And that is so true!
When our children enter this world, we feel our hearts explode with a love we have never felt. We have never been so excited about little (huge) achievements like smiling, eating, rolling and walking. We have never been so in awe of the miracle of life. We can stare for hours at tiny fingers and tiny toes. We are awash in bliss at the smell of our baby’s soft, new hair.
At the same time, we have never been so tired. We have never been so scared of bad things happening. We have never felt or been so responsible for the survival and nurturing of another human being! We are the protectors of our children!
Unfortunately for many of us, we have also never felt more judged.
From the time you announce your pregnancy, it seems those around you line up to tell you how to do this mom thing right.. And when you have the most important job in the world (raising the future generation), getting things “right” is pretty freaking important. As a result, we start to second guess ourselves. We agonize over feeding schedules and nap times and food choices. We worry over milestones and development. We fret about missing a single moment.
Somewhere in the midst of this crazy beautiful brand new world, in the midst of learning how to become mom, many women forget how to be themselves.
Taking time to take care of ourselves seems almost impossible when you have a tiny being completely dependent on you. How could we possibly tear ourselves away?
We’ve been there and we help moms lean how to make time for themselves. Learn more here.
We talk with dozens of moms every day who fear they are “doing it all wrong.” Many women tell us they just can’t seem to find the time for themselves. They say that they know what to do, they just can’t seem to pull it together. They say taking time away from their kids makes them feel so guilty. We get messages every week from women telling us how our workouts (often with our babies included) are such an inspiration–they wish they were “good enough” to just get it done, too.
Can we just say this right now? We get it. We totally get it.
Ladies, it’s not about good or bad! It’s not about being selfish or being a perfect mom. There is no good, bad, selfish (which, by the way is the WORST thing you can call a mom) or perfect. There is only the best you can do. And that’s what we all do–all day everyday.
But mamas, you can’t be your best if you lose who you are.
We know this because we’ve been there.
It took me 3 years to understand I had to make myself a priority in order to give my sons the things they really need. What my sons really need is a mom whose cup is full. You can’t parent when you’re a shell of yourself.
I was the mom who was going to do it all. I was going to be the perfect parent. I was going to “get my body back.” I was going to be supermom.
What I ended up being was exhausted and injured. I was trying to be the best at all the things I did: family, career and fitness–but when I tried to be the best at everything I just spread myself too thin.
The worst part…the part that kept me up at night…the part that sent me into a deep depression–I had started to resent my son. If it weren’t for him I wouldn’t feel so lost and empty. If it weren’t for him my body would look the way I wanted it to. If it weren’t for him I would have been able to advance more in my career. The guilt and shame that flooded me every time I had these thoughts was worse than any judgement from another person.
I had to hit rock bottom for things to change. When Dedrick was three I checked myself into the hospital for depression and asked for help. Over the next year I slowly but surely found ways to make my happiness a priority. Although my sons and family are very high on that list, they are not the only things on that list. My self-care also includes workout time, reading, dates with my husband and time spent moving outdoors.
Many of these things take time away from my sons. And I’ve come to terms with that. I am only one person. There are only 24 hours in a day. And if I have lost myself, that woman deep down under all the other labels, I have really lost everything.
When I make time for myself, I am a better parent. I can focus my attention on my boys. I am more present in my family. I am not as short with my children because I’m not always at the end of my rope.
I used to take pride in “doing it all.” I used to wear my motherhood like a martyr. I tried for 3 years to be a perfect mother. Only to find out that what my sons really need is a happy mom who is doing her best.
I remember posting a picture on Facebook of my son and I talking a walk at the park when he was about a month old. A friend of mine had commented saying, “You are the most put together new mama I’ve ever seen. You look great, Jill.”
But, she was wrong. I was a mess.
You see, I thought I had to have it all together. I needed to continue to do everything I’ve always done and do it well, without any help. Honestly, I was embarrassed. I felt like I was failing at this new mom thing.
Those first couple of months were dark. They were depressing and sad. I felt ashamed that I wasn’t basking in the glow of new motherhood, loving every minute of it. Yes, I loved my newborn baby boy fiercely, but I did this as I sat on my couch, staring out the window and sobbing at the loss of my former self.
It took bending until I broke to truly see what I needed most desperately was to be mom AND me.
No, things aren’t the same as they were before I had a baby. Of course not, right? I don’t have much time uninterrupted. I don’t spend hours at the gym. I don’t have limitless amounts of “me” time. But I have found an approach to be happy. I’ve found ways to feel like myself again. To workout. To eat well. To have fun. To have quality time with my husband and son.
I didn’t achieve this because I’m “good” or because I have it all figured out. After all, this is my first go-around and I’m still in the thick of it. I’m able to do these things because I work really hard for it.
The truth of the matter is, I don’t have time for myself. I make the time for myself because I matter! When I do these things and am feeling fulfilled, I am showing my son everyday who his mama really is. And this is the mama that I want him to learn from and remember.
Our 6 Steps to Success
We felt this way as new moms, and many other moms have gone through this too.We put together the steps that we took to come out of the mire and embrace ourselves by prioritizing our own self-care.
1) Make a list and prioritize it (oh, and put yourself on it!)
“Free time” is kind of a joke when it comes to parenting. When we have no plan of attack for the day, it’s easy to see everything as being super important. Our daily routines are constantly working around feedings, diaper changes, meltdowns, sports and other activities.Our mind wanders from thing to thing throughout the day and instead of getting stuff done well, we end up kind of sucking at everything. (And bonus! We beat ourselves up for it.) The day goes by so quickly you don’t even realize that it’s over until you’re tucking the kids into bed and collapsing on your pillow.
In our families, we take inventory of needs and schedules, then make daily lists based on those things. The lists are prioritized–what needs to be done immediately? What’s actually important? If one of those things is a workout, for example, we plan for success by scheduling a workout during a nap time, right after a feeding, or by getting a sitter if necessary.
2) Eliminate the things that aren’t a necessity
After you’ve gotten your priorities lined up, take another look at that list. Does everything that’s on there need to be on there?
Do you really need to personally drive your kids to school everyday or would it be ok to carpool?
Does that laundry really need to get done today, or would your time be better spent taking the kids to the park?
Do you have to cook dinner tonight, or could you sneak in a quick workout instead and pick up a roasted chicken and salad at the grocery store?
3) Learn to say “no”
This is a hard one for the wannabe supermoms out there (we might know a little something about that…) But honestly, we can’t do it all.
Two things we know for sure: energy and willpower are limited resources. As we go through the day, our energy and willpower dip lower and lower. We need to harness our energy and willpower in order to get done what we want to get done and do the things that we want to do…that means saying “no” to some things!
Maybe you need to say “no” to a social engagement because it would cause you to juggle too many things. Maybe you need to say “no” to volunteering to chaperone another one of your kids’ events because it would interfere with something that you had planned for yourself. Maybe you need to say “no” because you just don’t feel like doing whatever the thing you were asked to do is!
We have both turned down things in our lives that have immediately offered us a sense of relief. And guess what? We didn’t die and people still like us. 🙂 Saying “no” not only decreases your stress levels but it actually allows you more time to do the things that you want and need to do!
4) Ask for help
They say it takes a village….turns out “they” were right! We hear this all the time, but why is asking for help so difficult?
In a world of DIYs and self-help books, asking for help can cause us to feel extremely vulnerable, and in our current society, vulnerability can be misinterpreted as weakness. No one wants to seem weak, like they “can’t” do something or like they don’t have it all together. We’re afraid that if we ask someone for help, our lack of superpowers will be exposed. We’ve been taught that to deny our vulnerability is being strong, but in reality, shutting yourself in is done out of fear, not strength.
Being open and asking for help when we need it is an act of strength! It gives us a lot of freedom, some relief and lets others know that we’re all in this together! A lot of us have people waiting in the wings ready to jump in, all we have to do is ask them.
Recently we asked family to watch our babies while we got some focused work done together. It has a made a huge difference in our energy, our attitudes and has improved the quality of time spent with our kids and husbands. Don’t hide out, reach out!
5) Be grateful
Gratitude is a game changer. When we express gratitude it is almost impossible for us to feel negative. And when we walk around feeling positive we get more done, we have more to offer the world and everything just gets better.
You might even want to make gratitude a family ritual. Start a gratitude journal with your kids. Spend a few minutes each day writing what you are so grateful for!
6) Start small, but be consistent. Do something for yourself every day.
Put yourself on your list. And do something for yourself. Every. Damn. Day.
You are the most important person to your children. Treat yourself accordingly. Showing them that you matter helps them learn that they matter, too.
Your Next Steps
Every mother is worthy of finding the time for herself. We talk to women every day who tell us that they really want to find the time to workout but they just can’t seem to do it. You know what should happen but you can’t seem to pull yourself away from your family to find the time to do it.
We’ve got a secret for you…
It’s not a time issue, it’s a priority issue.
It’s time to make the time and make yourself a priority.
Do it for you. Do it for your kids.
Let us help. We are so passionate about helping women “get themselves back” that we decided to bring back our FREE 21-Day Making Time for Mom Challenge.
Here’s what you get:
-Full access to a closed Facebook group for support and accountability from other moms just like you, and a place to have all of your questions, comments, and concerns answered.
-3 emails a week where we tackle all things mindset, exercise and nutrition.
-2 workouts a week specifically designed to be safe for any stage postpartum.
Strategies on how to make better food choices.
In 21 days we will help you discover ways to…
-Make your health and fitness a priority
-Learn the right kind of workouts for your body
-Let go of guilt and shame surrounding taking time for self care
-Find quick and convenient ways to help the whole family eat healthier
We’ve put together our BEST stuff for you for FREE.
You in? Get started here.
Jill & Cara
P.S. Another way to join our tribe is by getting on our free weekly newsletter list. This is where we send our workout tips, recipe ideas, mindset advice and share our parenting stories. Not on the list yet? You can join here.