Secondary school friends, Shelley Lawrence and Sophie Taylor, launched hi mama in 2017. In their contribution to #thebigselfcareshare for Maternal Mental Health Week, they talk about their own maternal challenges and how this inspired them to create a digital space for other mothers to share their experiences.
Tell us about yourselves
We both found motherhood more challenging than we expected, so we wanted to create somewhere for mothers to share their experiences in a place of no judgement, to help others to feel less isolated and alone. Letters have a poignancy and an intimacy and give you the freedom to explore your feelings honestly, especially writing a letter to your past-self. It really allows the writer time to reflect, so they can also appreciate how far they have come. We have now created a digital library of almost 150 letters on many motherhood subjects, including miscarriage, maternal mental health, single parenthood, birth, feeding, sleep and baby loss. So many readers and writers have told us the letters have helped them and we are determined to reach more mamas with the project.
What does self-care mean to each of you?
Shelley – It’s so easy to get lost in the day-to-day routine that, as a mum, generally revolves around a lot of other people before yourself. Self-care is something I am starting to consciously think about, be it getting up 20 minutes before everyone to do some exercise or taking time to plan and think about my passions. I see self-care as something I do for me that makes my heart sing and boosts my mood, that is separate from my family’s needs.
I see self-care as something I do for me that makes my heart sing and boosts my mood, that is separate from my family’s needs.
Sophie – Self-care is hard to achieve when you’re busy and sometimes I feel like I’m nearing a breaking point before I remember it’s needed. I went for a spa morning by myself when Felix was quite little and Shelley, another friend and I went to a spa on Saturday and it was so relaxing it honestly felt like a holiday. But I can’t rely on a spa to deliver my self-care! I think it’s accessing time that’s really yours and particularly at this time of life, as a working mum, it has to involve some kind of relaxation, even if that’s getting into bed just half an hour earlier.
I first discovered you through Instagram and found writing my letters so therapeutic. Tell me, what do you think the benefits of writings a letter are?
Shelley – Before we launched we both sat down and wrote our own letters to ourselves (which you can find on the site). My letter was about my first emergency C-section. It took me there, but instead of feeling like a failure as I had always before, it allowed me to step back and see how far I had come since that time. There’s something about talking to your past self with hindsight that really allows you to congratulate yourself in a way we just don’t do in general. It feels freeing.
Sophie – I think it’s how cathartic it can be to revisit a time that you found difficult and exonerate a lot of the ghosts or bad feeling. My first letter was about my son’s lack of sleep in the first year and writing about it made me realise how hard it had been but also what kind of mother I was and how proud I am now to have got through it.
If you could offer a tip on getting started with writing your own letter, what would it be?
Shelley – I’d say plan to have some time alone to think about it first, some peace to really revisit how you were feeling in that time and what you would say to yourself.
We want to hear as many voices of mothers as possible as they are all important, relevant and worth sharing.
Sophie – It doesn’t have to be perfect or have an epic journey – it’s your letter and is your experience of motherhood. We want to hear as many voices of mothers as possible as they are all important, relevant and worth sharing. And we publish every letter we receive.
Can you each share a self-care tip, something that’s helped you in the path to being kinder to yourself?
Shelley – I’m not one for giving tips or advice as I’m still figuring it all out myself, but that has been key for me the last few years… knowing that everyone else is too. I think once you accept that everyone is just trying their best, we are all just figuring it out as we go, it allows you to stop comparing and be kinder to yourself. For me, it’s finding the time for self-care, so I’d say schedule it in – it’s time well spent!
Sophie – I’m going to follow what Shelley said and also work out how I can replicate that spa feeling when I’m at home!
Thank you, Shelley and Sophie, for taking part in #thebigselfcareshare, and for telling us more about what inspired you to create hi mama. You can read their digital library of letters by visiting the hi mama website or by following them on social media: