Georgia Varjas was born in North London and now lives in Spain with her partner where she runs retreats for writers and writes her own books. Georgia spent decades travelling the world as a musician; she loves life, travel, Italian food, salsa dancing and growing giant Agapanthus! She believes everyone needs to break the rules sometimes and shares her rule-breaking advice in this empowering guest post. Her book, The Rule Breaker’s Guide to Step Up & Stand Out: A Manifesto For Rebels is out now by Filament, £11.99. Here she shares how to be a rule-breaking Mum!
Over to Georgia
Rules are there to protect and serve us, but they also need to evolve and change according to cultural, social and technological advancement. When they no longer benefit us or they start to cause anxiety or pain, it’s time to make changes to those rules. Many wonderful developments have evolved from rule breaking. Don’t fear breaking rule, they were made to be adapted and altered!
Here are my top 10 suggestions for mums:
Read your baby not the book! Too many parenting books tell you what your child should be doing at what age, how, where, why and how often. Let’s face it, your child is unique with a distinctive way of communicating their needs. Tune into your child and don’t read more than two books on parenting (unless your child has specific medical needs where you should then consult a specialist).
Mama, Mum or Ma
Don’t compare yourself to other mums. Embrace you want to be, be it a career mum, earth mum or stay-at-home mum, all and a mixture of all are valid. Don’t feel limited by labels. We’re not all the same and each have different needs and goals and sadly many mums due to the inequalities of the workforce, don’t always have a choice. All mothers are valuable and worthy.
Ask don’t assume
Don’t assume or judge mothers for the way they bring up their children. Each woman has her own story, her own family and life situation to deal with. Before you assume – ask. Break the cycle of judgement!
Compassion is free
Support single mums, working mums, stay-at-home mums, mums of any age; don’t judge or ostracise anyone. Too much emphasis has been placed on male courage and not enough on female bravery. Being a single mum requires super human acts of courage. Offer support and compassion to all. There are too many rules about how a mum should or should not behave. If you don’t understand – ask.
Men are fathers too
There are so many obscure rules about dads/fathers and their role in parenting. In the UK, fathers are entitled to just two weeks of paternity leave. As many of you know, a fortnight is no time at all to bond and care for a baby. Even in Scandinavia, where paternity leave is more generous, many men don’t take the time off, either for reasons of loss of pay or the fear of being replaced when they do return to work. And let’s remember ladies, fathers are not babysitters, fatherhood is not a hobby or ‘help’ we need – it is someone who fully participates in parenting. Equally don’t try and ‘do it all’, speak up and ask for help.
To work or not work…
The stigma attached to mums going back to work is still rife. Once again it is about challenging old-fashioned and narrow-minded attitudes to ’motherhood.’ Too many mothers are in a no-win set-up. You’re condemned if you go back to work and criticised if you don’t. It’s time to challenge those rules to suit you and your family.
Wonder Woman needed
Part-time working mums are too often stigmatised, humiliated and financially punished. I have heard numerous stories from part-time working mums about the ridicule they receive from other women and the snide remarks from men.
‘Oh , are you going home to relax now, lucky you!’
As if baby bathing, feeding, nappy washing and endless other tasks are performed by a fairy.
New rules are needed here and women (and men) must be the ones to challenge and ultimately, break these archaic preconceptions.
Sharing is caring
Flexible working hours and team work are highly under-utilised. There needs to be radical changes in childcare and nursery options to support families as a whole. Parents and especially single parents, are being financially strangled by childcare and nursery costs.
Come out of the closet
Don’t be cajoled into breastfeeding (or breast expressing) in the broom cupboard at work. Gang up on the bosses. Fight for your rights. In England and Wales, The Equality Act 2010 states , “A business cannot discriminate against mothers who are breastfeeding a child of any age’. You have no reason to hide.
Remember, full bodied women are beautiful. Women who have just given birth are beautiful. Women who have never given birth are beautiful. As are women who are young when they become mums. Women who are categorised by the NHS as ‘geriatric’ when they become mums. Women who are now grandmothers. All women are beautiful in their own way, and acknowledging this is a brilliant way to break the rules and assumptions that we are subjected to via the media, social media, and society and culture as a whole.
I hope you’ll break the rules today.