• Dr Missy Wolfman

I interviewed 8 very different mothers and this is what I’ve learnt…

Updated: Jul 13, 2020

As part of Empowermums’s Mothers Month in May I interviewed 8 very different mothers all about their motherhood journey – the good, the bad and the ugly. These mothers have between 1-3 children ages between 20 months old to 30 years old! I interviewed solo mums, step-mum, stay-at-home mums, business mums, and working mums. Mums with two under two, three under five and everything in between. You can watch all the interviews here.

Here are six lessons I’ve learnt from these empowering and inspiring mothers:

1. Allow yourself to grieve

Becoming a first-time mum is the most dramatic change you’ll experience in your life. Of course you gain a beautiful baby (or two babies at the same time!) and there is a lot to be joyful about! But, there is also a lot of losses that you may be feeling. Loss of your identity, loss of time to yourself, loss of time with your loved ones, loss of money, loss of work-place community or whatever that is. With loss you may also feel sadness and frustration with your new life. I certainly did but I didn’t know that it was normal to feel this way because no one likes to talk about it. In my interview with Penny Elliott, she said that she loved her pre-baby life and it’s like her ‘secret lover’ that she’s not supposed to talk about. She grieved her pre-baby life and yet she feels she cannot talk about it. Shame and guilt can creep up, and for some people this can lead to postnatal depression and anxiety. Please share how you are feeling with someone you trust or watch these interviews so you know that you're not alone.

2. You cannot do it all.

The super mum is a myth. There is a saying “I can do anything but I can’t do everything”. These mums all admit that they cannot do everything and something always has to give. I did all the interviews during the COVID-19 New Zealand lockdown (one of the strictest in the world at the time) and we discussed how the unrealistic expectations put on mums to be everything for everybody is causing major stress and burnout. There is only so much time, energy and resources we have every-day. When we start to accept this, we can be more kind to ourselves and give us the much-needed break.

3. Prioritize your self- care first.

Self-care is not selfish, it’s essential for our survival. We all had to learn this lesson the hard way, whether this was from depletion and exhaustion, to postnatal depression and anxiety. Prioritize your sleep first as the foundation of your mental and physical health. Get some help on this whether that is from books, programmes or sleep consultants. Then do some movements every day that makes you feel good whether that is walking, yoga, dancing or whatever floats your boat!

4. Hit the ‘Time out’ and ‘Start over’ button

Time-out is not only for toddler meltdowns or temper tantrums. As mums our buttons will get pushed everyday by our kids so it’s easy to have our own meltdowns. Give yourself a time-out from your kids before you do something that you regret. Once you have calmed yourself down, you can ask to ‘start over’ with your kids. Say sorry to them if you have done or said something that was hurtful. Model the behaviour that you want to see in your children.

5. Have a mantra for hard moments and hard days as a mum

I say this to myself when I am having a hard day - “I am doing the best that I can with the time, energy and resources I have”. When I remind myself of this, I stop beating myself up for not doing enough. My sister, Lanny, has her mantra which is “There is a season for everything” which reminds her that every phase, no matter how hard it is, is temporary. Having mantras can be helpful reminders to be gentler with ourselves and our children, and help to reduce the stress during hard times.

6. Don’t let perfectionism get in the way of self-care

We often get into the trap of waiting until we have a huge block of time to take time for ourselves. For example, we may think that doing yoga means doing a 60-minute class. This might not be possible depending on where we are in our motherhood journey and what’s going on in our life. This perfectionist thinking may get in the way of you doing anything for yourself! Let’s shift your thinking to tiny habits like 1 minute of mindfulness or 1 minute of yoga stretches while you are waiting for your kettle to boil. Something is ALWAYS better than nothing. Read my article here on how to set up mini-habits of self-care.

What do you thinks of these lessons? Do you have any that you want to start doing and don't know where to start? Let's have a chat! Book your complimentary 15 minute chat here.

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