The Mumbelievables #12: Rachel Daly of Mama’s Meals

I love this series. I started the Mumbelievables interviews to tell the stories of amazing women doing incredible things with their lives to empower and inspire us all, and every single one delivers in spades.

It’s always fascinating to me to learn about the stories behind brands and businesses, and this one is pretty brilliant. It’s a total pleasure to introduce you to the lovely Rachel Daly who set up the fantastic Mama’s Meals, a meal delivery service for parents to help tired and busy mums eat well while looking after their newborns and young children. I honestly have no clue how she fits everything in to her life, but she’s doing a hell of a job. Enjoy!

I’m Rachel, first time mum to my gorgeous son Harry, wife to my amazing husband Tony, full time sales professional and founder of my ‘mummy’ business Mama’s Meals.

And that’s where all the positive adjectives end! Because the birth of my son and subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder, post-natal anxiety and depression were far from amazing.

My son was born a few weeks early and I experienced a high degree of trauma with his birth. At my six-week check-up I was diagnosed with PND and Anxiety; I couldn’t enjoy the experience of being a mum because intrusive thoughts and images filled my mind and I basically lived in fear. I also had the complexities of my son living with an un-diagnosed cow’s milk protein allergy which meant that he screamed in pain and vomited constantly.

In the midst of all of this an idea was ruminating in my head – the idea for Mama’s Meals.  It came to me very soon after Harry was born. As he was early I was still at work and hadn’t had chance to fill the freezer.  In hospital I was desperate to get home, but I soon missed the delivery of food to my bed three times a day. We got re-admitted to hospital due to Harry’s feeding issues and I ticked that menu card off with glee!

It struck me that the time when you need good nutrition the most is when you have the least amount of energy, time and inclination to make it happen.

The link between mood and food is well-established and the last thing new mums need is a load of sugary complex carbohydrates that cause a sugar rush and subsequent crash – making you feel tired and sluggish when you’re already sleep deprived and bloated. But quick sugar rushes are all you have!

So, I started working on my idea for a meal delivery system for parents of both newborns and older children focusing on healthy food that would provide nourishment for tired mums and dads. My amazing friend Trish designed my website and logo and my friend Faye helped with my social media and low and behold Mama’s Meals was born!

I launched the business last year and am so pleased with its success so far. I sometimes question the sanity of running a business, working full time and trying to parent a toddler, (ha!) but when I speak to the mums I deliver to and hear how much the food delivery helps them out I know it’s the right thing to do.

Inspired by companies like Innocent I also wanted to run an ethical business and so for every week’s worth of meals ordered I donate a meal to Basingstoke Food Bank. I call it ‘Meals for all’ and it’s an initiative that I’m so proud of.

Who are you? What makes you, you?

Gosh! Start with the easy question why don’t you?!!

I’m a woman who is struggling with balance in life – just like many women! I feel like I’m doing a poor job in all of my roles; mum, wife, employee and friend. I often feel guilty; guilty that I rarely miss Harry at all when I’m at work, guilty that I spend time away from him for work or pleasure when I already miss so much time with him in the day. I wonder why I’ve gone back to work to pay someone else a fortune to raise my son, (even though I suspect that they do a better job than I could!).

In terms of what makes me ‘me’ I suppose it’s the sum of all my experiences – sorry that’s a bit of a cop out!! J

If someone else was to sum you up in five words, what do you think those words would be?

Bolshy, (that one comes up a lot which proves that you never really know what’s going behind the scenes), honest, kind, enthusiastic and loyal.

Who are the three most important people in your life, and why?

Ok – this one’s easy. My husband and my son without a doubt – because they are my everything. From a practical point of view my mother-in-law is a very important person because she looks after Harry a lot lightening the load for me and helping me take a break. I’d like to add a disclaimer though that all my friends and family are important! J

What are the three most important things in your life and why?

My home – growing up we had a spell of homelessness due to domestic violence and were then in a refuge and sub-par social housing for many years. My home is my sanctuary, my security and a safe place to create happy family memories for my little boy.

My phone – I have a gazillion photos and videos of Harry on it which I look at constantly, I run my mummy business from my phone and it allows me to keep in touch with loved ones.

My car – freedom! To drop Harry off at nursery, deliver my Mama’s Meals and also do my day job.

What does confidence mean to you?

Being able to leave the house without make-up on, with greasy hair, in my mummy clothes (the ones covered in toddler snot, peaches, avocado, paint, crayons, bits of playdough – you get the idea) and realise that what I look like has zero impact on my performance as a mother and a human being.

It’s also about being comfortable with your choices.  To say that no, I didn’t breastfeed, without feeling the need to explain all of the reasons that I couldn’t. To say to the G.P. no – I don’t accept that my son’s chronic diarrhoea is caused by him using a steroid inhaler to treat asthma. Seriously, did you even go to medical school? And to push and push until they finally diagnosed a soy allergy as well as a cow’s milk allergy – he’s so en vogue.

How do you feel about yourself now compared to before you became a mum?

In the beginning I had a bit of an identity crisis; before motherhood I was a successful businesswoman. I travelled the country and overseas, made good money, spoke at conferences, wrote articles and generally bossed life. Then I had a baby and spent a year ‘off work’. I had no targets to hit, no feedback, no-one telling me what a great job I was doing. It hit me hard. I struggled with the lack of purpose, because in my mind taking care of a small person just wasn’t important enough!

A lot of this was wrapped up in society’s views on mothers; I used to scoff at people who had to leave work early to pick up their children, I viewed it as a weakness.

Now I’m proud to say that I’m a mum – it’s a bloody hard job. The toughest in the world and I have respect for anyone who has that title. Whether you breastfeed in a flowery meadow and only serve organic food or feed your child chicken nuggets and Fruit Shoots and shove them in front of the T.V. that’s your prerogative and no-one has the right to judge you.

Being a mum doesn’t define me though. I’m also a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter, an employee and that’s ok. Somehow, (possibly due to the medication!) it all comes together!

What advice would you give to someone who doubts herself?

Go with your gut! Women are incredibly intuitive. We know our bodies and we know our children. Countless midwives told me that I wasn’t in labour when I was. Countless health professionals told me that Harry’s constant vomiting was ‘normal’ – it wasn’t. Trust yourself mama – you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t think you do.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life so far?

To let it go and live in the moment!! I’m lucky in the sense that I’ve had access to so many therapies as part of my treatment for PTSD, PND, PNA and OCD. I’ve learnt mindfulness and coping strategies which I’ll use for the rest of my life. The bottom line is that irrespective of your circumstances and how uncomfortable you may feel; the present is the only moment that you can be truly effective. You can’t change the past and the future hasn’t happened yet. So be in the moment, stay in the moment – our children can teach us a lot about this. Just watch and see how quickly they get up after a fall or play happily with a toy that they got frustrated with yesterday. They don’t hold onto emotions or worry about the future.

And finally, where is your happy place?

If I’m having a bad day at work spending time with my son, (it can be anywhere doing anything) makes me laugh and I remember that work is a small part of what I do and he’s the reason that I do anything! If he’s the one giving me a bad day, (as toddler’s are inclined to do!) being on my sofa, cup of tea in hand with my husband next to me is a fairly good place to be!

You can find out more about Mama’s Meals on Facebook.

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