Whole Parenting Family

7 Ways to Look & Feel Your Best {when you’re not your best}

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I’m not at my best. I look in the mirror and see the little kisses under my eyes called cosleepernumber3 and guiltily gave up sugar again as I was abusing it//turning to it for an afternoon pick up instead of a healthy snack//my clothing doesn’t fit like I’d like it to. But I can’t wait around for life to suddenly hand me a week of full-nights sleep, a personal trainer, and a chef. Instead, I’m determined to feel my best that I can be right now. And here are my seven areas of life that help me look & feel like I’m still rocking it. Wrinkles be d@mned.

warning: selfies taken in the kids’ bathroom. Nell making solemn & goofy faces at herself. Again. Sorry.


My hair needs to be colored. Sorry, ladies, I tried to go ombre. I tried to go natural.

I hate the brown.

I have lots of postpartum thick hair (hasn’t fallen out yet, except on the fringy sides) and want it to at least be blonde at the roots, even if it’s not going to be brushed or styled.

So cheerfully I went to my hairdresser to “remind” it of its blonde roots, literally & figuratively. I can find ways to creatively make my hair look decent without much time & effort. Do you follow Kate on instagram? Because she has hair tutorials that are amaaaaaazing. Do something with your hair that makes you feel put together. Even when you’re coming undone.

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Going through my closet for a capsule wardrobe a few months back that never got edited & posted so now I have a summer one to show you instead, part 1! it hit me. I can either let this stage of life dominate me and be a victim to the easy excuses for not being my best:

three little kids

I guess that’s only one excuse divided in three parts.

I am capable of picking from my slim closet for an outfit I can nurse in, run errands in, see my love of my life in at night without gritting his teeth for him. Right?

Wardrobe part 2 coming at you. Brace yourselves. Soon.

If your clothes don’t fit, donate, thrift online {twice or thredup}, and love your body where it is. Have you seen the 4th Trimester project? This changed my entire perspective on the mothering body. I love following it on instagram.


I’m not a makeup girl. Maybe a little rose lip balm & quick eye makeup for a night out. I use only my sister’s organic line. She’s very generous with me!!

I rinse with warm water in the morning and quickly rub on my Nourish & Replenish Oil mixed with Sense & Sensitivity and Pour Refining Mineral Mist {someone has big pores over here} quickly before the baby shoves his hand in the toilet or his recently poo’d night diapers via the easily accessed trash.

I use Coconut Oil for arms & legs and Bumble Balm for lips.

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Firmoo sent these over and I love them. Contacts lenses ruled my life for decades. I know many moms can pop their contacts in. They probably also brush their teeth twice a day. Errr . . .  no comment but let’s just say that grabbing my sturdy glasses that withstand a real beating from these kids during the day is the way I roll?

Makes my life easier. If you hate your glasses, just get new ones. Please. Look for a deal, coupon, bargain. Life is too short to be embarrassed to be seen in your glasses.


It’s a universally acknowledged truth that moms need an extra boost of pick-you-up when small children demand to be carried and carried and carried.

I made it through law school without coffee.

I’ve made it through three kids without coffee.

But danged if I don’t need the caffeine from chocolate. Or the occasional chai tea latte. Now that it’s summer, despite my oath that hot cocoa is good anytime, an iced chai? I’ll drink to that.

It’s okay to embrace & tackle our need for a little caffeinated help. Preferably a low sugar one for the sake of our health, but golly. It helps me be more alert and my better self.

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You’re never fully dressed without a smile. But truly, I feel my best when I’ve decided to not be ruled by my emotions.

Kids won’t nap.

Dinner hasn’t happened.

Too many projects and constant interruptions.

We can either succumb to being a snarling wreck (been there, go there, don’t like living there so I only visit on occasion) or for me, I try to fight making emotionally-based decisions. I try to choose happiness and smiling and forging ahead. Even when it kills me.

Feel the emotion. Validate the emotion. Let the emotion wash over me. Then move through it to the other side. #zenjesusmysistersadvice


What have you read of interest lately? I’m reading a few good books, but always always scrolling the internet during nap nursing sessions.

Ginny’s Shawls giveaway to help the suffering under ISIS.

Liz’s four children and husband suffer from this disease. And how she lives beautifully.

My favorite monks in the world have a new album a new album coming out.

Andrew Doran, renown expert on the Middle East, wrote this informative piece on why America should recognize Kurdistan.


What do you need to look and feel your best? Aside from 10 hours of sleep {in our dreams, right??} Linking with Kelly tomorrow for 7 quick takes!




  1. Sully on June 4, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    Reading is crucial to my mental health. Also, the photos you posted were completely adorable. Thanks for the post!

    • Natural Mama Nell on June 8, 2015 at 2:46 pm

      READING! what are you reading right now?

  2. Celia on June 4, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    Reading, for sure. We’re using the literature lists from Angelicum Academy for homeschooling this year; I’m getting caught up on some children’s classics before our school year starts. (Specifically, I’m reading all the books on the 1st and 4th grade lists that I never got to as a kid.)

    Also, Jim Gaffigan’s “Dad is Fat.” <3 Because, laughing. And so much parenting truth.

    I also drink coffee by the too-large-quantity (black, please, unless it's a whole milk cappuccino from my favorite shop). I mean, it'd probably be criminal for a Swedish-American from the PNW to NOT drink coffee. I have to drink decaf after about noon, though.

    Walking. Every Saturday morning I walk to a coffee shop downtown by myself (okay, with the baby strapped to me) for a latte or cappuccino. It's 4 miles of glorious silence roundtrip.

    I don't wear much makeup either. I 'wash' my face with a smear of coconut oil, hot water, and a soft terry washcloth. I occasionally wear some tinted moisturizer, blush, and mascara (usually to Mass on Sunday or out with my husband).

    PS: Your hair is so pretty! Coloring my hair would be way too much upkeep for this lazy person, but I always love others' creativity and style. Whatever you do with yours is fab. 🙂

    • Natural Mama Nell on June 8, 2015 at 2:45 pm

      LOVE all these ideas. You’re the best.

  3. Kathy H on June 5, 2015 at 6:31 am

    You’re adorable! I dont know how you do it without coffee! Need me my caffeine 🙂 and I’m still on the fence about keeping up with my hair color, definitely have to the used to be blonde now brown too. You might have convinced me that if it keeps Mama happy it’s worth it!

    • Natural Mama Nell on June 8, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      I AM MISERABLE dirty dishwater blonde. Do it. GO FOR IT!!!

  4. Rachel @ Efficient Momma on June 5, 2015 at 11:13 am

    I’ve been going through this too and I’m working on a post about it as well. We can either embrace where we are now and our new bodies or we can wallow in the fact that things have changed. I’m in the process of a wardrobe revamp – can’t wait to see your capsule wardrobe!

    • Natural Mama Nell on June 8, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      WE gotta just embrace & move on with our emotional energy!

  5. Melissa on June 5, 2015 at 11:40 am

    This is so perfectly timed. I was just thinking as I was loading my kids into the car about how I always wish I was in better shape. Then I started thinking about the fact that I have ALWAYS thought that. Even before kids. I am the same size I was before kids. I exercise regularly (always have) and we eat pretty well. I really need to just be proud of my body.
    I have found that I feel best when I do my hair and put clothes on. As simple as jeans as a t-shirt.

    • Natural Mama Nell on June 8, 2015 at 2:42 pm

      Be proud! I’m proud with you!!

  6. Anna on June 5, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    Great post, Nell. I totally agree that doing a few little things to boost morale can make all the difference in how I’m handling a crappy day.

    • Natural Mama Nell on June 8, 2015 at 2:42 pm

      Just the little things, right?

  7. […] ways to look & feel your best (when you’re not your best) […]

  8. Ashley on June 11, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    I recently became a stay at home mama to two littles. I’m slowly discovering what I need to stay sane each day. Simple things like brushing my teeth right away before I forget, putting in contacts (I wear them more now as a SAHM than I did ask a working mom!), making the beds (maybe just a weird quirk), and showering as much as I can. I’m the first to admit I’m not great with self-care, keeping my hairstyle up to date, wearing make up to look a bit more put together, etc. but I’m trying and your ideas are great. I really think I need to work on a capsule wardrobe and embrace my post partum body. Thanks for your great posts – I love them all!

    • Natural Mama Nell on June 11, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      It’s such a big transition, Ashley. I hope you have enough support. Being with small kids all day after having a more humane existence in the outside world is ROUGH. Embrace that fabulous body and treat yourself to that tooth brushing 🙂 You’re so sweet. XO