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I don’t feel pretty. I haven’t felt pretty for a long time. Of course, Tall Dad tells me I am, but inside, I don’t believe it. I feel bigger, squishy-er, and constantly covered in baby puke, or baby poop. I haven’t had the time to actually take care of myself. I can say with confidence that my healthy habits have gone out of the window.
Skittles have generally been my dinner (more times than I’d care to admit.) I haven’t slept for over three consecutive hours in over 365 days. Recently, I’d actually considered it a serious option to let my hair go gray, just because I thought it would be easier. I was slowly becoming a mom who was giving up on my health awareness, my looks, and how I felt about myself.
But one day, while eating Ramen with one of my good girlfriends, she informed me of her similar predicament. Her life was chaotic, just like mine, and she felt like she had given up too. Until she up and decided that she was going to paint her nails.
Yup. She told me that her hands and nails are the one piece of herself that she sees constantly throughout the day. She figured that if her nails were painted, she would feel more put together. A small but important victory in her day.
At first, I thought she was full of crap. But, I also knew I was desperate. I needed something different. Anything. “To Hell with it,” I thought. “I’m going to give this nail thing a try.”
So I stopped at Walgreens on my way home, and picked up a random bottle of bright pink nail polish. I wanted something fun and different. I never use pink. Why? Well, it’s a little too young for me. But, that’s why I needed it. Pink says fun, girly, and the oncoming of spring. Pink reminds me of my youth. Back when I slept. Back when I ate real dinner. Back when I wasn’t constantly covered in baby puke or poop.
I went home, laid my son to sleep, and put on my N’Sync Pandora station. I painted my nails, singing along to classics such as I Want You Back and It’s Gonna Be Me.
Maybe it was the nail polish, or maybe it was Justin Timberlake’s soothing angelic curly-haired-frosted-tips voice, but suddenly I started to feel like a little bit of me was crawling back into myself.
Being a mom is incredibly hard work. It can be exciting, terrifying, joyful, demanding, and downright exhausting! Oftentimes moms disregard healthy habits for themselves because they are so focused on caring for their little one. I know I sure have.
But, you can take your life back. You can be the woman you want to be. Your healthy habits are an important part of your life and they should not be denied.
Start off by finding your “pink nail polish.” Whatever it is that makes you HAPPY.
Then supplement that with these really important items. Things that I have found have made me..well..a better me!
– Get Moving – Go for a walk. or do some yoga. If you live on the coast, go to the beach. Or, if not, go to a lake. There’s something really calming and soothing about water. Go for a swim, or layout in the sun, and take in the extra vitamin D. Just make sure you wear some sunscreen.
– Stay Hydrated –As Tony Horton says, “drink your water, people! It’s the nectar of the gods.” In addition to water, I’d recommend the new Vita Coco coconut water – it comes in LEMONADE! For those of you who hate the taste of coconut, I’d highly recommend this flavor.
– Take Your Vitamins – No, I don’t mean Tasting The Rainbow of Skittles either. Actual vitamins. It’s a simple fact – we don’t take in nearly as many vitamins as we need. It’s not your fault, it’s not your partners’ fault. It just is what it is. Unless you have the most diverse pallet, a bajillion dollars to spend on a wide variety of fresh produce, (and the time to actually cook and eat all of that food) – then you need vitamins.
– Relax – Read a book, watch a movie, take a bubble bath, whatever, but find some time for yourself to relax. Again, come up with a plan with your partner to carve out a little you time. Being a mom is great. But, you also have to be you. Losing your identity as a woman is very easy when you become the do-it-all mom. So, take yourself back by doing what relaxes you.
– Sleep – Yes, how simple is it to say get some sleep? I know, trust me. We all know that parents don’t actually sleep like they used to. But, work out a plan with your partner to try and get a full nights sleep every once in a while. The CIA uses sleep deprivation as a very effective method of torture. Trust me, you’re doing nothing short of the same to yourself when you don’t get enough sleep. So, whether it’s with earplugs, or maybe some melatonin, make sure you get some ZZZ’s.
– Do Something That Makes You Feel Pretty – Me, I like to paint my nails and have a spray tan. Yes, it does sound like I should possibly be on the cast of Jersey Shore, but I’m not. I’m just a tall, slightly awkward, wicked pale mom who wants to feel kissed by the sun every once in a while. Spray tans do the trick!
– Love Letters (not pictured)- Take time to write letters to your friends and partner. No, not emails either. Hand written letters! Speaking of letters, write some to yourself. Post one on your mirror with either a motivational saying, or “You Are Loved” or “Smile.”
These are some very simple steps to getting back your life. Not all of them may apply to you, but who cares. Find what makes you happy and go with it! Yes, I still may be bigger and squishy-er than I was before I had my son, but I’m still me, and I’m pretty freakin’ awesome. I just forgot for a little while. It’s ok if you’ve forgotten too. Just take a shower, clean off the baby puke on your shoulder, and find your pink nail polish.
I know the feeling!! Now that the weather is warm I'm trying to get outside and walk everyday so I can fit back into my summer clothes. I'm determined all of my "baby fat" will be gone by fall.
I think I'm going to borrow your goal Stephanie – who needs bathing suit season! I need to look cute in my skinny jeans 😉
Love this, Mary! It really is funny – but true – how a simple thing like painting your nails can totally turn your mood around. Love the pink. And thanks for reminding me to take my vitamins! P.S. I think you look absolutely gorgeous!
You're the best! Yes – vitamins can be super hard to remember – especially when we are dealing with babies 🙂 Hope you get to paint your nails soon
I blog about how self care impacts out mental health all of the time. I love this! It is SO true. The little things really do make a difference.
Aw thanks Cristi! I'll have to check out your blog – sounds right up my alley!