Lizzie Hanbury-Tenison has been in the brand and marketing industry for over 12 years, leading teams in some of the world’s most well-loved brands including Green & Blacks, Boots No7, Boden, Estee Lauder Companies and most recently she was Head of Marketing, Visual Merchandising and PR for Charlotte Tilbury. Before the pandemic she lived in South West London but as lockdown hit she moved to the wilds of Bodmin Moor and is now finding her way with a new life in Cornwall with her husband Merlin, baby Loveday and Elsa the Labrador.
Today she writes about what having her baby during the pandemic has taught her, from the challenges of adjusting to life as a new mother, to the unexpected joys found in everyday moments.
As the world starts to feel hopeful again, and our baby girl recently turned one I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learnt over the last year or so. We have moved our life from the bustle of London to the middle of nowhere in Cornwall. We have been fortunate enough to move into my husband’s family home, a completely beautiful, yet slightly impractical house where everything breaks and leaks all the time, we’ve launched a start-up or two, got through my father in law nearly dying from Covid and we are still standing, just…!
I know this sounds bizarre, but I feel that beyond all the obvious negatives that so many have experienced with lock down babies, the isolation, the loneliness, the lack of connection and community – being Loveday’s Mummy in this time has helped me to learn things that haven’t always been easy to see, but have been so positive to realise.
#1 The power of gratitude:
Loveday wasn’t our first pregnancy, she wasn’t our second, she was our third. When she arrived I felt the purest emotion I have ever felt in my life. A feeling of gratitude so strong I was completely consumed by it. I just held her and repeated thank you, thank you, thank you in my mind. We went through years of pain trying for a baby - and in that moment I will always remember what pure gratitude and pure love felt like. This year has been full of so much negativity, so much suffering, so much distress. Being her mother almost instantly switched me back into wanting to find the goodness in the every-day, for her and for me. Remembering the sweetness of the small moments of life that can often be overlooked. I don’t always manage it – sometimes the washing pile is too high, there’s egg all over the floor and perhaps a nappy explosion – but seeing her delighting in something switches me back to it. When she finds something funny, watching the chickens or playing peekaboo – in a year that has felt so hopeless at times, I am grateful for these small moments of joy that she has helped me to see again.
#2 That it is okay to ask for help
I’ve never been very good at asking for help or admitting that I need it. Before Christmas I experienced something called nervous exhaustion and to an extent post-natal anxiety. I was doing nothing for myself, everything for everyone else and feeling very lonely. Working all hours on numerous projects I was passionate about, trying to be a good mummy, wife, friend, business partner and miserably failing to do any of them well. My energy was depleted and I hit a wall. I felt embarrassed by it and it made me retreat into myself. I found the strength to tell two close friends – they were so supportive and suggested I speak to someone. I spoke with the brilliant mental health team in my local practise who advised that I just needed to pause. So I did and it was 100% the right decision.
I had to start thinking more sensibly about what I could cope with, the person I am today, my new path which now happily included being a mother. That I wasn’t failing, just re-prioritising. After speaking with my husband we realised we needed some support to look after Loveday and now we have childcare in place. Our lovely Nanny Bobbin has changed our lives. We have to work extremely hard to afford it, but it means I can focus on running the business and feel happy knowing Loveday is content. It was so hard to give myself permission to admit I needed help, but it may well have been one of the best decisions I have ever made.
#3 To stand still
Before lockdown and before Loveday, I wasn’t often remembering to be in the present moment. My mind naturally dreams to the future, on to the next thing I want to create and achieve. I tend to go at a million miles an hour and I like life to feel full, because we only have one! To balance this, I try very hard to quieten my mind. When I remember to meditate, it’s amazing, but I find the discipline really hard - so red wine and chocolate often win. Early motherhood comes with no choice but to be in the moment. It is relentless and exhausting being so responsible for someone so precious but you have to be there. Your body and mind are so tired (they don’t tell you about the tiredness) so you cannot do anything apart from just be. And one thing I love so much about my daughter being in my life is that I have discovered how happy I am being in the present with her.
#4 To be more in awe of nature
We are fortunate to live in a very wild place, in the middle of Cornwall on Bodmin Moor. Our life and work revolves around nature now which is such a privilege. We set up Cabilla Cornwall on the land with a clear mission ‘to connect everyone in the world with the restorative power of nature’. Over the past year I have watched the seasons change in a way that I haven’t done before, the flora and fauna and food that comes with this has been mesmerizing. Babies and children are always in awe of nature and I have taken so much from watching Loveday’s interactions with the natural world. The simple pleasure of scrunching a leaf, splashing in a puddle, blowing a dandelion clock – all of these things astound her and create such overwhelming joy! Imagine if we could feel the same pure joy? On the weekends Merlin and I like to go on walks with Loveday where we stop and talk about what we see beneath our feet and over our heads. Our ancient woodland is also a temperate rainforest, which is incredibly rare with so much to explore. We offer the same style of mindful, meditative walking on stays here, our upcoming Wild Calm retreat is all about that, just slowing down on your terms.
#5 Community is key
This is still something I am cultivating here for Loveday and me. I have lacked the opportunity to connect to other mothers down here, with groups and networks closing in lockdown, plus being in a remote location haven’t helped! Community is so important for our sanity and it feels lacking all over the place at the moment – I know that I couldn’t have been the only new mother to feel this. So next year we are going to be launching a retreat to support mothers of all ages, Wild Mother. Time for you for rest, for fun and finding calm in nature. Where everything is optional. It will be a weekend of simple things, restorative yoga, meditations and positive affirmation sessions, sound baths, watching films in the evening and creation of products you can take home with you – oh plus delicious food and maybe a drop of wine too…send me an email if you would be interested in coming, I’d love your thoughts on what a perfect retreat could be.
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