Becoming a mom can be a very challenging time for new moms. Not only because it’s a new life stage, but because it’s an identity shifting moment.
How do you take care of yourself when there seems to be so much that needs to be done and there never seems to be enough time (nor have you slept enough) to do it?
That’s what we’ve set out to answer in this Summer Self-Care Series with Beaugen. We’ve put together a series of interviews with other fellow moms in hopes of shining light on what it means to be a mom today and how to ditch the mom guilt and enjoy our parenting journey.
For our first interview we connected with Dionna Chambers, fellow mom and life-coach specializing in motherhood, to help us understand the importance of taking care of and connecting with yourself as a mom and how to do that even when life gets in the way.
What’s your philosophy on how women and moms should start to take care of themselves? What’s the general rule of thumb that moms should follow?
Start with identifying what taking care of yourself looks like for you. Sometimes you have to sit and make a list of things that you like to do, your wants and your desires. Because a lot of us, after becoming moms, we kind of forget. Once you start that list you can have 15 things on there! They can even be things that you have never tried, but would like to try.
Once you know what your needs, wants and desires are, make making time for those things non-negotiable and commit to make time for yourself to do the things on your list. They don’t have to be complicated, they can be really simple.
As a new mom, people always tell you that the way that you take care of your family is to take care of yourself first because “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” What does that mean and what does that actually entail?
We can live through these quotes all day long, but if we don’t know how to actually apply them they are kind of useless. So let’s just start by understanding that if any piece of advice doesn’t resonate with you, don’t use it.
As far as taking care of yourself It comes down to asking yourself questions that will ultimately lead to you understanding what makes you happy, what is fulfilling to you, and what you need right now in this moment to feel better.
That’s really what gets you through those really challenging moments. Focus on identifying what the next best step is for you to feel good. And it can be literally as simple as taking three deep breaths. It can be noticing, “I haven’t had water today, let me drink some water.”
Many moms feel guilty about needing or wanting to do things for themselves (even for things as simple as wanting to shower uninterrupted). How do you advise moms about how to handle mom guilt?
It’s a lot about re-parenting yourself. Because mom guilt has nothing to do with your child, it’s completely internal, it’s about you. We feel guilty because we feel like we are doing a disservice to our child when really when we take time for ourselves, we are really doing a disservice to ourselves. That internalized guilt gets projected onto the child.
So think about it… when you have actually taken that shower, how does it feel when you actually took that shower? And how does it feel when you go down the rabbit hole of mom-guilt?
Sometimes the answer is really simple. If taking a shower makes me feel better, then you are actually able to be a better mom, because you’re in a better space within yourself.
Whereas when we entertain those other thoughts, you don’t feel better. They lead to you getting frustrated or angered or reactive. So the result isn’t a positive one for anyone involved.
What if what you want to do to feel better is more than something simple and necessary (like showering) and more something that seems optional (like going for coffee with a friend)?
That comes down to planning and asking for support. Firstly, you need to make yourself priority #1. Make a commitment to make yourself priority #1, and ask for support around that commitment in advance.
That actually shows that you careI about yourself, because if you plan it out, it means you’re making yourself a priority and everyone around you is going to rally to help you do that. If I wait until you get frustrated, there’s a ricochet of negative emotion and reactions.
Get used to the idea of allowing others to support you. Allow others to support you in being your best self, which again makes you a better mom.
How do you manage societal expectations of moms? How do you sort through judgment on whether to stay home or work outside of the home?
You need to do what’s best for you and your family. Set the intention of what you want to gain out of whatever decision you make, whether it is staying home or going back to work.
You and your partner make a decision and if you are clear on what the intention is behind your decision that’ll alleviate a lot of pressure because you are on the same team. Think about the pros and cons of the options that you are considering. What’s actually going to be best for you and your sanity?
Your sanity is always more important than the money that you’re going to bring home or not bring home. And ask yourself, “can I actually handle this?” If you are miserable, you’re probably not going to be the best mom. Maybe going to work actually does make you a better mom because you are excited.
Everybody is different, not everybody is the same. Not every mom is supposed to stay home and not every mom is supposed to work.
The silver-lining about the pandemic is that there are so many hybrid work solutions now. So in theory, you can create your own opportunity or tell the employer that wants to hire you when you want to come into the office or that you can only work remotely.
How do you think moms can have a better outlook when they are having a tough time with motherhood?
It’s about creating an abundance mindset. As opposed to thinking “I can only do this OR that”– which frames things more negatively and creates a scarcity mindset in which it is implied that something is lost when you pick one thing over the other– shift into a both/and or abundance mindset.
In a both/and scenario you are able to create a win-win situation, where instead of loosing something when you pick one option over the other, you win by creating a scenario where you can have both and everybody benefits holistically. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be any issues, because things still happen, it’s just that by creating a both/and you can do “this AND that”.
Being a mom can sometimes just feel overwhelming. What are your top 3 tips for moms to help them thrive (instead of just surviving).
Make yourself priority #1
Ask for support
Make making time for you a non-negotiable.
Remember that what you set up for yourself at the beginning of motherhood sets your trajectory in your journey. It also creates healthy boundaries with your partner about what is and isn’t acceptable.
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