Let’s face it: being a mom is kind of like if every track and field event got mashed into one, and you had to simultaneously jump hurdles, sprint 200m, throw a discus, and run 2 miles. Oh, and change 100 diapers. Motherhood is messy, unpredictable, and if we’re being honest, sometimes completely overwhelming.
We all know with every fiber of our beings that it’s all totally worth it — it just takes one hug from a sweet chubby baby arms, or one “I love you” in that cute toddler voice, for us to melt completely. But for those moments of craziness, we sat down with life coach, mom of twins, and an overall wonderful person Joanna Loewi to help us navigate.
Milx: Your mission is to help moms find calm in the chaos. As a mom of 3-year old (almost 4!) twin boys, what does calmness in the chaos mean to you?
Joanna: Remaining calm in the chaos really means doing my best to stay centered and focused, to breathe and stay present in order the access the tools that I have. It means positive self-talk, taking things one step at a time, slowing down, asking for help when I need it, and extending kindness towards myself when I’m not able to remain calm. Knowing and embracing the chaos as a normal part of motherhood and just trying to do what I can to remain calm and not contribute to it.
M: You and your husband recently took a trip without your boys, and you documented your anxiety about leaving them at home. I’m sure other moms feel the same! What helped you cope and stay present for your husband — and for yourself — while you were away?
J: Well, I have to start by saying that I felt completely nauseous in the days leading up to it -- questioning, doubting my decision, literally looking up the statistics around plane crashes wondering if my husband and I were crazy to get on a plane together. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t entirely calm leaving them alone which I think is okay and perfectly natural. We are blessed with two sets of loving grandparents and an incredible babysitter who has been with us since the boys were 7 months old. Knowing they were in incredible hands was definitely a huge sigh of relief. And then I think focusing on and feeling full conviction in WHY it was so important for us to go really helped. Since the boys were born I have been committed to doing my best to make sure my own needs are still (somewhat) taken care of. Going away just the two of us was a present for my husband’s 40th birthday. Naturally as a mother I am constantly giving to the kids so I think it’s important to try and give back to yourself. It is scary to leave your kids but I work hard to not let my anxiety rule my life to the point where it keeps me from living my life. That’s when I see anxiety as truly becoming a problem when it limits you. I also want to be a positive role model for the boys and not reinforce the idea that they need me to be there for them all the time or that I’m the only one who can truly keep them safe. It helped to have the perspective that our going away gave them the opportunity to become a bit more independent and hopefully we all grew through the experience.
M: As new moms, self-care can sometimes unfortunately fall low on the list of priorities, and many moms feel guilty of being “indulgent”. Why do you feel it’s important to make time for self-care, and what does self-care mean to you?
J: In many families, not all, it can be common for the mom to be the backbone. I am lucky to have a wonderfully supportive, hands-on husband but I’m definitely as once referred to me, “the engine” behind our family. I think things start to fall apart when the one carrying the majority of the parenting duty isn’t taken care of. I am hands down 1000% a better mother and wife when I am able to give back to myself. And that’s not the only reason that I make it a priority. I do it for ME so that I can show up as the best version of myself. I don’t think of self-care as “indulgent” - I think of it as vital to our happiness as a family. And to be clear, my self-care routine isn’t just manicures and massages. Self care to me means giving back to myself in whatever form that takes. I honestly think of self-care as having conversations with myself where I’ll wonder, “What do I need right now?” and then attempting to give that to myself in some way. Sometimes it’s letting myself cry or locking myself in the bathroom for ten minutes. Sometimes it’s going to my favorite exercise class. Self-care for me is also largely the kind of environment I’m creating in my mind. I’ll never forget a quote I saw via HeyMama around our mind being a place where we spend a lot of time, let’s make it a nice place to be. I feel I’m taking care of myself when I’m releasing self-judgment, when I forgive myself for yelling at the kids or not spending as much time playing with them as I’d like.
M: How has your perspective about yourself changed since motherhood?
J: I think throughout my life I was always striving to be good at something and yet didn’t ever feel like I found “my thing”. I wasn’t super athletic, I danced but wasn’t professionally trained. With motherhood, I know I have found my thing. I knew I wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember and I love it even more than I could have ever imagined. I am not the perfect mom. I don’t have all the answers. I screw up. I lose patience. But at the end of the day I feel like I’m doing a pretty damn good job and it feels good to be able to say that with conviction.
M: What is the biggest thing your boys have taught you about being present?
J: I’m not sure how much they have taught me about being present as much as they are constant reminders of my commitment to try and be as present as I can be as often as possible. They remind me of the importance of striving to be more present because they’re always present! The creativity, imaginative play -- they’re not constantly in their own heads thinking about what’s on their to-do list. They live in the moment which is a beautiful thing to witness. And being a mom to them REQUIRES my presence. They sometimes push buttons so hard that if I am not working on being present I would constantly lose my shit.
M: Speaking of being present, we live in an age where we’re always looking at a screen. Is there a way to strike a balance between staying connected with the outside world and being present for our babies?
J: I think it’s really about doing your best to carve out as many moments of your day as you can where you just put your phone down and be with them. When and how often you’re able to do that will look different for every mom and from day to day. There are plenty of times throughout the day where they’ll be playing and I will be on my phone - sometimes for work and sometimes because I simply want to go on IG. I also don’t have the expectation of myself to be present with them every moment of every day because that’s not fair nor is it realistic. I feel okay about staying connected and being on my phone because I know that everyday I have given them time when I have been 100% completely present. Not every day looks the same, I just keep focusing on the intention that I set to put my phone down and to keep things as balanced as possible. My phone, screens, social media, etc. has also become part of something we do together so I don’t always see it as a negative thing. We FaceTime our cousins and grandparents, we look up pictures and videos of things the kids are interested in like dinosaurs or sharks which ends up being a fun activity we can do together. I’ll put limits on the amount of time we spend doing that which is why I feel okay about it. Screens and technology are a huge part of the world we are living in today so just like anything else, it’s about doing your best to not always allow them to take your attention away from precious moments.
M: What are you favorite tips to give to clients who are new on the path to finding calm in the chaos?
J: Know that you are already ahead simply by having the desire and the intention to experience a greater sense of calm in your life and acknowledge yourself for that, feel good about it. You want to ultimately be your own biggest cheerleader and that works best when you practice encouraging yourself for even the smallest of things. The awareness that something needs to change is the first step. Don’t aim for perfection. The magic happens through subtle, subtle shifts in behavior. Continue to stay connected to that intention and that desire and then open your eyes and look for the opportunities that I PROMISE will arise all around you.