Maryanne Peacock (MP) and Ellis Harwood (EH) are the founders of Mother Tongue podcast. With a focus for March on Sustainability, we look at what it takes to make impactful change whilst being a mum.

To understand more about how it all began, Emirates Woman spoke to the duo on their inspirational journey and how they’ve transformed the lives of their listeners.

How did you meet and what inspired you to start the podcast?

EH: At the time, Maryanne and I were both working in PR & Communications which is a small world, so our paths crossed on numerous occasions and we very quickly realized we had lots in common, including identical engagement, rings that both our husbands swore blind that they had designed from scratch. We still laugh about this with them today. I was heavily pregnant with my daughter Frida when Maryanne got in touch to say she too was pregnant. It was then that I was introduced to Maryanne’s neighbour who had a son the same age as my daughter. Whilst the three of us drank coffee and watched the babies play in the midst of COVID, we very quickly realized that there was a serious gap and need for informative yet lighthearted conversations in support of expat mothers and women. In no time at all, the idea was born and Mother Tongue started coming alive in between sleepless nights, running after crawling babies and teething outbreaks.

How has the podcast been received to date and have you been surprised by the engagement of your audience?

EH: From the get-go, we have been overwhelmed by both the support and engagement we have received from our Mother Tongue Community. In the earlier days, our following was predominantly UAE-based, however as we have grown, we are now extremely proud to have listeners from all over tuning in. We are very fortunate to have such a lovely community of followers who love to chat, share and get involved. This was one of our biggest aims, as we wanted to ensure that we were creating an unintimidating and open platform that encouraged women to speak up, feel confident and be part of something that they could benefit and learn from.

How have you approached challenging subjects which can be subjective?

EH:Raising the volume on challenging subjects or conversations is probably one of our favourite topic types as we see from the engagement and feedback that our listeners are genuinely interested and gain a lot from it. Of course, when it comes to discussing challenging topics, there are always going to be differing views and opinions but what works quite nicely is that between us we have quite different personalities and outlooks which therefore allows us to see both sides of the coin. In addition, as Mother Tongue, we have always made it our mission to be a very open and inclusive podcast and platform and therefore welcome the input and opinion of others as we understand no two people, nor circumstances are ever the same and we can all learn from others.

Mother Tongue podcast

As a mother – what elements of sustainability are ones which you focus on?

EH: Introducing the understanding of sustainability across different elements of life for our little ones is very important for both of us. For me personally, we focus our efforts on reducing waste whether that be in the kitchen, the longevity of the toys we choose and the clothes we buy. We try to be outside as much as possible and whilst doing so weave bite-size pieces of valuable education into our play. We attend classes and child lead play sessions by a wonderful woman who started Natura Tribe, a nature-inspired style of play that allows little ones to get closer to and celebrate our earth.

How important is setting an example to the next generation in terms of sustainable practices?

Since having children, they want and need for me to personally educate myself further on ways to be more sustainable have been a huge priority so that I am able to set an example throughout our daily life and lifestyle choices to my children. This has enabled me and my husband to narrow down the areas on which we would like to focus on for Frida and Heston. Including the type of education we deem as most sustainable for where we are heading, the language we choose and the types of books, stories and messages we convey to our children. As a parent, we can very easily become overwhelmed with the sheer mass of direction and information from all angles. It has helped me to pinpoint and identify what the three to five 3-5 main things are that we want to focus on and from there I try my best to only take in the relevant information in order to not be bombarded and feel bogged down.

How have you monetized the podcast and was this a goal from the outset?

MH: In all honesty, when Ellis and I started the podcast it was more of a hobby – a way to help us navigate our parenting journey and support other mums going through the same journey as us. We have been very fortunate that the podcast has naturally evolved and grown to become more of a business and we love the fact that we get the opportunity to work with and support brands we love both locally and globally. People always say do what makes you happy – and I know I speak on behalf of us both when I say we feel extremely fortunate that we love the podcast and the journey it is taking us on.

Which brands you’ve partnered with have been most supportive?

MH: We have worked with so many fantastic brands it’s hard to pinpoint one or two. We became Five Little Ducks ambassadors earlier in the year and this was a super exciting moment for us both – it’s a brand we love and have shopped with for years so we were beyond delighted to be invited to work with them. We have also worked with Pampers, a nappy brand Ellis and I have used since all the babies were tiny and comes close to their nighttime routine.  There have also been a few brands, including Organic Foods and Cafe that have partnered and supported us since we started the journey which we will be forever grateful for.

Do you feel more drawn to the creative or commercial side of the business and how do these elements work in tandem for you both?

MH: To be honest I would say we both add input and value to both the creative and commercial sides. To save ourselves doubling up on work, we have areas of the podcast that we manage individually and then the rest of the workload is split between us. I manage to secure the guests plus anything commercial whilst Ellis mostly handles our social media. When it comes to creativity, we normally brainstorm together – we think very differently which normally works really well when it comes to getting creative.

What advice would you give to young mothers or those looking at starting a family?

Don’t put too much pressure on yourselves. We have this horrible tendency as mothers to think we need to be achieving all the things, all the time; giving all our time and energy to our family, our work, our friends and saving nothing for ourselves. It has taken me a long time to find a balance and to remove the mum guilt from my life – the reality is, I can still be a good mum to my kids, run a business and give myself time to enjoy a solo coffee or a massage and the world won’t end if I juggle! In fact, I really enjoy my time being a mum BECAUSE I make time for other things in my life too and I know that finding the right balance of both is what works for us – my kids need a break from me too after all. Secondly, don’t listen to those ‘just you wait’ mums. They might have the best intentions but sometimes it really isn’t necessary. Every child is different, as is every mum – this is your journey so don’t let anyone freak you out or scare you about the next stage of motherhood. Finally, carve out time to spend with your husband. Your relationship is just as important as the one you have with your kids and the reality is, if your marriage suffers, your kids will feel the effects of this. Make time for that date night, remember to tell each other you love one another and always communicate.

Who would you love to interview?

The list is endless. Our wish list ranges from mummy moguls like Emma Grede, Jo Malone, Charlotte Tilbury and Ellie Goulding to other inspirational and wonderful women like Louise Thompson, Ola Farahat, Grace Victory and Huda Kattan. Ed Sheeran would also be a dream guest. There are also so many more important topics we need to cover and shed light on and hopefully, during 2022 we will be able to speak openly about these topics and support even more women both locally and internationally.

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