I’m not quite sure how we’ve already rolled into September, but here we are. The summer holidays have been long with endless trips to the pond to collect newts and frogs, and then have a rummage for what other wildlife we can find in the garden. I thought the boys would quickly get bored, but this daily activity has been with us for the last month and is still proving popular. I’ve even taken giant tubs with us on walks so that we can turn over logs and see what we find. Everything gets put back once everyone’s had a good look.
The kids have suddenly become obsessed with slime. Max got some slime making kits for his birthday which kept everyone occupied for hours, but once the kit was finished it then turned into us seeing what we could use from our cupboards to make even more… I’ll be honest, it’s resembled George’s Marvellous Medicine at times with everything getting chucked in. I’m just thankful this little hobby has been discovered at the end of the holidays rather than at the start.
Talking of slime and wildlife – we have a new pet. A giant African Land Snail. Yes, a snail. My sister got it for Max’s birthday not realising they can live for up to nine years and grow to 25cms. Eeek. But we’ve done lots of reading up and Frankie has settled in nicely.
At the end of the week I’m off on my next adventure for CoppaFeel! This CoppaTrek with Gi is taking us to the French Alps and Mont Blanc. I’m very excited and about to start packing my bag, although the last time I was in the area I got stuck up a snowy mountain with Emma Willis, so hopefully this’ll be a smoother trip (with no snow or skis).
As we start to close out on the summer, sending you lots of love and positivity for the month, and on that note, keep reading for chat with Melissa Suffield (a.k.a @the.confidentmama) in this month’s Coffee with Gi!
Love Gi. Xxx
ALL BODIES ARE SUMMER BODIES WITH MELISSA SUFFIELD
Melissa! Welcome to Coffee with Gi! We’re so happy to have you here. Please introduce yourself and tell us what you’re all about!
Hi! I’m Melissa, The Confident Mama. I’m 30 and have one kiddo, my son River (who I’m convinced is part hurricane). I’m a body confidence content creator and writer, and you can often find me and my wobbly belly jumping around in my pants, speaking candidly about my relationship with my body, and encouraging other mums to do the same! I’m also a part time solo parent (my partner works on a cruise ship for months at a time), so you’ll hear me chatting about the motherhood juggle a fair bit too.
The body positive message you spread online is so inspiring, how did you become a champion of this?
I gave birth to my son a week before we went into Lockdown 1.0, and with a mix of limited outdoor time, being an exclusive pumper obsessed with milk supply/getting enough calories, and struggling with my mobility after a very long labour, I found I didn’t just ‘fail to lose the baby weight’- I was actively putting it on. I definitely assumed I would ‘bounce back’ due to my pre-baby body and background in dance, but with some big unlearning to do I turned around that pressure to do so. My mission with @the.confidentmama was clear – pass that unlearning on to the other mums who were feeling lonely and ashamed, and show them a body like theirs that had found a way to live in joy and confidence, despite what society and their inner saboteur was telling them.
Lots of our audience are new mums, and with new parenthood can come lots of negative feelings about our changing bodies. Do you have any advice you can share for mums who are struggling with confidence or body image?
The biggest thing I had to get to grips with was the idea that the fourth trimester is 12 weeks long. We hear the term so often that it can be a bit of a kick in the teeth when our lives (and bodies) haven’t gone back to our pre-baby days. But I like to call everything past this point the ‘Fifth Trimester’. And great news! There’s absolutely no time limit on it, no one way of doing it, and no exclusion – everyone who has ever given birth is included. You’ll always be post-birth, so you’ll always be postpartum, it doesn’t have to just apply to those brand new mums. The process of finding confidence in your appearance isn’t linear either, I certainly still have my rubbish days, and it’s constant work. But it’s totally worth it, and it gets a lot easier over time.
Now the idea of ‘bouncing back’ or achieving a ‘summer body’ is so pushed on us in society and we really feel it this time of the year. Was there any ways you worked on challenging this negative trope this summer?
For me, comfort is always key. Building a kit of products, outfits, and techniques that I know will help me with my confidence. That’s chub rub shorts, cup sized swimwear, shirred midi dresses, and any denim shorts one size up from my regular size! Even in my pre-baby smaller body, I was nowhere near as confident as I am now because I cared way too much what others thought and didn’t focus anywhere near enough on what I actually needed to feel good. Comfort truly is the key to confidence – but a little risk here and there might give a helping hand! Maybe try a bright colour where you’d have stuck to a neutral before, or ditch the cardigan in the heat and get those arms out. These little micro risks are barely noticeable to others, but they can give us a real boost. The perfect summer body? That’s your body in the summer, mama. <3.
We’d love to know if you have any tips on teaching little ones about having a healthy body image, and encouraging body positivity at a younger age so that it can stick with them in later life?
Children learn best by seeing it in action. The best way I can encourage healthy body confidence in my son is by showing him mine. He sees me comfortable in my own skin, not constantly jumping out of photos or speaking badly about the way I look. I also practise body neutrality ultimately with him. Instead of focusing on how amazing his body is, I focus on how amazing HE is. What his body can achieve rather than what it looks like. Teaching him how to care for his body (whether that’s through nutrition, movement, hygiene, consent, etc) and making sure he takes pride in it, and giving him a good and age appropriate amount of autonomy – he decides when he is full, or if he would like a hug for example. I also make sure he’s exposed to diversity in his books, the shows he watches, toys he plays with, and places we visit. We start to worry less about our differences when we realise that everyone is different!
Lastly, can you tell us a time where you felt particularly proud of being a body-positive parent?
Being able to get to a point where having fun with my son fully overpowered the concern of how I looked while doing it. Being able to play with him, explore the world with him, without worrying what other people might be saying about the way I looked. It was the driving force for finding that confidence in the first place, and I’m so proud of myself that he’ll be able to look back on his childhood and remember this version of me. He’ll see the photos, and I’ll be in them – he’ll be able to see just how loved he was, and is. It’s what I want for every single parent out there.
Click here to follow Melissa, and be sure to watch her Day in the Life on the Happy Mum Happy Baby Instagram.
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