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Are you a mum struggling with the whole parenting thing? Do you feel isolated and find it hard to get the kind of uncritical support you need?
A new project could help. Hi Mama was launched last month by two mums – Sophie Taylor and Shelley Lawrence – who have known each other since secondary school.
The project evolved after Sophie had her son two years ago. Shelley has two children aged seven and three and was able to pass on her experience to Sophie. Both women felt they had a really good support network around them and thought it would be a good idea to try and replicate that online for other mums. They researched different possibilities over the space of a few months and put together some of their favourite ideas. They decided the letters to mums idea was the best. “I’ve always liked letters. They are really personal and allow you to delve into your feelings in a bit more depth,” says Sophie.
They both wrote their own letters which they describe as a very cathartic process. “You don’t often get that time and space to reflect on how far you have come since becoming a parent,” says Sophie.
Shelley says it’s a two-way process. “Letter writers can reflect on how far they have come and congratulate themselves. We don’t tend to be very good at doing that,” she says. “And those who might be struggling can read their words and see how they got through it and what they learned in hindsight.”
Digital library of letters
The two mums hope to build a digital library of letters to mums and are thinking of working with midwives to reach new mums. They think the letters provide food for thought in a way that mum forums don’t. “You often find yourself bombarded by different opinions there,” says Shelley. Because they don’t want to be judgemental the letters do not allow for any comments. “It’s about solidarity and support, not beating each other up,” says Sophie.
One of the most popular letters so far is from a mum who had overcome post-natal depression and anxiety. The letters are shared on social media and the feedback has been powerful. Mums said they shared this particular letter with family and friends to show they how they too felt.
The letters deal with many different subjects, from being a single mum to having a stillborn baby to parenting teenagers, having a child with special needs and feeling guilty about having a caesarean section.
At the moment a new story is going up every two days. The site only launched last month with a bank of 16 letters and every Thursday there is a look back to one of the earlier letters so they are not forgotten.
Sophie and Shelley are working mums and work on the project in their spare time. They both work in events marketing. Shelley is freelance and Sophie is just about to start a new part-time job with Bedfordshire police.
They say being a working parent is likely to feature quite a bit in the letters. For instance, they have a letter going up soon on Shared Parental Leave with a mum describing how she felt about taking it and returning to work early.
“The letters show the need for mums to tell their stories,” says Shelley.
*If you want to write a letter to a mum or read the letters of other mums, just go to Hi Mama. You can also contact them on Instagram: @hi_mama_letters Facebook: @himamaletters and Twitter: @hi_mama_letters.