New year, new you?

Ac­cept your­self for the amaz­ing mum you are right now

Mother & Baby (UK) - - CONTENTS - Ni­cola Gibb is a life coach who spe­cialises in work­ing with mums and mums-to-be, and a mum-of-two; be­yondthe bump.coach

Busy mak­ing New Year’s res­o­lu­tions? While your aims may have shifted slightly from those you made be­fore you be­came a mum, we’re guess­ing you’re still mak­ing the same type – do more, achieve more, be more. And now you’ve wel­comed a child into the world, it’s only nat­u­ral to put even more pres­sure on your­self. ‘But you don’t need to change

any­thing about your­self to be a great mum,’ says life coach Ni­cola Gibb. ‘You’re al­ready do­ing a bril­liant job!’ So, in­stead of try­ing to rein­vent your­self, why not have a go at ac­cept­ing how great you al­ready are? Be­cause you’ll feel a whole lot hap­pier if you do.

‘It’s easy to lose track of who you are amid the sleep­less nights, growth spurts and daily ups and downs, but you haven’t lost your­self since you’ve had your baby,’ says Ni­cola, ‘just be­come even more you.’ Recog­nis­ing what your in­trin­sic qual­i­ties are will mean you’ll value what you bring to your role as a mum. And that will help you ac­cept the mum you are, rather than the mum you feel you should be. Want to feel more con­fi­dent, and shrug a load of pres­sure straight off your shoul­ders? Then read on…

DIS­COVER YOUR STRENGTHS

‘After I had my first baby, I had to learn to lis­ten to my own in­tu­ition. For the first few months, I fought against it, as ev­ery­thing I read told me to do things dif­fer­ently. Once I learned to fol­low my own feel­ings, my jour­ney as a mum be­came so much eas­ier and I be­came a lot less stressed and a lot hap­pier.’ Alex Kre­mer, 31, from Hert­ford­shire, is mum to Eden, nine months, and Ru­fus, three

‘Cre­at­ing a list of what you en­joy do­ing can help you work out what’s most im­por­tant to you right now,’ says Ni­cola. ‘Write a list of words or phrases that res­onate with you and that de­scribe your feel­ings, strengths, am­bi­tions and pas­sions. Ask your­self, what’s im­por­tant to me?’ You might en­joy feed­ing your tot his tea – or his cu­rios­ity. Maybe you feel sat­is­fied after a big day out – or a cosy day in. ‘These are the things to spend your time and en­ergy on,’ says Ni­cola. So, if ‘hav­ing ad­ven­tures’ is on your list, but ‘homemade food’ isn’t, then you can safely for­get about pre­par­ing a freezer-full of purées and spend time ex­plor­ing with your tot in­stead.

SHARE YOUR LOVES

Feel like you need to give your tot the very best of ev­ery­thing, and the thought of com­pro­mis­ing makes you shud­der? Just think about this for a sec­ond: when you share some­thing with your child that makes you feel ex­cited and full of life, you also share the very best ver­sion of you; and when you’re en­er­gised and in­vig­o­rated, he will be too. So, if you like read­ing, make the most of story time to­gether or, if you love na­ture, go on a walk with him in a back car­rier. And if messy play makes you stressed or craft­ing isn’t your strength, don’t ag­o­nise over it, just do what you can – or don’t do it at all! ‘Cre­at­ing a vi­sion board will help you to fo­cus on what’s im­por­tant to you,’ says Ni­cola. Start with a big piece of card and stick on pho­tos or pic­tures from mag­a­zines of things that make you, you. Now think how you can share all these things with your baby. These are the things that will nour­ish you both. FIND YOUR HAPPY When you’ve got a baby and a mil­lion and one things to do, it can feel like you haven’t got a sec­ond to think about how you’re feel­ing. But the next time you get a mo­ment to your­self, ig­nore the pile of wash­ing and tune in to your­self. Pick up a photo or put on some mu­sic that re­minds you of a good mem­ory, and find a quiet spot to sit and close

your eyes. ‘Think about the pos­i­tive mem­ory, and re­call the peo­ple, the place, the smells, and how you felt,’ says Ni­cola. ‘How are you feel­ing? Ac­knowl­edge that feel­ing, whether it’s a warm con­tented glow or ex­cited flut­ter­ings in your tummy. Re­ally set­tle in to it and, as you do, try to pin­point what it is that’s giv­ing you that feel­ing. It might be be­ing with peo­ple you love, be­ing spon­ta­neous, or just sim­ply be­ing in the mo­ment.’ And, once you’ve iden­ti­fied these and other can’t-quite-puty­our-fin­ger-on-it things that make you happy, do them more of­ten! ‘This ex­er­cise will help you to dis­cover how you can add more of your true self into your role as a mum,’ says Ni­cola, ‘so get into the habit of tak­ing a cou­ple of min­utes ev­ery day to re­flect on a ful­fill­ing mem­ory, to help you re-dis­cover what makes you tick.’

FOR­GET THE REST

Ac­cept­ing what you love and value will also help you to ac­knowl­edge what you don’t en­joy and what aren’t your strengths. As mums, we only have so much time and en­ergy, and it’s im­por­tant to ded­i­cate this to the things that mat­ter most and ig­nore the ex­ter­nal pres­sures that can make you feel like you should be do­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent. ‘Look out for the word “should”,’ says Ni­cola. ‘If you’re say­ing or think­ing “I should” rather than “I want to” or “I’d love to”, then what­ever it is you feel you “should” be do­ing isn’t some­thing that’s go­ing to make you a bet­ter or hap­pier mum. Ev­ery time you hear your­self say­ing or think­ing “should”, write that sen­tence down on a piece of paper, ac­knowl­edge it and then throw it away. This will help to phys­i­cally re­move the thought and pres­sure.’

AC­CEPT YOUR NEEDS

As much as you love your baby, it’s ok to need more than what he gives you. Maybe you crave more pur­pose or pre­dictabil­ity, more time to your­self, or more sup­port. ‘Writ­ing down these things will help you tap into how you’re feel­ing,’ says Ni­cola. At the end of ev­ery day, get into the habit

‘I’ve ac­cepted I’m not per­fect and I can’t do ev­ery­thing. I used to feel over­whelmed if I couldn’t fin­ish a task at home be­cause I was busy do­ing other things with my chil­dren. But now I know it’s not the end of the world if the dishes aren’t washed straight after din­ner, as long as the kids are hap­pily play­ing and laugh­ing.’ Natalia Pareja, 26, from Lon­don, is mum to Lu­cas, 14 months, and Le­an­dro, seven

of spend­ing five min­utes jot­ting down a few things that have made you feel good, and a few things that didn’t. ‘Look back to see what pat­terns you can spot,’ says Ni­cola, ‘and ask your­self, what would have helped me then?’ Do­ing this will help you be more ob­jec­tive about work­ing out what sup­port or small changes would make a big dif­fer­ence to you, and this rests en­tirely on what’s im­por­tant to you. For ex­am­ple, if par­ent­ing as a team is some­thing you re­ally value, then some­thing as sim­ple as your part­ner giv­ing you a hug ev­ery morn­ing and say­ing, ‘We’re do­ing this to­gether’ is what you need to sail through your day more smoothly.

KNOW YOU’RE ENOUGH

Yep, we’d all like to be Su­per­mums who can do it all. But we’re not. No one is! So once you’ve worked out what’s im­por­tant to you – and what’s not – ac­cept that it’s ok to pri­ori­tise some things in your baby’s life over oth­ers. That’s not al­ways easy when fam­ily life (or your baby) throws all sorts at you, so re­mind your­self that you’re do­ing a great job. Buy a pack of pretty Post-it notes and write re­minders about those things that you’re great at, that you’re do­ing bril­liantly. If it’s a pri­or­ity to make all your baby’s food your­self, then stick one up in the fridge say­ing, ‘Look at all these lovely veg­gies!’ If you love mak­ing stuff with your tot, then pop one on the box of crafty sup­plies say­ing ‘We have so much fun mak­ing stuff to­gether!’ Think about what makes you feel like you’re on top of your ham­ster wheel, too – so if your air­ing cup­board is or­gan­ised within an inch of its life, then it needs a Post-it say­ing ‘How neat is this?!’ Put one up on your nappy-chang­ing sta­tion that says ‘It’s im­por­tant to me that my baby is comfy.’ What­ever it is that you value, re­mind your­self how great a job you’re do­ing! Be­cause once you ac­knowl­edge and cel­e­brate that you’re an amaz­ing mum – just as you are – you’ll feel so much bet­ter!

‘I’ve fi­nally ac­cepted that I need a pur­pose and a sense of achieve­ment out­side my role as a par­ent. Step­ping out of that role to work, even if it’s just for a cou­ple of hours, helps me to be the best and hap­pi­est mum that I can be.’ Pragya Agar­wal, 41, from Liver­pool, is mum to In­dia and April, both two and a half, and Pr­ishita, 21

Per­son­alised Mum’s Note­book, £19.99, no­ton­the­high­street.com

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