It was their experiences of motherhood and the rollercoaster journey it emulates that led best friends Kara Heriot and Lucy O'Driscoll Edge to set up their own business together. "Mum Talks", a monthly meet-up for mothers involves a panel of speakers discussing a variety of topics with the importance of maternal self-care being placed at the very core.
“For both of us, there was also the longing to do something on maternity leave that involved adult conversation,” O’Driscoll Edge explains. “As much as we loved the baby activities, we were craving something that would stimulate our minds as well.
“I felt very overwhelmed when I had Juliette, and put immense pressure on myself to be the perfect mum and to have the perfectly behaved child – both of which are obviously impossible,” she adds, “so I felt like a failure all the time!”
The journey to motherhood was not a straightforward one for Heriot, whose daughter Thea (7) was finally conceived after many unsuccessful rounds of IVF. “Through the trials of finding it hard to get pregnant I felt isolated,” she says. “Not having a support network beyond my close friends and family through the many unsuccessful treatment cycles gave me a real insight into the loneliness of motherhood at all stages.”
Heriot says she also realised “the importance of creating a tribe of women who could support each other through sharing their experiences and stories”.
Three speakers make up the panel at the Mum Talks monthly meet-up. “We have speakers that can talk about a whole load of different topics, be it starting their own business, or if they are a working mum trying to manage the balance,” O’Driscoll Edge explains. Also taking part are speakers who may have an area of expertise such as “beauty or wellness or mindfulness for mums”.
“They all talk about their experiences of motherhood and any advice or tips that they would pass on to other mums,” she adds.
The events are mostly held in Dublin, although some have taken place in Cork. “We recognise that there is a great support for mums online and we wanted to take that offline and get people meeting face to face so that we could really have that discussion about the reality of motherhood,” O’Driscoll Edge continues. “Nothing beats that kind of face-to-face interaction where everybody is listening. You can bring your babies to these events and nobody is worried about their babies crying, or feeding their babies. It’s all just such a relaxed, comfortable environment and the speakers know that everyone is a mum. It’s a lovely welcoming atmosphere and that was our idea from the beginning. The format for Mum Talks hasn’t actually changed since then.
“We’ve been very fortunate in that we picked, initially, a few speakers that we would love to hear speak and when we contacted them and told them about the concept of Mum Talks, about bringing mums together, inspiring mums, empowering them and supporting them, the speakers got it. They were more than willing to help and to share their story and to pass it on.”
Pressure and demands
Self-care is central to the message, as both Heriot and O’Driscoll Edge recognise the huge pressure and demands on mothers in 2019. Instilling the idea of “taking care of mum” is something they both practise and preach.
“It is great working with your best friend because we do check in on each other a lot,” O’Driscoll Edge says. “Our self-care is when we meet up for our Mum Talks meeting. Every time we meet, that first half hour or 40 minutes conversation will not be about Mum Talks but about how are you doing, what’s going on in your life? We’ll catch up, even though we’ve probably only spoken the day before!”
The women are keen to grow their Mum Talks tribe, and bring it on tour around Ireland. With a focus on supporting mothers, including other mothers who have set up their own businesses, the audience is diversifying. During monthly meetings, an opportunity is given to mothers in the room to share details of their business ventures. "It's not just for mums on maternity leave now," O'Driscoll Edge explains. "Many mums are also using it as a networking event, reaching their target audience and meeting other business mums."
Further mama markets, back-to-work workshops and even business master classes all make up the agenda for the future of Mum Talks, recognising the ever-changing face and needs of modern day motherhood. The monthly meet-ups however will remain constant, O’Driscoll Edge says, as they are the heart of it.