Motherhood changes a lot of things – your sleep, the way you eat (standing up, quickly scoffing something down over the sink), the way you go to the toilet (with an audience now), your hormones, your mind and your body.
Never before have we been so aware of how our body changes and how it looks. This is partly thanks to social media. We’ve always had magazines showing us what they think our bodies ‘should’ look like but we’d have to buy a physical copy. We could be selective.
Now, with social media, we are presented with these images everywhere.
On Facebook – the 8 week program to get your pre-baby body back. On Instagram – photos of mums back in their bikinis 6 weeks after having twins.
We are constantly presented with the expectations of what our bodies should look like that it’s only normal to start believing those expectations.
Instead, we need to appreciate, respect and celebrate our bodies for what it’s done for us and our families, celebrate what it’s capable of NOT focus on what it’s not. So with that, here’s how I learned to love and appreciate my body after having my daughters.
- Like I mentioned above, shift your focus from what your body isn’t e.g. not having a washboard stomach, perfect tan, perfectly washed and wavy hair cascading down your shoulders or a perky bum.
Shift your focus to what you have such as a strong body that carried a human being for 9 months, a strong body that gave birth to a child, legs that carried you and your baby for those 9 months and are still carrying you both, arms that can lift and cuddle your baby.
- Become aware of the way you talk to yourself when you look in the mirror.
Anytime you look at yourself in the mirror, notice what you say to yourself. Do you say things like ‘Argh, why is my stomach so dimply!’ or ‘Why can’t my waist be smaller!?’
What kind of face are you making at your reflection. Notice and become aware of these things. Start challenging them and replacing them with nicer things like ‘I can’t believe my body gave me 2 children!’ and try changing your facial expressions when you look at yourself because kids pick up on things like that more than you know.
- Find humour.
Another great way to shift your focus is adding humour.
You know the times when you sneeze and your pelvic floor isn’t what is used to be and you have a tiny accident? Find ways to laugh instead of beating yourself up about it.
- Change your relationship with exercise and food.
Before I had kids, I used to use exercise and food as forms of punishment. If I didn’t exercise enough one day, I’d have to have a smaller meal.
After having kids though, I used to feel extremely bad for not having the time or energy to exercise or plan better meals for myself. I thought I had to get back to exercising the same week I gave birth!
But that perspective has shifted incredibly. Now, exercise is about getting strong and fit to be able to keep lifting my kids up and to keep up with them. Food nourishes and fuels me so I can keep up with them.
- Social Media.
You can’t delete all of your social media permanently. Social media has its benefits and uses and it’s only going to become even bigger so we can’t change social media but we can definitely change how we receive the images and information and what meaning we’re putting on it.
So be aware of how you’re feeling before you go online and start looking at celebrity mums in a bikini. Are you already feeling down on yourself? Maybe look at something else, something funny or inspiring instead.
And when you do see bikini photos, try not to make it about you. Try not to say things like ‘if I looked like that, I would be laying in the sun at a tropical resort too’ because looking like that wouldn’t actually change anything. I try to say things like ‘that bikini is nice’ or ‘that resort looks so nice’ and move onto the next photo. Don’t dwell on a photo for longer than you need.
Now, this does work but it won’t happen overnight. You need to practice daily.
Every day, your appreciation and love for your body will grow and your children will see and feel that and in turn, they will learn how to love and appreciate their own bodies.