Being a mom requires sacrifice
As I write this I am 39-weeks pregnant and all the raw emotion of motherhood has bubbled to the surface of my very stretched out self. Every day is a rollercoaster of excitement, total fear, dreams of little baby lips and sadness that I won’t be able to give my two-year old son, James as much attention after baby girl arrives. After two miscarriages, I am incredibly grateful to my body for safely carrying this one to full term. I am fully aware of how blessed I am but that does not mean there aren’t challenging moments surrounding this time. Hello hormones.
Being a mom requires sacrifice. We give our body, our heart, our time and a piece of ourselves to every baby that touches our lives. It is the kind of sacrifice that is beautiful, enriching and deeply fulfilling. The kind you would never consider not making but it still requires a tremendous change, transition and shift.
For me the greatest challenge is battling the guilt that comes with loving the work I do outside of our home. My health & wellness coaching practice, Raw Beauty Talks fills me up and fuels me in a different way than parenting can. To be honest, it’s a lot more stimulating than folding laundry and trying to reason with a two-year old who has a complete melt down when you accidentally break his cheese string in half.. It’s not that I don’t absolutely love being a mom and get joy out of doing mom things. It’s just that I start to feel like I’m losing my mind if I do it 24/7. When James was a newborn and I was on maternity leave I actually remember feeling jealous of my husband when he’d leave to go to work some mornings.
Once again, I’m about to enter the phase of motherhood when I’m home a lot more, but this time I’ll be practicing what I preach to my clients – self love. I believe one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is an example of someone who takes their own health and happiness into consideration. It teaches them to honour the things that light them up and gives them permission to make space for it in their own lives. It also allows us to show up as the best version of ourselves for them. For me, self love means putting some help in place early on to give myself time to write, work with clients and stay connected to my business. Will this bring on feelings of guilt, heartbreak and worry when I walk out the door? Without a doubt. But I’ll also come home afterwards full of energy, present, desperate to see them and the kind of mom and woman I’ve always imagined myself being.
So whether your challenge is the sleepless nights, the chaos that can come with parenting, your changing body, financial concerns or parenting in the midst of a rocky marriage, I encourage you to find a sense of peace and calm through the practice of self love. Here are five of my favourite ways for mothers to incorporate self love into their day:
Quit the comparison game.
Sometimes it seems impossible not to compare yourself to other moms, especially with the never-ending stream of Pinterest perfect pictures we have at our fingertips. This is a slippery slope and a lost cause because no woman, family or child is alike. If you catch yourself comparing cut yourself free by turning the focus inwards. Your life starts and ends with you and only you have the ability to shape it into something you love. Start by thinking of three things that you are grateful for because I can guarantee someone else is looking at your life thinking it looks perfect. Then ask yourself what might be missing that is giving you those feelings of jealousy and dig deep to determine why it is important to you. Finally, turn those feelings into fuel and take action to make changes in your own life that will leave you feeling fulfilled.
Create a Personal Nourishment Menu.
Make a list of things that make you feel great and are good for you. Think yoga, a good book, dinner out with friends, drinking a refreshing green juice, doing something creative or maybe even your work. Our body, mind and soul need love each and every day, and only when we make time to honor their requests will they support us in ways we never thought possible. Ever notice how grumpy and stretched you feel at the end of a day that is only centered around caring for others? If you tend to feel guilty for taking time to nourish yourself, remember that you’re actually ensuring that your family gets the best version of you.
Ask for help and get good at saying no.
Mom life comes with a neverending to-do list of meal prep, laundry, driving and birthday parties in addition to the standard every day balancing act of work/life balance, relationships and life. All this over-commitment often means we’re sacrificing our own health and wellness to keep others happy. Yet, the reality is we can’t show up as our best selves when we’re running on empty. Try cancelling, rescheduling or delegating one thing in your calendar that you already know is not going to fill you up in order to make room for something that will.
Use your breath to channel calm
You’ve probably heard of the body’s ‘fight or flight’ system, which activates when our brain perceives we’re in danger. The problem is, our body can’t tell the difference between stress caused by a messy house or ‘trying to keep up with the Jones’” or stress caused by a lion running towards us. Our fight or flight system doesn’t turn off, and the chain reaction it causes is terrible for our organs, mental clarity, and skin, immune and digestive systems. The great news is you can use breathing techniques to help trick your body into thinking you’re calm, cool and collected even when you’re not. Practice 4-4-6 breathing: breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, then release the breath through your nose for 6 full seconds. Repeat until you find a comfortable rhythm. Aim for 10 cycles.
Be gentle with your yourself.
Extra pregnancy weight, that stretched out tummy, boobs that no longer look the way they did when you were 19 and marks that weren’t there 9 months ago. It’s easy to go to war with your body post-baby but we can’t forget how insanely powerful, beautiful and life giving they are. Everything we are starts with our thoughts. What thoughts do you have about yourself? Are they empowering, uplifting and vibrant? If you catch yourself being negative flip the thought to something positive. Speak to yourself the way you would speak to your child. If we want our kids to see their beauty we have to see it in ourselves first.
Self love is the number one needle mover in becoming your happiest, healthiest, most confident self. Which in turn allows you to be the best mom you can be. It all starts with creating happiness within, so that you can generate all you want to feel and experience on the outside. When you learn to appreciate, embrace and leverage all the incredible things that make you unique, you unlock the ability to create a life that feels amazing from the inside out.
Erin Treloar is a mom, health and wellness coach and the founder of Raw Beauty Talks. She helps women craving the most out of life become the most happy, healthy and confident version of themselves. www.rawbeautytalks.com