Motherhood is not always glamorous, in fact, it's really, really hard. In our Getting Real on Motherhood blog series, we had a chance to talk candidly with some of our favourite mamas about the hardships, and wonders, of motherhood.
We had a chance to chat with Sara Ballantyne, a long-time friend of Smash + Tess. Sara is a blogger, designer and author, all while raising two kids who are 15 months apart. Sara truly is an unstoppable mama! In our final blog post of this series, Sara talks candidly about embracing failure, setting boundaries with social media and the power of saying no.
We hope this series will offer a safe space, without shame or judgment, for moms to get real and celebrate the idea of women showing up and doing their best.
You have two adorable kids under the age of 5. What has motherhood taught you about yourself so far?
Motherhood has taught me a few things. What comes to mind first is that moms are just winging it, and I need to give myself grace when I feel like I don’t know what I am doing. Having two kids under a year and a half apart, you would think I had the blueprint semi-figured out, however, every child is very different and what works for one kid can be the opposite for the other.
Motherhood has also taught me that it’s ok to fail. Over the last few years, I have experimented with different creative avenues within my business. Juggling working, starting my own business, and raising kids occupies a lot of time. I want to encourage my kids to take those risks. I want my kids to try different things and not be scared of failure, so you better believe I am taking my own advice.
Can you share a moment when you felt particularly proud or empowered as a mother?
Every day you bet I am proud! I am proud of the kind souls my children are becoming and proud of myself for going through some of the initial struggles. I had postpartum depression and anxiety after my firstborn. Finding out I was pregnant only six months postpartum was terrifying. Speaking openly and asking for help when I needed it is something not easy but looking back I am so proud I did. I want all mothers and parents to know they aren’t failures if they need help, in fact, they should celebrate because asking for help isn’t always easy.
With the rise of social media and societal pressures at an all-time high, any advice for moms raising a daughter in this day and age?
It’s important to acknowledge there are societal pressures on and offline. I want my daughter to be confident in her decisions but also know she can always come to me. I truly believe having open communication and encouraging my daughter to be herself goes a long way. I don’t want her to feel pressured to look a certain way or enjoy certain activities. Giving her the choice and freedom to be herself is truly powerful at a young age. Letting her select her mismatched outfits and empowering her to make those choices. You should see the smile on her face when she wears her butterfly leggings with a clashing cat sweater, it is truly contagious!
How do you prioritize self-care and balance the demands of motherhood?
There is so much chatter around what self-care means, it can be overwhelming. I really need to step back and think, what does self-care look like for ME?
Sure, it would be fantastic if I can meal prep, sleep longer, exercise, wake up before the kids, drink a full Stanley of water, have alone time, have girls' nights, walk more, …etc. That would all be FANTASTIC but very unrealistic to do it all, especially as a mother with young kids. This is why taking a moment to really think what’s worth prioritizing is a meaningful first step.
Self-care can be different things at different times. The power of saying no and investing in myself are the ones I am prioritizing in 2023. I can’t go to every social event, take on extra workloads, or be everything to everyone. The power of saying no and not feeling like I am letting someone down is a form of self-care I want to prioritize.
When it comes to sharing your motherhood experiences with your followers, how do you balance your desire to be open with your need for privacy and boundaries?
I think it’s extremely important to have boundaries on what is and isn’t shared online. I cringe when I hear the saying “social media is a highlight reel,” but the truth is, it’s OK to want to keep some things private, for the respect of yourself and your family. If my kids are going through a hard day or are having a tantrum, it’s not in me to pick up my phone to share. Maybe I’ll share about it after the situation has diluted and the kids are asleep, or maybe not. Both are OK!
Thanks so much to Sara for taking the time out of her busy schedule to get real with us on motherhood. If you want to see how Sara does it all, you can follow along on her Instagram page, @unstopppable.mama.
Photographer credit: @meaganboileauphoto