Let me state for the record:
“Letting yourself go” is not a bad thing in my book.
I don’t know why it is such a negative thing to finally relax and let yourself fall into a comfortable, more appealing state of mind for who you are at that moment.
I’ve “let myself go”, and have thoroughly enjoyed and embraced it, the way men do and don’t feel any kind of guilt about having done so.
You’re happy and doing what you want right? Then who cares?!?
As long as you’re not wearing dirty unwashed rags and are clean, and comfortably presentable, I say you do you if you don’t care and are happy.
Now if you’re unhappy or feel any twinge of guilt, or feel bothered about “letting yourself go” after having kids (to use the phrase), then you’re obviously in my neck of the woods.
If you look at other well-dressed women and think: “I used to be like that”, and feel wistful, then you’re obviously not happy and not doing what you want.
The standards are ultimately yours to decide — you set what is acceptable and what isn’t, and if you feel that your standards aren’t being met then you need to do something.
GET OVER YOUR MOMMY SHOPPING GUILT
Many mothers including myself, work on a budget and track expenses. Even if you work as I do now and have some income coming in, you know that daycare is NOT CHEAP, but if you don’t work at all, and aren’t independently wealthy then you REALLY know that shopping choices are made between a pack of diapers (for those of you who don’t cloth diaper), or a new accessory.
That kind of shopping guilt weighs on you. I have spent at least twice the amount of time thinking, re-evaluating, buying then returning, waiting and in some cases forgoing purchases that I normally would not have thought twice about before having a child.
What do I do? Lots.
I download pictures of the item I want and study its details.
I scour the web for good deals, including secondhand, consignment, eBay, Kijiji and any and all options in between (including DIY).
I calculate how many times I’d wear it, and with what in my wardrobe, making mental pairings.
I think about what it would replace in my current wardrobe by looking at what I have now and saying: “Would I rather keep this [old item] or buy this new one & replace it?”
If it gets past all of that, I consider then the colour and how it would fit in (I am drawn to bright colours but they don’t always go with everything unless it is an accessory or shoe).
Then it is the price — is it worth it for that piece (much harder to determine online than in-person), and what is it made out of?
I would have done maybe only HALF of the able before having Baby Bun. Now, it is full-on scrutiny.
WHAT OTHER KINDS OF GUILT ARE THERE?
Other kinds of Mommy Guilt includes Mommy Passive-Aggressive shaming of other mothers by proudly stating that your baggy, exercise wear is a badge of honour that you put your kids first before yourself, and mothers who look stylish and put together, are NOT concentrating on their kids 100% and are therefore deadbeats.
You don’t really want to be the best-dressed on the playground amidst mothers who are in whatever they picked up off the floor that afternoon that was clean because trust me, you will get Side Eyed Looks.
You know what they are thinking and that kind of herd mentality to bring down other mothers, makes you NOT want to wear nice things around other mothers. You feel awkward. I get it.
I’ve stopped caring on that front because I’ve realized it is on their side, that style guilt and I don’t need to change myself and how I want to dress for anyone, especially not Park Mommies.
IRONICALLY, YOU DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS
The screwed up bit is not just the guilt but you don’t have time either!!!! People deride Amazon for its terrible impact on the environment (shipping, packaging, returns up the wazoo) but it is a real boon to parents especially mothers.
I love and constantly use the feature of ordering online and trying things on, returning only what I don’t want although less so here in Canada because that is rarely free.
I simply DO NOT have the time I used to, to go and leisurely browse stores, try on items and see whether they fit or not. I have to (now) work, but then rush to drop off my toddler, do pickup as well, go to the pharmacy, post office, dry cleaners (on occasion for things like winter coats which I cannot clean at home), and any kind of government activity, then home tasks like laundry, forms, dishes and repairs before I can even think about shopping.
Oh and bedtime is at 7 p.m. to calm down and get ready to sleep by 9 p.m. Yep. No time. You can read all about a typical week on my Week of Money posts.
If I did have time, it is scattered pieces of it.
I don’t have a full 4 hours to drive to the store, park, grab my toddler, steer him away from temptation then get into the store, browse, try things on, buy or reject items, then wrangle him back into the car, screaming because of a toy he was playing with, rush home (while keeping him from catnapping in the car), and feed him before his sacred nap time before he turns into a screaming, overtired monster who won’t nap.
Actual shopping time above? Maybe an hour.
What I do have is short windows of time like 15 minutes to open a box of items, then stop for whatever my toddler needs.
Then take items out of the box maybe hours later for 15 minutes to try on at home at my leisure during his naps, or as an activity while he is doing puzzles for that scant half an hour of quiet non-toddler wrangling time I have, or during his nap.
Then stop, put everything aside and mentally evaluate what I tried on while playing puzzles and singing songs.
Re-try on pieces again. Make decisions, and package up the box to return what I don’t want.
Actual shopping time above? Maybe an hour.
That is what I have. Same hour, different configuration it is an hour, broken up into 15-minute snatched time increments to do a simple shopping activity.
DO NOT FORGET THE CLINGER-ON..
Did I mention all of the above usually includes toting my toddler along?
It just aggravates the situation if he is not sleeping in a stroller. He is touching everything, pulling and pushing displays off shelves, screaming, running and just being WILD because it is a playground for him. I can’t talk, I can’t think and I’m frazzled. Anyone would be.
I am truly a NORMAL person without my child, I swear but when I am with him, he is taking up 75% of my brain power just to make sure he stays alive and doesn’t throw a fit.
Just thinking about that, exhausts me, and squashes any ambition I may have had to want to bring him out to shop with me, let alone go to changing rooms and try on things.
Yeah. Crunched for it unless I can shop during my lunch break at work or after work just before pickup at preschool; my last resort is 4 hours on the weekend, half of which includes having to take public transportation or drive there and back. 2 hours at best, in a week when I used to have 20 hours!
So Amazon and other places that let me shop online? THANK YOU.
BE OKAY WITH A LITTLE DISCOMFORT
Used to rock 6” heels and now can’t even put on 1” flats? I hear you.
Your personal but also body & style priorities have shifted, and possibly have become even PICKIER along the way.
Be all right with a little discomfort like eschewing elastic or stretch pants for actual pants with zippers and buttons.
Or wear slightly more structured tops that require zips, buttons and/or some adjusting, or a belt rather than a stretchy tee that you pull over your head and go.
It is okay to decide that some things are now off limits as long as you don’t expect everything you wear to feel and fit like loose, stretchy pyjamas all the time! This is not realistic unless you are going for the Olsen Bag Lady 1000 Look.
- Some of my own personal new changes are:
- High waisted pants only because lower cuts feel like they’re falling off and create a muffin top that I KNOW I DO NOT HAVE
- Slightly looser cuts and fits but not baggy saggy sad sacks that let me eat my way to extra poundage
- Nothing finicky that requires constantly checking and maintaining “The Look”; once is enough then I shouldn’t need to fix it every half hour
- Zero tolerance for heels over 3.5” for any occasion
- No pinched toes or blisters after 2 hours of walking
- Easier layers to take on and off (mostly toppers)
- Single items cannot take more than 5 minutes to get on (I am looking at you, finicky strappy sandals with 18 billion mini buckles!)
- No short skirts that are mid-thigh (had a few of these)
- Balance comfort with some style — a high-waisted wide leg pant with a tee is fine, or a pair of skinny leggings with a collared shirt, but never a tee with leggings unless they’re leather!!
- Simple items become more luxe with its fabric, style or details
Nothing loose or gaping in the front as a top without coverage from a bralette or tank underneath
YOUR BODY HAS CHANGED, FOR GOOD
Hello an extra 1” in my torso that makes all my lovely blazers feel tight!
People talk about your feet getting wider but it was my TORSO widening by an inch that gave me the most grief.
That, and I’m back down to my old weight of 120-125lbs, but the weight has now settled in my bum and thighs instead of going wherever it was before I had a child. Ankles? No idea.
I’m finally curvier, and not unhappy about it per se except that my beloved skirts & pants are all tailored to an inch of their lives!
SAY: “I AM A WOMAN FIRST.”
You adjust your wardrobe, and get rid of what no longer works, and buy items that feel stylish and yet are still very you, with or without a child.
I’ve had a few of those moments where I looked and felt like a slob (by my previous dressing standards) and frankly, it is a question of changing priorities and how much you care now.
Some moms who dressed well before, no longer care to do so and others, like myself, continue pursuing fashion just in another direction.
Saying that mothers who decide to no longer care about what they wear, are doing so because of budget, time and other constraints is valid for SOME MOTHERS.
For others, they just don’t want to do it any more and are happy to use their kids as an excuse, which is fine except they should own up to it and stop shifting the blame to their kids.
They decide instead to spend that money buying more crap their kids don’t want to wear or play with nor need, instead of taking time to put a little thought into their style and self-care to look and feel their best.
I know a mom who says she wants to be stylish but things are “too expensive”, yet goes and blows $300 on eBay on some collectible Thomas the Train crap for her kid.
I know other moms who think more than $20 for a pair of jeans is insane, but then gripe about how their jeans don’t fit, are too stiff, have a muffin top look, shrink in the wash or never look right with anything so that is why they wear cheap yoga pants from Wal-Mart.
YEAH. It is because $20 jeans are not meant to last nor look flattering for the price!
You may not be able to get $200 jeans for $20 at retail but you can get them lightly or never used in consignment stores or on eBay for $50 or less if you go thrifting and get lucky.
Why all of the above?
Because Mommy Guilt tells us we should sacrifice all of our style and own personal desires for the good of the family & our children.
We are no longer women, nor attractive to anyone, we are mothers and caregivers who should all just focus on our kids and leave the cute clothes and style to single, young women looking for love.
Even I feel twinges of Mommy Guilt which I have to squash down at times, but ultimately I feel more like myself when I dress well and feel good.
I’m a woman first and a mother second. That doesn’t mean I’d sacrifice my child’s well-being for clothes but it also doesn’t mean I’ll sacrifice what I love (style) for my child.
(Even writing that, gave me a knee jerk societal reaction of: that feels wrong, I feel like I should sacrifice it all for Baby Bun.)