Look at any family’s photos from vacations or parties and many times you’ll find one very important member missing—mom. Sometimes she’s hiding behind the camera. (Someone has to be the photographer, right?) But other times, she’s just hiding.
We’ve all heard the excuses: “I haven’t lost the baby weight.” “It’s a bad hair day.” “I have no makeup on.” But who really worries about those things? The family’s worrier-in-chief, of course.
Stepping into the picture and being seen is something that more moms need to do both for themselves and for their children, say Margarita Daskalakis and Juarline Stavrinos, Mineola, N.Y.-based life coaches and co-founders of High Functioning Family.
“You see this a lot with moms that are stay-at-home moms or who have younger children,” Daskalakis says. “The focus is a lot more on their kids, and they tend to lose themselves.”
When you’re waking up every day, throwing your hair in a ponytail and wearing only yoga pants or pajama pants right through the evening, it’s hard to feel good about yourself, Daskalakis says. But even mothers who work part-time or full-time fall victim to negative self talk, she explains. They, too, are tired and stressed and feel like they’re hardly keeping up some days.
“A lot of the moms we work with, I always tell them to close their eyes and fast forward 25 years,” Daskalakis says. “Your kid is 25. How do you want them to be? They’ll say, ‘confident, happy.’ How are you going to get there? It always comes back to, ‘I have to model that.’’
It starts with self care, which means putting yourself first sometimes, Stavrinos says. Getting dressed each day—even if it’s just a pair of jeans and a nice shirt—is an instant confidence booster. Beyond that, she recommends to her clients they set aside at least 10 minutes each day that are just for themselves. “They feel guilty when we say you’ve got to take even 10 minutes of time,” she says. “They say, ‘That’s 10 minutes away from my children.’ But when you do that, you come back happier and more patient.”
Stavrinos also suggests women say affirmations in front of the mirror each day, repeating to themselves things like, “I’m beautiful,” or “I’ve got this.” When you make yourself a priority and incorporate these small shifts into your daily routine, she explains, feelings of self worth come more naturally.
As for those moms who still feel anxious standing in front of a camera lens, Daskalakis says she’ll ask them what would they say if their child came to them with a similar worry.
“Be gentle and loving with yourself the way you are with your children,” she says. “Always ask, ‘What do I want my child’s inner voice to be?’ You need to make that voice kind within yourself.”
It’s also important for moms to remember they’re creating the record of their kids’ childhood, both women say. What will your children think when they look back at pictures and realize the most important person in their life is nowhere to be found?
So hand over the camera to someone else once in a while. Or jump in that photo booth at the next party you attend and get goofy. Your family will be glad you did. So will you.
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