by Anna Ceesay
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Three apps, three women, three cheers from Motherdom
Do you want to feel calmer? Sleep better? Be more confident? Feel more equipped to deal with the day-to-day stresses that parenting can sometimes bring? Or maybe you want to help with your personal development as a mum? Cue three femtechpreneur wonder women: Kim Palmer, Sara Campin and Hannah Hardy-Jones. Through their own personal challenges they’ve come out the other side and are determined to make life better for mums. Three apps, three women, three cheers from Motherdom.
Name of app: Clementine
Founder: Kim Palmer
Free or paid-for? Free
Story: Kim suffered with anxiety and panic attacks until she tried hypnotherapy. She’s spent her second maternity leave developing this app, and now has a community of over 50,000 women. Clementine uses hypnotherapy audio sessions to help women sleep, feel confident and de-stress.
Who’s it for?
It’s for women who are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, tired, anxious, have low self-esteem and who find that they are not coping with the demands of everyday life. Sadly this happens to be a lot of us. Kim told me: “I spoke to hundreds of women when I was doing my preliminary research and when testing the app. I was overwhelmed and saddened by the stories women were sharing with me. They were all unique but had the same themes – women were struggling to cope with the daily grind. Putting themselves at the bottom of the list of things to do, not sleeping well, feeling anxious and overwhelmed by trying to be something to everyone. They were frazzled and exhausted. I was crying when I listened to and read these women’s stories; everyone was holding themselves back. I could really relate to that as my anxiety and fluctuating confidence levels held me back for years. What was really scary for me was that they thought, ‘this is my life. This is how it is.’ I thought, oh my gosh, we’re all living with this, this is really sad, and crazy. It doesn’t need to be this way. Especially as I knew I’d managed to get through it.”
How does the app work?
“We’ve designed hypnotherapy sessions specifically in the moments where we feel women need help the most. So if you’ve had a tough day at work, a lot of women find it difficult to leave all the chatter behind in your head, and come home, and you’re still moaning about it all night. I used to do that, all the time. There’s a session for that. Being nervous before things is a really big one. We have a confidence boost session that’s only five minutes, and it’s just someone saying to you, ‘you’ve got this, you can do this!’ You can listen at any point in the day, you can be on the go, and you don’t have to be sitting down in a calm position. You could be walking down the street, with your buggy, with your headphones in. I use it when I’m cooking dinner; I play the ‘take a breather’ session out loud if I’ve had a stressful day; it’s a really nice way to say goodbye to the day and move into the evening.”
What is hypnotherapy?
“Hypnosis guides you to a wonderful, meditative place. It’s a bit like when you’re daydreaming and the world falls away; you’re neither fully present nor fast asleep… Once we’ve helped you to relax, our recordings will…suggest new ways to deal with everyday things as well as bigger, more difficult situations. You just kick back, or carry on with your shopping/commuting/cooking…”
Name of app: Nourish
Founder: Sara Campin
Free or paid-for? Nourish is free to download and explore with an option to subscribe for Premium from only £1.50/m.
Story: When both her kids were tiny, Sara struggled with her emotional wellbeing and juggling the stresses of work and mothering. “I was far from the mum I wanted to be. I was shouty and stressed out all the time. I was consumed by guilt for not being able to cope better. I lost my love of motherhood and my passion for work. And it took its toll on my [family].” After the birth of her second child Sara was prescribed anti-depressants for anxiety and attended a cognitive behavioural therapy course offered by the NHS, where she was first introduced to mindfulness and simple ways to reframe her thinking. “It sounds foolish now, but I’d never given much thought to looking after my mental health beyond going for a run. Mindfulness and meditation all sounded a bit hippy or woo woo for me.” Sara believes learning the art of self-care changed her life: “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming our household is stress-free or a picture of perfect calm. But now I have a toolkit that I use every day to help me to be kinder to myself, to top myself up during those tougher times, to help me accept and navigate my emotions and ultimately to be a happier and less stressed parent.” Sara is a massive advocate for self-care, but says she knows how hard it is. She wants to make it easier and more accessible for mums, so they can also reap the rewards.
Who’s it for?
It’s for all mums! Motherhood is an emotional rollercoaster – amazing, magical, rewarding, challenging, stressful, exhausting – all in one. The Nourish app gives mums access to a broad self-care toolkit in their pocket – created by mothers, for mothers. Before developing the Nourish app, Sara spoke to 120 mums, 90% of whom told her they would have benefited from more support in navigating the psychological transition into parenthood. She subsequently launched a successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to raise the funds needed to develop the first version of the app that launched in iOS in March 2019.
How does the app work?
The app is a library of over 120 practical self-care tools across a wide range of disciplines including mindfulness, Yoga, Yoga Nidra, breathing exercises and psychology insights. There’s audio, video and text. You can access the tools in different ways depending on how you’re feeling, what struggles you’re facing in that moment, or simply by type of self-care. You can also build up your own personal toolkit of favourites and the app sends you supportive messages and gentle reminders to encourage you to look after yourself. All the content has been created by a team of wellbeing experts who are mums themselves. Sara wants the app to be a supportive and nourishing experience from beginning to end: “motherhood can be a lonely and stressful place. I want the app to be a place mothers can come to for connection and compassion, to boost their mood, to access their calm, to top themselves up, and ultimately to feel nourished.”
What is self-care?
“Self-care is a buzzword that can be hard to define and is often thought of as selfish. But it’s actually one of the best things we can do for our kids. Self-care is the key to us being happier parents and that has a huge impact on our kids’ wellbeing too. What is self-care? Each of us has an ‘energy bank balance’. Just like a car needs petrol to go, we need reserves to get us through our day. As mums our energetic resources are constantly being depleted. This can leave us with an empty tank – potentially making it hard to remain calm in the face of day-to-day stresses, let alone the curve balls that often come our way. The simplest definition of self-care is ‘nourishment’, a life-giving act that restores, sustains or improves our physical, emotional, energetic or mental health. We make deposits into our energy bank account by nourishing ourselves through self-care. By proactively keeping our energy bank balance healthy, we are more resilient in the face of motherhood’s stresses and challenges.”
Name of app: The Kite Program
Founder: Hannah Hardy-Jones
Free or paid-for? Free to download with in-app purchases
Story: Five years ago, after the birth of Hannah’s first child, she suffered from postpartum bipolar disorder. She experienced manic episodes shortly after giving birth, followed quickly by depressive episodes. There’s very little written on this topic and Hannah has a blog on her site which documents what she went through. The Kite Program is the first personal development app for mums in the world. Rewind five years – and Hannah felt her kite was damaged beyond repair. Today, she says it feels like her kite is soaring and she wants all mums, around the world, to join her.
So, what is The Kite Program? It’s a practical tool to work on your personal development. Hannah’s background is in HR so it made perfect sense for her to create a platform which prepares you for the biggest job you’ll ever do – being a mum!
Who’s it for?
It’s for all mums around the world! It’s already got global reach, having only gone live in February 2019. Mums from Australia, Canada, Egypt, Honduras, Switzerland, UAE and the US and are using it as well as New Zealand where Hannah is based.
How does the app work?
“There are 14 ‘kites which range from budgeting, time to breathe, connecting with your partner, coping with mum guilt and juggling life. Every day there is a practical and easy to implement activity – small steps lead to great change”, explains Hannah. What kind of activities, exactly? Well, in the budgeting kite, there’s an activity which encourages you to be mindful of food waste. You take a picture of what you throw away from your fridge every week and compare week on week. Or you might like the sound of a technology detox, where some activities challenge you to leave your phone in a different room or delete your social apps for one night. There’s many wellbeing elements too, and you’re encouraged to have five minutes of complete quiet time every day for the duration of the program. “A lovely way to do that is to go in and lie on the floor of your kids bedroom listening to them breathe once they have gone to sleep.”
The design of the app was crucial, as Hannah wanted it to look more like a beautiful book rather than a traditional app. “Research from University College London shows that looking at beautiful things releases dopamine in our brain, and as mums we often need a boost of that when we’re having a challenging day.” People frequently comment on Kite’s visual impact; the app even won an international design award before it had launched!
What is mindful technology?
According to Hannah it’s “designed to be a wonderful example of mindful technology. It doesn’t harass you, it allows you to work through the program at your own pace (you can do an activity a day or one a week – they will just wait patiently for you).” One of my favourite kites is called Perfectly Imperfect. You can use many of the activities in this kite along with your mum friends – for example, you take a picture of something that represents your day at its worst and then share it with each other to show that you’re all in the same boat, that you’re all having similar experiences. We need more of this thinking in the online world!