A WORKSHOP that acknowledges the life-changing experience of motherhood, and also the overwhelming aspect to it, takes place in Cork next month.
Run by Sinead Kelly, a self- health coach, and Farzana Maudarbaccus, a work and organisational psychologist, the event will, among other things, explore what motherhood stress is, its impact on your physical and mental health as well as your relationships.
“Both myself and Farzana know the experience of motherhood stress,” said Sinead, originally from Crosshaven.
“And so we felt this is a topic that many mothers could relate to and benefit from. My own encounter with motherhood stress was captured perfectly by a quote from a Ben Howard song ‘ All these small things gather around me’. I think it encapsulates the feelings of pressure and loss of control caused by not one big thing but the accumulation of many small things. Small things like trying to get the kid(s) out to school on time when one cuts their knee jumping off the couch, meaning you are going to be late not only for school now but work too,” she said.
Sinead admits to feeling out of balance initially when she became a mum and, in the sleep deprived fog, she tried to cope by over-eating, over-drinking and overuse of social media.
“This is similar for my mum clients, who feel a sense of losing themselves in motherhood and that they don’t know how to fit in looking after themselves.
“Some may behave in ways they dislike when feeling stressed and overwhelmed, such as snapping at their partner or withdrawing from people they love.
“They want to feel more at ease not just for themselves but for their family,” said Sinead.
Sinead and her spouse are parents to a daughter after years of struggling with infertility. And it was her health and fertility challenges that saw her set up her own business to help others.
Her career began in nursing in CUH, which satisfied her need to help people.
“After experiencing different specialities around the world, I fell into doing a Higher Diploma in Safety, Health, and Welfare from UCC. This led me into a very niche typeof nursing called Occupational Health Nursing. Here I supported the health and wellness of employees and spent nine years in companies such as Pfizer, Apple, and Janssen.”
But at a certain point, she began experiencing life challenges, especially around health and fertility.
“These experiences challenged me to review my life, one of the realisations I had was that I craved a deeper purpose from my work.
"My self-development naturally led me to do a Higher Diploma in coaching psychology from UCC. This course was a lifeline and helped me get through my hardest year.
“I felt that I had developed as far as I could as an Occupational Health Nurse and needed to feel like I was thriving again. It was safe to stay where I was, but my frustration was growing.
“I analysed and weighed up all my options, setting up my own business wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I would forever regret it if I didn’t try. It was very scary but amazingly freeing to move away from public and corporate systems that no longer served me, whilst also being very grateful for the extensive experience and learning it gave me.
“Now I can combine all my own personal experiences, career experience, and education towards my coaching. I am so passionate about supporting women to take charge and embrace their health and wellness,” she explained.
A struggle she sees in her mum clients is a sense of losing themselves in motherhood and that they don’t know how to fit in looking after themselves.
“Some may behave in ways they dislike when feeling overwhelmed. They want to feel more at ease not just for themselves but for their family. We approach this workshop as we would with our clients, looking at how to reduce stress by looking after yourself more and also how to tackle stress in the moment.”
The workshop, which takes place on September 4, is suited best for mums of kids aged 0 to 12 whether they are a 2 or 1 parent family, whether they have 1 child or 10.
It will cover:
- Exploring what motherhood stress is, its impact on your physical and mental health as well as your relationships.
- Why looking after yourself is so important for tackling motherhood stress.
- How to deal with stress when it arises in the moment.
- Assessment of your own personal health and wellness.
- Step by step tools for introducing realistic and lasting healthy habits to care for yourself, starting now.
Sinead feels that mums put pressure on themselves to be perfect and do things ‘right’ for various reasons.
“For me personally, as I had gone through years of infertility treatments, I put pressure on myself to be constantly grateful and happy that I finally had my baby. However, when my daughter couldn’t sleep I would shame myself for feeling frustrated.
“Farzana, my colleague, in the past would feel guilty when leaving her children to do something small for herself, even if they were with their dad. Mothers receive messages from everyone... society, social media, colleagues, family, friends, etc, about what a good mother is and how we should behave. These messages start when we are kids ourselves so we can internalise those messages and act on them, even if we don’t fully believe them to be true for ourselves. It’s difficult to remove these long term, ingrained messages about motherhood.
“So I believe the first step is to take small amounts of time to look after your own needs. It’s small gestures where you allow yourself to be a priority too. This brings more balance and energy into your life so you can give to your family from a strong and nourishing place.”
Social media, she says, can be both helpful and unhelpful when it comes to reinforcing our own expectations of motherhood.
“If we follow mums online that are being really honest about the experience of motherhood, the ups and downs, well then, we might find it easier to be more honest with ourselves that motherhood is both amazing and challenging.
“Consider the people you follow online and how they make you feel, do you feel accepted and do you find them to be a relatable role model? Or, after scrolling their content, do you feel inadequate and blame yourself for not being a good enough mother? If so, maybe it’s time to unfollow.”
The event takes place at 7pm on September 4. See Eventbrite for more, and for ticket details.
It will be pre-recorded for those that can’t make it on the evening