By SARA CLIFFORD
August 28, 2007
Just because you’re one doesn’t mean you can’t be the other.
Cuddling up with a little one for a nap. Celebrating first steps,
first teeth and first days of school — the daily joys of raising
Juggling office work and housework. Mere moments of alone time
with the hubby. A frighteningly frumpy figure in the mirror — the daily
reminders of how much easier life was before you became “Mom.”
Bedford’s Marci Phillips knows what it’s like. A mother of two,
she runs Healthy Balance fitness center where many of her clients are
“Eighty percent of moms will tell you they feel like they’ve
let themselves go,” she said. “Women think we owe everybody a piece of
us, and we don’t save anything for ourselves. … Well, eventually
there will be nothing let of ‘me.’”
It’s not uncommon for moms to feel unattractive, exhausted and
disconnected from their partner, friends and their former selves, notes
Sara Holliday, fitness expert, marriage and family therapist and the
editor of Web site www.fitbysara.com.
But between housework, homework and “work-work,” she and local moms
have found the time to reconnect with the woman they used to be.
Some tips from Holliday, and advice from local moms:
1. Don’t diet. Food is not the enemy. Instead, “nourish” your body.
Eating frequently helps you stay focused, Phillips said.
“If you don’t eat all day, you start to feel haggard, stressed
and run down,” she said. “Stash healthy snacks at work so you can eat
more frequently. You’ll get more accomplished during the day and fight
Those behaviors can have a trickle-down effect to your family,
too. “They’re more likely to develop those healthy habits that you
model,” she said.
2. Gain a network. Find a group of supportive women with common interests.
For Kedra Burris, a minister’s wife, her church family is her
extended family. “There’s a small group of ladies in my church. They’re
incredible,” she said, “sharing child-rearing issues, praying, getting
their input when I’m not sure what to do about something.”
Carrie Hardesty and friend Casey Mullis have found support in MOPS, or Mothers of Preschoolers.
“When I’m at home all day I start to go fruit-loopy, watching
cartoons all day,” Hardesty said. Working with parents as president of
the Shawswick PTO also helps her keep in touch with other adults.
3. Visualize the ideal you. What would she look like? How would she carry herself?
4. Use affirmations. Post sticky notes everywhere: “I am beautiful.” “I am fit.” “I am sexy.”
They may make you feel silly, but say them often and you’ll start to feel that way.
5. Exercise is your time. “Look at it as, ‘If I
do this, I’ll have more energy to do give to my family and my job — and
I’ll look better, too,’” Phillips said.
“Moms tell me all the time, ‘Oh, I can’t work out because I
have to go to baseball practice,’ or whatever. And yes, it’s true that
they’re only kids once, and that time is precious. But it’s quality
time you should be after, not quantity time. … Take the kids to
grandma’s; leave them with Dad, and then work on you. You’ll actually
have more energy. Show them that being physically healthy is as
important as paying the bills, as going to church.”
Workouts can fit in during the work day, too, she said — a
quick walk around the block on a break or spending lunch hour at a gym.
Making the commitment to yourself is key.
“First, decide that you’re worth it; second, you have to be
honest with your time and your schedule. … And third, you have to
find an activity you enjoy. If you’re on your feet all day at work,
you’re probably not going to be excited about getting on a treadmill.”
More mom advice:
Day job: Stay-at-home mom, formerly child advocate for the domestic violence center
Children: Madison, 8; Macy, 5; and Maradyn, 4
Married to: Justin for 11 years
Her “me” time: “Bedtime. They have to be in bed by 8 p.m. Then I
have a couple-three hours to paint my nails, watch TV or just
decompress. I tell them, ‘It’s mommy’s time.’ … I joke with my
husband that I’m always having to reinvent myself. I’m always picking
up a new hobby or getting involved in something new, whether it’s
planning a trip or picking up something new to read.”
The ideal “me” is: “When I have enough time to do it all — to be
the best mom I can be and still make some time for things outside of
the home — I guess, 20 of ‘Me’s.’”
People in my support system: “Have been in the trenches — people
who understand why I have to call and say I can’t do something because
something else is going on. … My husband is super-duper good. He gets
the girls up and ready and on the bus. … We’ve just always had an
agreement that we’re in this together.”
One word to describe me: “Overzealous. I get super-excited, like
with the PTO, when I get to do organizational-type things with other
adults. It’s one thing to get an 8-year-old to do something, but when
I’m working with adults, I have to pull out skills from before I was a
My energy food is: “Coffee. I have some every afternoon at about 3:30 after I get the girls home from school. It helps get me through dinner.”
How I make myself feel better: “There are days when I’m wearing
sweat pants, but I always make an effort to get dressed and put on
makeup so I feel more like a person.”
Day job: Preschool teacher on weekday mornings
Children: Lester, 19; Luke, 17; Rebecca, 14; Ben, 12
Married to: Allen for 23 years
Also spends her time: In ministry projects at church (Allen is the pastor of Mitchell Church of Christ)
Her “me” time: “Reading the Bible. I couldn’t get through
without it. … A lot of other interests I couldn’t do when they were
younger because of time, but now that they’re older I get together with
other ladies and do stamping, or make cards or do scrapbooking. It
gives me relief. It’s sort of therapeutic.”
I feel confident when: “I’m at home, taking care of my family. That’s what gives me the most satisfaction.”
The ideal “me” is: “More organized, more calm.”
My energy food is: Chocolate.
Advice to younger moms: “Enjoy every stage — even the night
feedings — because — and everybody tells you this — but it really does
go by so quickly, and they’re gone before you know it. It’s kind of sad
when they move on to another stage.”
Day job: Owner of Healthy Balance fitness center
Children: Sam Bob Patrick, 11; Nora Patrick, 6
Married to: Jason Patrick for 10 years
Her “me” time: “I take an hour a day to work out, and I just let
the phone ring if there’s no one here to answer it. For about a year
and a half I had no planned fitness routine, and it probably cost me 20
I feel confident when: “I’ve planned. It never happens that
everything goes according to plan, but if I’ve given thought to the day
before it hits me in the face, I can handle it.”
My energy food is: Fruit
How I keep on track: “The people you socialize with have a lot
to do with it. … I seldom go to dinner with friends. We make plans to
take the kids out for a hike or something. They’re activity plans,
versus meeting at Pizza Hut. … Women want to nuture people, versus
really being honest. … It can be so easy to get wrapped up in
negative thoughts and verbage. If the people around you are committed,
you’ll have fewer excuses.”
Advice to younger moms: “If you take an hour to put yourself
first, your kids will look up to you. They’ll admire your dedication.
… Look at it as changing small things versus changing everything.
Don’t start out saying you’re going to exercise five times a week.
Commit to five 20-minute walks, and then feel good about that when you
reach that goal.”
Day job: Stay-at-home mom
Children: Uly, 4, Jasper, 2, Hiram, 9 months
Married to: Brady for 10 years
Also spends her time: Volunteering with L.I.F.E., teaching Sunday school and VBS and networking through MOPS
Her “me” time: “Every once in a while I get a baby-sitter and
spend time with my husband. … I read when I can. … And I cook, even
when there’s no time for it.”
I feel confident when: “I have all my tasks completed on my ‘to-do’ list.”
My energy food is: “First, chocolate … then some healthier things, like granola.”
People in my support system: “Our parents, extended family …
and the mothers from MOPS. I’ve made a lot of friends there. If I need
someone to babysit for a couple of hours, we’ll trade off.”
One word to describe me: Procrastinator
Advice for younger moms: “Get involved in some sort of support
group. It’s absolutely essential. You realize you’re not alone in what
you’re going through, and it’s more enjoyable.
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