Menu
The phrases I will never say as a mom

In my 15 years of mothering with now four daughters (15-year-old twins, a 9-year-old, and a 7-year-old) I have never said, “I need to lose weight” in front of any of my children.


In fact, I have never said any variation of the following in front of my girls:

  • “I’m fat.”
  • “I wish I looked different.”
  • “Aging is awful.”
  • “I hate my thighs (or any other body part).”
  • “I need to go on a diet.”
  • “I shouldn’t have eaten that.”
  • “I don’t like the way I look.”
  • “I wish I were thinner.”

Never. Ever. Not once.

And this doesn’t make me a superhero or a perfect mom.

My decision to not put myself down is rooted in childhood. When I was around 9 years old, I made this decision, a commitment to myself, to always speak kindly about myself in front of my someday children.

Growing up, I heard my mom comment about her weight, what she ate, and her dissatisfaction with her appearance. And while it wasn’t all the time, I heard it frequently.

Her negative, hurtful, self-talk, impacted me tremendously.

I would tell her not to say that.

I would tell her she was beautiful.

I would tell her it wasn’t true and I loved her.

I would feel helpless hearing one of the most loving persons in the world to me—my mom—talk about herself this way. My reassurances didn’t seem to fill the hole of insecurity that I now know as an adult, my mom needed to fill herself. Over time, I ignored her negative self-talk and committed to my someday children: I would always talk kindly to myself about my body.

As a child, I felt mostly confused why my mom spoke to herself this way. To me, she was perfect, loving, caring and she was my mom. And I loved her immensely, and still, do. She was my world. Which made it all the more confusing why she would talk to herself so harshly.

Perhaps that is the innocence of a child, who loves blindly, without criticism. A child’s love is a pure, unconditional love, and it knows no judgment until it is experienced or taught or messaged. It is like no other, seeing past all of the imperfections we as mothers, see in ourselves.

Several years ago after the birth of my third daughter, I was in a situation when I had to deal with questions from my daughter about my body three months postpartum. One of the twins, who was five at the time, asked me why my stomach was still ‘puffy.’ The conversation between us went like this:

My daughter asked, “Mom, why do you have a puffy belly?”

I said, “Well, that’s where your sister grew.”

“Why does it still look like you have a baby in your belly?”

“Because it takes some time for a mommy’s belly to heal after a baby is born.”

Then the crucial question I didn’t see coming, “Don’t you want it to go away?”

Pausing for a minute my mind raced, I felt like saying, “Yes, I want it to go away. I can’t wait to be able to get out of these yoga pants into something other than an elastic waistband.” Or, “Yes, the three of you have done a number on my body. I want my belly to be flat, but that may never happen.”

And the thought, “My body will never be the same after having children and I am so sad about it.”

And after those options passed, I was leaning to pure honesty saying, “Yes, I’d like my puffy belly to go away.”

Instead, I was brought back to my childhood self and the negative self-talk I heard my mom say growing up. And at that moment, I said to my daughter, “I love my belly, it reminds me of you and your sisters first home, close to me, where you grew.”

Apparently, my answer satisfied her, because her next words were, “Oh, ok, can I have some strawberries?”

As I prepared her strawberries, I reflected on how I just honored the commitment my childhood self made to my someday children. How I promised to express love and positive messages about myself in front of my children, no matter what.

It doesn’t mean that in my 15 years of mothering, I haven’t had a negative thought or feeling about my physical appearance, shape, and size. My body has gone through significant changes over four pregnancies and nursing four children. And while the changes are real, to be honest, I am grateful for those changes—they remind me of the greatest gifts given to me, my children.

On the days when I have negative thoughts about myself, I use the skills I tell clients to use: to challenge the negative self-talk, be compassionate, loving and kind to yourself. And in the rare moments when the frustration and negative self-talk has its hold, I reach out for support, and journal-writing it out is a great way to heal.

And in my family, with my daughters, we don’t label food as ‘bad’ or ‘good.’

Instead, we talk about “growing foods” and “sometimes foods.” We talk about taking care of our bodies by getting enough exercise, sleep and nutrition. We talk about mindful eating: not to eat just for the sake of eating, but for energy and health and to taste what you’re eating and stop eating when you feel full.

We also talk about enjoying the food you’re eating, instead of saying, “I shouldn’t eat this,” because feeling guilty while eating seems counterproductive and destructive.

Raising four daughters, I am sure it’s only a matter of time before they get messages about their bodies and appearance, what they ‘should’ look like and how they compare to beauty standards and ideals. It is not an ‘if” scenario, it’s a matter of ‘when.’

But one thing I am certain of, they won’t hear it from me.

Ever.

If you have said any of these phrases or variations of, in front of your children, I do not judge you.

Hardly.

But I do ask you to reflect on the impact the words and phrases you use has not only on your children but yourself.

Be kind to yourself and see yourself through the compassionate lens your children see you.

Accept the body you have and set realistic goals if you want to be the healthiest version of you.

If you’ve spoken negatively about yourself in front of children, forgive yourself, learn from it, the past is just that, in the past.

Move forward and may the words you speak for yourself be loving and kind with inspiration from the unconditional love your child has for you.

Originally published on momswellbeing.com.

In This Article

    The weighted blanket you need to make it through the rest of 2020 is on sale today only

    If you want to sleep on a cloud, this is your chance.

    If I had a dollar for everything I've added to a virtual cart over the past eight months thinking, "I need this. We're in a pandemic." I, well, I'd be able to afford like 1/8 the grand total. From "stress-relieving" aroma diffusers (going to need like an ocean's worth of lavender oil here) to jetted foot spas, there's really nothing I'm not cart-curious about if it might in some small way make the monotony of work, kids, Netflix, repeat just a little more bearable.

    Occasionally, I actually pull the trigger. And most of the time, I'm so glad I did. Case in point: A weighted blanket.

    Unless you've been living on a remote island for the past few years (where do I sign up?), you've definitely heard of weighted blankets by now. If not, I'll catch you up. Harnessing the power of deep pressure stimulation, these grounding blankets can help reduce anxiety, improve sleep and bring about a deeper sense of relaxation. They're championed by parents of kiddos on the spectrum as a tool to help them calm down, by mamas of toddlers who have a hard time sleeping in their own bed, and of course, everyone who has turned to one in hopes of not staring at the ceiling at 3 am AGAIN.

    Admittedly, I wondered if they could possibly be worth the hype. But as the market flooded with dozens of options and the world became a real dumpster fire, it wasn't a question of "should I get one" so much as it was a question of "which one should I get"—because if they're selling calm, I'm buying.

    Keep reading Show less
    Shop

    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in outside-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

    $120

    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

    $40

    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

    $30

    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

    $100

    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

    $40

    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

    $121

    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

    $100

    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

    $45

    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

    $179

    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

    $100

    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

    $33

    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

    $88

    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

    $75

    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

    $30

    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

    Shop

    29 last-minute family Halloween costumes you can pull together NOW

    If your little one is going as a lion, coordinating is as easy as breaking out the khaki!

    Here's how Halloween unfolds in most households I know: Mom spends weeks—even months—planning the perfect costumes for little ones. Then Halloween creeps up and they realize they need an outfit to coordinate with the kids' get-ups. What's a mom to do?!

    Thankfully, there's no need for fear or pressure: There are so many ideas for parents that are easy to make and still super clever.

    Keep reading Show less
    Life