We have all heard the phrase ‘she really let herself go after kids’ or we know someone who fits the description. This phrase is usually aimed at the stressed-out looking mom rocking sweat pants and slippers in public far too often with her hair in a mess and obviously gives zero F’s about her appearance. Whether it was retaining the baby weight for a little too long, putting zero effort into your appearance, wearing pajamas all day, or going through a phase of being unpleasant to be around and lazy. Let’s be honest for a moment- we have all been there at some point and to some degree. The difference between moms who have let themselves go and moms who haven’t is a number of factors, primarily confidence, self-esteem, happiness, and motivation. Society has made strides in body acceptance and body positivity movements and although these powerful and important movements emphasize loving yourself regardless of how you look or how much you weigh, it is a task that is much easier said than done in most cases. Do you really believe that someone who has let themselves go is happy when they look in the mirror? Do you think this person is happy in their relationships? You see, letting yourself go is much more of a mental state than it is a physical one. I can’t think of a mother who has let herself go that is genuinely happy with where she is at in life.
Just the other day after a brutal workout, I threw on my gym sweats over my shorts and donned my hoodie with my sweaty hair in a messy bun and headed to the grocery store. While walking into the grocery store, I caught a glimpse of myself in the reflection of the store front window and was shocked at my appearance. Although this was an isolated incident, I remember feeling like people were going to look at me and judge me as the mom who looks like a shit-sandwich at the grocery store. I then felt great sadness and empathy for all the moms that I routinely see at the store who look this way all of the time. I felt sad for them because deep down I know that your physical appearance and the way you carry yourself is a direct reflection of how you feel on the inside. To be completely honest, I have yet to meet a vibrant, joyful mother wearing her oversized t-shirt over her pajama pants at the school pick-up line (yes, in the afternoon). When I notice women who have ‘let themselves go’, I honestly feel very sad for them and want to help them get their groove back, so listen closely if you are one of these moms who are currently stuck in this rut. Letting yourself go is a complex issue that has many deep rooted tentacles. It usually begins with getting pregnant and gaining weight. It can be a difficult journey to get your pre-baby body back and oftentimes, many women become discouraged and give up. New moms are so busy with their babies, catching up on chores during nap time, and chipping away at all the other tasks on the to-do list that applying makeup, or even showering falls to the bottom of the priority list. I get it and I’ve been there myself. The difference for me personally, was that I didn’t stay in that state very long. Sure there were, are, and will be days that I rock my comfy clothes to grab some groceries or don’t wear makeup or wash my hair. However, those days are few and far between. Let’s also make one thing clear- every woman is on a different part of the beauty/appearance spectrum. There are the women who have to go full-glam for every outing and there are the women who will never consider wearing makeup or styling their hair. There are women who take decent care of themselves and there are women who absolutely do not. Adding a new baby to the mix will surely set your appearance priorities back a few notches, then add a job, college, other children, sports, spouse, household duties to the mix and you can barely find the time to even think about your appearance let alone do something about it.
I think that neglecting self-care amongst mothers is one of the primary reasons we fall into this rut of depression, anxiety, stress, and all those other mental jerks that like to kick us while we’re down. If you are reading this and are currently going through this rut, I promise you that a shift in your mindset and carving 15-20 mins out of your day for self-care can really help you get your groove back. It is no secret that when you look good, you feel good. I have so many mom friends that never wear makeup and they say they want to and would feel prettier if they did, but they don’t have time and don’t know where to start. I have a 5 minute makeup routine that I do before I (usually) leave the house and it is this: BB cream (tinted moisturizer), I shade in my eyebrows (this makes a huge difference), I apply mascara, and then I apply tinted lip gloss. Next I will add a few spritz of dry shampoo and will french braid my hair and clip it up. Yes, that is really it! Just this simple little makeup routine makes me look presentable but more importantly, I feel good. I feel somewhat cute and I surely walk a little taller than I would if I rolled out of bed and into my car for my errands. I know we shouldn’t care what people think, but the point here is what do you think? If you are 100% perfectly fine with looking like a hot mess, then more power to you. However for most people, when you look good, you feel good and that is the point I am trying to make. Now on days where I have an important meeting, date night with my husband, or something of that magnitude, I will take it up a few notches and go full glam. Are you a mom who has no clue how to do this? Neither was I (YouTube tutorials are your friend). On these outings, I will put a few curls in my hair and wear an outfit that is complimentary to my body type and not only do I look great, I feel even better! My entire point regarding makeup is this, it doesn’t take much time or effort to breathe life back into your face and hair. If you want to, you will carve the time needed to do it, end of story.
Letting yourself go, once again, is much deeper than surface level issues like your outward appearance. There is usually psychological issues going on that have stemmed from a lifetime of self-esteem issues, depression, bullying, or unresolved childhood trauma. Perhaps you were bullied about your appearance in high school and gave up trying or perhaps you come from an overweight family and accepted that you will always be overweight. With so many external factors and situations that have long-lasting impacts on our mental health and self-esteem, the ‘letting yourself go’ episode that I am referring to is bound to happen to all of us at some point or another. I see this fairly often in married couples too- you have been together for so long that you gave up trying to look attractive for your spouse. I don’t care if your husband looks like BigFoot, you should always want to impress your man (and vice versa). Now if your spouse totally sucks, I probably wouldn’t care enough to put much effort into my appearance either, however, it just doesn’t sit well with me if my husband doesn’t find me attractive and it shouldn’t sit well with you either. Have you ever thought about this? I vividly remember that shortly after I had my first daughter, it took me some time to get rid of the baby weight. I was going to school full-time online on top of having a newborn and I usually stayed in lounge clothes all day long. My hair was a mess, I wouldn’t wear any makeup, and most of all- I was miserable to be around. I was grouchy, snippy, and did the bare minimum around the house. I remember thinking to myself one day, ‘I am absolutely miserable to be around and I look like shit, how could he stand to be around me?’ My husband is a very attractive man so I felt sick to my stomach at the thought of him finding me not only unattractive, but awful to be around. I was a nagging, bitching, miserable, and dumpy wife who stayed in sweats all day and let my house go to shit. Not a good look. I remember after having the realization that I was a total miserable scrub, I got my gym membership back and starting working out several days a week to start taking care of my mind and body. You see, there is scientific research to back up the fact that exercise releases endorphins, and endorphins make you happy and this physical outlet was just what I needed to kickstart my goal of getting my groove back mentally and physically. I developed a new routine- I would go to the gym as soon as my husband left for work, I would come home and shower and do my simple little makeup routine, and put decent clothes on (and no, I don’t wear jeans at home, I’m not that crazy). In between school work and baby duties, I would do little chores here and there to help combat it all from piling up and I just became better about managing my time and being productive. I refused to turn the TV on besides putting on a show for background noise for my baby (If you have time for TV everyday but you look like a hot mess and your house has gone to shit, you need to check yourself)! Not long after this, I remember my husband making a comment about how nice life had been lately. I was feeling better about myself and there was evidence of it all over the place and more importantly, he noticed. When I felt good about myself, I became much more pleasant to be around and my marriage began to improve, I was a happier and better friend, and a more empowered mother.
The point I am trying to make is that self-esteem is the common denominator here. When your self-esteem is low, the way you carry yourself, the effort you put into relationships, your home, your body, and your children will be a reflection of that. I know girls who are overweight but are comfortable with themselves and have great self-esteem. They dress themselves in outfits that compliment them and put effort into their appearance in the form of hair and makeup. They are joyful to be around and have seemingly great relationships with their significant others. Letting yourself go isn’t about your body fat percentage or how often you wear makeup, it is about your self-esteem and confidence. I know many amazing moms out there who don’t wear makeup and I would never categorize them as a mom who has ‘let herself go’. Letting yourself go is a mindset and you could also argue that it is a depressive episode because it essentially is. If you have deep rooted issues such as self-esteem, confidence, unresolved childhood trauma, or one of the many other types of negative influences that have had a hand in ‘letting yourself go’, my suggestion to you is to acknowledge it and make every effort to heal those issues and move forward with your life. Do an inventory of all the things that have contributed to your current mindset. Don’t have money for a therapist? Go check out the self-help section at your local bookstore! Go join an online support group- trust me there are thousands out there that are specific to your issues. Need help getting back into a workout routine? Take the plunge of getting a gym membership and start taking exercise classes! Find a friend to go on walks or runs with! Has your house gone to shit? Start doing two or three chores each day to start getting back on top of your household duties. When you let those duties pile up, tackling them is a daunting task so I personally got it under control by doing a few chores each day instead of all at once. Finally, make some time for self-care! Whether it is doing a simple makeup routine, getting your hair done, painting your nails, or whatever it looks like to you, carve time out for yourself each day. A little self-care goes a very long way in regards to your mental health and self-esteem. My point is this- you have to have this realization for yourself and take the initiative to resolve it and turn that page. Look at this as a chapter in your life that you are eager to close and stop making excuses. You owe it to your kids and yourself to be the best version of you- so what are you waiting for?