Bringing mums together in lockdown

Holly Branson with female entrepreneurs
David Watts
Holly Branson
Holly Branson's writing
Published on 25 January 2021
“Walking together with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” - Helen Keller

By our very nature, humans are a social species. Most of us love to mix with each other, share stories, have a bit of a moan sometimes and, importantly, learn from each other.  This was never more true for me than when Etta and Artie were born - two little bundles of joy who decided to make an appearance nearly seven weeks early!  Like all new mums I was a bit lost as too were to start. My mum, Joan, and my wonderful mother-in-law, Jill, were absolute blessings and I don’t know how I would have coped without them. In truth though, some of my best chats, tears, belly-laughs and knackered sighs were shared with my fellow new mums and dads. There was nothing quite like opening up and sharing our fears as well as our proud ‘first smile’ stories and that disgusting green poop moment all parents have the pleasure of experiencing.

Nowadays with social distancing, I’m finding my phone is filling that gap for me. Thank the stars for the parent bloggers and influencers who remind us daily that we’re not alone in this! Tens of thousands of mum's and dad's (including myself) are finding comfort, laughter, maths tips (!) and a supportive community online.

Holly Branson remote working with her daughter Lola
Branson Family

Today, and the rest of this week on my Instagram Stories, I would love to give a massive thank you shout-out to a few of the wonderful people putting their family lives out there, campaigning for better policies to support parents, and stopping us from all from pulling our hair out by keeping the laughter flowing! You are all bringing a little sunshine, some much needed perspective and (above all) a friendly and supportive voice in our lives right when we need it most.

 As, the wonderful Anna Whitehouse, best known as Mother Pukka, brilliantly put it:

“The average workday is eight hours, the average school day is six hours, the average parenting day is 12 hours. That’s 23 hours of labour in a 24-hour day. You aren’t failing, it’s too much.” 

I first came across Anna about 18 months ago when she reached out about flexible working. At Virgin Management, we have always had a policy of fully flexible working for our incredible people, and Anna was launching a brilliant campaign called #FlexAppeal. Unfortunately, the first lockdown came into effect before we could meet. Her latest campaign is fighting for the rights of parents trying to juggle work, home-schooling, parenting and what else is left in a day is no less impressive, and she has brought it right into the walls of Westminster. Find out more on her website. Anna you are amazing! 🙌🏼 

Anna and Matt Whitehouse bloggers from Mother Pukka
Mother Pukka

Another favourite of mine is Mush Mums. I met the founders of Mush, Katie and Sarah, at a business roundtable for women founders in 2019. I was so inspired by the peer-to-peer support Mush Mums gave to new mothers and the focus they placed on mental health and emotional-wellbeing. Now, in the midst of Covid-19, Mush is continuing to provide support, advice and resources to help mums stay connected and get through this difficult time together. If you feel alone and need some mum-to-mum support, I would definitely recommend downloading their app, listening to their podcast and joining their virtual meet-ups! Net Mums and Mums Net are also wonderful sites for finding networking events as well as advice and tips on mental health and wellbeing. They also host huge parenting forums that you can tap into for advice or to simply pick each other’s brains and have a like-minded chat. Never to be underestimated!

I would usually say 'in times like this’, but let’s face there’s never actually been a time like this’ before. This is why it's so important to feel connected and enjoy a sense of community at the moment. I love the comment sections on feeds like @mothersmeetings@nillysahlia, @littleonesnus, @candicebrathwaite, @chaneensaliee, @thenursemum, @the_gp_mum, @thatsinglemum and @meetthewildes to name just a few. That's quite the list, but I don’t want you to miss out on any of them! It is so lovely to read all the messages of support, wise advice and ‘cheerleading’ that Mum’s (and Dad’s) are leaving for each other on these wonderful feeds. Oh, and I shouldn’t miss out the Dad's. Check out @fatherofdaughters and @thediaryofadad - these guys are inspirational!

In the last twelve months,the phrase: “If you don't laugh - you’ll cry”, could sum up quite a few days. On those days, thousands of us turn to the likes of @tobyandroo (Harriet's  openness and honesty is an absolute joy), @ladbabyofficial (pop superstars no less and partial to the odd sausage roll), @brummymummyof2 (Emma's gorgeous smile would brighten any day) and, of course, @scummymummies (always on hand when you need a proper belly laugh). Thank you, to all of you, for keeping us all smiling.

Freddie Andrewes hugging his young son Artie
Image from Holly Branson

Last but not least, like pretty much everyone else on the planet, I do love a bit of celebrity! Some of my favourites in the parenting space includes @bowelbabe (love Deborah’s Instagram Reels and TikToks), @mrsgfletcher (the loveliest person), @stormykeating (my dear friend) and, of course, the wonderful @rochellehumeshq (the most gorgeous kids ever). I really love escaping the kids for 15 minutes and having a quick scroll, until the “mummy, mummy, mummy” calls start again!

I would love to hear what parenting sites, podcasts, blogs and feeds you follow and why you love them?  These are just some of my favourites, but I'm always keen to find new inspirational voices!

Thank you to all the Mummy and Daddy bloggers, vloggers and Instagrammers out there. You are genuinely helping to get us all through this so please do carry on!