"I'm not just a mum!"

About: Chilwell Children's Centre

(as the patient),

Prior to becoming pregnant I had a long established career in offices. I was busy and well-used to the buzz of the workplace. I am a quiet and introverted person by nature and work provided me with solid reasons to get out of the house and talk to other people.

On becoming a mother I learned just how isolating being alone with a baby during the day can be. My friendships melted away without the time or energy to go to out at night. My hair and clothes took a much lower priority than before. I no longer felt “professional”. I was losing part of my identity.

I attended baby groups fairly regularly but on my son's first birthday I cried. I was happy with my life and proud of what I had achieved. However part of me was missing- I felt like I hadn't truly connected with any of the other mothers. I needed more conversation during the day, and much as it was hard to admit to myself, I needed time away from my child.

When I saw the confidence course was available I saw it as a way to introduce my son to the idea of being apart from me for short periods of time in the crèche, and to give me something else to think about. Specifically the course has helped me to gain an understanding of where confidence comes from and to be more open to building it for myself. It has enabled me to feel part of a great class of hugely talented and inspirational women who all want to connect and work on ourselves.

The other learners have shared their ideas and experiences over the weeks. We have enthused, and become each other’s cheerleaders and at times comforters. I feel privileged to get to know them. In addition to the other students I also include the tutor, Emma Castledine. She is a warm and generous spirit, who has led us and encourages us to want to better ourselves, without judgement.

Several of us moved on together to take Emma's subsequent courses on Transferable Skills and Assertiveness. During these I feel that I kept on building on the work done through the Confidence course. I learned more about myself and my choices in interacting with other people. I also felt inspired to rewrite my CV. I am not currently looking for work outside of the home- but fully recognise that I need to have it ready for when I do want to return to the workforce, as well as my “professionalism”, self identity, and self worth that had been a little ground-down by motherhood.

One aspect of parenting that we discussed in Transferable Skills, that I had not previously considered is leadership. I now try to remember this when I am with my husband and my son and think we have all benefited as a result. Similarly my relationships with my extended family have all benefited from my taking the assertiveness course.

Our self development work continued and most recently we have embarked on the Mindfulness course. This proved to be both easy and hard. Easy to understand the basis of it, and so very hard to do in practise in “real life”. This is something I plan to take forward by keeping a gratitude journal to help me recognise more of the positives in my life, and also the mindfulness meditations.

The companionship from the other students that have shared this journey with me has proved to be an enormous boost to my life. This combined with increased self confidence and assertiveness is all cumulatively having a positive effect on my mental health. (I have previously suffered bouts of depression). The tools it has given me will help me to combat negative feelings at future times- I only wish I had the knowledge of some of the things we covered years ago.

My son has enormously enjoyed his times in the crèche too- so my confidence in being able to be separated from him has also gone up. This has helped me to feel a more rounded person, and a better parent. The play leaders could not have done more for us and I am so grateful for their input into this process.

I want to express a huge thank you to everyone involved in making this happen- the Sure Start Chilwell Children s Centre, Central College, the lovely tutor Emma and to the other mums. I am sure we have all made strides together and benefited from knowing each other. I can only hope that other future learners get the opportunities that I have had from such courses. I got part of me by doing this, and I cherish it. I am not just a mum.

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Response from Steve Lack, District Manager (Broxtowe Cluster), Sure Start Children's Centre, Health Partnerships


Thank you very much for this posting it is great to hear of your journey and how much this course has bennefited not only yourself but other members of your family. I am glad that the courses have given you the confidence to tell your 'story' and appreciate the time you have taken to construct a very honest account of where you felt you were and how you have progresssed. I am pleased that through attending these courses your social network has increased and you are able now to have other people to share your thoughts with.

The mindfulness course certainly seems to have had a really positive impact on attendees and we will make every effort to ensure courses of this nature are a regular occurence within our activity programme. Your comments regarding the creche were pleasing and I will ensure staff get the praise they deserve in terms of the services offered. It is great that you feel you have retrieved some of yourself!


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Response from Andy White, Training and Learning Facilitator, Sure Start Children's Centres, Nottinghamshire Children and Families Partnership, Health Partnerships

Hi Chuggabobs

What can I say...... a fantastic story which I have shared with the Stapleford and Chilwell team. Your Story highlights the impact the service is making to families lives across Broxtowe.

The course was originally identified as a course parents wanted during the summer of 2014 and we acknowldeged this by working with our collegues at Central college to facilitate a confidence building course. This course proved really popular with those who attended (due mainly to the close bond you formed as a group and of course the tutor Emma) and as a result you requested similar future courses. We again responded to this feedback by facilitating a transferable work skills, assertiveness and finally the mindfulnesscourse. Your story evidences the impact of these courses for you as an individual and subsequently for your family.

I know from attending the last session you have requested that we could perhaps get partners and dads involved so they could learn some of the strategies you have and I have today discussed this within our leadership team to facilitate a twilight "building health relationships" course to be delivered in the Autumn so watch this space.....

Thanks again for sharing your story....

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