THE first year with your newborn child is a magical time in any woman’s life, but it can also be the biggest struggle they will ever face, and at times, very lonely.
Jo Rothery finds out about the Mothers’ Collective, a brand-new support network to help mums with those magical but sometimes hard early months.
The Mothers’ Collective is being established by ex-Vogue writer Grace Timothy and magazine stylist Marianne de Vries, both mothers of lively toddlers under the age of two.
This new mother-and-baby group with a difference will meet weekly in the lovely setting of The Park House in Bepton, near Midhurst.
It aims to make the most of the best bits of maternity leave while tackling the worst bits head-on, with the focus on the mother’s wellbeing and happiness.
The Mothers’ Collective launches with a one-off Mother’s Day-themed open day at Park House on March 26, 11am-1pm, where mums thinking of joining up will see the chic, stylish but relaxed private space where members can chat, breast or bottle-feed and enjoy a snack in peace.
The weekly meetings of this private members’ club for mums and newborns will include expert advice from guest speakers, pampering treatments and delicious treats.
Former Vogue and Glamour beauty writer Grace, who lives at Boxgrove, says: “When I had my daughter Noémie in 2012, I stayed in for the first six months, totally isolated, but with buckets of time on my hands.
“I didn’t see the point of baby classes while my newborn was too little to actually take part, and I found sitting on the floor in a freezing cold village hall surrounded by screaming toddlers as I tried to console a hungry baby really horrible after weeks of sleepless nights.
“With my job I’d been to some of the best spas, hotels and restaurants in the world, and thought just because I’ve had a baby, I shouldn’t have to camp out in a village hall when I need comfortable and cosy surroundings more than ever!
“What I wanted was to meet other mums, chat about all my hopes and fears, and breastfeed in comfort.
“I had a gazillion questions – how often should I feed her? Should she nap more? Which nappies should I be using? Am I doing it right?
“You need a network of like-minded women around you, not to mention people who have all the answers. I wanted to set up something where the focus is on mum, providing all the support and pampering you need and so deserve in the weeks and months after having a baby, in the gorgeous – and very private – surroundings of The Park House.”
Together with Marianne de Vries, a holistic health fan and magazine stylist who lives at Fishbourne, Grace aims to help mums to meet other mothers in the area, fill their diary with lovely baby-friendly experiences, and tackle anything they are struggling with – sleep, feeding, even going back to work.
The Mothers’ Collective’s panel of experts will also help mothers to find the best baby equipment, beauty products and books to cut out all the guesswork, an invaluable support network during the early months with a new baby.
The emphasis of the meetings will be creating a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere where mums can relax and enjoy special time with their babies and other like-minded mothers.
“We understand that strict time constraints just don’t work when you’re trying to get yourself and your baby out of the house,” says Grace.
“All meet-ups will be very informal and guest speakers will chat ad hoc, so you won’t miss anything if you’re an hour late. And if your baby cries? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. No rolling eyes or loud sighs, we promise.
“We’ll do whatever we can to help out and the beautiful grounds of The Park House are open to you should you want to duck out for a bit.”
Members of the Mothers’ Collective will enjoy:
Weekly meet-ups at the beautiful Park House, in Bepton.
A programme of guest speakers, plus resident experts in sleep, nutrition and childcare.
Pampering treatments like head massages, hand massages, non-toxic pedicures.
Goody bags packed with gorgeous treats.
Exclusive discounts on baby brands and products.
A programme of off-schedule baby-friendly social events.
Access to expert advice out of hours.
Members will meet other new mothers, share stories and can fill their maternity leave diary with baby-friendly social dates.
“We’ll also help you to create keepsakes on-site, from foot and handprints on ceramics and fingerprint pendants, to professional baby photography and babygro quilts,” says Grace.
“All the things you want to do with a newborn but never have time to do, under one very cosy roof.
“New mothers deserve a little me-time, but few have the childcare or time to do so.
“We’ll organise baby-friendly treats you can enjoy in situ, including head massages, hand massages and non-toxic pedicures.”