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Our Blog

An ongoing series of informational entries

Being a mum is the hardest job you will ever do!

May 2019

Reading a post this morning from Constance Hall had me in tears. I feel for her; motherhood is hard without having your every move scrutinised and judged by millions of strangers that don’t even know you.

Then my thoughts go to Mrs Hinch, looking forward to her new bundle of joy. We all know that she is going to get criticism for every choice. She already has because she has bought bottles, the breast-feeding mafia have been on at her, never mind that she is on so much medication it might be dangerous to the baby, she is just being practical and prepared. Personally, I think breast is best, but I am also pro choice. I breastfed 2 /3 of my children, that was right for me at the time. Fed is best.

Then my thoughts turn to the Duke and duchess of Sussex and little Archie. I’m ashamed to say my first thought that day was wow she still looks pregnant... but of course she does, I did 2 days post birth. Only I didn’t have the whole world looking at me and judging my every move.

I watched the program by Louis Theroux – mothers on the edge, about mother’s with post partum psychosis. The thing that kept coming up repeatedly was the expectations of motherhood and how different the reality is.

I worked with children from a young age, I trained at college to be a nursery nurse. All I ever wanted was to have children, but I still had postnatal depression with all 3 of them. Nothing can ever prepare you for the overwhelming responsibility of having a new-born baby to look after 24/7. You’re not only trying to do the best you can, you have to wade through everyone else’s ever changing opinion:


Breastfeed, but not too long.


Put them in their own room, but not too soon.


Don’t let them sleep in your bed, you will never get them in their own room.


Give them food at 3 months, don’t give them food until 6 months.


And my personal favourite... Don’t pick them up all the time you will spoil them. ... You cannot spoil a baby by holding them. They are tiny for such a small amount of time, if you want to have that baby attached to you all day, every day then you do it Mama! If you don’t then that is fine too.


You must do what is right for you and your family. What works for Sandra up the road won’t necessarily work for you, and that’s ok!

My youngest slept in our bed from day 1. I had her at home, I was hoping she would breastfeed for at least 6 months, she didn’t! 6 weeks was all we managed; she was a very early teether. She refused to sleep on her back from 3 months old and would only settle on her front, usually on me or my husband. But that’s ok. We needed sleep, it worked for us and now I’m lucky if she comes in our bed for a cuddle.

On this week of mental health awareness, it worries me that there is so much pressure on new parents, especially mothers. We are doing the best we can, sometimes we are super mum and sometimes we put our head under the covers and cry. So, before you give that criticism, think about what that person is having to do to simply get through the day. It takes a village to raise a child and we need to support each other not tear each other down. We are all just trying to raise the next generation of lovely humans. 

In 2011 6,045 people died by suicide in the UK.

April 2019

One of those people was my dad. This month is the 8th anniversary and the the painful ripples of this event are still affecting those closest to him.

Grief is a very personal thing; everyone has their own way of dealing with it. Regardless you go through the 5 stages; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These stages aren’t a fixed timeline and can be experienced in any order for different periods of time. For example, I have accepted that my dad took his own life, but I still feel anger about various aspects of his death.

For the person that dies by suicide it’s an ending, for those that are left behind it is the beginning of a lifetime of unanswered questions, regret and grief. The main question is why? Often unanswered, this leads to what if….

When it happens, you think that you are alone, but I soon realised that everyone knows someone that has died by suicide, I bet you know at least 5 people that have experienced it first hand or know someone that has. Those 5 people know 5 people, and those 5 people know 5 people, so it goes on and on.

In 2017 there were 6,213 suicides in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Male suicides have consistently accounted for approximately three quarters of all suicides in the UK since the mid 90’s. Men are 3 times as likely to commit suicide as women in the UK. In the Republic of Ireland Men are 4 times more likely. In Scotland suicide in young men increased for the 3rd consecutive year in 2017. (figures from https://www.samaritans.org/about-samaritans/research-policy/suicide-facts-and-figures/)

However, suicide rates are decreasing, charities and organisations are raising awareness and encouraging people to talk. The male suicide rate is the lowest in 30 years in the UK.

This won’t help my dad. But hopefully it will help future generations to not have to suffer the way we do.

If you need to talk to someone please contact the Samaritans. You can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 116123.

This is real, this is ME

March 2019

This time 10 years ago I had just turned 30 and life was good. I had it all, great house, perfect husband, 3 adorable children.

A year later started the worst time of my life so far. Within 9 months I had lost 3 grandparents and we were having marital problems. I held it together, with dignity (most of the time) for the sake of my children. We moved to a new house and started getting things back on track, 6 months later I lost my dad to suicide. My world was shattered, he was my hero. I don’t remember much about that time; the children are what got me up every morning and kept me going until bedtime. We celebrate 17 years of marriage in December. We worked it out and are happier and stronger than we have ever been. It’s been a hard road but totally worth it, the easy thing would have been to walk away but I never have done things the easy way.

6 months after my dad died our landlord made us homeless because they wanted to sell up. We had a temporary house for a few months then we spent 9 months living with my mum, without her we would have been in a hostel as we had no where else to go. We finally got a house and settled for a little while. I got a job and things were good again until I fell ill and didn’t recover. I was diagnosed with M.E in 2014, not able to work or socialise like before I began to feel isolated and too close to bad memories, so we decided we needed a fresh start closer to town.

It’s been hard, I spent the first year battling anxiety and hardly leaving the house, but I finally plucked up the courage to work through my grief, with a lot of help from the people around me, including finding my safe space at Designs in mind, here I am.

I started the sunshine box to connect with other people, to give myself a sense of achievement. It has given me a purpose, other than being a mum or a wife, I’m now a (confident) business woman. I have dreams and goals again, I’m looking forward to the future, but also living for the moment, having a chronic illness makes you evaluate every part of your life and eliminate the things that waste your energy. 

From anxiety to confident business woman!?

!st March 2019

“I am a confident business woman” I say to myself as I get on the train to the NEC. “I am a confident business woman” I repeat over and over in my head as I walk down the corridor surrounded by other “confident business women”. “I am a confident business woman” I say to myself before and after each time I speak to someone about products for my business.

This was me at the beginning of February at the spring fair. You wouldn’t know by looking at me that just over a year ago I hardly left the house due to crippling anxiety. I couldn’t even visit friends and every outing had to be planned down to the tiniest detail.

The only place I felt comfortable, apart from home, was Designs in Mind. A working studio supporting people with poor mental health. I stumbled across this gem of a place by visiting the shop (which is downstairs from the studio) Jolt sells items made by the members, these aren’t mis-shapen pots or finger paintings, these are high end home wares and accessories, stocked in places such as For Arts sake on Bond Street, London.

Later that day I contacted my GP to be referred and was soon going for a look around the studio. I was so anxious I nearly cancelled but knew I needed to give it a go. I was met by huge smiles and made to feel at ease. I soon realised how amazing it was going to be. I attended a six-week introduction course, away from the hustle and bustle of the main studio, it was calm and creative. Just what I needed. I soon felt at home, because that’s what it’s like, home from home. The other members are like family and it doesn’t matter what kind of day your having, there’s always a warm welcome, a cup of tea and a slice of cake.

Having a chronic illness, I need to be selective about how I use my energy. I manage one day a week in the studio, having to rest the day before and afterwards, but it’s so worth it. Attending has given me the confidence to start my own business. With a little help from people I have met through Designs in Mind, as well as The sunshine box subscription box, I am hoping to do pop up shops around the local area…… energy allowing.


#designsinmind #mentalhealthawareness #anxiety

An opportunity around every corner

February 21st 2019

How many opportunities do we miss every day?

I was recently at the NEC, taking a breath in one of the many cafes. A very stylish woman sat next to me, as she sat down she smiled and said hello, I returned the smile.

As I sat there a voice in my head told me I knew this woman. I racked my brain but couldn’t think where from. Did I know her personally or had I seen her on the tele? I wanted to ask her but felt too embarrassed that I couldn’t place her.

Ah my opportunity for conversation... She asked me if I was able to connect to the NEC WiFi, oh I’m not sure, I am using my data I replied, then looked back down at my phone, finished my coffee and went on my way.

Looking back I potentially missed a huge opportunity to talk to this amazing woman, who I have since discovered was Caryn Franklin, a British fashion commentator and Professor of Diversity in Fashion. I used to watch her on the clothes show.

I could of talked about her amazing individuality, the fact that she proudly wears her hair long and grey. I could of asked her some tips to pass on to my mum who isn’t quite ready to embrace her grey just yet.

We could of had a conversation about how much I love fashion but being plus size have always felt a little out of the loop, which I think fueled my passion for bags (your never too fat for a bag) and make-up.

I would of loved to of given her one of my business postcards and told her a little bit about my business and my love for supporting other small businesses, most of them being women. A lot of them I have grown to know and love, and supporting them is a pleasure and a privilege.

Telling people my story is a new concept for me, I’m not sure it will ever become easy. I definitely don’t want people to feel sorry for me, I want them to feel inspired, that despite everything life has thrown at me I am now starting a new chapter as a confident business woman. More on that another time.

#missedopportunity #smallbusiness #carynfranklin #thesunshinebox