Posted by Duff

I got a great compliment yesterday.

“You don’t look like a mom,” a colleague (and fellow mom) told me.

I don’t have to tell you how this lifted me up, because any one of us would like to look as good and carefree as we did pre-child.  You might notice that being a mom is a tiring and time-consuming business. But somehow, it’s almost like women feel guilty if that doesn’t show — as if it’s evidence that we have betrayed The Good Mother Club by taking crucial time away from our families to pay attention to ourselves.

Don’t feel guilty.

Your child wants a happy mother. Your spouse wants a happy spouse. I’m guessing you want to feel good about yourself. Everyone is in agreement here.

Believe me, I know it can be challenging to make yourself a priority amid time and budget constraints. And the simple statement “you’ve got to take care of you” is about as stale as the laundry that’s piling up.

How about this?

Surprise yourself with your own fabulousness.  It will be just as exciting for everyone else as it is for you. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or cost a lot of money. For example:

Get a non-mom haircut. You know what I mean. There are plenty of low-maintenance fun hairstyles that work with your particular hair type and can be styled with your fingers. Don’t fight nature if you dont have time. (Spoken as someone who wrestled with a flat iron during colic. Do not try this at home). My personal victory has been finding a hairstylist who is a mom but doesn’t look like one and asking for her help. I don’t want to look asexual like a mom, I tell her. And she knows what I mean. On a budget? Walk-in places and salon schools offer discounts and tremendous undiscovered talent.

Wear accessories. Just a little something that makes you feel feminine, decorated, paid attention to. Inexpensive costume jewelry can go a long way, especially when you don’t have the budget for new clothes . Steal ideas from other people who are or aren’t moms. I find a pedicure (home or professional) is magical. Even if my toes are hidden in shoes, I feel better.

Wear lingerie. Under your boring clothes, at night, whenever. Sometimes it will be your secret. Flash your spouse. You’re a lot more fun than you think you are right now. Remember? You don’t have to go on a shopping spree. Chances are, you’ve got some great stuff tucked far back in your drawer that will seem new again. Save the really uncomfortable bits for times when it won’t be worn that long. (I realize this is a tall order during the newborn phase. I mean once you’re getting a little sleep and feel human again. At this point, try wearing something that makes you feel good in your skin).

Wear lingerie. Did I say that already? Well, it bears repeating (according to my husband).

Listen to music you like. If it’s not child-appropriate (I love me some inappropriate music), save it for after daycare drop off, naptime, any time you can iPod, whenever. You didn’t stop loving this music just because you had a child. And if it’s appropriate, your child might love it, too. I credit my parents for exposing me to a ton of wonderful music that punctuates a lot of my fondest memories. (You might be surprised at how much you like Laurie Berkner, though).

Flirt with your spouse. I know, you’re busy, you’re tired. Someone hasn’t been helping out enough around the house, why should you reward that? But sexual tension is fun, and it is surprisingly good at creating energy where there was none before and regenerating pre-baby confidence. This energy and confidence can (and often will) extend to other areas of your life. I know, it sounds crazy that flirting with your spouse would make you feel like a better mom, or a more dynamic professional. So prove me wrong.

Drink more water. Lots of times when you feel hungry, or tired, or grouchy, you’re thirsty. Hydrate! If nothing else, your skin will thank you. But you’ll probably feel healthier, more energized, and just good.

And when you feel good, it shows.