On Monday, we held our first ever speaking engagement (!!!) at SLMG, and since we’re admittedly completely unqualified to speak as “parenting experts,” we decided to talk about something that we are (more or less) experts on: The experience of early motherhood.
A study performed by a team of Norwegian researchers (summarized here) recently revealed what everyone who has ever had a baby already knew: That a woman’s self esteem takes a massive blow during her first three years of motherhood.
No surprise there, though, right?
I mean, having a child thrusts us into an entirely new world – it’s no wonder so many of us feel like fish out of water. We don’t know WTF we’re doing. We don’t know what we need. And because there are multi-billion dollar industries profiting from our insecurity (FACT), it’s almost impossible to figure out who we can trust to tell us what’s really up.
Add to that the proliferation of images of “the perfect mom” floating around on Instagram and all the shaming and general cuntiness that goes down in mommy forums everywhere, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a self esteem disaster.
So, as we prepared for our BIG FIRST TALK (!!!) we started to think of the stuff that we did to pull ourselves out of the funk when we were balls deep in question marks and self loathing. Here’s the advice that came of it:
- Keep social media at bay. Really pay attention to the feelings that arise when you view certain things (ie. rock hard 2 months postpartum abs *insert eyeroll emoji here*) and RUTHLESSLY UNFOLLOW anything that doesn’t make you feel GOOD. Follow accounts that are like food for the soul – look for the stuff that stokes your creativity and inspires you to do epic shit (our favourites are: @therebelmama (DUH) @ourbrilliantbodies @girlboss @words_of_women, @cleowade, @lubadalu, @jooleeloren).
- Find a like-minded crew of moms to roll with. Take as much time as you need to find them. As tempting as it may be to rush the process, refuse to settle for a group that makes you feel even the tiniest bit like an outsider. You need to be able to openly and honestly air all your shit out in their presence without fear of judgement, so choose wisely. Quality over quantity. ALWAYS.
- Don’t underestimate the value of an evening out (or in) with your childless friends. They will remind you of the woman you have always been. They will challenge you to contribute to conversations about topics other than baby poo consistency. They will burden you with all THEIR problems, so for a few hours, you won’t have to think about yours. It will be sublime.
- Treat yourself to something that makes you feel less like a greasy dairy cow and more like a human being. For us, a simple trip to the hair salon usually did the trick. Hair dressers are basically therapists anyway. Follow that with a quick trip to Sephora for a new under-eye concealer or a fresh shade of lipstick and BAM – the strut (however temporarily) gets reinstated.
- Re-frame your definition of leisure time. Maybe it comes in the form of a long walk or drive or even just sitting in your back yard for an hour by yourself – whatever it is, make it about doing what it takes to ensure your brain doesn’t morph into a big old pile of mush. As moms, we need to be careful not to fall victim to feeling guilty about taking time to be alone with our thoughts because our thoughts ARE important. Our ideas ARE vital. And we are so much more than our ability to keep the house tidy and the residents of the house alive (although both of those things are v important, obviously). We urge women everywhere not to get caught up in Cinderella Syndrome either (“I’ll get to it as soon as i finish all my chores”), because the chores will NEVER END. Delegate housework to your partner or hire help if your budget permits. No matter what, make “thinking time” a priority.
- Finally, take the time to figure out what makes YOU feel good. Really think about it. Write down your answers in a pretty notebook. Refer to it on the days when everything feels like it’s coming down on you and you feel like absolute shit. Think of these things as the armor that’ll protect you from getting too affected by outside bullshit. You deserve to feel good about yourself and if you know that you feel your best after you’ve written or jogged or coded or painted or thrown axes, or whatever, then you’ll always have the necessary tools on hand to pull yourself out of a funk.
Listen, if you’re out here reading mom-blogs and shit, chances are you’re doing a KILLER job at this mama life. You’re doing it every damn hour of every single day and you deserve to take a step away from it all in order to remember how to be kind to yourself again. In a world that profits from your insecurity, liking yourself is a rebellious act. The time to rebel is now.
Featured Image: Isabella Rossellini bu Jean Christian Bourcart