Mummy stuff, Pregnancy, Style, Yummy Mummy

On wanting to be a Yummy Mummy

One thing that hasn’t ceased to fascinate me since my first pregnancy is the whole controversy around the term Yummy Mummy. Yah, yah, I know. Chelsea Tractors, housemaids, nannies, personal trainers and private chefs – there’s a bunch of negative connotations coming with it. I never quite got why anyone would be offended by the whole Yummy Mummy thing – after all, who’d say no to a firm bum and some extra help around the house?

I don’t think any mother who coiffed, groomed and worked her tired self ever did so to make other mothers feel inadequate, as some of the media might want us to believe. Most likely, she did so to feel good about herself.

I also don’t think that to be a Yummy Mummy, you have to have access to shitloads of money. Of course, it’s much easier to get into shape if you have a personal trainer, someone to look after your kids and the funds to attend regular salon sessions. But no one stops you from putting on your trainers at the weekend, cook your own, fresh food or do the odd Pilates DVD in front of the TV. Painting your nails is virtually free, and so are spa sessions chez soi (read: at home).

In my point of view, you are a Yummy Mummy if you are looking after yourself – in a spiritual and physical way. I never bought into the concept of sacrificing who you are for motherhood. Of course, motherhood inevitably changes parts of you. For the better, one would hope.

I believe in personal choices, and if someone chooses to sit through a pregnancy on the sofa, munching on chocolate digestives and piling on the pounds, then be it. It’s not surprising to get stretch marks if you put on excessive amounts of weight and/or don’t look after your skin. It’s also not surprising to find it hard to shed the weight afterwards, get into an exercise routine or don’t find clothes that fit. It’s your personal choice to be that way, and no one has the right to judge you for it.* Please just don’t blame it on motherhood or judge those that choose not to emulate your example.

Assuming that someone who looks after themselves is selfish, vain and anything less of a good mother is borderline chauvinistic. After all, we would never judge fit dads, who excel in their careers and manage to look presentable at the same time. So why are we – again – our own worst enemies?

*my happy-go-lucky laid-backness stops at child abuse, domestic violence, eating-disorder-encouraging media and Marmite

Image credit: brixton21

31 Comments

  1. Yes, ‘it’s your personal choice’ – but when you’re exhausted, your baby won’t stop crying for no known reason, your pre-schooler is whining that he doesn’t know how to put his shoes on though he’s done it a thousand times before , and all you want to do is curl up and make everyone go away…the concept of choice seems a distant, luxurious, memory.
    Not such a problem for me, I’m a working dad and I can go to the loo or have a glass of water whenever I like. There are more supportive things I can do for my wife when I’m home than remind her about personal choice.

  2. I agree. It doesn’t have to cost lots to look after yourself but I guess most people find it easier to blame the pregnancy, birth and children etc for lack of enthusiasm for looking presentable. I went through that stage myself to be honest. But found out that it actually feels a lot better if you did make effort to eat healthy and fit into your pre pregnancy jeans! 🙂

  3. @David: And you definitely shouldn’t remind any woman, if you value being alive at all 😉 Of course, how we live is a complex mixture of choice, opportunity and priorities. Just don’t judge those who have arranged their lives differently.

  4. Do agree to some extent that yes looking after yourself makes you feel and look better but not everyone has the time with the demands of kids/pregnancy/work etc and priorities change, especially with a newborn (easier later on). I love pampering myself and you’re right polishing your nails etc costs very little. It is however, important to remember the desire is not always there especially with sleep deprivation or worse, pnd. My mother was always naturally tiny and didn’t get one stretch markwhen pregnant yet despite putting on what is deemed healthy in my first pregnancy I got a lot. Those in the know say it’s down to skin type.

  5. @Turkishmum: Same here. It took me almost a year after little L was born to get back into jeans/routines/feeling like my normal self. I am not going to make the same mistake twice.

  6. @HonestMum: Yes, PND is a bitch and so is sleep deprivation. The question is, if you fall into a completely explainable dark hole after giving birth, does that justify being judgmental?

  7. I see where you are coming from, but to be honest with three if I had the time to go to the loo in private I would see that as a small victory. I have no time to look after myself as all my free time is spent doing freelance work and I get no sleep because my children have worked out a complicated rota system which deprives me of any more than 2 hours at a time. I’ve got fat not because I eat loads of junk, but I think because I dont get a chance to actually digest anything properly- think getting up at least 4 times during a meal (although I must admit necessity has meant a far number of fish finger dinners as the kids wont eat much else!) I also really dont have any time to exercise and its quite hard to do it with more than one child- who looks after them?

    Personally I’m just jealous of Yummy Mummys. Motherhood has made me a lot less selfish and for that its definitely changed me for the better, but in terms of appearance and mental health its been the most demanding thing I’ve ever done in my whole life and frankly has not been positive. I’m just looking forward to when they are all at school then maybe I can regain a bit of myself…

  8. @Claire: I get your point – and knowing you, I admire you for your level of self-abandonment, just as much as I sometimes have the urge to pick you up and instill a little more love for yourself into you. xx

  9. You were brave to write about this 🙂 When I was pregnant or with little babies, I made sure I walked a LOT – at least an hour a day, usually more. My babies were horrible sleepers at night and I had PND with my 2nd but despite sleep deprivation, I could not nap during the day so I spent as much time as possible outside. Gaining weight would have made me even more depressed…

  10. When you ask why we do it to each other, I honestly think it’s more media driven. After all, they’re usually the ones who come up with the stupid nicknames and phrases like “too posh to push”, which serves to drive yet another wedge between women who birthed vaginally versus C-section. Over here in the States, every time one woman makes a comment about anything to do with another woman, it is termed the “Mommy Wars”, when the guys get off Scot free. I have never ever heard the term “Daddy Wars” used, and yet we had Rick Santorum trying to run for President and talking every day about family matters etc. If anyone was waging a war against other parents it was him.

    With regard to trying to dress nicely etc. after pregnancy, I know what you mean, but to be honest, until the deflated water balloon that was my stomach went away, the last thing I wanted to do was squeeze it into anything that didn’t have a stretch waist band.

  11. jen says

    Says the genetically gifted one….Sweetheart, you are small-boned with a great frame. Don’t make me strangle you:).

    I have run 7 marathons, I workout 1. 5hours per day, I have a full-time job (thankfully telework from home!) and 2 young boys. It sure ain’t easy. I am also now probably about 5-7 years older than you at this point. I totally agree I wouldn’t ‘let myself go’. I am too much of a fitness nut. I am, however, much ‘stockier/muscley’ than the average gal. I will never look lithe.

    I worked out EVERYSINGLEDAY of both pregnancies..until I went into delivery and I still gained 45-50lbs with each of them. Even eating right. My OB told me his more fit patients actually gained more weight than his heavy ones. I think it is because we did SO much that becomes physically impossible later in pregnancy and less bodyfat to begin with. I did bust my arse to take off the weight in 4-5 months after. I am back in my clothes-but alas my body is not quite the same. I think I am doing good for a 42 year old. Vanity keeps me exercising:)–if I were naturally skinny I probably never would.

    I do have a lot of very skinny friends that never eat–nor exercise. They do look better in their clothes than me…but at least (sigh) I am healthier.

    As I have aged–I do put less premium on physical appearances and more on good friends, family and good wine. If having that extra glass of wine or enjoying a big NY strip or chocolate cake once in awhile makes me slightly less fit…I’d rather live! I won’t go off the rails, but I am a bit easier on myself these days.

  12. Ingrids says

    Wow I think you have opened a real can of worms here. I suppose I agree and disagree. On my first child I was so sick I lost 2 stone and was back at work within 6 weeks while also going to college at night. On my second I put on weight had a longer maternity leave but found it difficult to lose weight quickly. I was always somone who liked to be well groomed however I was shocked when I was still in my dressing gown at 3. I valued sleep over food and date nights. There is no doubth that looking good makes us feel better about ourselves. However the first couple of weeks are hard and we must not put unfair pressures on ourselves.

    I really believe happy mum happy baby.

  13. Wasn’t being judgemental (hope it didn’t come across that way), just stating people have different desires at different points in their lives. I personally didn’t have PND but for those who did, I know nail polish etc was far on their list of things to do. I think everyone’s different-I’ve always felt putting make up on and getting nails done etc brightened up my day and sometimes that lift is very much needed when the selflessness of motherhood takes hold.

  14. Yes I wrote about this today following the dreadful comments left on the Daily Mail piece about Mummy fashion bloggers. I always love seeing women’s outfits and hairstyles, think no one has to feel guilty about this.

  15. That’s funny – I didn’t think that was what Yummy Mummy meant at all. I thought a Yummy Mummy was someone who was self-consciously good at being a mum, and lets everyone around her know it. You know the kind of thing. The mum who calls across the playground “Come on, it’s time to go home, otherwise we won’t have time to bake our own delicious bread for dinner”. Or who tries out 8 different baby slings so she can choose the one which is the most comfortable for her baby (not most comfortable for her), and then tells all her friends that you really HAVE to try at least 8 before you can be sure of getting a good fit. I’d never thought of it meaning yummy to look at.

    So I’ve been misunderstanding the term all these years…

  16. @Iota: You really are the best. LOL*, Dxx
    *which means Lots of Love, just in case you didn’t know 🙂

  17. I appreciate your viewpoint as well as those in the comments following. IMHO the term/label Yummy Mummy is just another archetype dreamed up by the media to make mothers feel bad about ourselves. I recently wrote about how these labels split us into camps that allow us to point fingers at each other and in the end, nobody comes out on top.

    Motherhood is hard and demanding on the body (and soul) and instead of being given the full support we deserve to experience it and even recover from it at our own individual pace, we’re slapped with all these expectations about how to look or how to be. This keeps us insecure, so we pick on each other. Have you seen the Time magazine cover? It’s just another way of prodding another type of mothering and I’m over it.

    I like what you said about Yummy Mummy being about looking after yourself spiritually as well as physically. For me it’s not about size or shape, but about personal taste and a true sense of appreciation. After all, isn’t that what yummy really means?

  18. Thanks for this honest post- I definitely agree that we should try to remember that we do have an element of choice in how we feel.
    With my pregnancy I stopped most forms of exercise very early on after an early scare and I think with hindsight that was not the best for me, especially as I had a winter baby (& c-section) so it took a while to get active and happy in my “new” yummy mummy body! Next time I’ll be far more active throughout and hope to retain some sort of exercise routine and sense of well being on the run up to the birth.

  19. Happymiddlemum says

    I think a lot of things about this. I think what kind of mum you are depends on what you were like/did before babies. So if personal trainers and salon trips were already a normal part of life, I see no reason why having a baby should make you stop. I started sitting on my sofa because I was bored. I don’t hear many mums saying that, but I was. Compared to my job I had before kids, sitting on the floor with bits of lego was a bit dull. Sitting on my sofa didn’t help me though. And running around with my beast of a double buggy just gave me a prolapse (nice). So, I am enjoying middle ground. Mums can be horrible to each other though. I recently posted about going for a workout with the buggy, and clearly some people thought I was being smug, when all I was doing was trying to be vaguely healthy.

  20. I’ve never liked the term yummy mummy and I think it is because I do not like sterotypes in general. It also becomes annoying in the world of blogging as so many have yummy, scummy etc in their blog title. A while back I wrote a post called, ‘not yummy, not scummy – just a mummy’ and I think that sums up how I feel.

    We all do what is right for us. I need to shift weight, that is where I do not look after myself but I dress nice, do my hair, make-up nails etc and my heart is good so that is what really counts.

    Interesting stuff. Mich x

  21. I agree with @happymiddlemum and with you MM when you say “I never bought in to the concept of sacrificing who you are for the sake of motherhood”. Like most mums I have found it very hard to get some kind of balance in my new life, but I am getting there. I’ve found groups that combine my interests with my sons’ (like Buggyfit and Spanish playgroup) so I’m not a martyr to the mummyness but I am helping his development. My nails are chewed and my fringe definitely needs cut but my blog is up to date… 😉

  22. cheryl says

    I’m due to give birth to my 2nd child in 12 days- planned elected c section after a horrific first birth and medical reasons this time.
    After I had my son I managed to drop 5stone from walking my son Everywhere! It did me good actually- as I had piled It on during pregnancy

    This time, I’ve still put quite a heck on but tbh, I just figure that I will ‘deal’ with the weight afterwards and eat as well as I can

    I think its hard enough being heavily pregnant without worrying about this and that

    Just go with it, enjoy it, make sure u and baby are ok and relax

    Plenty of time for exercising etc afterwards

    Always good though to put a bit makeup on-do ur nails and have a lovely soak in the bath

    Does you good as a woman if you can squeeze something in, when you get 5mins and a bit of energy

    Xxx

  23. Totally agree – I like to wear make up and dress nicely and it has nothing to do with getting one up on other mothers and more about nurturing me and reminding me that there was a person before I was a mother and she hasn’t disappeared

    Yummy mummy shouldn’t be an insult – who wants to live in track pants and scraggy hair every day of the week (obviously we all do on Sundays)

  24. Women should support each other not criticise each other all the time. I think these women who are constantly getting at their own kind are vile. I think all women want to be yummy if they can- not everyone can be Claudia Schiffer genes, time or money wise, but in your own terms. If you are happy with yourself that is the important thing- or reasonably happy anyway- and doing whatever helps you to be happy is the thing- especially for Mother’s as I’m sure happy Mums make for happy children.

  25. For the first 6 months when everything was new to me I didn’t have the time to be a Yummy Mummy because I was either running around after the baby or napping at every opportunity I got! Now that the little one is a little older, she is okay to spend the day with family without me, so it gives me one day a week just to catch up on sleep, squeeze a quick pamper session in and get the house back in order! Losing weight was tough but during the pregnancy I did try really hard to fight the temptation of lounging around and eating non-stop. I didn’t leave work until 8 months! Because I knew I needed to keep busy and be able to walk around every so on. It is definitely tough trying to balance everything out, but I am getting through it because of my incredible support system!

    Mandy
    Saving Mummys Money
    Savvymummys.co.uk

  26. Taking care of yourself only goes so far. You have to start with good genes in the first place to be a yummy mummy. An addiction to wheatgrass milkshakes as a treat like Gwyneth does is also a plus!! Me I try to carefully balance a penchant for jaffa cakes with trips to the gym.

  27. Hi there,

    I found your blog on a google search and read a couple of your posts. I love them!
    Regarding this post, we do tend to be our own worst enemies. Not sure if it’s a tendency towards jealousy or competitiveness but at the end of the day, I enjoy (and admire) seeing mothers who are put together and haven’t sacrificed themselves completely if the time allows for it. When I feel like I’m letting go of myself (which is the norm nowadays), seeing a “yummy mummy” is a like a good kick in the butt for me to get up and polish my nails or make more of an effort. More importantly, your little one will notice a more contented mummy.

    Thanks for a good read!

    Evie

  28. Interesting post. What really annoys me is when that Elle MacPherson turns up at the school gate wearing EXACTLY the same as me 😉

  29. Mummy B says

    I have 2 boys (16 months and 2 and a half), with a third boy on the way. After giving birth to my first bub, I lived in pyjamas for the first few months! After giving birth to my second baby, I realised quite quickly that I had PND. When you’re in that hole of despair, and everything seems insurmountable, sometimes it’s focusing on things which you can control, like diet, exercise, appearance, helps. I started working out almost obsessively (I would take the boys in a twin pram and run every morning before breakfast), I figured as long as I was getting my figure back, it was one less thing to be depressed about. Well, I certainly don’t mean to trivialise it for other mothers who experience PND, but taking this approach helped me. The endorphins released after a good run did amazing things for my sanity, and the compliments and positive reinforcement I received on how healthy I looked helped my mental state. I know how hard it is, but dragging myself out of the house to get some exercise in, made me feel better physically and emotionally. Looking after yourself is not selfish, nor is it vanity, I think it’s essential.

  30. Ali says

    After my first child I worked out for an hour daily and looked after myself and my appearance pretty well. Three children later and I’m utterly shattered. I read you post last night after finally bathing the children and prising them into bed. It was 8.30pm. I had been promising myself I would exercise once they were in bed but I was so exhausted I could literally not move. I’m still think I’m yummy but went to the hairdressers last week for only the first time in a year- I can always think of better ways to spend my time. You say you are not judging but by placing the yummy mummy in opposition to the digestive eating coach potato that is exactly what you doing. There is much more to a woman than her appearance. Motherhood can be a struggle and polishing nails can be the last thing a mother wants to spend her precious spare time doing- I’d rather read a book or have fun with my husband or sleep! I also think that having one child is also a completely different scenario to having two, or three or four. I will read your blog with anticipation!!

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