A common sentiment amongst my career-minded, city-dwelling women friends is that once you have children, everything comes to a halt — your career, your social life, your fitness routines — so that you can focus all of your energy on your child. Having drunk this Kool Aid, I waited for a long time to have kids and was prepared to think, eat, drink and breathe baby. But once my little girl came, a funny thing happened: I actually became inspired to do more and work harder. I just had to be a lot more focused on where I put my energy. I learned a few incredible lessons within weeks of childbirth that I wish I would have been practicing my whole life.
Here are 4 daily practices I wish I had done before becoming a mom.
1. Do it now. This is one of those cliché self help quips that everybody ‘knows’ but probably doesn’t practice. Putting things off until later becomes exacerbated by child rearing. “I’ll do the dishes later” could turn into 3 days of dirty dishes in the sink while you’re tending to other things. Now, when I have an opportunity in the brief windows I get while baby is sleeping, I finish each thing on my list and revisit the list during my next window. This practice has been magical. I think I am actually more productive with baby than I ever was before.
2. Be kind to your body. I spent years pre-pregnancy with an eating disorder trying to be as skinny as possible and a few other years yo-yo-ing in the other direction, because I just didn’t want to care anymore. Then I spent a few years enjoying fitness and eating well, but not really ever achieving my goals. And then I got pregnant. There is nothing like growing a tiny beautiful human inside of you to elicit awe in and respect for your body. After I released our little miracle, my body contracted to its (almost) normal state and automatically produced enough food to keep another human alive. I mean, seriously – WOW. I am now more grateful to my body than ever and have found myself much more focused on (and patient in) achieving my fitness objectives.
3. You don’t have time for bullsh*t. The time that I have to spend on work, housekeeping, other people and myself diminished exponentially. If the work isn’t going to help me achieve my goals or another person isn’t going to value me or the practice isn’t going to lift me up, then I just don’t have time any more.
4. Savor every moment. I used to go to yoga classes and sort of half-heartedly make my way through the hour, because, you know, yoga is something that I do and enjoy. As a new mother, when I get an hour to go to a studio to take a yoga class, it is an immense privilege. I now find myself treating every second with attention and appreciation. The same philosophy goes for showering, eating, reading etc.
Jacqui Somen is a former ballet dancer, a coach for wellness entrepreneurs and is trained in trauma-informed yoga and Reiki. She teaches a Mama & Me Meditation and Movement class in Miami and writes about mindfulness for busy mamas at 100and8.com.