Season 3 Episode 10 "Beyond the Bootcamp" is now available. Listen now.
May 12, 2023

Designing parenthood: A journey of self-discovery and empowerment with Rachel Arthur

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#036 - Service designer, facilitator, coach and a recent mum, Rachel Arthur discusses the challenges and growth that come with parenthood and how it can lead to increased self-awareness. We also talk about the importance of slowing down and how our constant busyness might distract us from meeting our deeper needs. Rachel also shares how becoming a parent, particularly a mother, can force a reconnection with the body and serve as a powerful transition for personal growth. Rachel also shares practical tips for reconnecting with your body at any moment during your busy day.

In this episode:

  • The challenges and growth accompanying parenthood
  • The discomfort of slowing down and the societal normalisation of busyness
  • The "fixing mindset" of designers and its possible drawbacks
  • The technique of ocean breathing
  • Rachel’s program Mamma Kind to help mums connect with their needs


Connect with Rachel and Mama Kind

Material Journal

Show credits

Illustrations by Isa Vicente

Music by Brad Porter

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Nirish Shakya: [00:00:00] How does being a parent change your mindset and approach as a designer, and how might we be more empathetic to their challenges and needs? That's what I wanted to find out From Rachel Arthur. Rachel is a service designer, facilitator, coach, and recent mama to a multi heritage daughter. She has a sweet spot designing for kids across different cultures and supporting them as a guide to reach their full potential. She's done a lot of work with children and schools in China, fostering human-centered design, creativity, and innovation. But being a mom has been a transformative experience for Rachel, and a personal journey to wellbeing and leadership has led her to hold spaces for healing and inward transformation. She's also started her latest project Mamma Kind, which is a peer led supporter space for mothers to slow down and reclaim their power, potential, and purpose together. In this episode, [00:01:00] Rachel discusses the challenges and growth that come with parenthood and how it can lead to increased self-awareness. We also talk about the importance of slowing down and how our constant business might distract us from meeting our deeper needs and I also learned that becoming a parent, particularly a mother, can force a reconnection with the body and serve as a powerful transition for personal growth. And if you feel like you need to reconnect with your body a bit more, keep listening as Rachel shared some practical tips for doing just that at any moment during your busy day.

Shivaun: This is the Design Feeling Podcast with your host Nirish Shakya. 

Nirish Shakya: Hello. My name is Nirish Shakya and I'm a human-centered designer, educator and coach. And this is a podcast [00:02:00] for well, human-centered designers and innovators and problem solvers who tend to forget the human within the. The conversations you'll hear will help you increase your self-awareness and creative confidence so that you can make the impact that gives you the joy and meaning that you seek.

Let's get started.

Rachel imagine that they made a movie out of your life. Where would that movie start?

Rachel Arthur: That's so interesting. That's a question. Mm-hmm. It's a hard question as well, actually. Um, I would say I want to start younger, um, just to have context of like my origin of being British born Chinese. But then I feel like the, [00:03:00] calling of moving abroad and experience moving abroad before I turned 30 felt like a really significant point as well. 

Nirish Shakya: Moving to china, you mean? 

Rachel Arthur: Yeah. 

Yeah, didn't know it was gonna be China, by the way. It was more like, remember seeing other designers who have moved abroad or traveled board. I'm like, wow, if you're gonna level up your design skills and have a level of empathy and broad perspectives move abroad, it was more the answer. So I didn't know what that would entail.

But yeah, he was moving to China, I think. 

Nirish Shakya: So you mentioned that, um, you were a developer before you were a designer. Is

that it? 

Rachel Arthur: Yeah, I have a degree in computer science.

Nirish Shakya: Awesome. So did I


Rachel Arthur: Oh, nice. High five for that.

Nirish Shakya: high five. 

Um, [00:04:00] so te, tell us about how you went from computer science to design.

Rachel Arthur: Yeah. Well, the reason why I took computer science as well is actually a second choice. Um, I come from a background where my parents are super strict, um, quite traditional in the upbringing, but I always kind of try to stretch the edge a bit as well. And we came to kind of a middle ground of like, well, computer science, at least give me the tools to create things, to craft things, to bring ideas to life.

Um, and that's the part that I really liked about developing things. It's, you know, making something from code to something, actually an app or contribute towards part of like the open source platforms and things like that for like many, many people to use. So there is something about that that's quite [00:05:00] magical in a way, but your code could be translated into something.

Um, and then from to designer, I think it was more going, oh, I really wanna combine creativity, the artistic side in me into computer science. But I didn't know what. What that means and entails, and it was just working for Orange Labs where I worked with a design team. As I was developing apps, I was like, wow, this is, this is what user experience is.

I think I knew it from human computer interaction at the time, like studying on module in computer science and really enjoyed it. But seeing it how they think about, oh, what will make it really useful and usable rather than just creating for the sake of creating, um, was just fascinating. So that's what led me [00:06:00] that curiosity, I guess is what led me to, I go, oh, well, okay, well where is my middle ground?

And that was be able to have the skillset of prototyping in a way that maybe some designers struggle with. But I can also communicate with developers at the time and understand the design aspect too. So that combination was actually a strength.

Nirish Shakya: That's a great superpower to have. 

Rachel Arthur: Yeah. Um, at the time I didn't, I don't think I realize it until someone was going, oh my God, this is so great that you can, you can be that translator.

I was like, oh, that's a, that's, that's, that's a plus. Like, you know. Um, so yeah, that helped me tran transition to, uh, working for designing the open source for, so really looking at from desktop all the way to mobile. What does that actually look like? Um, the, [00:07:00] the, I get so from the keyboard, onscreen keyboard, I remember designing the, um, The Chinese one as well, and I was like, I don't even know how to, I can't read Chinese, 


Nirish Shakya: hard enough with English. 

Rachel Arthur: Yeah, exactly. And I had to like understand how to design the onscreen keyboard for that. Um, but no, it was really fun. Like, and I think II is where I just had designers from all walks of life, and I think that's what made it really intriguing. It was like, oh, you can have a background in psychology and mix that up with design, or you can have a background in like, and someone was, uh, I think she worked in China for a couple years and came back, um, another person, you know, everyone did just, just such a breadth of like backgrounds and cross polls or skills.

So I feel like that was my deepest learning. So I never actually studied in terms of a qualification [00:08:00] to make that bridge. I just invited myself, I guess, exposure to projects that I want to be part of and show growth that way and learn by doing.

Nirish Shakya: And, and a lot of times that that is the best way to learn, you know, through that, the lived experience of how things, things work. Cuz a lot of times, you know, for example, I don't remember 90% of what I learned at uni because I've never had to use it at work.

Rachel Arthur: It's so true, isn't it? It's like linking back to real world skills,

Nirish Shakya: That's right. Um, and I mean, I did do a bit of, um, you know, human computer action when I was doing my, both my bachelor's and my master's, but it was not a formal design degree. And just like you, I think I did most of my learning at work. Just yeah, having mentors, learning we're doing, trying, failing, and making mistakes and trying again.

Um, but yeah, I've, I think that's always made me feel a bit [00:09:00] envious of people who've always started off, you know, with a design degree. Uh, they knew exactly that they wanted to be a designer. They come in with that, you know, advantage of knowing all the process and methods and tools, having a shiny portfolio.

Which I didn't have when I was starting out in the industry. I had my computer science portfolio, which I then kind of like tweaked it to look like a, you know, design portfolio. I was like, Hey, look at all UI I've designed.

Rachel Arthur: That's probably me too. No shame there. That's, that's, you know, we are, we were transitioning at the time and we, you know, that's, that's what we had and we build on that 

Nirish Shakya: Yeah, Yeah, 

Rachel Arthur: where you are at. So. 

Nirish Shakya: yeah. 

Rachel Arthur: I completely hear you about the, um, slightly envious part as well for those who wanted to be designed. It's like, damn it, why didn't, I did not discover that earlier on.

Nirish Shakya: So speaking of, um, something different, um, you then took [00:10:00] kind of a very different role of a mum recently. Um, so you, your, your life is full of transitions, Rachel, you from, you know, from a developer to a designer to living abroad in China, working there, uh, and now becoming a parent to a beautiful baby, baby near


Rachel Arthur: Yeah. 

Nirish Shakya: how, tell us about that experience of, you know, being this really. Busy, uh, really, uh, ambitious designer traveled around the world and making all this impact, um, in all these different industries. Uh, and then taking on that role of a mom recently, how has that transition been for you?

Rachel Arthur: Oh, I dunno how to describe it in words, but the slowness. I think I was reading something today, someone reminded me the slowness of slowing down to a new level may be so uncomfortable for me because I'm so used to [00:11:00] doing things fast or moving things forward. Um, and now you have a little human being where they're very dependent on you and they give you so much light and hope in their own curiosity and way as well. And at the same time, if you're really observing the pace that they're going, it's just like we want to kind of get certain things done. Um, maybe because the, like simple things like the house is messy. Um, We haven't had chance to have a, like a proper sit down meal until recently. She's a little bit older now, but at the beginning it was just more like, wow, it's busy in a different way. But for her presence is actually really, it's much more slower where [00:12:00] she appreciates certain things. It's just like she's now learned to work and we'll probably be like, come on, come on, keep going, you know, sort of thing. We wanna get somewhere. Right? But actually the beauty is in that slowness, um, which is hard if you've, if you found like busyness is, can be sometimes a form of distraction as well.

If we're busy it means maybe we're doing something really important or, um, and that's where maybe our value or worth is coming from, like being busy. I mean like, I dunno, everyone's now default answer. It's not even the feeling. It's like, how are you? I'm busy. I find that very, you know, we're, we're not even in tuned with like the busyness is that kind of like fogle me sometimes It's distraction and actually having a child really gets you to the present moment, [00:13:00] really gets you to listen, really gets you to observe. Cause sometimes the changes that she makes are really small but significant as well. 

Nirish Shakya: Give us an example of that.

Rachel Arthur: um, so an example where her skills of just like, she started just eating a porridge of her hands for a while. She loves it and just feed herself, which is which that itself is, is quite. Amazing to witness from being fed. And then one day she just like picked up the spoon, but she wasn't really understanding the, the scooping action yet. And she was, you know, holding the, the, the spoon, maybe upside down or things like that, she was trying to feed herself. You can see the action. You're like, oh, there's something that just happened there. [00:14:00] And then before you know it, just because you took the notice of that before you know it, then she was feeding herself properly with the, 

Nirish Shakya: Cool. 

Rachel Arthur: and actually you don't interrupt that process because that is the learning like, and I think as a designer, I've always enjoyed helping people, solving problems to help others.

And I think I have to almost slow down and I'm like, well, when do I intervene? Sometimes they need to also, Learn to help themselves as well. And perhaps coaching has helped me to really strip back going, well what, you know, like at what point, how do we support them? But what do they really need? Do they just need a little encouragement or a nudge? Do you need to like just be full on like, well I'm gonna solve the problem for you. And I [00:15:00] think in that kind of computer science hat, I love solving problems. It's like, it's like, it's like, I dunno, there's an enjoyment in that. 

Nirish Shakya: Everything's 



Rachel Arthur: Yeah, exactly. 

Nirish Shakya: And designers as 


Rachel Arthur: And design as well. But that could also be limiting in the way where you are almost coming from a place of fixing, oh, I need fix here, here, here.

To eliminate here. And. And sometimes you're actually the best thing you can do, which is what I realize raising a human being is letting them figure it out and go through the process, but give them the safe space and the container to do so.

Nirish Shakya: So your job as a designer is to create that safe space within which they can experiments, test things, fail at it, learn from it, and try it again.

Rachel Arthur: Yeah, I think of, if you think of, [00:16:00] um, building a team culture as well of team members, it's again creating that safe space that they feel they can, as designers have the space to do that. If you don't, you feel like, oh, I can't, you can't, you can't even start putting your best set of show that your potential in a way. Because there's a fear that gets in the way, but actually knowing that there's a sense of like, oh, this is my playground here. This is what I can play with and these are the bounds to play with, is actually really helpful. Encourages that kind of creativity.

Nirish Shakya: Hmm. And what kind of, um, transitions or switches you've had to made from being. Let's say user-centered or a customer centered designer, to now [00:17:00] more being a baby centered mom, if that's even a word.

Rachel Arthur: Yeah, it's interesting cause so many parenting styles and things, um, being baby-led wasn't actually that difficult. I think if you are, 

Nirish Shakya: you don't have a choice.

Rachel Arthur: No, but you, you, I think being a human-centered designer is a very natural thing to kind of be baby led in a way. Um, and I think the research skills there is very helpful because it's the design for kids.

You observe them, you, you notice, um, you encourage or you kind of, you know, kind of provide and things and support. So there is that element that it's, it's kind of easy in a way. I would say the hard thing, and I dunno if it's for other designers, is to actually have [00:18:00] for yourself. Like, how are you taking care of yourself? 

Nirish Shakya: Hmm. 

Rachel Arthur: Because there's a lot of times that for me personally, I give more than I receive. So I love to be the first one to help, but the last one to receive help, which is quite interesting. Um, like I find it easy to understand what my baby's needs are in some ways or other people's needs are, but my own shining that spotlight on me.

I'm like, oh, I don't, I dunno. And, and then it's like, how can I not know, um, if I'm really good at figuring out what other people's needs are. So I find that's quite an interesting thing to realize, like that spotlight on me, how much I'm giving and where are my boundaries too, because baby led could be really consuming if you're not filling your own cup as well at the [00:19:00] same time. Um, so I think that's really important.

Nirish Shakya: Yeah, and that definitely resonates with me. Um, although I'm not a parent, One of the reasons I did start this podcast is to help human-centered designers find the human within themselves. Because I think the same kind of, um, thinking applies to designers and professions as well in terms of like, we spend so much of our time and energy focusing on the needs of our users, our clients and stakeholders.

Um, but in that, um, mission, we tend to forget what, what are our needs as designers and as human beings, and what are those needs that are currently being met with the, the work that I'm doing, and what are the needs that are [00:20:00] currently not being met? So I, I'm, I'm seeing some parallels there in terms of like, you being a designer and a mum, um, and having that awareness of.

How easy it is to put your entire focus and energy on, on either the baby or users or clients, but then forgetting about ourselves. So what has worked for you in terms of techniques, mindsets, processes, tools to bring that, some of that focus back onto you?

Rachel Arthur: Hmm. Well, interestingly, during my pregnancy journey, the focus was a lot on me, and I think it's more. Maybe in service of, of like, oh, a baby that is, it's gonna be healthy and happy when they're born. But, um, but it [00:21:00] really felt, I felt so in tuned with my body and that was probably the first time I think it was like, as designer, we spend so much time thinking through things because that's where the, it's the knowledge, right?

That's our expertise is all through the thinking and working things out. forget about the body 

Nirish Shakya: Mm-hmm. 

Rachel Arthur: there's this misalignment because I haven't checked in with my body. Um, but during my pregnancy journey, I really focus on that really focus. Like what do I, in the intuitive eating, like what do I actually really, really want to eat that will nourish me?

Um, And I think it's, it's asking that question at every moment. Like, what do I need for nourishment right now? However small that is. That's certainly a lot during pregnancy, but I think as soon as I became a mom, I completely forgot. It's more [00:22:00] like, whew, there's the baby is out now. So, so, um, the attention is there.

Like, what does baby need? How do I, how do I meet her need and da da da da da. Um, and then there was a expectation that I should be somewhere because I did all these practices of yoga all the way through to like my second trimester. I was cycling, I was running like all of these things. And then being a mothers kind of going, I can't do any of this. I can't do those practices, those 60 minutes practices, all of that just, just zapped. Um, and I got really frustrated and there's like a should and the expectation like, well, if I'm not doing any of that, that means. I know that means that I'm bad or I'm like, well, I can't, I'm not good enough anymore.

There's so many connotations along that. Um, but I asked for help and it actually, what I've [00:23:00] realized is that when a baby is born, a mother is also born.

Nirish Shakya: Wait, wait, wait. Let's, let's repeat that. I'm trying to get my head around that. So when a baby is born, a mother is also born,

Rachel Arthur: Yeah. 

Nirish Shakya: elaborate? 

Rachel Arthur: so, that's the moment when you become a mother. You are also obs learning so much like the baby's born into the world. Like they've been inside for nine months in this really cozy space. And they, when they're born, I mean, some babies cry and it's, it's, it's, in a way it's normal because they're suddenly all this. Coziness that it's like this external world of all this stimulus around. And they have to figure out, well, what is this? How to navigate all of this, how to adapt to all of this. And the mother is the same. Like, we're not born to like know exactly what to do, and we shouldn't have that [00:24:00] expectation. And the images that we have of motherhood, it doesn't show the whole picture. And I think it's very static images. It's not images that are dynamic or honest

Nirish Shakya: did you, what did you mean

by that? 

Rachel Arthur: certain times where we have images of when you, I mean, what's your image when you think of mother?

Nirish Shakya: Well, a lot of my, um, images in my head has been influenced by advertising stock


Rachel Arthur: So what are they like? Give, give, uh, like a couple 

Nirish Shakya: you know, bright, airy, white walls. Um, smiling mom, smiling baby. Big baby cream, baby oil on the side or just, you know, mommy, like mom, mom's, uh, just walking there. Babies around town


Rachel Arthur: Yeah, everything just seems like, oh, it just works. You know? We just get into the flow and, and it's the most, and it [00:25:00] is the most like awe experience that you get or in once, like, wow, this is, this is what unconditional love really is. Um, but at the same time, it's all the other parts that happens the day to day that we don't really talk about, um, like the NHS promotes or there's a sense of pressure as well.

Like, oh, breastfeeding is the, is the natural thing now, you know, but we're not even in communities to even. And, and, and first of all, we're not in communities to even make that easier because it's a new skill. No one learns it beforehand. So you're learning literally on the job making every single mistake possible.

Um, and that there's an image of that. How is that natural and really in flow that it should be, um, it should be easy. I think that's part of the, the problem here. [00:26:00] Um, and then the, we're not in tune of our bodies, right? So if we're, if we're not in tune of our bodies, then how are we meant to, like, this is such a physical connection and contact with your little one. Um, and if there's all that anxiety on top, then how can that happen? I mean, I was really grateful that. I had the space to do the preparation. So I think that for breastfeeding to happen, but still doesn't mean that it's easy showing up, doing it on demand. And I think that kind of, um, skill and design where I think about, oh, especially in the service design space, like, oh, you have a blueprint.

What's an ideal state? Where do you want to be? Et cetera, et cetera. then suddenly be in the frontline going, there's no space to even think about all of that. Um, and I was holding on to the, to like, oh, I should be having time to, to, to think [00:27:00] about all of this. Make it everything so intentional, not make mistakes.

It's that perfectionism tendency. And I, and it was definitely a blind spot. I think it was asking for help. The help is to, I think it was someone's going, I think that's what's getting in your way. what's making you anxious. That's what's making you feel low. Because, because your worth is so attached to like you have to be a great mum all the time.

Can you imagine? Like, and not filling our own cups. 

Nirish Shakya: Hmm. 

Rachel Arthur: Um, so it's the second time I think I've kind of burnt out a little bit. The first time was re it's interesting you said about giving at work and I was definitely one of those people as well. So I've experienced that once before and so it's a familiar feeling and all the alarm bells started coming, goes like, ah, my first episode of panic [00:28:00] attack are, okay, first episode of having skin condition again, eczema, Uhhuh.

Okay. There's a few things. Um, and that's when I was like, I need to be receiving here. 

Nirish Shakya: Hmm, 

Rachel Arthur: I need a lot more support and.

Having the courage that there's no shame in that is really important too.

Nirish Shakya: hmm. Yes. I think there's definitely a lot of, um, shame associated with expressing your own needs. Whether it's in workplace or in your, in your personal life. Cuz you know, we we're trained to be strong and independent and which means that I, we don't have any needs. We we're just here to fulfill other people's needs.

And that's what makes me who I am, that our identity is so ingrained and coupled with that need to be of value and service to others. But [00:29:00] like you said, a lot of times, you know, we think our way through meeting other people people's needs when our body, when our bodies are actually, um, signaling so hard to us that hey, listen, listen to, to these needs.

And we just either tend to suppress it, ignore it, or not be aware of it. I think, um, one of the things that we were talking about last time was around how. We're like, um, lollipops walking around like with this massive thinking heads, but like a little stick for a body because we're so body unaware.

Rachel Arthur: Yeah, I wonder how many people are Lollipop.

Nirish Shakya: I, I definitely am. So for someone who might be going through that same situation right now, let's say they've, um, most of their life, put their entire focus on the users, [00:30:00] clients, children, uh, how can they start to make that transition onto themselves?

Rachel Arthur: Hmm. First one I find is

if anyone, if anyone does choose to breastfeed, the best time to really be grounded, first of all, to take that pause. And that pause is through inviting breath. So I find that ocean breathing is a very soothing kind of sound of the sea and everything and, and be able to make that and connect with that 

Nirish Shakya: what's ocean breathing? I've never heard of that, Rachel.

Rachel Arthur: So it's, I guess it's more like the sound of the, like you're breathing, but you are, it's a uja breath I think someone calls 


as well. 

Nirish Shakya: And 



Rachel Arthur: yeah. From yoga. So you're kind hearing 

it. Yeah. You're kinda 

hearing it. Yeah. So you're kinda hearing it go. So it's quite [00:31:00] loud. I dunno if you can hear it, but it's taken that pause and to hold your hand on your heart just to feel that. I find it's a way to, that's the grounding, first of all. It's more like, oh, it's a bit too much and there are signs of the overwhelm and too muchness. It's like, okay, it's an invitation for pause.

And my pause is to kind of go back to the sound of the ocean breathing. So I kind of, I guess, visualize the ocean as I breathe, but also when Naomi might be kicking up a fuss and I don't understand why, or she's crying a lot, I, I almost think of helping myself regulate, but helping her regulate too through that.

And I place her like my hand over her heart as well. So there's that part. But then the secondly is actually once she. Allow yourself of a few breaths [00:32:00] to really ask yourself like, how can I be really kind and gentle in this moment? Because that kind and gentle means I don't need to push something. It's not a should.

It's more for me. It's not like I should do this, or a push forward with like another task or something. It's like, yeah, what, what do I need right now? But in a very kind and gentle way that's soothing. I think it's related to that soothing that we need. Um, and that just helps to calm the nervous system. I think that's the first part, because what happens for me when I get stressed, like overwhelmed, can't think I'm stuck frozenness. So it's starting with that first. Then it gives you space because you're connected with your body. So you don't wanna, basically you wanna move away from the lollipop by just breathing, [00:33:00] really thinking about the other half lollipop.

Nirish Shakya: So, What you're saying is instead of, um, thinking in our head as to, oh, what's the next thing I should do? And the next thing, you're kind of bringing that focus back onto your body and saying, okay, what do I need right now in this present moment?

Rachel Arthur: Yeah. How can I be gentle and kind just right now in this moment? And most of the time the answer's actually quite simple, quite small. So they're very,

Nirish Shakya: Like, what,

Rachel Arthur: um, make a cup of tea, hot cup of tea. Um, I just, what else do a stretch. I think for some reason, child pose is very soothing for me.[00:34:00] 

Nirish Shakya: Is that why it's called a child pose? Cause once you have a child, you need to do the pose,

Rachel Arthur: I mean, you could try baby pose, but the happy, no, sorry. Not the baby pose. The happy pose. The happy pose. 

Nirish Shakya: the happy 


Rachel Arthur: yeah, yeah. Babies do it automatically. I can see Naomi do it the other day. I'm like, wow. And actually, adults find it really difficult because I guess over time, because they've be, so, the, the connection disconnection with the body has made it so tense and so stiff that even just opening. Makes it very like, Ooh, this is, this is, doesn't feel very comfortable. Um, or even just checking in, like, what do I need in moment? But sometimes it's more like, oh, I need to write something down that, okay, I've got this. Um, or can I be slower here? You know? And, [00:35:00] and it's just those small things and it's the pause that helps you to do that.

Nirish Shakya: I love that it, it's such a simple concept when you think about it. But I, I can definitely appreciate, you know, being a mom or a dad or a parent, um, must be really difficult to even do that, to, well, first of all, be aware that, you know, you need, that you have a need 

and how to be aware of that need and how to address that need.

There's, there's so many steps in that user journey with so many, um, points where it's so easy to drop out 

of that journey. 

Rachel Arthur: Yeah. Would you like to try mapping that out?

Nirish Shakya: Maybe we should,

the user journey, a parent.

Rachel Arthur: Yeah. And I think it's letting go of that rigidness of what a practice should look like. So hey, that's 60 minutes undivided, a 10, [00:36:00] like, you know, uninterrupted. There might be moments and I'm thinking like, well, I wanna bring up Naomi where she can be a bit more mindful and she can tune into her own needs and be able to show that to her in the moment she learns by observing.

Right? And she would just absorb. So I think it's actually important to then go, well, even if it's really micro. That's still powerful.

Nirish Shakya: Hmm. What that's just made me realize is that you can still be, for example, baby led, baby centered, as in you're trying to meet their need to maybe help them be more mindful by doing this particular action of being mindful of yourself. So showing by example, which benefits both yourself and [00:37:00] Naomi.

Rachel Arthur: Yeah. And I have found that maybe other pockets I haven't, that's an opportunity. There maybe other pockets there are. I can definitely start to practice that more. But I found that, uh, the, those hours of breastfeeding at the beginning, I was more like, okay, this is a real opportunity to be mindful here.

You know, I'm really tuning, this is the practice itself. This is what is giving me, you know, a real life practice, embodying it, um, rather than, oh, an undivided, you know, kind of separate practice from life. This is the hard stuff actually. Um, and even if I can't track it, when there's a bit of, um, I guess before I used to be like really, I guess organized of like, oh, I track it, see what [00:38:00] it looks like, da, da, da.

And it's more like, no, it's okay. Showing up with that maybe in that moment regularly, and I can feel the difference. And I think that's the thing. It's like recognizes how you are feeling and how that's shifted or changed. Maybe that's enough. In this current context as well, right? It's more like maybe in a year's time it can be completely different because she's at a different stage.

But right now in this context, this is how I can meet my own, this is how Naomi can meet also hand.

Nirish Shakya: I love that. And how has. Becoming a mom affected your other role or identity that you have of a designer.

Rachel Arthur: Good question.[00:39:00] 

I'm currently just recalibrating what that really means as the identity. I almost feel like it's a bit of an identity. I don't wanna say Christ for maybe a breakthrough of a new. A new kind of identity that's emerging that might,

it's almost like another stage of growth of maturing and is actually coming home to more of who I am. So I'm rel looking at or reviewing the values, for example, that I care about before. Does that still ring true? And I'm still in that kind of process of doing that. Um, so it's, and I feel like there's that other element, you know, when you said like being strong and independent, it's more like, well, what if there's another way [00:40:00] and where it could be you can embrace the slowness.

Cause slowness allows space, spaciousness. maybe it gives you space to grow in a different kind of way. Right? There's different pathways, right? In life, it's not fixed. And that's kind of that mindset shifting. Like again, the images, it's not, it's not static, it's dynamic. We're dancing with the different parts of us. That's all evolving at once. I think that's what motherhood does, and that's probably why it's overwhelming because everything is changing or at once, and that's why returning to work, I'm like, whoa, well what, what, what does that mean now? And I, it's a familiar phase. Interesting. Love. Exactly. Like returning to UK after living in China.[00:41:00] 

Nirish Shakya: Oh 

Rachel Arthur: So in China, gave me a new perspective. Of things of going, oh, there's a different way, or Wow, there's these skill sets that, like the research part and um, a deeper level of empathy that I've ever had, you know, and all of things. But how does that work in integrating in the day-to-day life back in UK and what happened?

It was reverse culture shock. And I'm like, oh man, that's another part of this 

Nirish Shakya: never ending, isn't it?

Rachel Arthur: You know? And I think what's happened is that this is part of another cycle. It's like, yes, when Naomi's a newborn, that was a phase where, you know, I could be, that was a start of the motherhood and you can dedicate a lot to it, but it's coming up this new phase now where it's like, well, what does it mean to integrate with all other aspects of life?

Because I can't be doing what, how I supported Naomi day in, day out, the hours that I supported her. [00:42:00] There needs to be more breathing space, there needs to be more balance. What does that balance look like As for me, for Naomi, for my family, you know, for my husband as well. Um, so it's a reintegration and I think that's the part I'm in at the moment.

So I don't have answers, but it's, it's that emergence.

Nirish Shakya: Hmm. But part of that journey of the year you're on, you've also started a, a program called makin to help other moms go on a similar journey. Tell us a bit about


Rachel Arthur: Yeah. So Mama kind was inspired by two things actually. So one part is the really spiritual part where kindness is a quality or, um, a gift that my grandma left me before she passed away, and she's actually in the same. [00:43:00] Uh, year of the animal is Naomi, and there's just something about that, the Year of the tiger.

So that's like the courage. Yeah. There's, so there's a bit, lot 

Nirish Shakya: very cool. 

Rachel Arthur: Yeah. So there's a part in that's like kindness, like, but that has to turn inward. What does it mean for me not to just be kind and, and for everyone else? And I feel like, well, that's actually really needed actually for motherhood because we, we have so much judgment, expectations and shoulds. Um, we don't even realize or honor the certain changes that we're going through. We're not celebrating it, we're not seeing it. We don't have the space for ourselves. So it's actually an invitation to carve out space for people to, for mothers to. Yeah, in the being space, it's more like, oh, okay. And, and reflect on their journey and [00:44:00] see how far they've come. And it was kinda inspired as well with when I did a course on maternal journaling and it's really helped process some of the things and the changes and the learnings. But we can't do that if we're, we're always on the front line. And so it helps you to take a step back. It helps you to set healthy boundaries.

Like, oh, that space is the peer led journey because you know that you don't have to be the expert here. You are a mom, you have lots of inner wisdom and maybe you might not have been able to see it. So we walk this four months journey together. It's really slow, it's really cozy and it's inviting that kind of feminine of a kind of power to it, which is maybe. Different to having to push forward. Um, so yeah, that's the kind of invitation it feels, I guess it [00:45:00] will feel like my slow travel where there is curiosity there, but you almost get to be the child exploring, right? But instead of being, again, external and being, oh, traveling, which, which I did do like six months traveling in different parts of south, um, in Asia, which is amazing, but how can we turn that inwards as well where we exploring our inner landscape and the inner terrains of like, ooh, this part is juicy.

Let's, let's get to more in depth. And I don't think there's that much spaces for that. We are usually support groups and everything. It's very at surface level or practical, what we should do or just tips and things. But there's nothing about the spiritual, emotional, and mental kind of wellbeing.

Nirish Shakya: Hmm. And you're applying a design lens, being a, being a design expert on that and [00:46:00] bringing that focus of the lens back onto the mum who is the carer, uh, who needs that support a lot of times and doesn't get because so much of their. Time, energy, attention, not just theirs, but also the people around them is focused on this.

You know, the, the, the child, um, who usually seems very helpless there, can't do anything. But then it's also the mom that also has some deep needs that need to be


Rachel Arthur: yeah. They get a space to be seen, heard, and valued.

Nirish Shakya: Hmm. I love that. Love that. So how can people be part of this?

Rachel Arthur: Yeah, so, um, it's part of the organization Huddle Craft, which I did the training for to be a host fellowship. Um, and yeah, if you go on their website, there's a section yeah. Of, um, being part of the huddle, the MoMA kind huddle, and you can [00:47:00] download the information packed just to find out more. Um, there might be a few taster events that I'm planning as well.

Um, and yeah, just to check out if it, if it resonates with you. And I'm always up for a chat as well. I think that connection part is really key connection community. Um, and that's kind of what I wanna bring.

Nirish Shakya: Great. And are you designing this mainly for, um, moms or any, any parents.

Rachel Arthur: This is really focus on moms. Um, there is a huddle that is focused on parents. Actually there was a project parent, 

Nirish Shakya: Okay. 

Rachel Arthur: so that's like in general, but yeah, I think it is moms just because of my own experience of what I can bring, um, yeah,

Nirish Shakya: Okay. So you have that lived experience of

being a 


Rachel Arthur: that lived experience and I guess the [00:48:00] design aspect, right? So, um, we will still be going through kind of a double diamond, but in a slightly different way. Um, instead of it like kind of the iteration of things, I, I kind of decided to kind of, um, think about the process of explore. Experiment and embody.

Cause there's something about the being and being in the body as well. That's really important that I want to introduce into this, which maybe design thinking doesn't mutually have that by default. So it's not about shipping anything. It's about how we being and how can we embody that in, you know, in those tiny, small moments where we recognize it as an opportunity to do that, to ask ourselves maybe that question gentle.

Nirish Shakya: Love that. We're gonna put the links to, um, all those, um, programs. Also [00:49:00] your details as well on, uh, on, in the show notes of your podcasting app. So please do reach out to Rachel if you're interested in learning more about Ma Kind or about Rachel's journey as being both a designer and a mom as well.

So Rachel, I'm gonna do a quick little wrap up. Um, but before we do that, uh, I just wanted to ask you my question that I usually ask a lot of my guests. Imagine that it's your last day on Planet Earth and someone come, someone comes up to you with a tiny post-it and a Sharpie and asks you to write down your last few words for humanity.

What would you write on that tiny post-it.

Rachel Arthur: I think I have to pass down my grandma's legacy of be kind.

Nirish Shakya: Hmm. I love that. Thank you for


Rachel Arthur: Well, thank you for.

Nirish Shakya: [00:50:00] very, very important message and very succinct, um, and something that we need to remember to do, not just to others, but also ourselves. Great. So, Rachel, I'm gonna do a quick recap. So again, mind blowing stuff. I think there's so much new stuff that I learned. You know, I, I don't have a, a child, um, but I could definitely relate to a lot of what you're saying in terms of the, the challenges and the growth and the, and the transitions and the self-awareness that having a child can bring.

And I think one of the things that really resonated with me, uh, one of the things I said earlier was, um, how slowing down can be really uncomfortable, right? Because we're, so, we've normalized this notion of being busy. All the time. And in, in a way, this busyness gives us a sense of comfort that, hey, we're actually doing something, um, [00:51:00] worthwhile.

And but what you're saying is that, that busyness can be the distraction that can be taking us further away from meeting our deeper needs, which a lot of times we're not aware of. Um, and also as designers, we have this, what you say is what you said, that the fixing mindset, which is where we always see all these problems around us that we need to fix as 

Rachel Arthur: Yeah. 

Nirish Shakya: And we think that everything needs to be fixed. But then in that, um, busyness of looking out for problems and fixing them, we don't see the. Uh, the needs that we're not meeting for ourselves and which might in turn be causing us frustration and pain points for us, for ourselves. And also having a baby is an opportunity to [00:52:00] bring more self-awareness back to you and back to your own body because it is such a physical experience as opposed to the experience that we generally have at work as, as a designer or especially in tech.

It's, it's such a mental experience where we're like, literally like a lollipop just walking around, you know, with big heads, big thinking heads where we're so disconnected with our bodies. But being a mom forces us to, again, bring that awareness back into our body. And the, the parallel that I really loved hearing about was how. When a baby is born, the mother is also born. And it's also an opportunity for us to experience that transition in a way that helps us learn more about ourselves and really focus on what matters the most for us. Um, but that transition can [00:53:00] be disorienting because again, with our fixing mindset, with our serving mindset, we put so much of our time and energy on this new being that's just come out into the world that it can be difficult to, again, bring that focus back to onto you.

And I loved your technique of ocean breathing or the UJA breath from, from yoga, which is around just giving ourselves a bit of a pause to just ask ourselves, what do I need? Right now. Not, Hey, what's the next thing to do and the next thing to do, but what do I need right now in this very moment? And just being able to connect with that can be a powerful shift to connecting with yourself and meeting those needs that, that your body is constantly telling you. Um, and if anyone is interested in learning and being [00:54:00] more of a parent or a mom who is more in connection with their own needs and wants to empower that further, definitely I would recommend joining Makin that Rachel has created this program again, based on your own lived experience, both as a mum and as a designer.

Facilitator and design leader. So, um, I'm actually super excited for all the impact that you've been making on mom's lives to this program. So thank you so much for that. Rachel. Thank you for again, sharing your insights, your honest experiences, and also the, the growth that you've experienced through that.

I'm sure a lot of listeners could resonate with a lot of what you said.

Rachel Arthur: Well, thank you so much for having me. You summarize it very beautifully. You definitely have, um, have a gift in, uh, able to summarize it that way. [00:55:00] The highlights. I like it.

Thank you so much for listening in. If you have any suggestions or topics or people that you'd like to have on the show, please email me at I respond to every email. And see if you can share this podcast with one friend who wants to increase their self-awareness, creative confidence and meaning. See you next time.