What is YourStory?

Fellow Lockdown Mums,

I’m thrilled to introduce you to ‘Lockdown BabyBabble: Your Story’! This is a special project for those of us who became mums – or became pregnant – in the Year of Lockdown 2020! It’s where you can share your experiences alongside other Lockdown Mums, standing up and shouting loud – I’m here and I survived becoming a mother in a global pandemic! Hear me ROAR!

I started this website in May 2020 when my daughter was 2 months old, initially to connect with other new mums, but I quickly realised new mums are the busiest of the bunch! So I made a special project just for us – it only took me 10 months to get it off the ground…! It’s part-questionnaire, part-journal, part-self-help. It’s a way to share your experiences, your reflections, your true stories, in a way which will hopefully be quick and easy for the busiest people doing the most important job in the hardest of times.

So what is ‘Your Story’?

Your Story is many things. To begin with, it’s a template for you to fill out at your own pace with the aim of developing this into your own webpage, which can be named or anonymous. But it’s also much more than this. It’s your legacy, your words as a snapshot amongst a collage of incredible experiences. A collection of moments frozen in time. All our difficulties, our elation, together in one place. Not on social media, disappearing down your feed. Not in your gallery constantly being replaced with new precious memories. Here, in a creative time-capsule, ready for us and our loved ones whenever we choose to revisit it in the future.

It’s an experiment. Maybe no-one will join in. Maybe you’ll mean to, but struggle to get round to it. Heck, I took months drafting this over and over in my head before actually managing to sit down and wrestle with the words.

This isn’t about “perfection” – in fact, it’s the opposite. It’s about our flaws and how amazing we are in spite of them. This is about capturing something rough, something dark and messy, perhaps something secret, something mundane, but always something honest.

This is a celebration of all of us, our struggles, our fears and the incredible strength that each of us conjures up every day.

Why join in?

Time heals wounds, but it also dilutes the intensity of experience, and memories are quick to fade. That’s why it’s so important to try and capture something, anything, even just a glimpse, of what this year has been like for us – becoming mothers in a global pandemic.

What you provide here can be used to create your very own page on the Lockdown BabyBabble website. You will always have your page, Your Story from this Year of Lockdown. Plus, you’ll receive a bespoke illustration created especially for Your Story, which will draw out the essence of your writing and feature on your page. These will be created by artists who are volunteering their time and talent to help support Lockdown BabyBabble. In this way, you’ll be preserving your unique experiences in a stylish setting, ready to share with loved ones, and your little ones in the future.

By standing alongside other Lockdown Mums, you’ll become part of a long-lasting community. Whilst all our experiences are unique, we will share some of the same struggles. We have been thrust into motherhood, the ‘best, most awful job’ – so goes the title of a fantastic anthology edited by Katherine May – terrifying, demanding, surreal, unpredictable, all in the midst of a global pandemic.

Writing is a therapeutic exercise, a natural high. Even if you don’t know where you’re going or what you’re trying to say at first, the process of sifting through thoughts and finding the words – whether they’re the ‘right’ words or not – will give you a sense of control, of rejuvenation. And that’s just the beginning.

Our experiences throughout this year will continue to define us and our babies as they grow. Beyond Your Story, there will be a private Facebook group, with scope for writing circles, workshops, collaboration, mental health and wellbeing support, parenting chat… Whatever the community feels it could benefit from – whether it will require funding, or assembling a team of volunteers – we will try to accommodate, either myself or with a team of voltuneers. The community will be what we make it.

How do I join in?

The first step is to join the project. Then you will receive a link to fill out the Your Story template at your own pace. There are six sections: Baby & Me; Our Birth Story; Lockdown Life; Loss, Hope & Recovery; Absolute Stars; Sensory World. Whilst the overall idea is to have your own Your Story webpage, there are several optional steps along the way.

After joining the project, you’ll be invited to the first of two group sessions, a ‘getting started’ workshop, for help and encouragement in filling it out. Once you’ve submitted your draft, you’ll be invited to the second optional session, a ‘development’ workshop, to refine and edit your words and decide what you’d like to include on your webpage. These workshops are free-of-charge and will be scheduled in the evenings when (hopefully) the babies are asleep!

Once you’re happy with your piece, we’ll pass it onto one of our illustrators and it’ll be scheduled for publication!

After Your Story is proudly published, you’ll be invited to join a private Facebook group, there will be regular free writing workshops and collaborative writing opportunities… You name it, we’ll try and make it happen!

Some tips:

  1. You can spend as much or as little time on this as you like. You can write loads, or just make a few notes.
  2. What you write doesn’t have to be a ‘perfect’ final version. You can even copy and paste relevant Facebook / social media posts that you have written in the past.
  3. Once you have joined the project you’ll receive an email with an invite to a ‘getting started’ workshop, along with the link to the template. You can choose to complete it in one go, or, if you’d prefer bite-sized chucks, you can take it one section at a time.
  4. The template includes a mixture of questions and reflective prompts and you can answer as much or as little as you like.
  5. Try to answer as quickly as possible, without dwelling too long on each question – there’ll be plenty of time to make any changes later on.
  6. Once you’ve filled in all the sections you want to complete, you will have the option to upload any photos you’d like to include with your piece.
  7. After you have submitted the final section of Your Story, you will be invited to a ‘development’ workshop where we can discuss your draft and any changes that are needed. If you would rather skip this workshop and just get your story out there, it can be edited straight for publication.
  8. You can publish it anonymously if you like, and you don’t have to publish it at all if you don’t want to. You will always have final approval.

I hope you enjoy filling out Your Story! I hope it provides a few moments of quiet in your busy (probably chaotic!) day. I hope you will find it relieving to offload. To moan, praise, share – overshare! – and generally vent.

Thank you in advance for becoming a part of this important project! I can’t wait to see what amazing connections we will make and the directions our creativity will take.

If you have any queries please drop me a line at lockdownbabybabble@gmail.com. Or find us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram @LDBabyBabble.

Sending kind wishes, peace and strength
Lauren xxx

P.S. You’re doing great. You got this.

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