Tilda & Sarah bonded quickly after meeting a few months ago and instantly felt the urge to collaborate. Both had struggled after becoming a mother for the first time and their experiences fueled each of them to follow their passion to help other Moms. They each now run their own practices (on opposite sides of the world) coaching Moms who aren’t on cloud 9 when it comes to motherhood. Their similar stories as Moms & life coaches, solid sense of humor, and unapologetically honest communication styles shine in their new motherhood podcast, Super Mum Is A Fraud: Debunking The Perfect Mother Myth.
Tilda Timmers is a bubbly outgoing Dutch Mom of 2 daughters, based in The Netherlands who previously worked in the fashion industry as a stylist. Following the birth of her first daughter she suffered from postpartum depression and felt isolated and very alone as she struggled to find herself again after having a baby. She decided to write a blog about her postpartum depression, hoping it might help other Moms who were also not feeling well after giving birth, so they would feel less alone and find some support. This blog went viral and before she knew it, it was on various Dutch media outlets. She received an incredible amount of responses and over the past 6 years has become a therapist for Moms, writes her own blog about motherhood in Dutch and guest posts for other motherhood blogs in The Netherlands and has written two books “Toen kreeg ik weer lucht” (Then I could breathe again) in Dutch and “This Is Postpartum”, her first book in English.
Sarah Babiker, also a Mom of 2, originally Sudanese, spent much of her youth living in the U.K. and now is located in Dubai. Coming from a family of doctors, she initially struggled to find the right career path and even studied dentistry prior to gaining her master’s degree in clinical psychology. She worked in the field for a period of time but felt very restricted in terms of the medical world’s pressure for ‘clinical diagnosis’ and specific treatment plans related to mental health. She began reading about positive psychology and immediately resonated with the concept it involved of moving forward and evolving and growing into your potential - which is what she now offers to Moms via her own practice and motherhood blog, A Life You Chose.
During the event where Tilda & Sarah met, they both spoke on a panel with other experts who support Moms professionally, speaking honestly about motherhood and especially lowering the bar when it comes to striving to be a ‘perfect mother’. They had an immediate click and quickly decided to collaborate on a new podcast for Moms.
“Tilda and I met up after the event and talked a lot about how important we both feel that it is to normalize the fact that Moms don’t need to do it alone, but also how important it is for Moms to have a place to vent with other Moms…” Sarah explained, “These points really are the basis of the concept of our podcast about motherhood and all of its realities. It’s time to allow mothers to be more open & honest about the fact that motherhood is really challenging – and not feel guilty for saying that!” she continued.
The title of the podcast for Moms is a combination of a hashtag Sarah created #supermumisafraud which she uses every time she posts anything addressing the fact that Moms are human (and are not supposed to be perfect!) & Tilda’s book title, This Is Postpartum: Debunking the Perfect Motherhood Myth.
“We are both extremely blunt and direct. We decided that especially now, for parents who are handling raising their children with extra stress during a global pandemic, we just needed to talk about it. LOUDLY and right now!” explained Tilda, “We want to break this barrier and speak more openly about why Moms are often feeling ashamed and guilty and end up so unhappy in motherhood. When you become a Mom the first things you have seen about motherhood are on TV or social media etc. (rather than having a realistic image of what motherhood is actually like) and then you have the baby, and you feel self-conscious because you feel like you cannot live up to those standards. Moms often don’t share these feelings because they are afraid to be judged and the guilt of not feeling ‘over the moon’ after becoming a Mom can be devastating,” she continued.
“Exactly!” exclaimed Sarah. “I always want to shout, ‘Shut up unless you are being supportive!’” she laughed as Tilda yelled, “YES GIRL!” from the background. “Society makes motherhood this structured thing, telling women to suck it up, be quiet and just get on with it… but you would never say that if it was about something not related to motherhood. There is something about being a mother has this insane concept of martyrdom attached to it. Let’s stop plopping women into this little box (of unrealistic expectations) the minute we have children,” she continued.
Tilda and Sarah think that social media is helping to break these myths and barriers about motherhood but explain that is also a difficult balance. “It’s easy to fall into a routine of posting our ‘best days’, we all do it and sometimes it’s our way to celebrate ourselves or something we accomplished that day so we shouldn’t criminalize the ‘perfect days’ that are posted on our grids (because that’s also not fair) but posts about the less perfect days also need to be accepted (and supported),” explained Sarah.
“When you become a mother, you are suddenly in the ‘mother’s club’ – sometimes it feels like a weird stepford wives type of thing (with an expectation to conform) but we are all still individuals and have our own preferences and approaches so of course there is never ‘one’ way to be a good mother,” Sarah continued.
“Right! Many aspects of motherhood are very much out of our control. Which is why our third episode on our podcast feels especially important to point out. It’s called ‘You can’t do anything wrong in motherhood.’” Tilda said. “As a Mom you are scared to fail but the podcast and especially this episode is meant to reassure you that it’s okay (to fail) and ‘wrong’ is just something labeled by society, not an actual reflection on our ability to be good mothers in more ways than one. Let me say it louder for the folks in the back ‘There is no way to be a perfect Mom!’ We all just wing it, none of us know the ‘right’ way, we each find our own way. Even if one Mom listens to our podcast and thinks to herself ‘I’m not the only one!’ it’s worth it to us,” Tilda continued.
Tilda and Sarah both are advocates for utilizing various types of mindfulness during motherhood to let things go. “Many Moms say, ‘I don’t have time to do mindfulness’ but that’s the whole point – it’s meant to become a lifestyle, not another thing on your to-do list.” Sarah explained. “It’s more about changing thought patterns… a lot of Moms worry a lot and think a lot about what’s next rather than focusing on the present. Positive psychology focuses a lot on being present in the now and focusing on what’s positive today – not worrying about the future. Mindfulness – the term, feels a bit scary. Like something else we need to do – I rather like to call it ‘let’s enjoy life more, lets enjoy today,’” she continued.
Tilda continued to explain, “When you are a Mom, you are always ON. You are in a DO mode – 24/7, it’s very helpful if you need to get things done. But it can also work against you if you are not working through the negative thoughts which can creep in while you are in this DO mode, it’s like a wave and eventually will wash over you. It’s incredibly important to be mindful about how you are feeling right in that moment and addressing it right away, rather than putting it off to the side for later – it can build up and cause you extreme mental stress if you don’t address these ‘little’ thoughts/ feelings. Your body will often trigger you in small ways even – but Moms very often ignore this and that’s very unhealthy behavior.”
When asked about parenting during the pandemic and how Moms can better handle the extra stress and anxiety which many are experiencing over the past year Sarah said, “Moms are ‘supposed’ to be STRONG. We are taught that we need to show our kids that we can handle it, keep it together, don’t cry, don’t show emotion, take a breath and move on – but we for some reason don’t allow ourselves to be upset/ weak and eventually that frustration or anger comes out when something else unrelated to whatever triggers us to ‘snap’.”
“CUE THE GILT TRIP!” yells Tilda in the background and both laugh. “Yep! We often snap for reasons which are not actually the underlying issues which are bothering us and are not always open with our partners or children. But talking openly about emotions and why we have these feelings is also essential as a parent – to create a positive environment where talking about emotions and having emotions is okay,” Sarah continued.
“We need to normalize vulnerability – the past year has put everyone through such a rollercoaster and has amplified that need or feeling that we have to be strong and hold everyone together (all on our own). The pressure is HUGE to keep everything normal – even though it’s not. It is impossible to be ‘Super Mom’ during a pandemic – everyone is overwhelmed, it’s INTENSE (working at home, having kids at home, fear & anxiety about getting infected etc.) I believe that it’s important to show our kids that we aren’t perfect – talking about how failing is normal and just part of life and I talk openly with my kids about how stressful the pandemic is, and we talk a lot about the emotions we feel due to the circumstances,” Tilda explained.
“Yes absolutely!” Sarah chimed in, “Being honest and authentic is my top advice to Moms when it comes to parenting. “I encourage honesty in our home and always make sure that they (the kids) feel accepted when they are honest and that also applies to the situation, we find ourselves in now during the pandemic. We never could have prepared for this; you can prepare for how you are going to respond to things in a general sense but honesty about not having all the answers is so important right now. Just honesty about the fact that NO ONE knows what is going to happen. Allow yourself to slow down – and to grow through this experience – and allow your kids to also teach you, sometimes they are the best reminder that they don’t need a ‘perfect Mom’, they just need you as you are.”
Listen to Tilda & Sarah’s new podcast for Moms, Super Mum Is A Fraud: Debunking the Perfect Mother Myth on Spotify, Apple Podcasts. (Also search for the podcast on these platforms: Deezer, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Pandora, Overcast, Castro, Castbox and PodFriend).