Want to know WTF a Woke Mama is? Each week, we’re introducing awesome women who are making the world a kinder place, one happy baby at a time.
Name & age: Nelle, 25
Baby: Zach, 5 years old
What does being a woke mama mean to you?
Being a woke mama to me means being confident in your motherhood, trusting your gut and understanding what’s best for your child, regardless of peoples’ opinions.
This is something that took a while for me to learn, as being a teen mother I always felt as if I wasn’t doing motherhood the “RIGHT” way, because apparently I’m too young and I don’t know any better (sigh).
Moving forward I learnt how to silence the opinions of others, stop second-guessing myself and just do what’s best for my son.
What made you choose gentle parenting? And what is your favourite aspect of it?
Gentle parenting is a term I’ve only recently been made aware of, and wasn’t something I knew about when I was a new mum.
For me it’s allowing my son the chance to express his needs, and me responding accordingly. It’s about making an effort to understand him and respect him.
I want to have a close bond and relationship with my son forever, so it’s important that he knows he is loved by me.
Most awesome moment so far?
Wow! That’s a hard one as there have been so many awesome moments. My son starting school was a big moment, it made me realise how far I had come as a mother (a single one too).
My son is extremely happy, healthy and caring, and I love that myself and those around him at school get to experience this from him.
Biggest struggle so far? How do you cope with stressful moments?
I would have to say my biggest struggle was studying at university whilst raising my son who was a toddler at the time. It was so challenging but I was determined to complete my course, even though I wanted to quit.
The hardest part was when my son got chickenpox during my final week of exams in my final year of university. It was an absolute nightmare! I didn’t sleep for 3 days straight. I still don’t know how I managed to do it.
I’m happy to say I did manage to complete my course and graduated with a 2:1; it was a very big achievement for me.
Taking regular time out for myself is definitely a stress killer. Putting on a good film or treating myself to a pedicure always helps.
How do you juggle work with gentle parenting?
I went back to work after a year of maternity leave. Returning to work was extremely challenging to begin with and I felt an enormous amount of guilt at the time. But in the long run it was the best decision I made for my son and me.
I believe the challenges a lot of mothers face when returning back to work is childcare and flexibility in the workplace. Unfortunately there is a lot of discrimination against mothers in the workplace.
Work is no longer a mother’s only priority or commitment and some employers hate this. Mothers get a lot backlash for wanting to leave work early to pick up their child from nursery or to attend a school play.
It’s terrible and unfair, which is why I believe there has been a rise in mothers becoming freelance and starting businesses, as it gives them control and flexibility around their family commitments.
Luckily I was able to fight through this by deciding on a work schedule that was suitable for my son and myself.
Any advice you would give to new mums?
Take it easy, don’t be hard on yourself and enjoy every moment as it goes so quickly. I would also advise to get involved in your mama community, as it’s a great way to meet and become friends with other mums.
What’s on your soundtrack to your first year of being a Woke Mama?
Solange’s ‘A Seat at the Table’ is on repeat. Embracing, celebrating and loving my blackness unapologetically. (Happy Black History Month)
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