GIFT experience provider Red Letter Days have teamed up with family support charity Family Action to recognise and raise awareness of the heightened pressures families have faced after a tumultuous year. They’ve launched a campaign to claim back 100,000 hours of ‘mumpaid labour’ ahead of Mother’s Day, to thank and repay mums, parents and carers for the unpaid additional responsibilities they’ve shouldered over the last year.
From the pressures of lockdowns and financial anxieties to the unpaid responsibilities of housework and homeschooling, parents have had a lot to contend with – with limited outside support. Parents typically spend 2,184 hours on unpaid labour every year, but with all of us spending more time than usual at home, this figure has increased in recent months. Research shows that it is mostly mums in particular who have borne the brunt of the additional household responsibilities taken on since last Mother’s Day, spending less time on paid work and more time on housework during the pandemic.
Ahead of Mother’s Day 2021, Red Letter Days and Family Action want to shine a spotlight on this ‘mumpaid labour’, recognising and thanking mothers for their hard work this year and encouraging loved ones to show their appreciation by doing something thoughtful to help give them back some time.
To celebrate and compensate hard-working mums and carers for all they have done, the campaign is encouraging Brits to repay ‘mumpaid labour’ hours by pledging to lighten the load of a mother figure in their life using their online counter. Whether pledging an hour to do the hoovering or taking three hours to cook mum’s favourite meal, the campaign is encouraging people to commit what they can to help rebalance the load in their own homes or communities.
The campaign also encourages mums or parents to go online and pledge to take back time for themselves, claiming back their ‘mumpaid labour’ by doing something for themselves this Mother’s Day. Red Letter Days are hosting a series of free, virtual events on Saturday 13th March to encourage mothers to take the time to do something they love. These include an exclusive Q&A with Celebs Go Dating’s Anna Williamson, fitness classes with cult gym Frame, a relaxing mindfulness session and an inspiring panel discussion featuring five talented mumpreneurs. The events will be free to attend, and the full programme can be viewed here.
The campaign aims to claim back 100,000 hours of ‘mumpaid labour’ before Mother’s Day 2021: helping improve maternal mental health, encourage families to spend quality time together, and showing parents that their efforts over the last year haven’t gone unnoticed.
As part of the campaign, Red Letter Days are also pledging to donate sixty once-in-a-lifetime experience gifts to disadvantaged families across the UK, who depend on Family Action’s services for essential support. In addition to this, 20% of profits from the sale of Red Letter Days’ ‘Especially for Her’ gift box this Mother’s Day will go towards supporting Family Action’s life-changing work.
Christine Ducker, PR & Brand Communications Manager at Red Letter Days, said:
“After the year we’ve had, we felt compelled to do something this Mother’s Day to thank parents across the UK for all they’ve done to keep families going.
“We want the nation to help us claim back 100,000 hours of ‘mumpaid labour’, so that those who’ve worked so tirelessly this year can enjoy some well-deserved time for themselves. If you’ve been juggling childcare, work responsibilities and the health of family members, we also encourage you to use this campaign to take time out to do something you love.
“In addition to thanking the incredible frontline workers and NHS staff who’ve seen us through this crisis, we need to remember to thank the individuals closest to us, too.”
David Holmes CBE, Chief Executive at Family Action, commented:
“Through our work supporting vulnerable families at Family Action, we know how tough this year has been for many parents – financially, emotionally and practically. Whilst all parents have had to face many challenges throughout the pandemic, we are aware that many mums have needed to take on even more responsibilities and are often the heart that keeps the whole family going. Therefore, Family Action is delighted to partner with Red Letter Days to give Mums across the UK an extra thank you this Mother’s Day for their amazing work in keeping families going this year. By working with Red Letter Days, we hope to show our thanks and support to mums everywhere and to give them the recognition they deserve.”
Marie Christian, Senior Perinatal Co-Ordinator at Medway Perinatal Service for Family Action, explains why it’s so important for mums to share the ‘mumpaid labour’ load this Mother’s Day.
“The negative impact the pandemic is having on the nation’s mental health has been well-publicised. As a result of lockdowns, job insecurity, financial anxiety and health concerns, key indicators of distress among UK adults – including loneliness and not coping well with stress – are worse now than they were at the start of the pandemic (according to the latest research).
“For many parents, the struggle has been doubly hard. Not only are there millions of parents supporting children through homeschooling, but many are also balancing work responsibilities “with caring for their children and their own parents, too. For new parents who’ve had babies over the last year, it has been almost impossible to enlist the help or support of friends, family, neighbours or grandparents.
“As we approach Mother’s Day – and just over a year since we first went into national lockdown – it’s really important that parents take some time to rest up and reflect on the past year in order to protect their mental wellbeing and avoid being overwhelmed. Here’s why this is so important.”
Marie Christian – Family Action perinatal mental health expert – shares her advice for mums:
1. When you’re constantly looking after everyone else, it’s all too easy to neglect your own needs
When you’re always taking care of your family – and worrying about how they’re feeling, what they’re doing or what they’re going to eat for dinner – it can be all too easy to sideline the things you need. Parenting can be demanding and exhausting at the best of times, let alone when the children aren’t in school, and you’re at home together without a break.
It’s important that mums and parents carve out quality time to spend on themselves this Mother’s Day in order to take a break from their myriad responsibilities. Doing something you find truly restorative – whether that’s running, stretching, reading a book or taking a bath – is essential to protect your mental health and take a step back and focus on yourself. Even if you can only find ten minutes, it’s time well spent. It is so much harder to take care of your children or others if you’re not taking good care of yourself.
2. It’s important to retain your identity as a person, aside from being ‘mum’
During the pandemic, opportunities to interact with friends and family in person have been few and far between. With schools closed, we also haven’t had much time apart from our children. Usually, we might go to work or see friends without the children and fulfil another part of our identity that’s independent of parenthood. But over the last year, this hasn’t been the case.
So this year, more than ever, it’s vital that parents make a conscious effort to do things for themselves that help them to maintain their sense of self away from being just ‘mum’. Is there a hobby you love that you haven’t had time for this year? Or are there friends you just haven’t had time to talk to due to juggling work, parenting and the rest? This Mother’s Day is the perfect time to reconnect with the people and pastimes that make you feel like yourself.
3. Over the last year, mums have lacked community and support. This can be exhausting.
For parents with young children – or any parents for that matter – meeting up with other parents to swap stories, share advice and let off some steam is essential. Local networks of fellow mums often act as lifelines. But during the pandemic, these lifelines have changed shape. We are making the most of telephone and video calls, but it isn’t the same as face-to-face interaction.
This reduction of community and mutual support has made this year even more exhausting than usual for parents, including those with older children who’ve moved on and moved out. Often, older children will form a crucial part of a parent’s support system. The pandemic has also taken this supporting pillar away.
The emotional exhaustion that can come with losing that sense of community can be difficult to bear. But taking some time out for yourself to do something you enjoy can help to take your mind off of what you can’t do and instead focus on what you can. Having fun can help to put things in perspective, reminding you of the many things you have to be grateful for.
4. More time spent with the kids this year means more time worrying you’re not doing it right
Now that we’re spending so much time at home, it can be easy to overthink and worry about your children. Not only might you be worried about whether you’re doing enough in the way of homeschooling, but you might also be worried about your childrens’ mental health, and whether they’re getting enough exercise; and whether they’re missing their friends or grandparents; and whether they can notice how stressed you’re feeling – the list goes on.
Add to this the additional time we’re spending on social media, and you’ve got yourself the perfect recipe for comparison culture and feeling like you’re not good enough.
The crucial thing to remember is that you’re more than good enough. All your children really need from you right now is your presence and your love. Remember to give yourself a break – you really do deserve it.
5. Perinatal mental health conditions are real and will have been even harder to cope with this year
Perinatal mental health conditions – including perinatal anxiety and postnatal depression – won’t have gone away for the 1 in 5 women that suffer from them just because COVID came along. But unfortunately, lots of the NHS services designed to help those struggling were reduced or went virtual to help stop the spread of the virus last year. Add to this the social isolation, pressures and anxieties synonymous with the pandemic, and it’s unsurprising to learn that many women have been finding it harder than ever to manage their mental health during the COVID crisis.
Charities like Family Action have been supporting women struggling with their perinatal mental health throughout the pandemic, and we will continue to do so over the coming months. But if there’s one thing we know from talking to hundreds of women during the pandemic, it’s that it has never been more important for mums to take some time to reflect and rejuvenate.
We also want to encourage members of the public to support a mum in their life by pledging to take the time to do something to help them out this Mother’s Day. It could make a world of difference to both their heart and their head.