After having four babies in five years, nursing for a total of forty-seven months and getting up at least once during the night for six years, I was groggy, saggy and stretched, to say the least. I hardly even felt like myself anymore. And every time I stepped out the door I couldn’t understand how other moms looked so put together; they looked human and I felt like a zombie! What were they doing to look so comfortable in their new mommy skin that I was missing? For starters, they were probably showering but upon further inspection, I noticed a few things about these moms who looked like real people. I was surprised to discover that it actually wasn’t as complicated or time consuming as the end result appeared. So here is a quick list of the best things you can do for yourself to reclaim a little of the woman you still are:
• Know your proportions. The end goal is always to create an hourglass shape.
• Don’t wear things that are too tight (the sausage effect – not good)…or too loose (the eternally pregnant effect–also not good). If you like comfy clothes, go for softer fabrics, cute flats, even a sundress.
• Get a sitter before you shop (if only Ikea sold clothes!). Don’t even try a serious shopping trip with your kids. You’ll end up with just half an outfit before someone melts down.
• Be prepared. Don’t shop for an event last minute, be ready with an outfit for a bridal shower, date night, etc. You will save yourself money, frustration and probably rescue yourself from an outfit you don’t like.
• Wear a ponytail, just make it a cute one–put a little braid in front, or part your hair before putting it back into a low ponytail.
• If you’re hair is short, be honest with yourself: is it working for you? It may be time to consult with a stylist for some suggestions (I know, it feels like you’re cheating on your current stylist but a mom’s gotta look good!). And keep up on your haircuts; schedule your next appointment as you leave the salon.
• Keep your lip-gloss handy. For me, this means they are everywhere: glove box, junk drawer, the Barbie castle, etc.
• Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize. You will instantly look like you have it more together than you do! And scarves and long necklaces can have a slimming effect when used to create a vertical line down your chest.
• Expand your wardrobe beyond jeans. This was a hard one for me because I love my jeans, but I have discovered dresses, which brings me to my last tip…
• Try a dress! They are generally more forgiving to your figure and they can easily be dressed up or down. An empire waist can hide a little leftover baby weight and you’ll feel feminine even if you’re playing cars with your two year old!
Recently I worked with Janice Hurley-Trailor, The Image Expert, on a makeover of a new mom. Lisa owns a gym, teaches gymnastics and dotes on her two small children. Needless to say, her attire tends to consist of workout clothes! Janice put her in soft gray cords with similarly colored boots, a layered long sleeved shirt under a tank with a belt and a sassy, face-flattering haircut. Her earrings are small so as not to overwhelm her delicate face, layering her shirts adds interest and sophistication (plus it extends a summer tank into fall), the belt adds definition and the boots lengthen her legs. Goodbye workout mama, hello hot mama!
These are relatively simple, time-friendly ideas that any mom can implement even in the most chaotic days of early motherhood. Honestly, the hardest part is remembering that even as moms we deserve to turn a little of that love and attention we give to our children back on ourselves.
Oh and do shower—It really goes a long way toward feeling wholly human and not just a receptacle for spit-up, snot and drool!
Emily Roy is a copy editor turned mother of four in five years. She has led over a hundred moms as Director of the Mom’s Group at her local church in Tacoma, WA.
Janice Hurley-Trailor is an image expert with 25 years of experience. She is currently working on a book on makeovers for new moms with Emily Roy. Visit her at: www.janicehurleytrailor.com.