#HeyMum With Red Letter Days and PANDAS!
Having a first baby is an incredibly daunting experience as well as, of course, a very happy one. I remember being terribly fearful of so many things when I was pregnant with Florence and it didn’t mean that I wasn’t looking forward to becoming a mother, just that I was walking into the unknown. I knew no one in my area and I can’t pretend that I didn’t worry about being lonely and isolated. As it turns out I was super lucky because my midwife hooked me up with Carly, now one of my best friends, and together we went to baby groups and met our gang. Those ladies with babies of the ‘Stone (as we called ourselves when we all lived in Leytonstone) were a bit of a lifeline for me and even though now we most of us don’t live there any more, we do all meet up as often as we can and being with them is like putting on an old pair of shoes – we just feel right! I met up with them on Saturday just gone because this is our tenth year of friendship and we had a glorious meal (and boozy after party) as we still swapped mum tips, held each other’s hands and generally made each other smile!
For me first time parenthood was made beyond happy with my friends on hand for advice and help. Ears to listen on down days, mouths to give encouragement and solidarity and shoulders to lean on when needed as well as arms to link as we navigated those first months and years of raising babies. None of knew a blooming thing but we muddled through and got there with the support of one another. This support network was greatly boosted by the resources of Sure Start, a group with which if we’d been without could have made for a very different experience for all of us. I can’t help but wonder about women today because of course these days we don’t really have the resources of Sure Start and yet pregnant women and women who have just given birth must still find themselves alone, isolated and in need of friends and care, so where do they go?
And what if it’s not just friendship they need? What if they are suffering with their mental health, something one in five new mothers experience? 56% percent of parents with children under the age of five also say they have felt lonely?! I was lucky that my Sure Start group would have helped me with any of these problems but now… Well, luckily there ARE charities like PANDAS who offer pre and post natal depression advice and support (something our government OUGHT to be doing rather than cutting) by organising groups, networks and positive support for women who are in need. It’s utterly shambolic that PANDAS has no financial help other than donations when this level of care is fundamental but this IS the situation we are in so thankfully we also have companies like Red Letter Days who want to support charities like PANDAS and raise necessary funds for their work!
PANDAS, which has a help line for anyone who needs support and advice around their mental health either before or after giving birth (0808 1961 776 open 7 days a week from 9am – 8pm) can also help with peer support groups, introducing you to an online community and many more things. It’s incredibly important for both the women who have a simple case of baby blues and hormones flying all over the place to others who are suffering with more severe problems, basically having a new baby is a bit of a time for everyone and some need more help than others – through PANDAS other information for new mums is also available, things as simple as how to make friends using groups like MushMums or the Happity App. Basically, it IS simple but also not always easy to access on your own and yet all of it is invaluable!
So with PANDAS relying solely on donations isn’t it brilliant that Red Letter Days, the guys you go to when you want to buy a special experience gift for someone you love (not JUST new mums) will donate 20% of their sales to PANDAS in the run up to Mother’s Day. From the 9th to the 22nd of March any gifts you buy through Red Letter Days and 20% will go to the charity to help raise funds for the crucial work they do around supporting families experiencing perinatal mental health conditions.
Not only that but they have also come up with the initiative, supported by Mush Mums, to send thoughtful messages of encouragement to new mums from other mums. They have arranged for special post boxes to be located throughout the country where a selection of Mother’s Day Cards will be next to it (only a certain amount in each location but you can buy your own) for you to post words of the wise mum to the new mum and Red Letter Days will deliver it to a new mum in need of a boost. All you have to do is write your message and post the card in an unsealed envelope into the special box (locations below). Should you not have a box near you then don’t worry, buy a card anyway, write your message and post it to Red Letter Days Campaign, c/o Keyboards & Dreams, Ground Floor, 34-35 Hatton Garden, EC1N 8DX’, where a member of the Red Letter Days team will keep it safe and deliver it to somebody who’ll greatly benefit from your kind words!
You can also hare a photo of yourself posting your card on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, tagging @RedLetterDaysUK and using the hashtag #HeyMum. Five people will be selected at random to win a Red Letter Days voucher, which they can redeem on a once-in-a-lifetime experience of their choice! What an incentive! We’ve been on a Red letter Day and it is a brilliant idea for a gift – read all about our day at London Zoo last summer here!
Need some inspo? Red letter Days suggest including your name, age and a bit about yourself and your family in your message, and don’t forget to wish the recipient a Happy Mother’s Day! Perhaps you could tell them something you wish you’d known when you had a new baby. All cards will be vetted, so keep messages positive, friendly and sensitive, and leave envelopes unsealed. In mine I wrote about listening to all advice but knowing that you are the only one who knows what your baby needs so having the confidence to dismiss it and go your own way and also to remember that being a first time mum is tiring and hard and yes it’s brilliant too but some days are never ending so just to keep in mind that when you look back you do only remember the good bits and to try and enjoy the moments as they really do go very quickly. I also wrote about how sleep deprivation is a form of torture that was used in WW2 and yet Mums endure it every day, especially in those first few months – because we are ROCK!
I had breakfast with Red Letter days this morning at Ziggy Green, an intimate restaurant in Mayfair, with a selection of influencers, journalists and celebrities to launch this brilliant initiative. We were also treated to a VERY relaxing manicure by the Le Salon team and gifted some super goodies from pampering brands including a lush sounding treat for two from Red Letter Days! Take a look at my morning – sometimes it really IS nice to give a mummy a boost!
Locations for the postboxes are:
- Flagship Postbox: Biscuiteers, 13 Northcote Rd, London SW11 1NG
- Stanford’s, 7 Mercer Walk, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9FA
- Cuckooz Nest, 24 Ray St, Farringdon, London EC1R 3DJ
- Stepney City Farm, Stepney Way, Stepney Green, London E1 3DG
- Pickled Pepper Pot Books, 10 Middle Ln, Crouch End, London N8 8PL
- BOXPARK Croydon, 99 George St, Croydon CR0 1LD
- BOXPARK Wembley, 18 Olympic Way, Wembley Park, Wembley HA9 0JT
- Windmill Hill City Farm, Philip St, Bristol, BS3 4EA
- Bristol Aquarium, Anchor Rd, Bristol BS1 5TT
- Jubilee Library, Jubilee St, Brighton, BN1 1GE
- Brighton Women’s Centre, 22 Richmond Pl, Brighton BN2 9NA
- Cardiff Central Library Hub, The Hayes, Cardiff CF10 1FL
- Canton Library, 4 Library St, Cardiff CF5 1QD
- Penylan Library and Community Centre, Pen-Y-Lan Rd, Cardiff CF23 5HW
- Wigwam Coffee Shop, 70 Rose Ln, Liverpool L18 8AG
- Victoria Gallery & Museum, Ashton Street, Liverpool, L69 3DR
- Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley St, Manchester, M2 3JL
- Mama Sanctuary, 1 Prince’s St, Stockport SK1 1SL
- Magna Science Adventure Centre, Magna Way, Rotherham, S60 1FD
- Eureka! National Children’s Museum, Discovery Rd, Halifax, HX1 2NE
- Museum of Childhood, 42 High St, Edinburgh, EH1 1TG
- RedBox Marchmont, 2-6 Spottiswoode Rd, Edinburgh EH9 1BQ
- Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Chamberlain Square, Birmingham, B3 3DH
- The Maple Tree Children & Family Centre, Littleworth Road, Wheately, Oxford, OX33 1NW
Please check the opening times of each individual venue before you plan your visit.
I had a really lovely morning and was also gifted a lush goodie bag so in addition to my Red Letter Day treat for two and manicure from Le Salon I’d like to thank: Sweaty Betty, Parks London Candles, Smith England Hair, Love Boo Shop, Livias, Triyoga UK, Phil Smith Be Gorgeous, Nailberry and Bloom and Blossom.