How to Be a Mommy With Mojo
HAPPY MAMA’S DAY! All you Mommys out there ROCK! I hope you’re all being spoiled, nurtured, and appreciated today, which are all good for your mojo.To honor this special holiday, I asked Mommys With Mojo to tell me how they keep their mojo in the face of motherhood. (And to those of you who aren’t Mommys yet, chose not to be, or weren’t given that choice, we love you too. And most of the tips here apply to ALL women who want to keep their shizazzly mojo intact). Here we go ...
- Take time away from the kids. Every single woman I asked listed this one as ABSOLUTELY critical. You need both time to yourself and, if you have a significant other, time alone with your partner. Kids need to know that you have your own identity, and that YOUR life is as important as theirs. “But that would be selfish,” you say. NO. It’s not selfish. You can’t effectively nurture others unless you’re taking care of yourself. What do you love to do? Get massages? Play tennis? Spend a whole day lounging on the beach? Have a girl’s night out? Take a long hike? Go to a yoga workshop? Figure out what you need to feel nourished, then go do it! (Personally, my husband and daughter are dropping me off at Sonoma Mission Inn today to soak in the mineral baths and curl up with a good book, while they go to Train Town. Do I feel a wee bit guilty about being at the spa while Siena rides trains? Yes. But will it nurture me so I can be a better Mommy this week? Yes.)
- Just because you’re a Mommy doesn’t mean you have to dress/ wear your hair/ talk like June Cleaver. Go shopping on Melrose Avenue and let the 19-year old betties hook you up with the latest trendy fashions. Get a sassy haircut from a hairdresser with Pink locks. Glam it up by letting an expert hip up your makeup. Hell, cuss if you want! (When a four letter word slips out in front of my daughter, I tell her it’s a “grown- up word.” That way she can’t call me a hypocrite for using words I’ve assigned as “bad.” I tell her that when she’s a grown-up, she can decide whether or not to use words like that, but for now, they’re not kid words). Who says you have to look, talk, and act frumpy just because you’re a Mommy? Throw in some lingerie and a little bit of cheeky, and you’ve got mojo, Mama! Which leads me to #3…
- Plan nights out. Whether you’re in a partnered relationship or you’re a single Mom, go out! Get out of your stained sweats, primp your hair, and put on high heels (or if you’re more like me- clogs). Spend at least one evening each month when you don’t fold laundry, you’re not talking baby talk, you don’t have to listen to your teenage daughter slam the door one more time, and the only poop you’ll have to worry about is your own. It’ll remind you that you’re a grown up.
- Have fun with your kids. If everything you do is a drag, you might as well kiss your mojo goodbye. And we all know that motherhood is full of boring, tedious details. Try to spin even the most mundane chores into wild and crazy experiences. Instead of yelling at your 5 year old to clean up his room, try turning it into a game, by grabbing two boxes for organizing and seeing which of you can fill the box with bedroom junk first. First prize for the winner is bubbles! If you have a long car ride ahead of you, SING! (My daughter’s personal favorite is Wheels On the Bus, but I’m trying to get her into Aretha- Queen of Mojo!)
- Live with purpose. It may not feel like you have much life purpose, when you’re whole existence revolves around pumping breast milk with a creepy breast pump that makes that horrible eeeee-ahhhh, eeeeee-ahhhh sound. But breast-feeding can give you huge purpose. You are nourishing your baby to optimize the health and well-being of your child for years to come. While picking up dirty socks and carting your kids off to flute lessons may not seem meaningful, remember that you committed to bringing a kind, conscious, evolved human into this world, and because you are here, the world will be a better place. But don’t hang on my version of purpose, figure out what yours is. Write it down. Post it somewhere you can see it often.
- Don’t forget about sex. I know it can be hard, especially when you’re a new Mom, to even think about sex. Your body changes, your breasts are no longer yours- they’re Juniors, you’re exhausted, and your hormones are all over the place. I’ve had patients tell me they don’t care if they never have sex again. But that kind of attitude is sure to eat away at your mojo. For most women, sexual activity helps you feel alive, gets you in your body and out of your head, and stimulates your mojo juices. Even if you’re not in a relationship, attending to your physical needs is a critical step in keeping your mojo. Don’t have a partner? Be creative. Remember that Sex and the City episode when Charlotte bought the Rabbit vibrator and wouldn’t leave her bedroom all week? My honey bought me one, and it’s really all that. Get yourself a Pink Rabbit and go at it, baby!
- Express yourself creatively. Find the time and energy to bring creativity into your life. With kids around, that’s easy. Engage your child in a fun art project. Or plant a garden and watch it grow. Arrange flowers, make candles, mix aromatherapy oils, scrapbook, cook a gourmet meal, decorate the table, dye eggs, sew, finger paint- whatever it takes to express yourself. Your kids will love it, and you’ll fill up your mojo cup.
- Tend your spiritual self. Just because you’re a Mommy doesn’t mean you can’t be spiritual. If anything, nurturing your spiritual side will make you an even better Mommy. I know it can be hard. I’ve tried to continue my yoga practice at home, while my daughter is around. But she can’t help coming up and poking me, while saying, “Mommy’s doing yoga” (which she pronounces yay-ga). Then she wants to do yay-ga too. And suddenly, my yoga practice isn’t so spiritual. And prayer time or meditation? Forget it. If we get through the evening God blesses, it’s a good day. But, hurdles aside, caring for our spiritual selves is critical to making us Mommys with mojo. Seek out a spiritual community that resonates with your belief system and find out if they have child care or kid programs. I just discovered that the Green Gulch Zen Center, right near our house, has Sunday morning meditations and dharma talks that coincide with a children’s program. And a spiritual guide and friend of mine holds non-denominational spiritual gatherings on Thursday nights, when my husband can watch my daughter, and I can meet my spiritual needs quietly. I’m all over that!
- Pay attention to your health and nutrition. Get out and exercise! Make sure you get enough sleep. And just because you’re a Mommy doesn’t mean you have to eat Chicken McNuggets, mac-n-cheese, and corn dogs on a stick. And it doesn’t mean your kids have to either! Set a good example for healthy living while your kids are still young and malleable. I just ate dinner at a friend's house the other day, and her 9 year old twins were helping prepare a dinner of baked tofu and salad, while they raved about how much they love tofu. It made me smile, and it’s just a good reminder that kids model what you do. If you love tofu and don’t give them unhealthy options, they’ll grow up loving tofu too. Buy a juicer, eat loads of raw, green things, avoid processed foods, refined sugar, and white flour. And limit alcohol and caffeine. It’s good for the mojo, ba-by! (Not to mention your skin and your figure!)
- Immerse yourself in nature whenever you can. It connects you to the Earth, gives the kids a chance to grow in their respect for the planet, and grounds you spiritually. How can you not feel expansive, spiritual, and creative when you’re in a redwood grove or on a beach or on a snow-capped mountain? Even if you’re just wandering around corn fields, you’re surrounded by life, by green, by pure, radiant, Earthly mojo. It’ll fill you up.
Dr. Lissa Rankin is an OB/GYN physician, an author, a nationally-represented professional artist, and the founder of Owning Pink, an online community committed to building authentic community and empowering women to get- and keep- their "mojo". Owning Pink is all about owning all the facets of what makes you whole- your health, your sexuality, your spirituality, your creativity, your career, your relationships, the planet, and YOU. Dr. Rankin is currently redefining women’s health at the Owning Pink Center, her practice in Mill Valley, California. She is the author of the forthcoming What's Up Down There? Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend (St. Martin's Press, September 2010).