What does it mean to be a mother? It is important to discuss the meaning attached to motherhood in our communities. This includes both your personal views on motherhood and the wider cultural beliefs. Mothers face many pressures and challenges. This is especially true for women who have been further marginalized by their race and class. Last week during a mothers’ support group the women who gathered together expressed how society makes them feel that they are not “good enough” mothers. They shared how they feel the need to me superhuman and to never make mistakes. Other challenges that mothers are facing include unemployment and violence.
It is important to remember that motherhood is an individual experience that is unique to each woman. How we choose to be a mother is a personal choice. Mothers come in different forms and women may decide to adopt either by choice or out of necessity. Whatever your ideas about motherhood are, taking care of children is often challenging and it is important to take time out for yourself. Here are 4 ways that you can self-nurture.
Take some time every week to do something that recharges and revitalises you.
What helps you relax? What hobbies or activities do you enjoy doing? By scheduling some time every week that is just for you, you can make it a habit to take care of yourself. As everyone is different it is important to choose a way to spend your downtime that is best for you. You could choose to go for a run or cuddle up in front of TV to watch your favourite movie. You may want to spend time with friends or to set aside some alone time. The important thing is that you take some time to focus on yourself and to do what you enjoy.
Know where to go for comfort
Where do you get your emotional support from? It is important to have people around you that love you unconditionally for who you really are. Friendship satisfaction plays a vital role in self-care. Knowing where to go for comfort is also important. This could be a friend, family member or partner. Having someone who values you for more than just your role as a mother is vital to your emotional well-being. In addition to making you feel valued as a person these people also offer you a safe space to discuss your feelings. Sometimes just taking time out to talk everything through can offer great emotional release.
Rediscover your hopes and dreams
What are your hopes and dreams? The hopes and dreams of mothers often get pushed aside. It can be helpful to revisit your dreams and identify the skills that you have to make your dreams a reality. This can be a useful reminder of what is important to you. You may want to start working towards your dreams or you may choose to put them somewhere safe so that you can start working towards them at a time that is right for you.
Evaluate your beliefs about motherhood
It is important to evaluate your beliefs about motherhood. The beliefs and ways of thinking which feel supportive are good ones to keep. The beliefs that are causing you anxiety or making you feel pressurised need to be examined further. Ask yourself where this belief comes from? Sometimes finding out the root of the belief can help you to analyse it and break it down. Is it a belief that was passed down from your own mother? Sometimes the stories told to us by society are so powerful that we believe that they are true without questioning them. By questioning the authenticity of these beliefs you can create a space to be a mother in a way that feels right to you.
It is important to remember that you are the expert of your own life. Everyone is different so some methods of self-nurture may work for you while others may not be a good fit. These suggestions are to get you started on the journey of self-care so you can start adding your own to the list.
This week Tales of Turning was privileged to host a Parent Effectiveness Training workshop by Lome Cronje. Lome is a trained social worker and play therapist who has been practicing for 20 years. She also trains adults to council children. In 2015 she completed the Parent Effectiveness Instructors Training so she can offer these skills to other parents. P.E.T was developed by DR. Thomas Gordon. Dr. Thomas Gordon is a licenced clinical psychologist who has achieved international acclaim for his work including three Nobel Peace Prize Nominations. He is the author of numerous publications and books. His Parent Effectiveness Training has helped millions of parents across the globe. In Lome’s two hour workshop the mothers learnt how to communicate with their children more effectively. An important part of the workshop was teaching the mothers how to effectively support their children when their children are facing challenging situations. Not only did the mothers learn useful skills they also had an opportunity to share their worries and fears about motherhood. One wonderful activity saw the mothers blowing all their fears into a balloon and releasing them together as a group. When we were enjoying juice and cake after the workshop the mothers had an opportunity to share with me what they thought of the session. One mother summed up the groups thoughts “We are excited about what we learnt today. We feel that we have learnt so much to go home and use with our children”
Tales of Turning hosted a celebration to honour the mothers in the Cato Manor community. Being a mother can be challenging and we wanted to acknowledge the hard work that mothers are doing to raise their children in challenging circumstances. The dedicated members of our mothers group received certificates for participating in our seven week program which includes parenting effectiveness training. The program teaches the mothers how to make educational activities for their children out of recyclable materials that they can find around the house. The mothers also learnt how to develop empathy and self-esteem in their children. The awards ceremony featured speeches by Bongiwe Mthembu and Project Manager Jenna-Lee Strugnell. Phelo Muyanga gave an inspirational speech to the mothers and handed out the certificates. One of our group participants, Gcwalisile Mcineka, told the audience more about her experience participating in the mothers’ group program. Our group participants were encouraged to invite other mothers from the community and we were pleased to see lots of new faces. The media were there to document our event and other members of the public joined in to show their support. The event was an opportunity for people to learn more about the program that the Tales of Turning project runs. Guests were given the opportunity to view an exhibition which featured photos by Matthew Willman (sponsored by Vodacom), Vincent Strugnell and Preston Kyd. The mothers enjoyed a guest performance by singer Linda Gcwensa. A highlight of the day was a performance by our youth dancing group which was led by by Njongo Capoeira. We were fortunate enough to have Ranga Media at the event to document this special occasion. After lots of hard work by the Tales of Turning team we were pleased that the event was such a success.
If you are wandering what Capoeira is all about read this informative article which was shared by Tales of turning volunteer, George Mthembu, who is one of our Capoeira instructors for the Tales of Turning youth program.
“Capoeira is an AfroBrazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music, and is sometimes referred to as a game. It was developed in Brazil mainly by African slaves with native Brazilian influences, probably beginning in the 16th century. Under suppression, Capoeira was outlawed under Penal code around the 1890s eventually being admittedly recognized as a national sport only much later. Today, Capoeira is practiced throughout the world. In South Africa under the mentorship of Mestre Evaldo Bogado de Almeida and other cultural leaders of Rio de Janeiro, the Durban Contemporary groups have been growing from strength to strength in sharing the position change that Capoeira brings communities. Celebrating the African and Brazilian culture in a dynamic mutual exchange.”
“Tales of Turning works with NJONGO CAPOEIRA which was founded in 2011 by Patrick and Natasha Mkhize. The Njongo Capoeira initiative is a movement that seeks to use the art as a medium for community skills development and self help. The isiZulu term “injongo” means purpose or aim. Social mobility being one of the main principles. Activities include music, movements and team building exercises. A sustainable healthy lifestyle for the young and old alike.”
Last month Tales of Turning launched their youth dancing program. This exciting initiative was born out of the community needs that were raised during our mothers support groups. Numerous children have no activities to be involved in after school.This results in an increased chance that children will engage in risk taking behavior. It also increases the chances of girls becoming pregnant before they are ready to be mothers. We decided to offer the boys and girls dancing classes once a week. This gives them the opportunity to engage with positive adult role models. The children also learn a new skill while they have fun with their friends. Dancing is an opportunity for instructors to develop self-esteem in the children of underprivileged communities. George and Patrick as well as their team from NJONGO CAPOEIRA, are responsible for running a group with the boys in Cato Manor. We are over the moon to be able to welcome such inspiring teachers to our project.