Anyone remember the fitness mom who came out with the perfect body only weeks after her third of forth child was born and exclaimed that we could all accomplish this if we were’t so lazy?
Oh, I remember it.
So many things go in to the recovery of the body after giving birth – did this woman have any postpartum depression or physical problems post delivery like anemia or ptsd from a traumatic birth? I did.
Was she in great shape before and during her delivery? Does she have a great metabolism? Is she a naturally high energy person? Me? No. No. and No.
So, good for her. Well done. But, why shame other moms who aren’t there? Do we not have enough emotional and mental shit to deal with without other moms belittling our experience and telling us we aren’t doing enough?
And that is just one example. Moms do it to each other in person all the time. In the school pick up line – at soccer practice – and even in what they tell their own children who then go to school and repeat the shaming. “My mom said…”
My children are all grown up. In their twenties. Out of the house. And I’m able to do whatever I want – like work out and eat right. I’m still failing at it and have none of the parenting excuses I used to. And so what? I’m working on other areas of my life and I’m not ashamed of who I am. But, when I come across mommy shaming mommies, I can find myself right back in the place I was 15 or 20 years ago when my babies were still babes and how I felt to be beat down my those women who claimed perfection and pointed out my lack of it.
This week a blog came up on my timeline. I must have a few friends who follow this mom blogger because I see her posts and blog links quite often. I don’t follow her personally because I’m not where she is in life – with little ones still at home- but I have read some of her writing. She tells her mom experience through humor – a sarcastic, cranky, and defiant style of humor that often just comes off as angry venting – but I have been able to relate to how I felt at that stage in life and take her stories for what they are – sharing life’s frustrations and imperfections.
But, this week I was bothered by a blog she posted. It was all about telling others to stop telling her she needed to have some self-care time. She even mentioned wanting to punch those people in the face when they offer such advice.
How I wish someone had told me that it was OK to think of myself when my kids were little. How I wish people had offered me that compassion and wisdom!
Those people offering her compassionate advice were probably moms themselves, like me, who did their time in the trenches and only found out later that respite was available. They were being kind. They were offering support. They were not being mean or cruel or shaming. And her reaction to them hit a nerve with me.
It hit a nerve because other moms read her stuff – A LOT of other moms with littles at home with all the mom guilt and shame that goes with it. Some struggling mom read that blog and decided that self-care isn’t possible. Some exhausted mom questioned that if a major blogger mom couldn’t find time for self-care, how could she? Do moms that read her blog now feel less hopeful for “me time” or a break? And do the moms who manage to carve out self-care time now feel guilty that they are neglecting some duty in order to be “selfish”?
See, self-care is something I neglected for 40 years. It’s only been in the last ten years that I understood what self-care is and why putting myself first isn’t selfish. It’s the biggest message I give to other women when they write to me or come see me.
Take care of yourself. Fill your cup first. Find time to love you.
To have another woman with a huge audience telling others that it just isn’t possible to practice self-care is heartbreaking for me because of the women I know who will feel ashamed for trying.
Stop. Mommy. Shaming. Already. Support one another. Lift up one another. Love one another.
If you are a mom who doesn’t think she can find the time or energy for self-care, let me help.
For starters, self-care isn’t really about massages and spa days and shopping with friends or a weekend away. Those activities are really on the extreme end of the self-care scale. These are major events and don’t always translate in to real self-care. If you are having a spa day and worried about the money it is costing the entire time then it’s NOT self-care! If you go away for the night or the weekend and you obsessively worry about the kids and the condition of the house the whole time then it’s NOT self-care.
If you are financially strapped, spa days meant to relax you will just cause you more stress. Days and weekends away when you have a deadline to meet will likely cause you fear and frustration rather than the freedom and peace a trip is meant to achieve.
The extreme self-care options are rarely real options to moms (and dads) with very small children. It’s just hard to find the time, money and energy to do those things. So, what can you do that is practical and loving at the same time?
Self- care needs to be good choices so that you can love yourself guilt free. It should be something that you can do whenever an opportunity arises. It should be something you can do every day.
Here are some ideas:
♥ Start saving change for that getaway or spa day when the time comes that you feel free to go.
♥ Put the kids down to a nap with spa music on and a child safe essential oil diffuser blend. Enjoy relaxing for five minutes with the music and aroma after they finally go to sleep.
♥ Get a hair appointment – shampoo and cut and style. It’s not the spa, but someone else washing your hair and styling it is heaven.
♥ Try getting up ten minutes before the kids. Have a coffee pot with an alarm to auto brew the coffee. Grab a cup and head out on the porch for five minutes of meditation before the chaos begins.
♥ Shower. Add some essential oil to your soap or get some shower bombs. Breathe it in. Feel the sensation of the aroma. Even if just for two minutes.
♥ Get back to doing a hobby that you loved BC (before children). Even if you have to modify it for the time and space. Like to paint? So do kids! Like to dance? So do kids! Like to sing? So do kids! Like to hike? So do… well, give them bubbles and drag them along (LOL!)
♥ Journal or blog. It’s good to get your feelings and frustrations out in a safe way. This can take as few as five minutes.
♥ Find something to be grateful for in each day. Did the kids take a longer nap than usual? Did they make less of a mess at lunch? Did they get themselves dressed? Did you get that five minutes out of the porch with your coffee? Express this gratitude to your family or to the Divine.
♥ Pamper yourself daily with something that makes you feel pretty, sexy, or even just human. Find a special lotion, essential oil, high vibe crystal, hand soap, or hair product that is just for you and no one else in the house. Acknowledge your special and exclusive something when you use it just for you. This is for me only because I deserve it! Yes! It’s okay not to share everything!
♥ Audio Books! Some libraries have these available now. You can listen while you do laundry or color with the kids.
♥ Make use of offers to watch the kids or help clean house or cook a meal. It’s okay for others to lend a hand. It’s what friends and family do best.
So, just a few ideas – and there are an unlimited number of others. Whether its two minutes, five minutes, or an entire day – you can pamper yourself, love yourself and care for yourself without the guilt or shame or feeling worse than before you did something to feel better.
But, know one thing – you moms are doing the best you can everyday. Don’t ever let anyone tell you any different. What works for them is for them. What works for you is for you. Be happy. Be confident. Be loving to the most important person in your life – YOU.