Before becoming a parent, I hadn’t ever really given much thought to mum & baby community support groups, or possibly no thought at all. I knew that parenting was tough-going (everyone said so) and I kind of thought that maternity leave would be a bit monotonous and tedious, but rewarding (so ‘they’ said) …but I completely missed the bit about it taking a village to raise a family and the all-consuming nature of the early days of parenting. I was also oblivious to the impending loss of ability or opportunity to have an unbroken and complete conversation with someone, something I still regularly mourn to this day (I’m thinking long evenings in the pub where the convo moves well beyond ‘what have you been up to’ and onto random musings!).
Once my first baby came along, I got it! The need to talk with other adults, the desire to bounce baby and parenting happenings off someone else who is in the thick of it too, or has been there before. Cue my introduction to the sanity-saving Cuidiú, Friends of Breastfeeding groups and other local meet-ups, along with the fabulous supportive world of mum and baby yoga at My Wellbeing. Along with online Facebook communities, these resources were so beneficial to me through both my maternity leaves and beyond. However, as the return to work loomed on the horizon I craved a physical space to chat with other Mamas about plans, concerns and stresses of returning to work. There is a bit of a gap here at the point of this transition, where, by virtue of logistics, the daytime meet-ups are filled with talk of young babies or the highs and low of stay-at-home parents.
Supporting mothers in making a positive transition back to work is something I’m passionate about; I’ve written quite a bit about in over the last few months (see here) and also have recently started running Return to Work Workshops in Dublin. I strongly believe that this is a cause worth supporting and one where a few relatively small steps on the part of the employer and the parents can make all the difference! But I also know that, sometimes, you just want to have a cup of coffee and chat with others in the same phase of life as you and share tips and tricks to support each other in getting through it together.
So, from this month on I’ll be running monthly meet-ups where you can do just that. The first one is taking place in ITSA @ IMMA on Friday 31st August and we’ll take it from there. As far as I know, these are the first meet-ups of this kind in Dublin and I’m hoping they help to bridge this gap and provide a safe, supportive space.
I’ll be there to share some of my tips with you (if you want), along with other information and resources that might be helpful for you…but if it’s just coffee and a safe space you’re after, that’s just fine with me too! Hope to see you there 🙂
Are you planning your return to work after taking time out to start/grow your family? Not sure where to start and doing your best to keep your head in the sand as long as possible? Starting to worry and could do with a friendly space to help process your thoughts?
If so, join us for a relaxed and informal morning...some time to chat with other parents about your plans for returning to work and to share and discuss any questions, concerns, fears and/or tips and tricks for managing the transition back to work as a parent.
Mums, Dads, babies and children are all welcome - there is a fab space and some toys for little ones to play.
To celebrate the launch of these free meet-ups we'll be holding a draw on the day to win a €100 voucher, redeemable against Strength Within services.
Claire Flannery is the Founder and Owner of Strength Within coaching and consultancy, where she focuses on helping people create the headspace and mental clarity to discover, cultivate and maximise their strength within. She is a qualified Business Psychologist, Executive, Business & Personal Coach and Gentlebirth Instructor with over a decade of experience working in HR leadership in Financial Services. She is also a Mum to two small boys and has personal experience of successfully managing her career while preparing to transition out of, and back into, the workforce; and is passionate about helping people to successfully navigate the huge identity and life transition involved in starting and growing a family. As a large part of her work, she is privileged to work with women and their partners as they make their journey through pregnancy, birth and early parenting. Along with Coaching services, she runs Gentlebirth and Return-to-Work workshops in Dublin, Ireland.