It’s easy to say these things in hindsight but how I wish I’d kept a journal during pregnancy and the first weeks of my sons’ lives.
I would have moaned, I know – the aching back, the pain, the hallucinogenic tiredness of those first few weeks – but the entries would help me remember how it felt to be carrying a small person, the excitement, the fear, that incredible fluttering sensation of the first kick.
It might also help me to realise how much easier life is now I don’t have a newborn or show me that I wasn’t getting it as wrong as I thought.
I was talking about this the other day with Natasha Tillie of Sen Wellness at her inaugural Mothering the Mother retreat and saw for myself how therapeutic it can be to share your experiences of motherhood.
We sat in a circle, many of us strangers, most us mothers or mothers-to-be and it was incredible what happened next.
VERY excited about our journal collaboration with the amazing @markandfold. We want to encourage all mothers to have a go at journaling (the art of free therapy!) and have a few of these beautiful #britishmade journals to give away to readers . Time to start jotting down your experiences of pregnancy and motherhood. More details to follow #journals #stationary #notepad #markandfold #writing #creativity #motherhood
Within our little group there were stories of profound sadness, anxiety, fear and also joy, laughter and triumph over adversity.
I suppose it wasn’t really “me” but I’ve learnt over the last few years that “me” is rather different these days. The trust and openness was empowering, therapeutic and life affirming.
But Tash also points out that you don’t have to form a group to do this – you can also document your experiences in a journal.
It seems such an obviously good idea that I’m devastated I haven’t done it – but there’s still time, according to Tash.
The process of journalling isn’t just relevant to the birth, she explains, but to all aspects of motherhood from your fertility journey, through pregnancy to the birth and beyond.
Our conversation inspired me to do some research: journalling dates back to at least the 10th century and has recently been shown to have a number of health benefits.
Writing about stressful events, according to James Pennebaker, a psychologist at the University of Texas, helps you to come to terms with them and thus reduces their impact on your health.
It helps you to clarify your thoughts and get to know yourself – the things that bother you, your fears and desires – and provides a space to voice things that you are unable to vocalise.
A whole load of free therapy, basically, and a complete no brainer for new mums struggling through those first baffling early weeks of motherhood.
With this in mind, I spoke to the people at Mark + Fold, a British stationer that makes beautiful, handmade journals, notebooks and writing paper (look it up!) and they’ve agreed to collaborate with us in a competition.
We will give away a gorgeous, hardback notebook to the first FOUR readers who share an experience of motherhood with us.
It could be your birth story – we all love reading birth stories – or the day you found out your were pregnant, or the moment you decided to give up breastfeeding.
Whatever it is, we would love to read it.
The competition (if you can call it that! all entries will be published) is open until the end of April 2017.
To enter our Motherhood Journey Journal competition … send a journal entry (or entries) detailing your experiences of motherhood (700 to 1200 words) a picture of yourself and a brief biography to info (at) mumfidential.com by 30 April 2017.
The first FOUR entries to meet the above criteria will receive a journal.
For more details about Sen Wellness Mothering the Mother retreats (they take up one morning in London and come highly recommended) see here
How to keep a journal
- Begin anywhere and forget punctuation and spelling
- Write without censor
- Write quickly to free your brain from “shoulds” and other blocks
- Pick a theme if it helps, peace of mind, anger, confusion
- There are no rules, remember. Your journal is your most nonjudgmental friend
- Do it daily for about 20 minutes