Sports Psychology

Mommy Guilt vs Female Empowerment – Time to Stop Shaming and Start Celebrating Moms Getting Healthy

“You can’t give children what you don’t have yourself.”  – Brené Brown

Several years ago I was at a crossroads – new mom, full time student and wife. And, for the first time in my life, I was seriously overweight, unhappy and unhealthy. I wasn’t raiding the cookie jar every five seconds, but I was, in fact, drinking a small army’s worth of coffee each day just to keep functioning. I was a hot mess.

But, hey, I was doing it all for my family, right? Bollocks…

Every day I had the same routine – baby and hubby came first; me, if I had time, I studied…that’s it. There was no “me time” – no pottering off to the gym or weekly coffee dates with my friends. I was a mom 24/7. And when I had a moments break from changing nappies, preparing organic baby food and taking care of kiddo, I was making sure my spouse had home-cooked meals every day, clean clothes for work and plenty of free time to relax. Even after I became the sole breadwinner, though, things didn’t change. I blame myself, but in reality, traditional male and female roles concerning parenting still dominate modern culture.

Let’s End the “Martyr Mom” Mentality

Mommy guilt is an insidious, disempowering feeling. We allow others to shame us into submission, to follow outdated social norms in terms of motherhood. Worse, we willingly accept it like a badge of honor. From an very early age, girls are raised to believe self-sacrifice is the key to being a great mother; focusing 100% on our family, nurturing their wants and needs at the expense of our own health and well-being.

All hail the Martyr Mom Mentality. The holy grail of motherhood…

(no, that’s not a good thing – so, please hear me out)

According to Brené Brown, author of Women & Shame: Reaching Out, Speaking Truths and Building Connectionthe number one shame trigger for women is appearance and body image. Equally significant is how we’re judged as mothers. But, see, here’s the rub…we are expected to maintain modeleques-fit bodies while being godlike super mommies, yet somehow achieve this illusion without actually devoting any real time to ourselves. Moms don’t do selfish, remember? And, instead of moms championing other moms who want to be healthy and get fit, I see a worrying trend shaming them as “self-absorbed” or bad mothers.

Enough is enough.

Taking time out to care for your body and mind is not selfish. If anything, it’s SELF-PRESERVATION. Under no circumstances, whatsoever, should any woman feel guilty about making herself a priority. I mean, really? Fathers are not judged by the same absurd social protocols and neither should any mother.

Time to once and for all put the kibosh on that asinine, old ass double-standard.

Embracing Healthy Living as Empowered Moms and Women

How we treat ourselves as moms directly influences our children’s beliefs, not just about their bodies, but also in terms of their self worth. When we value ourselves, we’re teaching our kids to value themselves as individuals and to prioritize their personal well-being. Taking time out to exercise, eat healthy while finding some well-deserved “me-time” is really all about personal boundaries. Investing in yourself is an investment in your kids. Don’t just tell them to be active or eat healthier, either. Walk the Walk.

Cause kids see right through any half-fast malarky…

Healthy living is contagious. When we feel good about ourselves, it emanates good vibes all around us. We have more energy and enthusiasm for life, for our kids, for everything! We can’t force anyone to exercise or eat better, but setting a positive, healthier example inspires others to do the same. 

And, ladies, let’s start empowering each other. Instead of fostering a culture of people-pleasing and self-sacrifice, let’s nurture one another, lift each other up and embolden all women to THRIVE. In doing so, we’re teaching future generations valuable life skills and championing female self-worth.

Mothers deserve to be happy and healthy. 

Let’s make it so.

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DR J 2211 – Rachael Jezierski, PhD