I’m not sure if this happens to anyone else, but my self care routine is one giant roller coaster. I go through spurts where I’m so intentional about carving out space for myself and making sure I eat well and work out and decompress. Then I’ll go through weeks where I haven’t showered in days, am barely sleeping and have eaten potato chips with every meal. Part of my challenge is that I see it as all or nothing. Ashley helped me reframe this. Her advice was to carve out whatever time you can and just do something to make yourself feel good.
Watch + Listen to the whole conversation:
Ashley’s entire life has revolved around movement and exercise. She was raised by a professional boxer and marathon runner and was very active when she was growing up. Now, she inspires and leads others to move as a fitness instructor. Movement has also helped Ashley process trauma and grief in her own life. This passion led her to found a non-profit to bring movement as a form of processing and healing for kids experiencing trauma or the stresses of daily life. Yet Ashley also struggled with the complicated expectations from the world of physical fitness after the birth of her first son. Ashley has worked to give herself grace and not fall prey to the bounce back culture 6 months postpartum from the birth of her son.
You’re 6 months into motherhood. How are you?
I am someone who is always looking for stability and peace. I know that everything is temporary- even the good stuff. I’ve spent a long time really trying to prioritize and center my life on what makes me happy. I think a lot about what I need to say yes to and what I need to say no to in order to make that happen. That preparation has made me weed out people and things because you can’t say yes to everything. I feel like there’s a lot of pressure on moms to say yes to everything and be great at everything. I have no time for that. I’m not playing that game.
What is something that has surprised you about motherhood?
The thing that surprised me the most actually has nothing to do with the baby- it’s been my body and my weight. I’ve always been an athlete. My father was a professional boxer. My mother runs marathons. I’m a fitness instructor.
I don’t really know why I listened to other people. Sometimes other moms are really helpful. And sometimes they’re the absolute worst. During pregnancy everyone said to me- you’re in shape, you’re gonna lose the weight right away, or- you’re nursing, you’re just going to lose the weight right away. And I latched on to that.
And then surprise- I had a c-section, which I wasn’t expecting. It totally changed the game. And here I am, six months post partum and I’m still holding on to 20 pounds. And I’m just shocked. Some days, I can just accept it for what it is. Other days, I feel like my body has totally betrayed me. And I feel like the moms that I listened to totally betrayed me.
I watched an interview with you where you said “The body is about joy, strength and longevity.” I feel like that’s such a healthy outlook for moms. How do you channel that as a mom?
Obviously, as a fitness instructor, movement is central not only my daily life, but also to how I make a living. So part of how I feel about bodies, strength, longevity, and overall health is just sort of baked into my daily practice. But I will say that what’s gotten harder is creating space for my own practice because I’m always doing it for other people.
Work with your partner to create time for you to move your body every day. Secondly, don’t be married to time. Yes, a lot of fitness classes are 45 minutes or 60 minutes or whatever. But if you can get in 15 minutes, then get your 15 minutes. If it’s 20 minutes, get your 20 minutes, if it’s a walk around the block a few times, do that. You have to commit to the small things. I find that the consistency is key for me to not only find the joy, but to find new levels of strength. And so the internal voice in my head keeps saying I may still be 20 pounds over pre pregnancy weight, but I’m strong as hell. You just have to do it and keep doing it keep showing up for yourself.
Co-founder & COO
Bridget is mom to two little boys, Hudson and Brooks, and a champion of working moms everywhere. NeighborSchools itself was borne out of Bridget’s challenge to find high-quality yet affordable child care, and the realization that so many parents struggle with these same issues every day.