A wonderful guest talk by a team of psychologists from Canterbury Christ Church University, UK, researching kindness for mums. They invite you to get involved and learn how to give yourself more kindness!
While many mothers give kindness freely to friends and families it is not so common for them to stop and notice whether they need a little kindness and care too. Motherhood brings with it so many challenges; from chronic sleep deprivation and feeding worries of the early days to relationship issues, other people’s opinions and a range of emotions.
Despite having to take so much on board while learning how to care for brand new humans, new mums can often be harsh on themselves and try to live up to impossibly high standards. Mothers can find their internal dialogue full of ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ that can maintain a cycle of pressure and negative mood. Some examples of these ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ might be:
‘I should have been able to get out of the house by now’
‘I must find a way to get the baby to sleep more at night’
‘I should be able to feed the baby better by now’
In addition to all these ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ we can sometimes compare ourselves (and our babies) negatively to others:
‘Why can they manage to get their baby to nap in the cot and I can’t?’
‘Why won’t my baby play on the mat like that baby?’
‘Why can’t I interpret what my baby needs but they can?’
It seems likely that this makes it harder for mothers to notice the things they are doing well (or well enough!) in the context of so much change and so many new challenges.
Research studies have shown that being compassionate to ourselves may ease self-criticism and improve well-being. Using our knowledge of this (and other) research, our personal experiences, and from speaking to other mothers, our research team (from Canterbury Christ Church University, UK) have designed an online programme to help mums learn more self-kindness, soothe the ‘inner critic’, and believe in themselves. The programme consists of five sessions, each containing information, quotes from other mums and exercises to try. As we know (from personal experience!) that even brushing your teeth can be a challenge with a new baby at times, we have made sure the programme is flexible and brief. The programme can be accessed on phone, tablet or computer and we suggest approximately ten to fifteen minutes per week for reading and a few minutes each day to try out an exercise but we know people will vary how much they are able to take on board day to day (or night to night!).
The programme is newly developed and at the moment is only accessible as part of our research study so we can investigate whether increasing compassionate thinking can help mum’s well-being. It is free to sign up for the research study and there is a chance to win £50 in vouchers for anyone who takes part. At the moment the study and programme is only accessible for mums in the U.K. If you are interested to find out more and to see if you are eligible, please visit www.kindnessformums.org. Please feel free to share the link with any mums you know – the more people we get involved, the more we can learn about the value of self-kindness for mums to potentially help other mums in the future. Thank you!