‘The Good Enough Mother’ podcast delves deep into topics related to life as a mother, daughter, and woman in today’s society. I share reflections on my experiences that will engage, challenge, and help guide you with where you find yourself, both today and in the future.
Each episode shares evidence-based research relating to that theme, encouraging you to expand and add to your current understandings and knowledge.
The Good Enough Mother Listener Reviews
“I’m listening to your calming, gentle voice and feel like bawling my eyes out! You understand! It’s such a wonderful feeling to feel understood. Thank you… The Good Enough Mother podcast. It’s honestly life-changing.” Kylie
I found Dr. Sophie on Instagram well over a year ago and have watched her stories and have been absorbing her content on that platform. I finally made my way over to her podcast and I am so bummed I didn’t do it sooner. This podcast is full of evidence-based information that is helpful, soothing, and nourishing. This would have saved me so much heartache as a new mother, but I’m so thankful for it now and moving forward. Every mom needs Dr. Sophie’s content in their lives.
These podcasts from ‘The Good Enough Mother’ are so incredibly liberating! I have had parts within my soul awakened and revealed through listening to the words of Sophie and her guests. I feel seen, I feel understood, I feel supported. I am so grateful for women like Sophie who do the work they do!
This podcast is everything I have been looking for– taking research about motherhood, baby sleep and everything in between and making it digestible and interesting for everyone. Sophie has a lovely way of communicating her findings and avoids any bias, giving us all the answers she can find and letting us make what we wish of it from there. I recommend this podcast to anyone who is interested in diving deeper into the psychological, social and emotional aspects of motherhood and raising babies.
Personal and scientifically profound at the same time! Keep up the good work! Thank you!
This podcast is chock full of invaluable content that helps to push the envelope on how we see and experience motherhood. I absolutely love that Sophie’s content is research-based and thorough, presenting all sides of an issue instead of biased opinions. I can’t recommend this podcast highly enough to all parents, not just mothers. Thank you Sophie for delivering such invaluable information and helping women and parents navigate the rollercoaster of parenthood ❤️
“Dr Brock, I have to tell you how much I am loving your podcast! I’ve listened to your first two episodes twice and just finished the third episode. I appreciate how well thought out, researched, and relatable your podcast episodes are. Thank you so much for the beautiful work you are doing and for the empowering message you are giving to mothers.” Jayne.
Such a wonderful podcast. Sophie has condensed a huge amount of literature and presented it in a very objective and non-critical way.
I absolutely love this podcast. Her positive mothering message is so empowering and I especially appreciate that the material is well thought out and backed up with research. I’ve listened to each episode twice now and I just can’t get enough ❤️
“I have thoroughly enjoyed this Podcast. It is a real highlight of my week. As a first time mother I’ve found it relatable, reassuring and really informative. Often enlightening! Sophie does a great job of combining anecdotal personal experience with evidence based facts. Her personal story is compelling and inspiring and her delivery is truly engaging.” Karen.
Just when I thought I was the only mom to experience ( input anything here), I have found I am not alone. I also like how soothing her voice is.
“My wife and I love your podcast. Thank you so much for what you do! You have helped us so much! It’s extremely useful and we found it at just the right moment in our lives! It helped us realign the way we were parenting! Thank you again.” Jon.
“Thank you so much for your brilliant podcast. I found your podcast on attachment parenting and cosleeping so brilliant.” Danielle.
“I am so grateful I found this podcast. Sophie brings together knowledge and research and ties it in with her personal experiences and thoughts beautifully. It is easy to listen to as Sophie is a fantastic communicator who articulate what I am often feeling as a Mother better than I could myself. After listening I feel realigned with my parenting philosophy but also more support as a parent. Thank you for your honesty and openness Sophie.” Bree.
“An educated, relatable, eye opening discussion. Really enjoy the content here. Love that both sides of the coin are offered. Also, Dr Sophie’s voice is so soothing and easy to listen to!” Nelly
“Sophie, thank you for sharing your powerful stories and wisdom here. I’m so excited to hear more from you. Your voice is important and I’m so with you on the mission to elevate, amplify and hear the authentic voices of mothers and women.” Clance
If you take something away from these podcasts, then please do leave a rating and review, and share with a friend who you think may take something away from tuning in. You can subscribe through iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, or Tunein.
Available on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.
Did you know that a Mother’s brain is more malleable and receptive to learning after giving birth?
In this episode of TGEM I chat with Dr Jodi Pawluski, behavioural neuroscientist and therapist about the fascinating effects of motherhood on the maternal brain. We talk about whether ‘Mummy brain’ actually exists, and the interplay between both social and physiological factors that shape our experience of mothering. Dr Pawluski reflects on what has been left out and not yet explored in neuroscience when it comes to motherhood, and I ask her about the brain differences between those of us who give birth to a baby, compared with fathers and other caregivers. We open up discussion about the plasticity of our brains, and how the changes we go through when we become Mothers impact relationships, attachment, and so much more. You can connect with Dr Pawluski through her website and listen to her podcast Mommy Brain Revisited.
This final episode of 2020 is a reflection on the ways perfect motherhood shapes the lives of mothers, and explains how and why the festive season and other celebrations intensify and amplify this pressure. I give voice to the often-invisible load that women carry at this time and the expectations on mothers, children, and the ‘family’ unit to ‘perform’. I reflect on the mental load, but also on some of the challenges in having the only solutions suggested as ‘stepping back’ or ‘delegating’. I pose questions to consider about the extent to which mothers are expected to sacrifice their wellbeing to facilitate the enjoyment of others, how we have been conditioned to want to ‘please’ others, but also the complex dynamics involved when it comes to wanting to ‘give’ to our children. This leads to a consideration of how our worthiness is measured, and purpose is defined. Ultimately, cultivating connection with ourselves as Mothers offers a precious gift of ‘presence’ to ourselves and our family.
Dr Greer Kirshenbaum is the first ever neuroscientist doula and is founder of Nurture Neuroscience. She has worked in academic neuroscience labs, studying how genetics and experience shape the brain, nervous system and body to influence lifelong physical and mental health. Greer uses her knowledge and expertise from the scientific world to offer that research and information directly to parents and educators. In this episode she shares some of this information, including how and why the early years of childhood are so important, the ways genetics and early life experiences shape the nervous system, how and why infancy is classified as 0-3 years old, the nature of emotional regulation, the history of care, the importance of epigenetics, and so much more. We also talk about mothering within this context of knowing how we may want to nurture our children, and yet facing many barriers and challenges in being able to offer this type of care. This conversation is part of us moving towards a ‘Nurture Revolution’ as Greer terms it, and recognising how this is also connected to revolutionalising how we understand and experience Motherhood. You can connect with Greer through her Instagram @nurture_neuroscience_parenting Facebook @NurtureNeuroscience and her website is www.nurtureneuro.com/
This is a conversation about grief and mothering, and the complex challenges that arise when not only grieving the death of your child, but in also supporting your children who are grieving the death of their sibling. I speak with Emma Poore, mother to 3 children, writer, illustrator, and author of ‘Where are you Lydie?’ – a picture book for young siblings and families managing the loss of a baby or young child. Emma has written and illustrated this book honouring her daughter Lydie and her family’s bereavement journey through the eyes of their young sons, George and Henry. The book is endorsed by Sands Charity and recommended by a growing number of Bereavement charities and healthcare professionals, and is a resource for us as parents to open up space for difficult conversations with our children about death. We talk about Emma’s journey into motherhood, the nature of grief, and the importance of language. You can purchase a copy of ‘Where is Lydie?’ through Emma’s website www.emmapoore.co.uk
What does ‘conscious parenting’ mean and how does it afford us the opportunity for growth as mothers? This conversation is with Bridget Wood, thought leader on human behaviour and mother to three young children. Bridget discusses the ways conscious parenting is ultimately about being in relationship with our children, recognising that our child is teaching us just as much as we are teaching them. We discuss the ways our perspectives on the world frame our reality, and the ways this can be both a challenge and an opportunity. We consider the ways ‘gentle parenting’ on a pedestal can sometimes feel like a cage, and the importance of giving both ourselves and our children permission to be fully human. We finish by reflecting on how sitting with discomfort can sometimes be what leads us into our power. You can connect with Bridget here and find out more about her program DISRUPT here.
This conversation about breastfeeding may be unlike any you’ve heard so far. I speak with world-renowned breastfeeding expert Professor Amy Brown from Swansea University, who specialises in research exploring early experiences of parenthood with a focus on infant feeding, mental health and normal baby behaviour. We talk about the pressure mothers are under to ‘get it right’ and how this is connected to expectations of both being a ‘good mother’ and having a ‘good baby’. Amy shares insights on the changing landscape of breastfeeding research and public policy over the last 14 years, and some more recent shifts in creating space to honour women’s grief when they aren’t able to breastfeed. We discuss the complex and sometimes confusing narratives that exist around infant feeding, power, grief, anger, and how mothers are often set up to blame ourselves.
Blurb – *Trigger warning – talk of intrusive harm thoughts.
Perhaps surprisingly, having unwanted and intrusive thoughts as a mother is incredibly common, and in fact – almost universal. Yet, how often is this spoken about in motherhood? In this episode I interview Dr Caroline Boyd, a chartered clinical psychologist who is an expert on intrusive, unwanted harm thoughts that mothers have about their babies. We talk about the connection between harm thoughts and actually causing harm to our children, where harm thoughts come from, some reasons as to why we have them, and what we can do in response to these thoughts. Caroline warns against interpreting us having such harm thoughts as meaning we’re a ‘bad mother’. We reflect on the projection of perfectionism and mothering myths, and the ways intensive mothering contributes to the stigma, shame, guilt, and challenges that mothers face. You can reach Caroline at her website or through Instagram @_drboyd
Note – Fathers do also report experiencing these thoughts too, but to a slightly lesser degree to Mothers.
If this episode raises any concerns for you please visit your GP. You can also reach out to Caroline or Sophie, and/or contact the services below:
UK: PaNDAS – 0808 1961 776
AUS: PANDA – 1300 726 306
USA: Postpartum Support International – 1-800-944-4773(4PPD)
In this solo episode I reflect on the cultural construction of Motherhood as a ‘mask’ that we are expected to wear. We recognise, internalise and perform what it means to be a ‘good mother’ in our society. The power of this mask of Motherhood is that we are expected to wear it as our ‘natural’ state. It is supposed to come effortlessly, without complaint. We can convince ourselves while holding up the mask, that this is not only who we ‘are’ (or who we’re striving to be) but that holding up this mask is actually what is best for our children and families. We justify the pain and struggle by saying it is for them. I challenge this self-sacrificial narrative of martyrdom motherhood and talk about the process of revealing, discovering, and connecting with who we are, underneath the mask of Motherhood.
Often, there can feel as though there is a conflict between the ways we would like to parent, and the social and structural forces that shape and influence our everyday lives as mothers. Amanda Donnet from Spilt Milk Psychology joins me in this conversation to discuss the ways so often, our ‘needs’ as mothers are framed as being in competition with the needs of our children. Negotiating this and finding space for our ‘selves’ is therefore connected with the idea that we need to be separated from our children – to have time away from the to ‘come up for air’. We challenge this narrative and the pressure mothers face to always centralize our children and place their needs above our own. Amanda offers us examples and tools for how we can learn to build our own ‘oxygen tank’ to ‘breathe under water’, and honour the ambivalence that is part of mothering. We talk about toxic positivity, how to teach our children how to deal with disappointment, strategies to cultivate self-compassion, and much more.
This is a conversation about the concept of ‘Matrescence’ as the transition into the identity of being a mother – a process that is unfolding and ongoing. I speak with Amy Taylor-Kabbaz who is a best-selling author, speaker, journalist, Matrescence Activist and mama of three. After more than a decade covering breaking news and current affairs for the ABC, Amy’s ‘traditional’ career took an unexpected turn when she found herself lost, overwhelmed and diagnosed with a thyroid condition after the birth of her first daughter. Amy went on a journey to learn about, explore, and then teach the concept of Matrescence as a way for women to access a language and understanding to describe the changes they go through when they enter motherhood. In our conversation we reflect on the revolution that is needed, both for mothers individually and socially, institutionally, and culturally.
In this episode I talk with Leisa Masters from Earthside Birth Services on the subject of money and worth in motherhood and in business. We are both single mothers and business owners whose work supports mothers. It’s from this context that we explore how mothering is financially devalued, and the correlated challenges we’ve experienced in running businesses that support mothers. This episode covers research on the ‘motherhood penalty’, the ‘maternal ‘wall’ as the new ‘glass ceiling’, and the economic value of women’s care-work. There is recognition of our collective loss of community support and the commodification and hierarchy of valuing tangible ‘things’ in motherhood. We delve into a deeper discussion about the discomfort that can come up both in motherhood and specifically in mother-run businesses, around self-worth, and the socially reinforced expectation that mothers try and prove our worth through measurable, quantifiable outputs. We consider all of the ways that mothering is skilled work, how the way we see ourselves impacts how others see us too, and the potential that would open up for mothers if we were to recognise and claim our individual and collective value.
The ever-unfolding transition into motherhood is one that often asks us to connect in with our values, our desires, and our sense of identity, to embark on a journey of growth and transformation in ways that we had never anticipated before becoming mothers. This journey of ‘soul-work’ is the focus of this conversation with Dr Aleksandra Staneva. Dr Staneva is a mother, scholar, and psychotherapist who supports women to re-member and re-integrate their deep connection with their own soul. This episode explores how this work actually looks in practice, diving into topics such as inner-child work, the ‘mother wound’, the ‘death mother complex’, ‘shadow work’, inner re-mothering, the connections between trauma and the body, and how we can use dream work as a way to access our unconscious in supporting our own growth and development. In this episode, Aleks combined both rational, intellectualised teachings and understandings, with the non-intellectual wisdoms of our body. You can connect with her at email@example.com, aleksandrastaneva.com/ on Facebook as /Drstaneva or Instagram horo_for_women.
This is a conversation with Eileen Robertson Hamra about her memoir ‘Time to Fly: Life and Love after Loss’ – a story of resilience, grief, and love, told with raw honesty and deep vulnerability. In December 2011 Eileen and Brian Robertson and their three young children were preparing for Christmas celebrations together, when Brian was tragically killed in an airplane crash. Ripping their world apart, Eileen says “waves of grief start immediately, and when the first wave hit, it knocked me over. I still cannot imagine more pain. In the first hours and days following the worst news of my life, my human body worked in mysterious ways to protect my soul”. As a mother, woman, and wife, Eileen forged a path forward in her life for both herself and her children that honoured Brian’s life and continued his legacy, while living with a deep and renewed sense of purpose. She says “the transformation of pain and the self is not a burning or turning away – the goal is not to deny or destroy our sadness or our past. We cannot grow only by leaning into joy.” In the episode we talk about this journeying, reflecting on the nature of grief and the ongoing process of grieving. Eileen shares with us how she opened herself up to finding love again, and what it was like to begin a new relationship with her now husband, Mike. She talks about the complexities of supporting her children through both the loss of their father, and integrating into their new family unit, as well as the incredible journey of having a baby with Mike, giving birth to her fourth child at age 46. This is a conversation about grief, loss, transformation, love, lack of control, surrender, mothering, legacy, and life purpose, for anyone who believes in the power of hope and resilience. You can connect with Eileen through her website.
The imagery of the ‘perfect mother’ is almost the antithesis of the ‘angry mother’. Yet anger is commonly experienced in motherhood, particularly within a modern, western culture of intensified motherhood that places such high expectations on the ways that mothers should behave, feel, act, and live. Because of this, feeling anger when you’re a mother can provoke guilt, stigma, isolation, shame, and have you feeling like you’re not a ‘good enough’ mother. This episode offers insight into the experience of anger in motherhood, where anger comes from, what happens when we’re triggered, and the RULER approach for responding to our anger. I speak about the cultural roots of anger, common responses to anger in motherhood, and encourage us to get curious about our anger. If we framed anger as information, what could it be telling us about our life and our growth? What if we understood feeling maternal anger – and knowing how to channel, process, and respond to these feelings constructively – as actually necessary for both us, and our children? I share some perhaps surprising features of anger, and hope to shift the shame, stigma, guilt and isolation associated with maternal anger, through offering an alternative narrative in considering how our anger can be a constructive and transformational force.
*Please note that in some cases, anger can be a red flag for maternal mood disorders. If you feel anger has become an unhealthy, recurring, or destructive feature in your life, please reach out to your GP or email me info@drsophiebrock so I can connect you with support.
Motherhood has many challenges, some that are talked about more publicly than others. One common challenge within mothers’ experiences that isn’t often addressed, is how trauma – particularly childhood trauma – impacts the practice of mothering our own children, and how judge ourselves as mothers. In this episode I speak with trauma-informed Integrative Psychotherapist Catherine Counihan to explore this complex topic. Cath shares with us ‘big t’ and ‘small t’ definitions of trauma, some examples of trauma, and describes how and why our childhood experiences impact our mothering. Part of this means highlighting the infant and primary caregiver attachment relationships, and how our early life experiences impact our mothering today. Cath explains the physiological effects of trauma and offers examples of how this shows up in our interactions with our children. We talk about concepts such as the ‘parentified child’, and how perfectionism and control are key challenges in our experience as mothers. This episode offers you insight into why and how motherhood can be very stimulating from a trauma perspective; the role of both compassion and rage; suggestions for how to ‘widen your window of tolerance’; and what you can do when you feel you’re in a triggered state. You can connect with Cath further @psychotherapy_mum.
This conversation is with Dr Oscar Serrallach, GP and author of the ground-breaking book, The Postnatal Depletion Cure. In both his clinical work, and as a father to his three children, Oscar has witnessed the enormous stress of modern motherhood and the health implications experienced by mothers. He has dedicated his career to addressing what he terms ‘postnatal depletion’. In this episode we discuss what postnatal depletion is, what causes it, as well as treatment and prevention strategies – which are both physiological and social. Dr Oscar discusses neuroinflammation and challenges mainstream understandings of maternal mood disorders, relaying important findings on how postnatal depression is distinct from depression experienced by those who are not mothers. He discusses the changes that happen to a mother’s brain during pregnancy and postnatally, and how our stress response system is impacted. Dr Oscar importantly frames these changes as a ‘superpower’ and highlights the critical importance of mothering-work. We talk about matrescence, why motherhood continues to be devalued, and what our hopes are for the future of maternal advocacy and change.
This conversation is with Sophie Burch, mother of 4 boys including twins, and therapist and coach, who is on a mission to help people maintain their mental wellbeing from pregnancy through birth and parenting. Sophie talks openly about her experiences in mothering her boys, and shares her professional insights and expertise as someone who speaks to parents everyday about the challenges they face in parenting. We reflect on the ways that surrendering, self-compassion, and Sophie’s terminology of ‘softening’ into the most challenging parts of mothering are what help us through. We talk about mindfulness, ‘micro moments’ of self-care, reframing tools, mirroring, and modelling, and Sophie shares with us a brilliant and practical strategy that you can adopt and implement into your daily life as a parent when things feel overwhelming. You can get Sophie’s ‘Beyond Birth Guide’ for early parenting, and join her weekly classes here and sign up for my course Liberate: Your Motherhood Revolution here.
In this episode I talk with Julianne Boutaleb – a consultant perinatal psychologist and Director of Parenthood in Mind – about the transition to motherhood, particularly in the context of the Covid-19 global pandemic. We discuss the dynamics and importance of the birth environment and postpartum period, and how parents can prepare for how their experience will be impacted by the context of a global pandemic. Julianne speaks about the processes of attachment between a mother and her baby, revealing some of the early attachment needs of a baby that may surprise you. As some of those most vulnerable members in our society, this episode highlights the experience of the baby in transitioning into the world, particularly in the context of Covid-19. We also talk about the changes that happen in a woman’s brain when she becomes a mother, and why mothers and babies are ‘born’ three times. Part of this process of readjustment and transitioning into the ‘mother’ role also can involve a sense of loss and grieving. Julianne offers advice about how we can move through these experiences with a sense of forgiveness, compassion, and gentleness, in order to use this time as an opportunity to settle into a new ‘maternal rhythm’. You can connect further with Julianne on Instagram @parenthoodinmind or through Parenthood In Mind
In this conversation with Carly Grubb, founder of The Beyond Sleep Training Project, Little Sparklers, and Grubby Mummy and the Grubby Bubbies blog, we talk about the consequences of sleep training, the failure of our systems in supporting new parents, the intense emotional load that women carry in our families and communities, and what valuing motherhood means. Carly shares her own story of attending sleep school, and the ways she has used her painful and isolating experience to create what has become a groundswell movement of like-minded parents. The group Carly founded and runs with her team of admins and moderators – The Beyond Sleep Training Group – is approaching 100,000 members. The group supports biologically normal infant and toddler sleep, providing a voice against the tidal wave of the sleep training industry. We talk about the group’s formation, the ways it provides support, what goes on ‘behind the scenes’, what it’s like to run a group of this size, and what is next in stall through the work of the charity Little Sparklers. Part of this involves acknowledging the emotional work, unpaid labour, and personal sacrifices experienced by Carly and her team. This discussion extends beyond sleep training into our everyday experiences as mothers in this society. Having these conversations in public forums requires courage and vulnerability, but Carly’s passion for supporting mothers and babies, and her yearning to see institutional change has kept her going. This is a must-listen for pregnant women, Mums of babies and toddlers, and anyone who is interested in making our society better for mothers and their children.
Let this be a little slice in your day where you take a moment to draw inwards and connect with yourself – even when (and perhaps most importantly when) you are busy multi-tasking in listening to this with while parenting your kids, or driving, or walking, or taking a moment for yourself. I summarize some information for you recommended by Aisha Ahmad – a researcher who has lived through disease outbreaks, war, and long periods of social isolation. I break down her 3 stages of adjusting to a pandemic and talk about how they can help you. I hope for this episode to leave you feeling more connected to yourself and reminded of your resilience.
What does the research actually say on screentime, particularly for young children? I provide an overview of both the detrimental impacts and the ways screentime can be helpful. I apply this information about screentime to the philosophy of good enough mothering and discuss how to integrate screentime into the context many of us find ourselves in working from home with our children. I also offer strategies if you would like to try and limit screentime, as well as ways of how to integrate screentime into your lives in ways that minimize potential harmful consequences. I also discuss how to deal with feelings of guilt, while offering a frank but honest account of the research landscape and how to apply this knowledge into our current context.
In putting together this week’s podcast I reflected on the extent to which our lives and the information that surrounds us at the moment is shaped by this worldwide pandemic. It almost seems as though anything worth discussing needs to relate to the context of the virus. But then I am also mindful of the type of fatigue that we are likely to experience in terms of information overload and feeling like we’re being saturated. With these two aspects in mind, this week I’m sharing what my experience of what self-isolation has been like in mothering my 2 year old without any available social support. I know this is or will be the position of many and so I felt it may be useful to share my experience as an ‘ordinary’ albeit privileged person, within our current context. Sometimes it can feel we’re lost within a sea of statistics and predictions, and it’s through individual stories that we can find anchoring and connection. I hope as a listener you are well and are weathering this storm and holding onto hope.
We generally go through a number of points in our lives where we come to question our identity and who we are: we experience a shift in how we see ourselves, how we experience the world, and what our values are. This episode journeys on a philosophical exploration around what it means to reflect on ‘who we are’ as women and mothers. How we think about ourselves and our lives – both in our memories, the present, and in the future -involves the creation of stories. I explain how this process of story-ing works and why the process of story-making and story-telling is so important in our own lives and the lives of our children. Part of this story-making integrates processes of ‘letting go’ that we move through in mothering, relationships, our working lives, and in grieving and loss. I talk about the meaning and construction of ‘family’, critique advice of ‘everything happens for a reason’, and reflect on the ways we can alchemize our pain, fear, and struggle to lead richer and more engaged lives.
I talk about the process and practice of conscious mothering through The Good Enough Mother, but what does that paradigm look like when applied to birth? This episode is with Leisa Masters of Earthside Birth Services who is an online pregnancy and birth mentor. She works with women who wish to uncover what they want for their births and their lives, and holds the vision that women know themselves best. In this episode we break down what conscious preparation for birth actually means. We confront and raise difficult questions about how women deal with systems and often-oppressive structures, to arrive at what it actually is that they want for their births, their motherhood, and their lives. The way our conversation unfolds reflects the interwoven nature of birth, consciousness, feminism, patriarchal motherhood, individualisation, shaming, lack of choice, silencing, re-claiming, and the power we have in modelling for our children. The journey of birth preparation – and mothering – is ultimately about how we find and ‘be with’ who we authentically are.
What does dealing with aggressive behaviour in your child look like when you’re a conscious parent? In the first part of this episode I dive into what it means to parent from a place of consciousness and reflexivity. Why it is that so often our children – including the ways they behave – call us into doing the work of self reflection in coming to know ourselves more deeply, where our limits are, and who we can become. The struggle we have around our children’s behaviour has so much to do with our yearning for ‘control’ and the constant releasing of control that motherhood often entails and requires. I talk about the power of surrender, and speak frankly about the ways we can unfairly hold our children responsible for our happiness and wholeness. The second half of the episode reveals how these foundational understandings impact on how we can respond to our children’s aggression. I talk about coregulation and dysregulation, why our children lash out aggressively, and how you can respond. Part of this involves releasing the judgements you hold over yourself and embracing a practice of ‘good enough mothering’ in order to connect with your child in the ways they’re calling out for.
EP 24: GRIEVING THE LOSS OF MOTHERHOOD – WITH SARAH ROBERTS. The Good Enough Mother.
What is it like to grieve the lost opportunity of motherhood? This week’s conversation is with Sarah Roberts who is a grief teacher and counsellor with over 25 years experience. After travelling her own journey of infertility for 10 years and living with the grief of involuntary childlessness, she now works to support women who are experiencing motherhood loss. We talk about Sarah’s work and journey, and grapple with what ‘motherhood’ really means in our society today. We discuss the value placed on motherhood and how our current models of ‘the family’ rob mothers, children, non-mothers, and the broader community of support and enrichment. Living through fertility treatments and involuntary childlessness brings with it a complex tapestry of grief, and we explore the ways that this grief can be exacerbated by isolation. We offer ways of having conversations as both involuntary childless women, and as mothers, so that we can create spaces to talk about these difficult topics. It is through grappling with discomfort and pain that we realize our shared humanity and open the possibilities for deep connection and growth.
EP 23: RECONSTRUCTING MOTHERHOOD: SPECIAL NEEDS MUMS. The Good Enough Mother
Sociologists pull back the veil on lived experience and connect this experience with the broader social and cultural context that we live within. Diving into analysis and coming up with theories that speak to individuals’ experiences, we can give broader meaning to them, and this analysis can ultimately be used to provoke and propel social and cultural change. With this in mind, this episode dives into some of the research I’ve conducted with mothers of children with disabilities. I want to give you an insight into these women’s experiences, because I believe mothers of children with disabilities are at the intersection of everything that is empowering about mothering, AND everything that is disempowering about motherhood. The work these women put into their mothering is unparalleled, and it’s not just through choice: it’s often through necessity. But the struggle and isolation they endure is mostly unrecognized, and often unnecessary. We need social, cultural, and institutional change to value the work these women do – and the work that all mothers do. We need to value unpaid care work. Despite living within a patriarchal model of motherhood, I argue these women’s stories show us how we can reconstruct our own experiences as mothers to experience our power and potency, despite the deep complexity and perhaps ambivalence that will always be inherent in the experience of mothering.
EP 22: EMBRACING GOOD ENOUGH MOTHERING AS YOUR SELF CARE. The Good Enough Mother
Current notions of ‘self care’ are letting mothers down. Part of the ‘perfect mother myth’ is that mothers are self sacrificial saints who have responsibility for the physical and emotional needs of the family. Yet, they are also expected to prioritize their ‘self care’ in order to continue meeting the needs of everybody else. In our individualistic culture we ask mothers to advocate for their own self care when they are already drowning in the care needs of everyone else. Considering the interplay between society and the individual, perhaps there are deeper reasons behind our ‘need’ for self-care in terms of our sense of worthiness, and living out the gendered narrative we’ve been programmed with since we were little girls. I want to flip how we think about self-care in the context of motherhood and argue that it can be a way to push back against the rhetoric of the perfect mother and patriarchal motherhood. We do this through rejecting the individualized, commercialized idea of self-care, while embracing ourselves as good enough mothers.
EP 21: SEVEN SLEEP MYTHS. (PART II) The Good Enough Mother
This episode offers insight into what the research says on sleep training practices and frames the struggle with baby sleep as a structural and cultural one, rather than a purely individual one. I try and move the debate away from the divisiveness it can cause within motherhood, towards fostering compassion for parents while calling sleep training marketing tactics to account. I detail 7 ‘myth busters’ of infant sleep assumptions that include information on infant feeding, sleep spaces, ‘sleeping through’, and self-soothing. I argue for a move away from the either/or approach of prioritizing the caregiver OR baby’s wellbeing. We need to maintain the importance of attachment and responsiveness for babies, as well as support, rest, and empathy for mothers. I advocate for a cultural adjustment of expectations around baby sleep and a shift in where we focus our support and inquiry.
EP 20: SLEEP… TO THE BRINK OF DESPAIR, AND THROUGH. (PART I) The Good Enough Mother
Sleep is one of the most loaded and controversial topics you can discuss within motherhood. There is judgement regardless of whether you sleep train or not, and I firmly believe all mothers are doing the best with the information and support they have available to them at the time. I know that not getting quality sleep can have severe impacts on our health and quality of life, but I want to shift the conversation away from the ‘either/or’ paradigm about putting baby or Mum ‘first’. We need another way. This episode is part 1 in a two part series, and this part shares the sleep journey I’ve been on with my daughter. I speak the unspoken parts of sleep training and critique sleep training industry and culture for an exploitation of tired and vulnerable parents, approaching this from a place of compassion and empathy for mothers. We navigated through 18 months of frequent and distressed waking before finding answers that helped my daughter’s sleep. But this journey taught me surprising (and sometimes challenging) lessons about myself as a mother and woman, and has instilled in me a passion for education about biologically normal patterns of baby and toddler sleep. I think we need an overhaul of our current social and cultural model when it comes to the topic of motherhood and sleep! Stay tuned for part 2 where I dig into the research and the core of my argument, taking you through 7 myths of infant sleep that I believe need calling out and changing.
Sophie Acott from Sleep, Play, Love.
Nourishing The Mother.
EP 19: THE OVER-TREATED YET UNDER-RECOGNISED PROBLEM WITH MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH The Good Enough Mother
This episode contributes to the conversation on maternal mental health – specifically postpartum depression and anxiety – reframing the disorders (at their epidemic levels). I draw on research to suggest these disorders can be understood not necessarily an individual problem that is growing, but as a symptom of a social problem. I explain the role that culture has to play in triggering or exacerbating maternal mental health conditions. I explore the various contributing factors to maternal mental health struggles including biological – hormonal, relational, socioeconomic, and cultural – as well as the way systems such as our maternity care system contribute to the epidemic. In doing so, I reveal some shocking correlations that you may have never heard of before, as well as share my own mental health challenges as a mother. As a way forward, I introduce the concepts of ‘the postnatal depletion cure’ as well as ‘matrescence’ to give us a language and more diverse options for navigating and transforming maternal mental health struggles. Ultimately, I hope this episode makes visible part of the picture that still remains largely hidden, as I believe without this recognition we cannot create enduring and meaningful change to transform mothers’ lives.
PANDA for Aus support: 1300 726 306. MIND for UK support: 0300 123 3393. Mental Health America for US support: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
EP 18: RESPONSIVENESS, RAGE, RUPTURE AND REPAIR The Good Enough Mother
In this episode I delve into research and evidence behind why the way we parent is so important – from a neurobiological perspective. I talk about polyvagal theory and why it’s important to understand as a parent, and the scientific benefits of holding our babies. I share research that gives insight into the interplay between genes and environment in our children’s development, and the power of touch and connection. I acknowledge the challenges involved in this way of mothering as a caregiver and delve into the topics of rage and anger as a mother. I bring our focus back to the body and on accepting the inevitability of ‘ruptures’ in our connection with our children, but on the enduring and restorative function of ‘repairing’ these connections.
EP 17: (RE)CLAIMING OUR POWER AS GOOD ENOUGH MOTHERS The Good Enough Mother
This episode is about injecting passion, energy, and power into you as listeners and as mothers. I open up difficult and controversial conversations around the lack of evidence-based information and practice that underpin many of our mainstream understandings of parenting and child-rearing. I talk about the paradoxical ways that in being ‘good enough’ mothers we can both strive to grow while also being content with where we are. We not only let go of the ideal of perfect motherhood when we embrace being good enough as we are, but this is also an act of resistance. And through this resistance of external standards of ‘perfection’ we are modelling for our children how to be authentic, flawed, resilient, whole human beings. In this episode I discuss all of this and more, and hope to communicate the ways that we can both critique socioeconomic structures that make our lives as mothers harder, while also encouraging you to reclaim your maternal power even as we live within these structures.
EP 16 CREATING PURPOSEFUL HABITS FOR 2020 The Good Enough Mother
The move into a new decade is a great opportunity to harness this time and energy to be intentional about what you want for the year ahead and who you want to be. In this episode I share with you the intentions I set for 2019 – which ones worked and why, and which ones failed, and why! I think an important part of moving forward consciously is to look back at where we have been. Not with judgement, but with curiosity to see what we can learn to support our growth moving forward. In this episode I share 5 strategies for setting and living out your intentions, goals, or ambitions for the year ahead. Accompanying this episode a free goal guide that you can download here linktr.ee/thegoodenoughmother
EP 15: EMBRACING AND TRANSFORMING HOLIDAY DYSFUNCTION The Good Enough Mother
This time of year and the festive season can bring pressure, expectation, sadness, a bubbling of grief, intense gratitude and joy, and so much more. Often, the emotional and physical load of organizing communities and families in this season falls on mothers’ shoulders. I encourage you to think of yourself as a ‘rebellious mother’ this festive season, offer some tips on how to embrace this idea, and recount research around what makes for a ‘happy’ holiday season. I talk about the importance of co-regulation and what to do when your children (and you) become dysregulated in social settings. In cultivating self-awareness around our triggers, we can come to see how we can flip our understanding of dysfunction to be purposeful for our own growth, self-development, and practice of gratitude and perspective.
EP 14: LOVE, LOSS, HOPE The Good Enough Mother
Note: Trigger warning that there is discussion of my Dad’s death and some of the acute challenges that came with his illness. If you’re a listener with MND/ALS or support a loved one, please be mindful of this and know that you can reach out for support.
There is a power in story-telling that goes far beyond what we recognize and acknowledge. It is the thread that ties us together as human beings and I believe narratives have the power to transform and inspire. In this episode I share a personal story from my family. It includes the story of how my parents came to be together: the greatest love story I’ve ever known. I talk about how my Dad went from the depths of depression to finding hope and a renewed sense of love and life through my Mum, and how together, they took on the biggest fight of their lives. Dad’s terminal diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease gave him 3-5 years to live. Together they fought against the ravishes of the deteriorating disease, stripping my Dad of all independence, but he continued to live a thriving and rewarding existence: for 20 years. Their story demonstrates the importance of perspective. The power of love. The lifeline of hope. The realities of grief as a part of life. And the ultimate importance of never giving up. I hope from this you draw inspiration, strength, and resilience that you can enact in your own life.
EP 13: MUM GUILT The Good Enough Mother
Feeling guilt as a mother is almost part of an initiation process into modern day, intensified motherhood. There can be guilt from the moment of conception right through to being the mother to an adult child and a grandparent. Mothering more than one child is laden with feelings of guilt at the obvious impossibility of meeting every child’s needs right when they arise. This episode unveils what I think Mum-guilt is really about. I encourage greater self-awareness about what your feelings of guilt actually mean, and warn against the dangerous aspects of guilt that perpetuate a cycle of self-censoring judgement, and keeps the myth of idealized, perfect motherhood going. I offer 3 strategies for how to flip the narrative of your guilt to see it as purposeful, and come up with your own version of ‘good enough’ mothering. Reframing our understanding of maternal guilt can be fuel for transformation, remind us of our inherent power and agency as women, and encourage acceptance of our feelings of ambivalence that are an normal part of mothering.
EP 12: HOW TO VALUE AND SHIFT YOUR EMOTIONAL LABOUR The Good Enough Mother
You acquire certain skills when you mother children, and ‘maternal thinking’ is one of them. I describe this concept to you as a way of re-valuing the work of motherhood, and relate it to the weight of responsibility mothers carry in caring for children and running a household. This weight can be talked about in terms of ‘emotional labour’ and the ‘mental load’, and also relates to ingrained and ongoing sexism. I draw on research to explain the critical yet invisible burden of these responsibilities that is largely carried by mothers. In doing so I delve into a discussion of ‘maternal gatekeeping’, why it may keep you feeling stuck and alone, and how it relates to the pressures of ‘perfect motherhood’. I finish by speaking about the gendered division of care and domestic labour and the fraught nature of ‘choice’.
EP 11: TODDLER TANTRUMS The Good Enough Mother
Big emotions from our little humans can make this season of motherhood so challenging, and parenting from a place of respect and self-awareness can often feel like an uphill battle. In this episode I dispel some of the myths of toddlerhood to give you insight into neurologically typical, ‘normal’ developmental capacity for young children to regulate their emotions. I reveal why ‘tantrums’ are purposeful and why you might like to actually encourage them! I critique some of the ‘peaceful solutions’ sold to mothers that buy directly into the ‘good mother’ myth, while giving personal insight into my greatest ‘discipline’ challenge as a mother. This episode is designed to alleviate guilt, lessen feelings of stress and anxiousness around disciplining, and give you some step by step tools you can try out to ground you on a path of connection with both your child, and yourself.
EP 10: EXPANSION & CONTRACTION: IN LIFE AND MOTHERHOOD The Good Enough Mother
This episode uses the motif of contraction and expansion to show how all of our lives mirror this process and cycle of challenge and growth. I connect the threads of birth, new life, childhood, major life transitions, old age, death, and grief. In doing so, we delve deeper into the role that contraction has to play in our lives – including through emotions such as anxiety and stress – and I offer you an exercise to demonstrate this relationship. This process invites greater introspection and self-awareness about how challenge can be a catalyst for transformation. As an example, I point to the transition to motherhood and the question mothers wrestle with about ‘going back to work’ and how they see themselves and their identities as tied to their occupations. I look at the process of ageing and how the ways we treat our elderly highlight the discomfort we actually have with transformational growth. I also share a personal story of my own state of grief to give you insight into the lessons our bodies have for us if we tune in.
EP 9: YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO LEAVE YOUR DIGNITY AT THE DOOR The Good Enough Mother
This episode is a follow on from episode 8, which spoke about birth as a feminist issue, the cascading nature of interventions, and the latest in Australian birth research. In this episode I give insight into some harrowing accounts of birth demonstrative of the widespread issue of psychological and physical birth trauma. I talk about why the #metooinbirth movement needs to gain momentum and publicity, as well as the significance of the place of birth and care provider chosen or allocated.
EP 8: A HEALTHY BABY IS NOT ALL THAT MATTERS The Good Enough Mother
This episode is the first in a series of 2 that has been released following the release of a major research study, drawn from data that spanned 13 years and followed over 1 million births in Australia. I unpack some of the results from this study, critique the problem with ‘choice’ framing in the birthing context, and talk about the cascading nature of interventions in the birth system. Based on Milli Hill’s “give birth like a feminist” book, I answer what giving birth like a feminist really looks like, and why birth is a feminist issue.
EP7: THE EXPERIENCE OF MEETING YOURSELF The Good Enough Mother
Who are you? When you strip back all the labels and all of the ‘roles’, who are you at your essence? This episode explores this question, inviting you into greater awareness of yourself and the power you have to change your perceptions and therefore experience of this world. I also delve into a critique of this ‘mindfulness’ movement from a sociological perspective, but offer a bridge for understanding how a focus on self awareness can open opportunities for cultural shifts. I offer some practices and examples that you can draw on in your everyday life to help you alleviate stress and anxiety, recognize your ego, and become conscious of the stories you tell yourself about your past, relationships, work, and parenting. I reveal the ways our children can help us experience greater consciousness and appreciation for who we are, and the interconnectedness between ourselves, our children, and our society.
EP 6: PARENTING PARADIGMS The Good Enough Mother
Talking about how we raise our children can be a highly emotive – even moralistic – conversation. It feels deeply personal because of our relationships with our children, and the high investment (in every sense of the word) so many of us put into childrearing. Why this topic can be emotive is also connected with the ways motherhood sets us up for comparison, judgement, and critique – from both others and ourselves. Society sees the terms ‘woman’ and ‘mother’ as almost synonymous, and with these associations come expectations. This episode delves into different parenting styles with these connections in mind, recognizing that part of the complexity of our individual histories and circumstances, means that we will all likely fit into EVERY parenting box at one stage or another. Authoritative, attachment, free range, slow, gentle, RIE, aware, hand-in-hand, and parenting by connection. I delve into these through discussing research evidence, cultural reflections, and personal anecdotes. If you would like to learn more about conscious mothering, head on over to my blog on conscious mothering.
EP 5: ATTACHMENT: SEPARATING SCIENCE AND CULTURE The Good Enough Mother
Separating the science from the cultural constructs, and judgements from the lived reality, this episode dives into attachment theory as setting the building blocks for human development and relationships. But rather than giving a one-dimensional account of attachment, I examine some critiques that will challenge your thinking and have you questioning what you really believe to be true about attachment-style parenting. I offer my own response to these critiques and share a story about my own relationship with attachment parenting. I encourage you to break out of set mothering-boxes and enjoy nuanced discussion about the realities of mothering and attachment theory.
EP 4: COPING WITH CATASTROPHE The Good Enough Mother
I think part of our human experience involves experiencing catastrophe at some point in our lives. Whether that be through the death of a loved one, disease, divorce, loss of identity, or anything else that has devastating consequences. With this in mind, I tell the story of how my Dad and family coped with Motor Neurone Disease: a terminal, degenerative, and incurable disease. Dad fought for 20 years, and died in 2016. The lessons he left will guide me for the rest of my life. In this episode I share some of these with you in the hope that they offer you inspiration for choosing a path forward to build and live a life imbued with meaning and hope.
EP 3: EMPOWERED MOTHERING The Good Enough Mother
What does empowered mothering mean and how do you become an empowered mother? I provide you the answers to this question, and offer tips and strategies for how we can embrace a practice of mothering that reclaims our strength, power, authenticity, and agency. I talk about feminism, privilege, and reveal some shocking statistics about the position of mothers in Australia today. This episode will demonstrate how embracing the practice of empowered mothering not only benefits individual mothers, but also their children and our society.
EP 2: BIRTHED AS A MOTHER The Good Enough Mother
What does it mean to be ‘birthed’ as a mother? Becoming a mother is one of the most significant transitions a woman will ever experience. I explore an overview of some of the major research themes when it comes to maternal transitions. I confront what it means when these transitions may coincide with other traumas or challenges, through sharing some of my own transition into motherhood.
EP 1: WELCOME The Good Enough Mother
Welcome to the first episode, where I share my vision and passion for this podcast. I explain the purpose behind The Good Enough Mother and give you 3 insights into how this podcast came about, why you may be interested in listening, and what aspects you will be able to connect with. I also answer the question of what IS a ‘good enough mother’?
Prefer to read than listen? Check out my blog.