For those of us in New England, we are officially well into fall. So far into it, that in Maine, the leaves have hit their peak and are now browning and falling from the trees. Some of you (talking to my sweet southern friends) are just now getting the crisp air you’ve been waiting months for!
No matter where you are, I always think of fall as the fresh start season. Our kids get the opportunity to start over with a new teacher, class, or activity. Football teams start out with the same number of wins and losses. And even though I’m not in school anymore and I don’t play on a team, I feel like the opportunity to start fresh applies no matter how old or young you might be.
I was thinking recently about how excited my girls were about going shopping for a new back to school outfit. Being a mom of four, I don’t always buy new lunch boxes and backpacks for every child each new school year, but we do try to find something special for that first day back to school. Even at a young age, my girls recognize that feeling good about how you present yourself can positively impact your outlook on the day.
For whatever reason, this important part of starting your day is often lost on moms. There are many reasons. We are focused on getting everyone else ready for the day and run out of time for ourselves. Maybe we work from home and don’t see the point in getting out of our comfy PJ pants. Or maybe we are hoping to fit a workout in at some point in the day so we just throw on some exercise clothes and call it good. Whether you ever get to that workout is another story.
But can I just challenge the idea that there is not value in putting a little effort into dressing for the day? And I want to be clear that caring about the way you look and valuing the things you put on your body in no way makes you a shallow or superficial person. It means that you care about yourself enough to put your best foot forward. Whether or not it’s fair or right, we live in a very visual world. First impressions matter.
I think back on the days when I had three little girls under three. It was crazy and chaotic and often overwhelming. But the days I felt my best were when I took a shower, put on some makeup and got out of those dang yoga pants – I was never going to do any yoga! The same mundane tasks of feeding, napping, cleaning, washing, entertaining and disciplining my littles still happened, but I felt better about myself. I had taken just a little bit of time to take care of me and that made it easier to take care of them. I wish I could say I did it every day – I definitely did not. But I think that the days I resented them, my situation, my responsibilities and allowed myself to feel a bit like a martyr, were often on those days that I didn’t take the time to care for myself.
And while I’ve tried to make this a practice for years, it is easy to just continue to put yourself last. I have a friend who was definitely putting everyone else on the list of care and love but herself. Selfless behavior in a very selfish world is so admirable – I’m not diminishing the importance of loving and serving others. But taking a little time for yourself is good too.
So my friend decided she was tired of the fleece hoodies she had in every color to match the five pairs of stretchy black pants for each day of the week. It was her mom uniform and she had finally grown weary of it. For years, she had told herself that cooking, cleaning and running kids to activities was not a good enough reason to take time to put on something a little nicer. She had convinced herself that everyone else in the family came first and it was fine if there was no time left for her. But once all of her kids were in school more than they were home, she had the chance to think about her wants and needs. And in doing that, she realized she could feel good about doing a little more for herself.
Now when I see her out and about, not only does she look adorable, she seems so happy. She’s still cooking, cleaning and running kids to activities. And while putting on a cute pair of jeans with some fun boots and top doesn’t cure all of the struggles of mom life, feeling good about yourself can often deflect any negativity that comes from the frustrating cycle of kid tantrums and plans gone awry.
I want to encourage you to take time for yourself this week. Don’t wait to lose that last 5, 10 or 20 pounds. Don’t wait for the big paycheck. You don’t have to be at goal weight or spend a fortune on a new wardrobe to feel great about yourself. Get a great scarf, invest in one pair of well fitting jeans that you can match with a few different tops or sweaters. Re-shop your closet and get rid of what you don’t love and rediscover the things you do. And don’t wait for a special occasion to wear them. Every day is an opportunity to feel great about you.
And please, don’t tell yourself that it’s a shallow way to share who you are. There is nothing shallow about feeling great! If you feel like this is something you want to do, but aren’t sure where to start, drop me a note or leave a comment. I’d love to help you get started!