Fact: having children has knocked your confidence and everything you did pre-baby now all seems a bit daunting. From applying for that job you fancy to hitting your husband’s work do, you’ve lost your mojo when it comes to those everyday situations you used to take in your stride. “Some mums wonder whether, after a full day immersed in baby-talk or children’s television, they’ve lost the knack – not to mention the stamina – for adult socialising,” says Veena Bhairo-Smith, author of The Mums’ Book Of Glamour, £8.44.
So how do you fix it? The good news is that your mojo’s not lost forever, just temporarily mislaid. “Getting back your confidence is a bit like breaking a habit,” says Jude Vause-Walsh, founder of The Happy Mum. “You need to wean yourself off thinking badly about yourself so you’re able to feel good,” she advises. All it takes is 10 minutes out of every day to make the change in a week.
Read on to find out how to regain you self esteem…
Day One – Praise yourself
We’re always being told how important it is to recognise our talents, but do you actually do it? Writing a self-appreciation list is a great way to get started. “List all the positive adjectives that best describe you, and ask your friends and family to help you out when you run out of ideas,” says Veena. “Next, write down all the things you’re good at or that you manage to achieve in the course of a hectic day.”
These don’t have to be big events. “They can be simple day-to-day tasks you’ve achieved,” says Jude, “like putting the washing on, calling a friend you’ve been meaning to speak to for ages, or applying mascara before dashing out the door.”
Day Two – Get empowered
Sorting out everyone else’s happiness before your own seems to be genetically programmed into all mums, and before you know it you’re doing every chore under the sun. The simple answer to this problem if you really can’t take on any more, is to say no. But how do you do this tactfully? Today, if you’re asked to do something you don’t want to do, say, “I’m afraid I really can’t take any more on” or “I’m absolutely shattered – I’d really enjoy a quiet night in,” or “I’m budgeting this month and just can’t afford it.” These are perfectly reasonable and truthful responses to less-than-desirable invitations.
“Look at who you’re socialising with too,” says Jude. “If you’re feeling vulnerable, spend time with positive people – they’ll inspire you and their positivity will be passed on to you.”
Day Three – Find your role model
“This doesn’t mean be an outright copycat, but if there’s someone whose poise or style you envy, study her,” says Veena. “Ask yourself why you admire her. Does she speak in an engaging manner or carry herself elegantly? Does her body language radiate confidence?” It’s a great opportunity to pick up some tips.
“It doesn’t have to be a celebrity,” says Jude. “It can be anyone who’s able to deal with a situation in a way you admire and can take on board yourself.”
Day Four – Listen and learn
Everyone knows the importance of listening to others, whether you’re trying to build your confidence or not. But think about it from a new perspective.
“If you can prove yourself a good listener by asking questions and interjecting with the occasional ‘How awful!’ or ‘What was he thinking?’ the other person will come away from the conversation thinking they’ve had a great chat,” says Veena.
“And, what’s more, they’ll probably prove just as attentive next time you do feel like launching into a conversation.”
So what’s the payback for you? People keen to hang on to your every word are going to help you feel good, girl!
Day Five – Don’t sweat the small stuff
How often do you find yourself worrying about a mark on the carpet, running out of cat food or the fact that, yet again, you’ve forgotten to wash your white blouse? Life’s little niggles can bog us down, but it’s important to knock them on the head as soon as possible because constant negativity at your self-imposed failures will zap your self-esteem.
“Ask yourself, ‘Will this really matter in a year’s time?’” says Jude. “If the answer’s no, let it go and move on.”
If you’re not constantly putting yourself down and you can put life in perspective, it means if something big does happen later down the line you’ll be more than able to cope with it.
Day Six – Look at the real you
Sharon Thompson, 35, from London, mum to John, now 2, didn’t realise how negative she’d become until her husband kept a tally of how many times she criticised herself in one day. “It sounds quite cruel, but Dave keeping that list was the only way I finally realised how hard I was being on myself,” she says.
Jude recommends imagining videoing yourself to help you realise how you come across to others. “If you’re always moaning and generally down in the dumps about yourself, it will be brought to your attention.”
Think, would you like to spend time with you? If the answer’s no, it’s time to change.
Day Seven – Take time out
Yes, it’s hard when you’re a busy mum or mum-to-be, but downtime really is one of the most important things you can have. It’ll help you recharge your batteries and feel good about yourself.
“Whether it’s coffee with a friend or a glass a wine with your partner, you need to always have something booked in the diary – if you don’t, you’ll never do it.” says Jude.
Jenny Oldham, 33, from Surrey, mum to Charlie, 3, and Simone, 14 months, took drastic action to make sure she had to take time out: “I signed up for an unlimited access card for our local cinema, which my husband and I pay for monthly, and it’s pushed us into spending time together. Since it’s already paid for, I want to make the most of it so we book a babysitter and go at least twice a month.”
“You need to leave your guilt at the door too as ultimately you’ll be happier for doing it, which will have a positive knock-on effect on your family,” adds Jude.
Products to help you feel great
- Ooze confidence walking out the door safe in the knowledge your make-up is up to scratch with this Wakeup Makeup, £18, from Jelly Pong Pong. Use the eye and face brightener for under-eye circles and dull complexions.
- Feel lovely after dabbing this Accessorize Signature Fragrance, £17.50, on your wrists. With a cherry, jasmine and vanilla combo, you’ll feel confident up close and personal.