Everyone says that becoming a parent changes you forever, and “they” are right. Something happens to you the second that wailing little person breaks into your world that brings a certain clarity to what is really important to you. You become infinitely more grateful for the blessings that you have been given in life, and it’s wonderful. Another thing that happens is (at least for most of us): your looks sort of go to hell.
I know that there are women who walk out of the hospital in their pre-pregnancy skinny jeans with their complexion glowing and their hair flawless. These are the women whose only noticeable change is a slightly fuller bust-line. They also rise at 4 am to work out and clean the house before any of their children (who likely sleep until 8) wake up. Good for them, I don’t judge. But for me, it took about a month for the swelling to leave my ankles, about 3 pairs of Spanx to even think about wearing a real pair of pants, and then my hair started to fall out. Add in the crazy hormonal changes, lack of sleep and becoming acquainted with breastfeeding and I felt more like a bovine than a human being.
Now that it’s been almost 2 years since that beautiful time of life, I’m starting to reevaluate my beauty regimen. Although I know that I may never again be the size 4 or 6 that I was in my prime, I vaguely remember a time when I took really good care of myself, and I’m just trying to remember what I did. The real question is, am I willing to devote the time and money to get there again? Has becoming a mother completely shifted my focus so much that it has become impossible for me to care about my own self? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question, but I also know that I am not willing to completely give up.
After much mind-searching, thinking about myself as a teenager (this is important because teenagers are by nature self-absorbed) I identified things that I did differently than I do now. Some habits are completely ridiculous and not reasonable for a responsible adult. For instance, getting my hair done every five weeks would definitely improve the quality of my appearance, but I would also go broke. Eating Skittles and a Diet Coke every day for lunch is tempting, but lacking in essential nutrients – you see what I mean? Finally I decided that there were 3, very plausible habits that I can incorporate into my daily routine as a starting point. They are:
- Drinking more water. Easy right? I used to practically drown myself in water, but the busier and more exhausted I have become, the more I have turned to coffee, diet soda and, yes, that evening glass of wine. It’s not practical for me to say that I’m going to give all of that up, but pounding more water will make me feel better, look better and be more alert.
- Establish a nightly routine. Thoughtfully removing makeup, taking care of my teeth, moisturizing, taking vitamins and stretching before bed used to be a priority before the days of falling asleep on the couch. Making this conscientious change is a definite step in the right direction and may even improve the quality of my sleep.
- No fried foods. Ok, I rarely ever ORDER anything fried, and I definitely am not frying foods at home, but I somehow end up eating fries, chicken fingers, chips and the like that end up on my kids’ plates. Don’t get me started on what they serve as ‘kids’ meals’ at restaurants, that’s a vent for another day. I NEVER used to touch junk food, but it’s somehow slipped into my diet and it has to go.
I feel like if I reinstate these 3 rules, I will start looking and feeling more like myself, which will likely lead to more positive changes. If you have any other tricks or “rules” I’d love to hear them!