The Sassiest Mama Awards 2015
We have immense amounts of respect and gratitude for the efforts this mama has made to support women with pre and post natal depression and other depressive illnesses whilst trying to breakdown the associated stigma surrounding mental health issues. Passionate about wellbeing she’s also a trained doula, baby massage & yoga instructor and a breastfeeding counsellor – oh and a mum of 2 . Phew! We’re not surprised that she’s asleep the minute her head hits the pillow!
Who’s The Mama?
Full Name: Andrea Allen
Occupation: Co-Founder of Out of the Blues, Doula and Baby Massage Instructor
Children: Oscar 8 and Maisie 6
How long have you lived in Dubai? 7.5 years
1) Tell us about your business/businesses and why you started them.
Out of the Blues
Out of the Blues is an organisation dedicated to supporting women suffering from Antenatal/Postnatal Depression, Postpartum Psychosis and other depressive illnesses. In addition to the support we give to the individual affected by this illness we also lend support to their families. We have been dedicated to this cause since January 2013. We currently have just under 800 members. We offer email and phone and support as well as a website for information and we hold weekly coffee mornings and one to one support where needed. In addition to this, we work closely with Lighthouse Arabia to offer once a month group sessions which are supported by a psychiatrist.
I decided to start Out of the Blues after suffering from Postnatal Depression myself and realising that there was absolutely not support available for sufferers of mental health illnesses. I was lucky enough to find a couple of fellow sufferers who supported me immensely through my struggles with PND and Depression and I am happy to say I’ve come out the other side a stronger and better person. I wanted Out of the Blues to offer that same support and validation to other women suffering in silence and to show them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
The doting Doulas
I have always been very passionate about birth and wellbeing. After my own births I decided to train as a Doula to help support families through their journey of becoming parents. I later trained to be a Baby Massage and Yoga Instructor and Breastfeeding Counselor as I felt there was so little community support here.
I absolutely love being a Doula and Breastfeeding Counselor I am frequently in awe of the amazing ladies I support while they bring their darling babies into the world. However, education is the key, the more you and your partner educate yourselves about your birth preferences and rights the more empowered you become and believe in yourself and your ability to birth your way. I also truly believe in the benefits of Baby Massage & Yoga and absolutely love running these courses and seeing both mum and baby benefit from them.
2) What do you feel have been your biggest achievements both in your personal life and career so far?
Surviving postnatal depression with two small children and then turning it into something good and worthwhile has to be my biggest achievement in life so far.
3) As a child what did you dream of being when you ‘grew up’?!
I always wanted to be a policewoman and to work with the child protection unit. I also aspired to being an amazing mum.
I never in a million years thought I would be supporting women and promoting women’s mental health issues but I am extremely proud to do so.
4) If you had 3 wishes, what would they be?
1. Mental Health to be recognised as an illness and for care to be readily available irrespective of race, religion and financial circumstances.
2. For my children to grow into happy, well balanced and compassionate adults.
3. To get more sleep
5) What does being a Sassy Mama mean to you?
I can at times feel like I am climbing Everest in flip flops, there is such a huge stigma surrounding mental health issues and it is extremely hard work trying to break that down and support women who need that non-judgemental help.
Being a Sassy Mama has helped motivate me and remind me that the work I am doing both with Out of the Blues but also as a Doula is important, is appreciate and is recognised, so thank you.
6) What’s a typical day in your life like?
I get up and get the kids ready for school, drop them off then I have until 2.00pm to catch up on emails, calls that I need to make or calls that come in, radio or magazine interviews, talks to mother and baby groups, meetings with healthcare providers, check in on the Facebook page to see how the ladies in OotB are doing, group coffee mornings, arranging future sessions for the group and coffee mornings. Then I pick up the children, sort out their homework, and have a cuddle and a snack with them before embarking on the epic job of homework.
We then sometimes have afternoon activities or Occupational Therapy for my son. Then once that’s over its back home for dinner, bath and bed. Once they are settled I have dinner with hubby, some more emails, and another check in on the Facebook page to see how the ladies in OotB are doing since earlier and then I fall into bed. If I’m not too tired I may read for a big but usually I’m asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. If I am on call for a birth then the phone stays on and I sleep with one eye open just in case.
7) What’s your guilty pleasure?
A glass of something nice, some good chocolates and a movie all on my own.
8) What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given in your personal life and career?
The best career advice I have ever been given was very recently when a friend sat me down and reminded me that Rome wasn’t built in a day and to take a step back, review what needs doing and where is the best place to start.
From a personal perspective I am regularly reminded by friends to be a little bit selfish and take some time for myself.
9) What do you most enjoy doing as a family in Dubai?
We love to go out and eat together, go to the cinema, BBQ at home with friends or go to the beach.
10) What is the ‘best-kept’ secret in Dubai, something fellow mamas should know about?
That the Jumeirah Jane lifestyle isn’t compulsory!
11) Which three words best describe your personality?
I struggled to answer this one but my friends came up with funny, quirky and compassionate.
12) What advice would you have for a new mama?
Be kind to yourself! When you fly you are told to always apply your oxygen mask before that of your child, this is extremely sound advice yet we as parents never put ourselves first. The point is if you don’t look after yourself how will you be able to look after your child!
If you need help ask for it and if someone offers help take it, you’ve got the next 18+ years to get through a little help isn’t a bad thing.
Also remember to breathe, you aren’t the worst mum in the world we all make mistakes, try to learn from them and ditch the mummy guilt.
13) What advice would you give to a mama who wants to go back to work or start her own business but is worried about juggling family and career?
Take it one step at a time, have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, research the market to see how achievable that is and have a plan. Balance is vital otherwise you will feel like you are drowning and it will take over your personal life.
14) If you were on an island and could bring only 3 things (family not included) what would they be?
- My friends
- A huge collection of good books
- A massive amount of chocolate
15) Top 3 books?
- Stephen Kings Nightmares and Dreamscapes
- Terry Waite’s Taken on Trust
- Captain Scott by Ranulph Fiennes
16) Describe your style.
To be honest on a day to day I usually wear something effortlessly easy, versatile for both work and children. However, I do love to dress up and make an effort when there is occasion for it.
17) If there was a movie produced about your life, who would you choose to play you and why?
I’d absolutely love it to be Dame Judi Dench, she has the most amazing spirit for life, and she is strong, powerful and beautiful.
18) Tell us something funny that your kids have said or done.
My children often surprise me with the things they do and say not least lifting up my t-shirt and kissing my tummy in the middle of Carrefour because they “wanted to kiss the baby” (I was not pregnant at the time!)
Or the time they used a water cooler box as an airplane, decorated it fully, packed their bags and decided that they were going to fly to the UK to visit Nana & Bumpy…they were actually disappointed that it didn’t work bless them.
Thanks to The Studio for the gorgeous pics! Book your photography experience on (+971) (0)4 347 1745.
Special thanks also to Sassy Mama Dani for coordinating mamas and photographers while juggling 3 little ones too!