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I don’t know about you, but as a mom, I feel so responsible for helping to promote a positive body image with my kids.
My daughter is about to turn 10..10!!…and I am more determined than ever to watch the way I speak and the vocabulary I use to talk about my body when in her presence.
The Difficult Transition to Motherhood
My guest today is Dr. Ashurina Ream (you can find her as @psychedmommy on Instagram). Ashurina is a clinical psychologist who has experience working those who struggle with eating disorders.
This experience taught Ashurina so much about how we talk about our bodies and how we treat them, and when she became a mom, all of the things she had heard began to come to the forefront for her.
Ashurina wasn’t just interested in being a great example for her child; she became passionate about maternal mental health. She loves to reach out to new moms who are having difficulty with the transition to motherhood and remind them that you are never “just a mom.”
For so many of us, we don’t realize how much motherhood is going to require of us until we’re in it. And if you happen to struggle with postpartum depression like I did, you may need a loved one to step in and help you see how much you actually are struggling.
What to Do When the Overwhelm Hits
First of all, you need to know that nobody has a baby and goes on as they did before.
Motherhood changes you forever.
It changes your body and your emotions and how you see the world around you. So, don’t be surprised when you suddenly feel like you don’t know what to do.
The expectation of motherhood vs. the reality can totally catch you off guard. You figure, “Well, babies sleep a lot so I’ll be able to get all the stuff done that I need to get done”, and then your child doesn’t want to sleep unless you’re holding her.
That’s a lot to deal with and if you feel like you’re not handling the transition to motherhood well, you are not alone.
It’s important to understand that you will not love every moment of motherhood. And that’s okay!
One of the best ways to deal with the hard times of motherhood is to have a group of friends that you connect with. Ideally, you would get connected before you bring your sweet new one home.
But if you don’t, there are tons of amazing, nonjudgmental mom groups out there so find your tribe and ask for help.
Don’t sit at home and wait for things to get better; you have to seek out what you need from your community.
When You Want More than Motherhood
I mentioned earlier that my daughter will soon be 10, so I’ve been a mom for quite a while now (well some days it feels like a hot second).
And you know what? This far in the game and things aren’t exactly what I thought they’d be. I knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom but I didn’t realize that 10 years in, I would also want something more.
It’s not that being a mom isn’t enough somehow; it’s that I am not just a mom. I am a woman with gifts and talents and I want to do things that don’t revolve around my kids. Things that are for me.
When your mothering journey looks different than you thought it would, it’s easy to feel guilty, like you’re somehow shortchanging your kids by wanting something in addition to being their mom.
Here’s what I know: when you follow your passions, you show your kids that it is normal and acceptable for them to follow their passions.
What Are Your Expectations?
The agenda for stay-at-home moms is pretty clear, right?
You’ll purchase the groceries, clean the house, change the baby’s diaper, feed the kids, get everyone to take naps at the same time, make the meals, set up the playdates, read to the kids every day, and have plenty of energy left for your husband at the end of the day.
But the reality is that you might want to hand off some of that stuff so that you can also follow a passion or build a business.
For me, the business has been a growing experience where I’ve learned the value of outsourcing some tasks to leverage my time in a better and more efficient way.
I want to have tons of time with my kids so I don’t do everything in my business. And you know what the results of me not doing everything are?
I’m getting more done. Yep, more.
Because I know that I have to use the time I have to move the needle forward, I focus on what’s in front of me and I get sh*t done.
And then, I am 100%, mom. When I’m working, I’m working and when I’m mom, I’m a mom.
Why Your Body Image Matters
Ashurina recently shared an Instagram post that compared what we say and the lesson it teaches our children about our bodies and how we view them.
I wanted to go over a few of them so that we can all understand how to promote a more positive body image to our kids.
How Motherhood Changes Our Body Image
Think back with me for a minute…as a kid, did you ever hide from the camera? I’m not talking about hiding just to annoy your mom or grandma; I mean hiding your body from the camera because you were embarrassed to be seen.
Unless you struggled with an eating disorder, most of us loved hamming it up in front of the camera. But what happens when we become a mom?
All of a sudden, we are hiding behind our kids or a piece of furniture. Anything to avoid having our body in a photo.
If you don’t think you have body image issues, I just want to know how happy you are with getting your picture taken?
Motherhood messes with us in the strangest of ways. We don’t recognize our bodies anymore.
But think of how you want your kids to feel when they look at the family photos in 20 years. Don’t you want them to have wonderful memories of the things you did together and evidence that you were there?
If you need help being nicer to yourself, I strongly recommend a great book called Self-Compassion by Kristen Neff that walks you through how to be kind to yourself.
Breaking Negative Habits
It’s easier to talk negatively about ourselves than it is to say something positive sometimes, isn’t it? We get into the habit of criticizing ourselves and we might not even realize we’re doing it anymore.
In order to break a bad habit, you must replace it with a good one. Here are some good habits to develop to show yourself more care and to promote a more positive body image to your kids.
- Talk about things other than your body. If you’re hyper-focused on your body or the food you eat, your children will tend to hyper-focus on those things also.
- Compliment others on things besides their weight or how they look in their clothes. If you automatically say things like, “Wow, you look like you’ve lost weight!”, switch that to a compliment about one of their character traits.
- Have an open dialogue with your kids. Ask them what they think about food and the diet culture, body image, and how their friends talk about these things.
Your goal is to eliminate any fear-based vocabulary from your conversations around food and use a more positive style of talking about what you eat, why you eat it, and how you care for your body.
Our kids are mirrors for what we teach them and model for them. If we model a negative attitude toward our own bodies or toward certain foods, our kids will reflect that attitude.
*I share a very personal story in this episode of a time when I knew I was being unkind to my daughter and making her feel less-than and how I made it right with her. If you struggle with modeling some less than desirable behaviors to your kids, I hope you’ll listen to this entire episode and that my story will encourage you to make it right with your kids.
Feeling Amazing Naked
Ashurina shared with me some of the things she does to feel amazing naked :
- Emotionally – We all need a safe space where we can share our emotions and experiences. It is so freeing to be able to share the deepest parts of ourselves…to be naked, so to speak. Do you have someone you can trust to listen and walk with you through the struggles of life?
- Mentally – Along with our experiences and how we feel about them, we also need to be able to share the things that scare us or make us feel particularly vulnerable. We all have fears; some rational and some irrational. Who can you open up to about your fears, dreams, and goals?
- Physically – It’s so important to keep your body moving and practice meditation. We have some of our deepest thoughts and dream some of our biggest dreams while exercising or meditating. Do you take time every day for fitness? You can grab my FREE workouts here.
Resources we mentioned in this episode:
Self-compassion with Kristin Neff
Rushing Women’s Syndrome Dr Libby Weaver
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