postpartum support

The Importance of Transparent Parenting

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When I give a presentation about Village and the realities and challenges of parenthood and working life, I can at times get quite passionate and emotive. The Village Foundation was born of personal experience and research and both elements have details that can bring up emotions, memories, and truths, particularly during question time when I am often asked about my personal experiences. One of the reasons I developed Village, was to create a platform where truths were told and received with openness, understanding, and compassion. The key to starting here is truths being told, and this needs to start with me as the founder, and as an advocate for transparent parenting. I have been very open and vocal about my experiences with postpartum depression 8 years ago and my experiences as a new fulltime working mother over the past 2 years. Not everything I have to say is warm and fuzzy, rather, I deliberately share the things that often go unsaid, that others may find uncomfortable to hear. I’ve chosen not to hide the reality of being a working mum, of being a mum who isn’t a ‘natural’, of being a mum who prefers to work, like so many women and men are forced to do; pretending that all is ok and that they are unchanged by their new reality.


What does this mean? It means that like many working parents, I may not always be 100% focused. I may be thinking about my daughters, torn between the old me and the new me that is up with them all night, comforting them when they’re sad or sick and always partially thinking of them. I may be on the brink. And for me, in this role, it means I will state that I’m exhausted if I’m exhausted, that I’ve had little sleep, that I sometimes forget my train of thought. It means I'll openly state that I love being the ‘secondary' caregiver, that I prefer working to reading stories. It means I will openly state the conflict between loving my girls wholeheartedly and not loving all the daily details. It means I share what I'm feeling and thinking despite how unpleasant or how against the norm it may be. It doesn’t mean I don’t love my work. It doesn’t mean I don’t adore my children. And it doesn’t mean Im not 100% committed. To Both. I challenge the norm, the acceptable, the allowed because it's an illusion that society tells us we ‘should' be, the perfect mothering template. The damage this societal framework does is both explicit and clandestine.

I am deliberate in my honesty and my reality is the reality of many working parents’ lives. Perhaps this is unprofessional, perhaps to my detriment. Perhaps others find it difficult or uncomfortable. Despite this, I strongly believe that it’s imperative to change the existing paradigm. How else do we address the unsaid, if not to say it? I would be inauthentic if I acted otherwise or pretended that I am not often moved to be less than perfectly dispassionate and professional during a presentation or talk.

My telling, however raw or real, does not change the facts.

  • One in 5 women experience postpartum depression.

  • One in 10 men.

  • This has developmental effects on the infant and siblings in the short and long term.

  • These effects flow into the community, the workplace.

  • 80% of mothers experience some form of emotional distress after having a baby.

  • Perinatal mental health costs the Australian industry over $500 million a year in lost

    productivity.

  • The first 4 months back into the workforce after leave are critical to retention.

  • 40% of new dads fear taking leave for career impact.

  • Some women report feeling isolated, disconnected and alone on parental leave.

  • Loss of identity when on leave plays a significant role in mental health.

  • Women seek other parents, who have been there before, to share with.

  • Women will not actively seek help or admit their suffering for fear of shame, and impact on

    career.

Women decided not to make their needs known to others

if they felt the people around them could not offer the kind of support they needed.

  • Negron, Martin, Almog, Balbierz and Howell 2013

This is why I share, this is why I am brutally honest. And this is why I believe wholeheartedly, that Village is so important. Mentoring is key in facilitating wellbeing and connection before, during and after leave which may improve the wellbeing of parents at work, the health and wellbeing of our children, productivity and the bottom line for industry in Australia.

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Do you have a story to share? We are collating real stories, of real working parents. Please email your experience to tiffany@villagefoundationapp.com or call to chat further 0410 943 873.

Do I look good today?

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What do you see?

My hair is back, looking tidy, my makeup is on, I’m wearing a white suit and smiling. I’m on my way to talk to a group of underprivileged young adults about adversity, success, life. 

What they will see initially is someone together and doing pretty well. 

If they look closer, what they may see is that I have brown rice smeared on my lapel that Rumi left on me as I walked out. That I have a smudge on my cheek from where guilty tears ran down my face as I left her feeling unwell with her grandparents. They might notice the dark circles under my eyes because I was up all night as she cried in our bed. They might see my fingernails, broken and spilt or my hair, thinning from not having the time to take care of them, or because my body is still recovering from 16 months of breastfeeding. 

What they won’t see, no matter how hard they look, is the inner battle of being a working mum. The guilt, the tearing of my heart as I pursue my passion but leave her most days. The mental and physical effort it takes to be at a meeting. They won’t know that my hair is back because my daughter was an octopus this morning and showering was out of the question. That I put my makeup on in the car because her tentacles were wrapped over my face and any attempt to put her down resulted in screams from a B-grade horror; that to get to them today meant planning babysitters, school pickups, packed food, and Panadol for her pain. 

I recently watched the Handmaids Tale. I was warned against it because of its intensity,  especially for mothers, and because I stopped watching violence 11 years ago. There’s no doubt the shock value of torture and separation. I can’t help but wonder though if the pain it evokes is somewhat linked to a bit of truth. For me, it absolutely brought my choices into account. Watching it was like having my eyes held open against my will staring straight into the fire at the judgments and guilt and consequences of combining work and family. Maybe from others- definitely from myself. This may sound extreme. I assure you, ask a working mum or dad and the pain can be very real. Many of us have found ways to hide it, justify it, accept it, live with it, downplay it, celebrate it, and work with it. In a society that celebrates achievement, success, equality, and independence what choice do we really, practically, have? (I’ll admit there are days I wish to throw it all in and live in a camper by the ocean homeschooling and growing vegetables.)

The other way some women handle the immense pressure and mental and emotional load is to rebel against the high achieving standard many of us set. Think Bad Moms, or that comedic duo who laugh and joke that perhaps their kid does have nits.. ‘who knows? We don’t actually bother brushing their hair hahahahaha’ *insert laissez-faire head throw back and uncontrollable laughter.

I tend to not find this funny, or helpful. I feel like it’s shielding a sense of overwhelm. Of not being able to manage it all. And this is real and something worth feeling the pain over. How else do we address the injustice and the challenge and what it means for us? To me there’s always some sense in trying to make it happen, in putting the effort in that will be felt and seen by our children. There’s a very delicate balance, or perhaps tension, which I’m sure we all stumble across from time to time when all the stars align, between self care, and self sacrifice and it feels good. It’s kind of like parenting. So much struggle and yelling and frustration and then that one little impromptu kiss from tiny sticky lips that makes it all worthwhile. 

Its a tough gig, there’s no denying it. I wonder if it’s made better by sharing? By coming together in our efforts? By having the occasional days where hair brushing is too hard but then jumping back on the horse the next day. For me I find comfort in the small wins, not in giving up or throwing it all in. Each journey is different, each struggle takes its toll. No judgment here. Just know that if you’re out there trying really hard, feeling it day after day and wondering if you’re alone, that you are absolutely not. I’m here too. So many of us are here, looking good and working hard. But if you reach a liiiitle further in, you’ll see that underneath the suit jackets and mascara, we are all in it together, feeling all the feels.

I feel as though I’ve ranted. Hopefully there’s some sense in there, somewhere. Some measure of comfort and connectedness. This is our 3rd night awake in a row with sick and screaming Rumi, so I’m honestly too tired to know. 

Take care, Tiffany

PS. About the group I’m meeting today - they may not see the challenges, but I’ll be sure to fill them in. Transparency is key!

September 10th is Suicide Prevention Day

This Tuesday September 10th is Suicide Prevention Day. I know that sounds very heavy, but did you know that 1 in 5 maternal deaths is caused by suicide? This is a staggering number. Its hard to imagine that we alone could make a big enough difference in someones life, to prevent a tragedy. And yet, a kind gesture, reaching out, sharing some time, are all important ways that have shown to impact so greatly on peoples lives, that decisions like this are avoided.

If all we do this week, is take an extra 5 minutes to talk to someone, smile at the stranger in the lift, compliment someone, or reach out and ask how they’re going, then we are doing our part. Choose kindness, as they say, and you just never know the impact it can have.

Today, in a moment when I was feeling a little low, an older lady in my community reached out and touched my hand to show me she could see that I wasn’t myself, and that she was there with me. It was a simple, 1 minute interaction that changed my day.

How will you change someone's day today?

Have a beautiful week.

  • If you or someone you know needs support, please use the navigation tool bar to find contact details of various organisations. You are not alone x