factors such as moving house, quick unplanned transitioning into parenthood, employment pressures as well as general ill- preparedness. We didn’t attend any pre-marital counselling or ante natal classes. We pretty much found ourselves reacting to situations and circumstances instead of being proactive.

When I had our second, the stresses were there as we had moved continents and I was adjusting to being a mature nursing student. Once again the Zimbabwe community of student nurses rallied behind me and supported me through another ordeal with severe morning sickness, tiredness, looking after a pre – schooler and unending assignments.

So what helps with maternal mental health?

-Talking to someone about your feelings help. Its important to let someone know how tired, exhausted, overwhelmed, struggling or sad you are feeling.

You don’t need to self diagnose, if your feelings/ emotions tell you something isn’t right, then talk to someone about it.

As mothers it becomes imperative for us to talk about our mental health with our children so they can learn. The report in the news highlight the worrying increase in children’s mental illness and lack of resources to support this demand.

Faith in action Charity is doing some work with faith communities about supporting members of the congregation who may need support.

Prayer, meditation and mindfulness do help as well. Being able to pray with someone can make a huge difference

Mind is also a good charity to reach out to.

GP’s can help with referrals to support services. Talking therapies is a good service where you can self refer into depending where you live.

Other community services such as midwifery, health visiting and home start are also very good.

Don’t suffer in silence

Don’t smile through it. 💕

Links and resources:

1- Mind https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/postnatal-depression-and-perinatal-mental-health/#.XMdbnjBKjIV

2-Maternal Mental Health Alliance https://maternalmentalhealthalliance.org/

3- Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/mental-health-services/child-and-adolescent-mental-health-services-camhs/

Day 2

Day 2

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Thank you Lord that you are a sun and shield around our children. Help them to understand and appreciate Your help and sustenance. May they know that in You is refuge and strength. We lift up in prayer those children and their families who may be going through very difficulty and challenging times, would You surround them with Your love and embrace. Make a way for them so that they may enjoy life and be a blessing to their generation. Help them  not to be a thorn in the lives of our children.

Thank for helping the school leaders in taking the issue of bullying in schools seriously. We break every lie of bureaucracy and sweeping things under the carpet at the expense of our children. Raise up warriors within the school environment who are really there for the needs of the children.

Strengthen us as parents to do the RIGHT things always by our children and not the easy way out. Teach us to look to You always in every moment and circumstance of our lives. Allow us by the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit to parent as you would want us to: courageously with grace, faith, hope and love. Amen

Identity

Identity

This was the topic for our webinar this evening. How important is it for our children to speak the native language, cook native food etc?

It became imperative during the session that before we unpick our children’s identity, how do we as mother identify ourselves??. Examples were given of being a wife, mother, daughter, minister of the Gospel etc. How do we live out all these ‘titles’, does it matter what comes first? all these were questions we pondered.

With our children we agreed that nativism enriches their lives. It’s their heritage. We concluded that as far as identity is concerned it is more than food, drink, colour of your skin or even place of birth.

We acknowledged that our children are global citizens such that being a native of a particular nation would limit their experiences and world.

Having said that, as mothers of faith, our identity and that of our children is found in God. We are first and foremost children of God. He created us and knew us of before the foundation of the world. That is who we are.

Living out our faith and identity day to day, helps to define who we are in the eyes of our children. We are reminded that to as many as recieved Him, He has given them the right to become children of God.

Suggestions were made of reminding our children of their identity in God. Saying words such as ‘you are a mighty man of valour, a women of faith, a man of prayer, a princess etc’ helps to define them. As mothers of faith, we are prophets so we speak the promises of God concerning them.

References were drawn from the previous post on Black Panther and importance of speaking into the lives of our children.

As a mom, how do you identify yourself?

Milestones

Milestones

What is this about?

The parenting webinar is a community initiative to build each other’s capacity and empower one another on the parenting journey.

This was birthed from the understanding that it takes a village to raise a child. This is a concept that I am very familiar with having been brought up in Zimbabwe. Growing up, I was raised by the community. Fast forward to my own parenting journey, the circumstances have changed. In a bid to find that community, a virtual one was created in February 2017.

I remember as a health visitor deliberating and talking about this with colleagues; the social isolation, the statistics on youth crime, gangs and changing face of society. What also struck me was how ethnic minority families were not accessing children centres for support. On a personal level, as a mom of teens, the need for support and encouragement became compelling.

The more I talked about it to family and friends, the more I realised the need. Ideas started flowing, fear also crept in as well. Fear of the unknown, being judged etc. With encouragement prayer and support from a lot of people here we are today.

As we celebrate this milestone we have covered 30 sessions out of the 52weeks as we initially ran the webinars forty nightly and then took breaks when needed e.g World cup semi- finals. Topics discussed ranged from boundary setting, managing inter-parental conflicts, understanding children’s love language, sleepovers, parenting and social care as well as the role of fathers to name a few. I have also covered some face to face sessions. I believe I have grown tremendously in understanding of self and the world around me. I thought I would share a few things with you.

Lessons learnt :

1️⃣- Start- Just do it! Do it afraid if you have to. Technical hitches do happen, prepare as much as you can and if it happens, do not lose face.

2️⃣- Enjoy- Some days it will be such great fun. Most days it will be hard from finding motivation, people to empower and simply being busy with life. Find joy anyway. Time flies when having fun. Having your vision scribbled somewhere, on a placard, note book or framed helps. It keeps you aligned and focused.

3️⃣- Engage your audience. Depending on the topic, allow people to share, suggest, ask questions. Be open minded about audience and potential client group.

4️⃣-Be on time. Being punctual is critical. Not only does it show that you are professional and serious, it demonstrates respect. Respect for your audience, their time and dedication.

5️⃣- Find people who can critically appraise what you are doing. Having feedback is key on moving forward. Encouragers are great, a critical friend is key and a keeper. Acknowledge them. Appreciate them.

6️⃣- Value- valuing yourself, your effort is also important. Don’t allow anyone to tell you otherwise.

7️⃣Back up- Yes, save, save your work, drafts and save again, especially in blogging and content preparation for the webinars. I can’t recall the number of times, my content just disappeared. That can make or break you. I learnt to get up and write again.

8️⃣Prayer- Remains the foundation and cornerstone in your building. Communicating about your vision, committing yourself and audience to God offers a place of clarity and understanding.

9️⃣Ask- ask for help and offer help when others need it. Having a support network makes all the difference. We receive what we give. By being present and available to others, it offers opportunity for reciprocity.

🔟 Losses and gains. Many people especially immediate family and friends will not get your vision. After all it’s yours. Don’t be discouraged. Familiarity does that and we are all guilty of that. You will lose familiar faces and gain more new ones. Embrace both.

1️⃣1️⃣ Conviction – Stand for what you believe and express yourself. In this journey, I am learning to speak my mind and mean what I say. I term that growth.

1️⃣2️⃣ Celebrate- celebrate both the big and small achievements. It is said ‘ do not despite the days of small beginnings’ and remember Rome was not built in a day.

Here is to the future. For what it will be, we entrust in Him. What we know is that there is grace and hope.

If you are interested in joining our growing community, you are most welcome. Our Zoom webinars are weekly on a Friday at 8pm UK time. Do get in touch ( whatsapp, messenger, facebook, instagram).

Hopeful ❤

Summer

Summer

What story do you want to write this summer. Is it one of having such great laugh and wonderful memories. The social media is already filled with summer dread. While it is ok to have a ‘dig’ at this, we also can choose to have a great summer.

“Whilst our challenges as a diaspora community may be greater than many other mommas, we can do something about it”.

The discussion on the parenting webinar this evening was about being solution focussed. As mothers, we acknowledged that lack of extended family support, cost of living, work commitment, residence status and lack of planning can cause a lot of stress during the 6 weeks summer break.

It was agreed that summer holiday is about resting and enjoying the children. The enjoying bit can be tricky when we are stepping on each other’s toes. Careful planning becomes the bedrock to our intentional loving, graceful-packed and impactful summer break. Keeping things in perspective is also key. Waking up and reminding ourselves and each other of what we are trying to achieve is important.

“Summer 2018 is going to be an awesome !!!”

Does that sounds like an epic goal? Why don’t you go ahead and have something like this, something that reflects your family unit, values and beliefs. You can get the children to be involved and breakdown the goals into daily, weekly activities of keeping EPICSOME. Hang your goals somewhere where you all can see and remind each other.

Here is a skeletal draft that I have just done to give you some ideas on how you can structure your week plans:

For me and the teens, being considerate of each other is key.  This translate to being mindful of what we are doing as a family and if someone needs/ wants to be somewhere or doing something different, to communicate effectively and timely.

When I complete my summer schedule, chore allocation is a priority so we know who is cooking the much needed lunch dinner, loading the washing machine etc. We have to remain functional without too much nagging. I function better with some structure and it helps me with accountability as well.

Summer holidays are about recharging, renewal and resting. Depending on the age groups of your children, again being deliberate about networking and meeting other moms is good as well. Well planned play dates, can easily give you a well-earned break, time to yourself.

Being on a budget is fundamental. Workout, have an idea of how much you are spending during this long school break. Involving the children in this financial planning can help to ease expectations as they know how much is in the holiday pot. Picnics are easy, affordable yet to memorable. Again depending on the age groups, picnic can be in the garden, at a National Trust https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ home is even greater. The manor houses and immaculate gardens add that awesome feel of summer.

On a large-scale we talked about organisations, communities, charity organisations that are already doing a lot of work with the youth and young people. Organisations such as Africa Youth Arise, http://africanyoutharise.org/ they do a lot of amazing workshops and retreats for 11-25yr olds. The lighthouse summer daily camp is very popular and for mothers of faith, it is a great resource to have hand.

How about asking our local churches to plan activities for the children during the summer break. Yes it does require lots of planning, DBS etc but how much are our children worth? We agreed that we need to invest in our children’s lives.

We hope you have a great summer. We hope you realise that you have in you the power, ability and resources to make it great, however you chose it.

Would love to hear your summer story planning. Thanks for stopping by x

Mama

Mama

Day 10

“You are the bows from which your children

as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,

and He bends you with His might

that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies,

so He loves also the bow that is stable”. Khalil Gibran

What a privilege to be called mom. My transitioning into motherhood was fraught with fear, uncertainty, depression and ignorance. I struggled with attachment and then got separated from my son at 11months whilst I came to UK. It was by choice, by the way. Was I thinking straight? I am not sure. Anyway, that a story on its own for another day.

There is a grace to make it even if you started badly. That grace is available today for you. Reach out to Him to help you. Motherhood challenging as it is, can be fulfilling. I ask the father of all flesh to bless you with His love, grace and favor today as you look to Him for guidance. May He show you His tender mercies and the beauty of His strong everlasting arms. Feel His warm embrace and the lifting of burdens.

Lord we thank you and honour you today and always. ♥️🙏🏽

Fear

Fear

Day 8

This week a lot of planning will take place in preparation for our parenting webinar first anniversary celebration end of this month. It’s such an exciting and beautiful milestone. There is an element of being fearful and worried as it’s our first.

Today I pray that you may found joy in what you do, be it at home or outside. I pray that you may find fulfilment and a sense of purpose.

For those in the work environment outside of home we can take inspiration from Daniel. Him and his friends were diligent and they excelled beyond their peers.

We declare that we are builders in His kingdom. Builders of families, communities and nations.

We are putting our hands to the plough this morning going forward and declare that we are effective. We take inspiration from Nehemiah. His assignment in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem was huge and daunting. Nehemiah sought the help and counsel of His God. He prayed and asked for help. Nehemiah also looked for skilled, diligent and committed helpers. I pray that you will find helpers in fulfilling the task ahead.

May the week be great. ♥️🙏🏽

Choice

Choice

Day 6

May your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears’ Nelson

Some days I wake up with an enormous sense responsibility in raising our children to be everything that they are meant to be. That can be crippling when the what if’s are glaring at you. I do not know about you but those moments can easily leave us in a place of fear when we look at what is around us and what is happening around the globe. I want to challenge you today and say mamma choose hope in place of fear.

Hope is trusting, hope is believing in the beauty of the future with resounding confidence, and that’s what we bestow upon our children. My prayer for you today is that the Lord fill you to overflow with hope as you continue to trust Him.

I pray that you will choose faith. Faith to know that you are qualified and equipped to raise your children. You have it in you. Look deep inside yourself. Faith to reach out in confident surrender when it all gets too much, which it does many a times depending where you are in your journey.

Above all, I pray that you will choose love. That, you will love yourself, yes, you. Love you more, appreciate you more, be in love with you. I believe when we do that, we give others permission to love us and love us better.

♥️🙏🏽

Purpose

Purpose

Day 5-

A story is told of a woman who poured out a bottle of very expensive perfume on Jesus and went on to wipe his feet with her beautiful hair. Those who were with Jesus, his friends are said to have been flabbergasted, angry and disappointed with both Jesus and this woman. This woman was not meant to be around Jesus, she was a sinner and a woman. At the time men and women didn’t mingle together. Most importantly, they felt she was incredibly thoughtless in wasting the expensive perfume.

-In our journey as wives, mothers, friends, colleagues, some of our actions will not make sense.

-There is a point in our journey that our purpose becomes very clear. Don’t be persuaded otherwise.

Today I pray that when that time comes, it finds you ready to break the barriers and cynicism that life throws at you. I pray that you will not pay attention to nay sayers but do what feels right to you. I pray that you will give yourself fully to that purpose.

🙏🏽♥️

Celebrate

Celebrate

Day 4

Tonight on the webinar we were discussing celebrating milestones. We acknowledged that we go through a lot of emotions as our children reach different milestones; first day at nursery, school, university, girlfriends etc.

With the exam season just gone past, we encouraged each other that we should celebrate the effort we put into things:

– Celebrate our children for completing the exams than waiting to celebrate the grades. It is more important to acknowledge their efforts, dedication and commitment.

– Celebrate ourselves for accomplishing our goals too, be it cooking fresh meals consistency for the week, listening to all the teen friendship dramas etc. Buy yourself some flowers, paint your nails, go out for coffee.

Celebrations can take different forms to suit the family, budget, child’s age personality etc. Examples were given of cooking the child’s favourite meal, prayer, thank you note, verbal acknowledgements of his/her efforts.

I remember the stress we were under when big brother wrote his GCSE. It was monumental! What didn’t help was that his mock results were beyond shocking but appalling in every sense of the word.

Initially, I panicked and then quickly remembered to turn to God. I poured my heart out to Him and I can tell you when I got up from my knees, I looked my boy square in the eye and told him it was going to be ok.

I remember very well sharing this with a sister from church that I was praying and believeing God for my son’s results. The sister chided and reminded me that the boy needs to revise. Yes, that’s true. What I knew was that if his mocks were anything to reflect his current capabilities, there was no way a couple of months’ revision would do to give us acceptable grades. Anyhow, when the boy wrote his last exam, we celebrated. We thanked God that he didn’t buckle down with pressure.

I am grateful to tell you that the boy did pass and exceeded everyone’s expectations. Some may agree with him and say, he is capable. I believe prayer works.

We also wanted to acknowledge and celebrate the #1styear milestone of this parenting webinar. Exactly a year on 31.7.17, we embarked on this journey and it has been phenomenal with lots of learning, support and encouragement.

We would like to celebrate you the mother’s that have encouraged us so much along the way.

Watch the space for more details.

Eternally grateful. ❤🙏🏽