Parenting is tough as it is, but during a pandemic, when services are closed or stretched to breaking, the lifelines that we rely on are unavailable, friends and family are inaccessible, it can be incredibly hard. It can also have some unexpected benefits, or moments of discovery.
With huge thanks to the National Lottery for a grant, we are talking about all things parenting, in a pandemic, with a host of guests and experts sharing their experiences.
We hope you find some solidarity, and some laughs here! We certainly did.
Episode 1 - Opening your Mother Box
Welcome to Parenting in a Pandemic - our first podcast and an introduction to Becoming Mums, the support group, to Liz and Fi, it's founders and to the issues we will be exploring!
Episode 2 - Everlasting February and Crinoline
Ever looked out of your window and thought about all the other parents in their houses, going through exactly what you are? Join us to talk about connections, baby classes, tribalism and how the pandemic has impacted.
Episode 3 - Anxiety and a week of cat sick
Anxiety, when is it normal, when is it too much? How do we know what to expect as a new mum, and is anxiety often overlooked?
This episode we talk to Joanna Maher, a trainee clinical psychologist about research she is doing in to postnatal anxiety, and whether social support services impact positively.
If you want to take part in her research, the study is for UK based, first-time Mums who are over 18. The study is looking at the experience of stress, anxiety and social support after giving birth, and it is hoped that this research will help us better understand how to support new Mums during such an important and precious time in your child’s life.
Please note that all your response are anonymous and you will not be asked to share in detail about your experiences. A current or previous diagnosis of depression or anxiety does not exclude you from taking part.
For further details about the study and to take part please follow the link below:
or contact [email protected] for more details.
If you are experiencing anxiety and need help, please contact your GP, health visitor or midwife. You can also find help from the Berkshire Perinatal Mental Health Service, the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, the charity MIND and you'll find more links on our website
Episode 4 - Your Stories
This week we listen to and reflect on three stories of parenting in a pandemic, exploring the challenges, the unseen moments, the mental health difficulties, from giving birth during lockdown to finding strength for your three children, all of these stories reflect love and bravery in the face of great challenges. You can find all ten stories, told in the words of the women themselves on our website.
If you need help with any of the issues raised in this podcast, please go to our website to find links and resources that may help. becomingmums.com
Episode 5: Party Bag Etiquette and Physical Activity for Mental Health with Sport in Mind
We talk this week with Kayleigh from Sport in Mind, a charity who help improve mental health through physical activity and sport. We all know that the more we get out, get up and get moving, the better we can feel.
We talk about disastrous fitness classes, the barriers to getting outside, how habit forming helps, and how important for our mental health activities are that are fun, social, welcoming and 'unfailable'!
Join our free, fun, relaxing and uplifting movement sessions in Christchurch Meadows in April. Check our website, facebook or sportinmind.org for more details.
Episode 6: Pom poms and Practical Pampering
What is it you wish you'd gotten after the birth of your baby? Food? An empty wash basket? Reassurance? A clean kitchen? This week Liz an Fi talk through the heady newborn times and what kind of help we wished we'd asked for. Offers of popping over can sometimes be met with anxiety, sleep deprivation or feeding problems and despite well-intentioned offers of help, we'd often choose to decline them for fear of putting friends and family out of their way. So we are launching our new Practical Pampering voucher - a gift that keeps on giving and helps take the awkwardness out of asking for the help that you really need. You can find the voucher on our website, facebook and instagram pages! Download it, give it to friends and family, put in the congratulations card, use it to start a conversation with your partner about what you want in the early months of new baby land. Let us know how it goes!
Episode 7: A World of Single Parenting
Being a single parent can be hard work and a lot to juggle without a pandemic thrown into the mix, but it can also be liberating and freeing. We are joined by solo mum of one and University lecturer Beth, who discusses the emotions, practicalities, benefits and downsides, and how to let go and live in a world where good enough is really good enough.
Episode 8: Advocacy with Reading Maternity Voices
Covid-19 has been a challenge in so many ways but particularly for those facing birth. We talk to Reading Maternity Voices about the issues faced by women and their birth partners during the pandemic; scans, appointments, birth plans and how they were able to resolve and mediate an emotionally turbulent time.
Emma joins Liz & Fi to talk about who Reading Maternity Voices are, the gap that they fill and how important it is to have someone on your side, asking the questions and supporting you through the unknown. We explore how feedback is essential to the growth of hospital maternity care and how to add yours.
You can find them at http://readingmaternityvoices.org.uk or via their Facebook page for more information on help, feedback and volunteering.
Episode 9: In a Class of her Own
Amongst a multitude of cancellations in 2020, hybrid e-learning and zoom calls - antenatal, newborn & toddlers classes that had previously met in person found themselves on screen and for some part, temporarily abandoned.
For parents it meant keeping little ones entertained by way of a screen and for the organisers it meant new equipment, rapid learning and fast skill set expansion.
But what did it mean for everyone? Were online classes able to provide the same stimulation and support? Erratic internet connections and low boredom thresholds for screen time proved a hurdle for some and to occupy others. We talk about the pitfalls and benefits of online classes with Lou Fox Potter from The Mummas Village about what it meant for our mental health, finances, routines & day to day interactions for our children and for us.
Where do classes go from here and can they get back to what they were before?
You can find The Mummas Village online via their website and on their Instagram & Facebook pages.
Episode 10 : Confessions!
This week, for the series finale, Liz & Fi read out your confessions! From the nightmare poo to the mental load, we talk about the things you've told us and why sometimes you feel it's hard to say out loud.
We talk about the hilarious moments that take parents by surprise; explosive nappies, secret poos, animal stampedes (!) and the intensely hard newborn days. We also chat about the things we weren't expecting to be so hard, how we managed and how we feel when we see others embarking on starting a family.
Join us for this series final episode before we return later in May for series 2!
Series 2, Episode 11: Shielding and JCBs
For many of us, 2020 was a year of bubbles, zoom & online food shopping, but what about those who weren't able or didn't want to open up the doors any more than was possible.
Government guidelines strongly advised that clinically extremely vulnerable people should have stayed at home at all times, apart from going out to exercise or attend a medical appointment - but what was the reality of that for a young family?
We talk to Lucy, who shielded for most of 2020 to protect her family, especially her partner, who was clinically vulnerable. We discuss how she managed with her two young children with her partner working from home and no childcare; what implications there were financially for her family and how she is today.
Series 2, Episode 12: Mask Problems and the Importance of Community
This week, Liz & Fi talk with Shona - a mother of two small children, marketing graduate and founder of Berkshire Mummies; a lifestyle, family outdoor venturing hub and creative space for everything in and around Berkshire designed for parents, grandparents and carers. She is passionate creating a community designed to support & inspire others to get outside and make memories.
We talk about her enthusiasm behind the brand, the challenges that Covid brought her and her vision for the future. How the pandemic changed her outlook, how she helped others and how feedback is fundamental to her growth & inspiration.
You can find Berkshire Mummies on Instagram, Facebook & at www.berkshiremummies.co.uk for more information.
Series 2: Episode 13
**Trigger warning** Domestic Violence/Domestic Abuse/Coercive Control/Sexual Violence/Rape
Every 30 seconds the police receive a call for help relating to domestic abuse with 1 woman in 4 experiencing domestic abuse over the course of her lifetime.
2020 was challenging for many people, but for those suffering from domestic abuse, life became more isolated than ever before.
ONS reported in November 2020 that ‘There has generally been an increase in demand for domestic abuse victim services during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly affecting helplines as lockdown measures eased; this does not necessarily indicate an increase in the number of victims, but perhaps an increase in the severity of abuse being experienced, and a lack of available coping mechanisms such as the ability to leave the home to escape the abuse, or attend counselling’.
We talk with Andrea , CEO of Berkshire Women’s Aid about the challenges they faced when Covid-19 disabled their most important lines of communication, how they adapted and the issues they faced along the way.
We discuss the signs, the help and where to go for those living with domestic abuse.
You can find more information below;
Berkshire Womens Aid
0118 950 4003
0808 2000 247
0808 802 5565
Series 2: Episode 14
The cost of childcare in Britain has risen 5 per cent in the last 12 months according to a report by Coram Family and Childcare Trust, which produces a comprehensive annual survey of the industry. The spiralling cost is now double the rate of inflation and families are on average paying £131.61 a week or just over £6,800 a year for a part-time nursery place (25 hours a week).
Liz and Fi discuss how childcare costs are crippling families, contributing to household poverty and affecting the economy. Pregnant Then Screwed say '46% of mothers being made redundant blame a lack of childcare provision during the Covid-19 pandemic...This lack of childcare is destroying women’s careers, they are being made redundant, they are being forced to cut their hours, and they are being treated negatively all because they are picking up the unpaid labour'.
You can sign the petition here or visit Pregnant Then Screwed for more info on how to help the change.
Series 2: Episode 15
Cervix Checks and Emigration
This week Liz and Fi talk with Jen, a languages teacher, artist and creator who emigrated to Switzerland during 2020.
We discuss moving in a pandemic, whilst pregnant with her third child, and starting over - the cultural differences, the importance of connections and language exposure. Jen and her family live in Zurch, Switzerland having moved from Bristol in 2020. We cover the unexpected, the planned, and leaving life to fate when a pandemic has other ideas, as well as how to find time for yourself when life can get beyond chaotic.
Series 2: Episode 16
Frontal Lobes and LGBTQIA Rights
In this weeks episode we talk to Roz Ward; Safe Schools Coalition (Australia) co-founder and LGBTQIA+ activist, based in Melbourne. We discuss the journey of Safe Schools, why it was founded and the issue it's faced - from Government backlack to personal attack and how it's shaped the education system in Australia. We explore how it's impacted her personally now she's a parent and her hopes for the future of the LGBTQIA+ community and society as a whole.
Series 2: Episode 17
And How Does That Make You Feel?
Last year saw a dramatic increase of couples seeking therapy as a consequence of new strains on relationships with psychologists and relationship experts suggested that the pandemic has no doubt made people reconsider their relationships, especially as quarantine began to highlight longstanding issues.
This week we talk to Lisa Bruton, a psychotherapist for individuals, families and couples to discuss why it's been so much harder to keep things healthy and how we can ensure that we look after ourselves so we can look after our children.
If you feel you'd benefit from any of the issues discussed you can contact Lisa at [email protected] or visit www.mind.org.uk for strategies and suggestions on balance, perspective and understanding.
Series 2: Episode 18
Fighting the Good Fight
A lot has happened during the last year, and Covid has been only one of these landscape changing events. The murder of George Floyd triggered a surge in dialogue about racism, disabled people in England found themselves forced to sign do not resuscitate orders when admitted to hospital.
We speak to Nada, a powerhouse of a community campaigner, about Black Lives Matter, social justice, young people and activism and how she navigated all these conversations with her own family. Experiencing war and dictatorship in Iraq as a child, she sees the vital importance of democracy and our right to protest.
Disabled People Against Cuts
Reading BAME Facebook group
Series 2: Episode 19
Not a Woman's Job
In a recent study, (Invisible Household Labor and Ramifications for Adjustment: Mothers as Captains of Households) published Tuesday in the journal Sex Roles, the paper offers original data to illustrate the widespread phenomenon of invisible labour — and its depressing impact on women's emotional and psychological well-being.
"Do [mothers] disproportionately feel like they're running their ship on their own?" said Suniya S. Luthar, co-author of the study and foundation professor of psychology at Arizona State University. "Just putting a number to that alone is a service to womankind." Based on Luthar's survey of 393 American married or partnered mothers, many of whom were upper middle-class, the answer to her question is a resounding yes. Nearly 90 percent of the participants said they bore sole responsibility for organising their family's schedules. Seventy percent said they were "captain" of their ship and routinely completed and assigned household tasks. That includes the everyday drudgery of getting birthday party accessories, finding someone's socks, or coordinating lifts to and from activities. Or as Luthar puts it: "All that nonsense that keeps churning around in our heads all the time."
So this week we talk about what it is, why we find it challenging and how we go about changing it - for the sake of ourselves and our children.
Series 2: Episode 20
Where Do We Go From Here?
In the final episode of Parenting in a Pandemic, Liz and Fi discuss life resembling something of what it was and how we piece things back together, whilst living alongside Covid-19.
Joined by guest and GP, Anjalee, we discuss what it means for our children at school and what's on the horizon for the next few years. How do we prioritise our own mental health whilst parenting and how to educate our family about vaccines and the importance of maintaining good hygiene.
We reflect on the guests that we've had on and what they've brought to the series and we discuss our next upcoming project, creative writing and embroidery workshops that enable women to reflect, discuss and create whilst navigating the journey of motherhood.
You can find more information at www.maternaljournal.org and www.becomingmums.com or by visiting our Facebook & Instagram pages @becomingmums.