"Salsa Dancing after 9pm?! I don’t think I can make it. AKA...I’m too tired and old to get ready for something that BEGINS at 10pm; plus I feel fat and don’t look cute in anything. And I probably will look ridiculous anyway. It’s been way too long."
3 years. It’s been at least 3 years since I’ve gone salsa dancing. I know that because my youngest son turns 3 in a few months and I haven’t danced since he was born. Or even when I was pregnant with him. I barely danced since having my first child.
But who cares? I mean moms aren’t supposed to be out late dancing anyway right? Depends, I say.
Dancing for me has been a very special element of my self-image, growth, and an outlet for this anxiety-suffering introvert. When I (unwillingly) went dancing for the first time in 2000, I fell in love immediately. It became a passion and talent I never knew I had.
I never felt like I really ever had “a thing”. Sports were never my jam...hobbies...I had nothing I felt like I was really great at, and that I enjoyed. Until Salsa. Being on the dance floor gives me a feeling I can barely describe. I feel free, my cares disappear, my face is plastered with a huge smile, and I just feel happy.
There’s been nothing before or since that really gives me the thrill of dancing, and I was proud to be a good dancer. So letting that part of me fade away felt like a bummer.
Like a lot of mamas, my post-baby life looks and feels quite different than my pre-baby life; and that’s natural, of course. There are a number of reasons moms stop investing in themselves after babies. I’m here to remind you, it doesn’t have to be.
When I realized that being a mom didn’t mean I had to become a completely different person and let go of who I was before, was when I came to understand that I am in control of how I reinvent my MOM-self. I can be a great mama AND include those things that I value, it's just a matter of how, and making the time. We do this all the time, it's called prioritizing.
So maybe salsa dancing isn’t your thing. Maybe paddling canoe is, or vlogging, or running, or painting is. Maybe it’s simply putting yourself together in a way that makes you feel fabulous and confident because you just don’t feel the same in your new mom-bod.
I want to share 4 things you can do to start rocking YOU more fully, whether that looks like including things you’ve given up, or just feeling more badass right now! Let’s get into alignment with what our heart wants most.
Get Clear on your Core Values
First thing you’ll need to do is understand your core values. What is important to you now? As a mom, I’d bet Family would be the very first thing that comes to mind. But what else? What are things that have been passions, dreams, or hobbies that make you sparkle? Core values can look like a huge variety of things from success to service, to fun or friendship. Here’s a list of Core Values to give you ideas. Circle those things that are uber important to you or make your own list.
Prioritize & Create an Action Plan
Second step to get more aligned with a self-image that’s strong and feels good is to prioritize your values & create an action plan. Once you’ve got clear on those things that are important to you, you’ll want to make sure you prioritize them in your life and start creating ways to add them in. If you don’t make time for those things that your heart values and loves the most, you won’t feel fulfilled.
Getting super practical. List activities you enjoy that are in alignment with your values. Do you value health? What are ways you can implement that in your life? Do you value service? What kind of activities or projects can you participate in to make this a regular part of your life? If salsa dancing is a value of mine, but I don’t make time to ever do it..something is going to feel empty inside me. Make sense? If I love dancing, my list of activities are going to be as simple as 1-find out where there is salsa dancing during the week 2-find a friend who’d like to come with me and 3-actually get on the dancefloor. Many of us value health. Your steps might look like finding some healthy recipes, going to the gym 3 times a week, or getting a trainer. Break down your value into actionable steps.
Schedule it in
Finally, you must schedule these things into your life. So you’ve got clear on what your values are and what makes you tick. You’ve listed activities you could do to begin including more of your values in your life. Now you must make time and schedule it in. If you adore creating, but never make time for it, you won’t feel like yourself. If you value solitude but are always around people, how can you start adding a little alone time? Just like we make time for cooking dinner, or going to a meeting, we need to make time for our value activities too.
Mamas, this can be much simpler than salsa dancing or refreshing a time-consuming hobby. If you value beauty and don’t feel like your “old self” because you’ve given up time putting yourself together in the morning, start there. Maybe wake up 30 minutes earlier to enjoy a hot shower, put on a nice top and a little lipstick. Think about some of the things you might miss from the BC (before children) days and if it's something that makes you feel amazing, start making a little bit of space for it now. One step at a time. I promise you, it is so worth it.
Of course things won’t look exactly the same, because our family and children are super high priority and that takes up a lot of our time. But there’s no reason to completely give up things that once brought you joy and fulfillment, simply because you’re a mama now. Kids and family make our lives BETTER. What we do with our time is a choice. I believe when our children see a mom living fully as herself; balancing motherhood and her unique personality, then we are being the best mom we can be. We can better serve, inspire, lead, and love our family when we are being our truest self.
I’ve been taking strides to live fully and unapologetically as myself and I encourage you to do so as well. Be the amazing mama you are and show your kids how unique and special you are by including the things that make you tick in your life regularly.
(I’d like to give a shout out to Ryan Charaba and his FB group: First Wakeups Inner Circle, and Project YOU course. It was a big driving force in getting me back on the dance floor)
So what’s it gonna be mama? More healthy activities? More creating? More personal development? More time with girlfriends? How can you start living more YOU today?
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Malia was born and raised in Kaneohe, Hawaii and graduated from Azusa Pacific University. She spent the majority of her career as an Early Childhood Education Teacher/Administrator.