Editor’s note: Hello all you Gold Star Mamas! I think you are going to love this Passion Projects submission by the lovely Pippa Best from Story of Mum. When Pippa wrote me to share that she had been inspired to make charts and then an entire ebook because of one of our #OMHG chats I knew you had to learn about it straight away. Her How to be a Gold Star Mama* ebook is clever, kind, and full of mama wisdom (+ there is cake!). Pippa, thank you for working so hard to bring mothers of all ages together to share their stories and for sharing yours with us. I am excited to support your work of making Story of Mum into a sustainable business in 2013! xo Jess
I love our #omhg chats. They make me feel connected. They make me laugh. They educate me. They inspire me. They shine on, in me, and beyond me.
I love them so much that every Thursday, from 6-7pm UK time (the most difficult time to do anything if you have two children under the age of five), I arrange my life so that I am free to party.
Most often I do this by providing my children with so much stimulation in the two hours beforehand (all of which I ensure takes place in my husband’s field of vision as he tries to go about alternative ‘important business’) that I can look suitably saintly as I hand over two paint-splattered muddy-toothed squawking small people to be bathed then race downstairs child-free to un-peel plasticine from my laptop keys.
If my lucky husband is away working, I bribe the kids with stickers and get them washed and fed early for Thursday Pyjama Time with the electronic babysitter. Tantrums and toilet-related incidents permitting, I can keep one eye on my computer, and the other focused on potential emergencies. All while issuing automated reminders to stay more than four centimetres away from the screen.
I’m left with at least one hand and half a brain to receive my weekly boost of #omhg positive energy and inspiration. And during an #omhg chat a few months ago, I mentioned that I’d really like a Reward Chart, just for me. Why should the kids get all the stickers? I do loads of stuff every day that no one else appreciates. That I don’t appreciate. There was such enthusiastic #omhg feedback that I decided to get on and make one.
I made myself a chart to inspire me to do stuff that I never quite get round to. And to reward myself with cake for doing stuff that I already do. Clearly an excellent plan. I included tidying up and got more done. I included making time with my kids to play (without access to anything electronic) and lived in the moment. I included ten minutes of yoga every day and felt calmer. I included reminding my husband why he’s wonderful, which reminded me. It even resulted in my receiving more compliments from him. I discovered that cake was good, but doing the activities themselves was often even better.
I made Mums’ Reward Charts for one of our monthly Story of Mum activities, prompting some brilliant charts from other mums – you can see them on the website (if you like this idea, we’d love you to add your own any time). I decided to make some Mums’ Reward Charts to give away at a local family event. I made ‘having a bad day’ and ‘having a good day’ charts, some blank ones for mums who may not be quite as excited about cake as I am, and charts for dads. I photocopied black charts onto colourful card, inspired by the bold and simple presentation of Artsyville’s brilliant book The Things We Do, Grabbing a fistful of gold stars, I strode into the event armed with the perfect opportunity to connect with every mum there.
Are you having a good day or a bad day? A bad one, OK… Well, have you got your kids’ names right today? Yes? Gold star. Have you put stuff in a pile? Yes. Several times? More stars. Have you had a good cry? Not yet. Here’s some stars for later…” Good day or bad day, mums smiled. Mums laughed. Mums were heard. Every mum took a reward chart away and I fantasize that they stuck it on their fridge and gave themselves rewards every day for the amazing job they do. And oh how it felt good to make others feel good.
Then a few weeks ago, I made my first ever ebook, filled it with printable Mama’s Reward Charts and sent it out as a gift to the wonderful community of mums at Story of Mum. Now I’m giving it away for free to all mums I can find online, to spread the shiny happiness. And again, the activity is the reward. The feedback has been even more delicious than cake. The short but sweet pages of “How to be a Gold Star Mama*” are packed full of joy, treats, silliness and inspiration. There are reward charts, words of hard-won mud-splattered wisdom, links to wonderful mama-led mama-supporting organisations you might not know about, and some fabulous online resources that I hope will rock your world as they have mine.
It’s available to download for FREE until 10 January 2013. After that, I’m taking wise Mama Jessika’s advice and working out how to charge the price of a good cup of coffee for it: a first step towards making Story of Mum a sustainable enterprise. I would love you to download it and share it while it’s free. Please pass it on to any mamas or mamas-to-be you know. It was made for you, and for them, with love.
Because noticing the small things, the single gold-star-worthy things, is as important as aiming for those big things. Our pride in those everyday successes, every positive action, every whole-hearted word, shapes our lives, our children, and our communities. In the same way that a few months ago, those affirming words from #omhg shaped mine. These adventures, these gold stars, these mama’s smiles. They all stemmed from a supportive community responding positively to a single tweet. Thank you.
* Of course there is no ‘how to’. You already are a Gold Star Mama. You might just need a few gold stars to remind you quite how shiny and beautiful you are today.
We would love to hear from you in the comments-what do you deserve a gold star for today? How do you reward yourself for being a gold star mama?
I live in Cornwall, UK with my salty-skinned surfing film-making husband, boisterous 4 year old boy who thinks he’s an Octonaut, and nearly 2 year old daughter who inspires me by saying YES as if it’s the easiest thing in the world. Life is a constant plate-spin of intuitive mothering and my work as a feature film script editor and project manager. My passion is www.storyofmum.com, an online community of supportive brave mamas doing uplifting, thought-provoking, downright silly stuff together to celebrate the ups & downs of motherhood. Come join our #somum Mums’ Make Dates (2nd Wed. of every month from 8.30 – 10pm GMT on Twitter).