Hi, I am Femeke. My name is Dutch — I grew up in Switzerland, and moved to Seattle with my family three years ago. I work as a therapist in a private practice, and focus on working with kids, adolescents, and young adults. Even though I love my work and I worked hard to get where I am professionally, I mostly am — a mom. I feel very fortunate and blessed to be able to both work and still be there for drop-offs and pick-ups at school.
I was the eldest of three children in my family, with two younger brothers – making me a rather driven person. I knew early on that I wanted to work with children, and that one day, I wanted to be a mom myself. I found my first goal of working with children quite easily achievable, but the second one — of conceiving a child — was not that simple.
Looking back, since trying to conceive up until now, my children have taught me to be flexible, to question my own view of the world, and to work hard on myself and my relationships. Every day, my children remind me that I can only be a good mom if I take time to take care of myself, too. I can only be there to support, listen, and show them how to navigate the world, once I take care of my own physical and mental health. I am so grateful for this opportunity of being a mom to my children. Even with all my flaws and shortcomings, I will always continue to strive to be the best I can be for them.
BELLABEAT: How has your life changed?
My life changed in so many ways since becoming a mother. Some of these changes happened naturally — like not getting as much sleep as I used to; while some of them I consciously decided to make — like taking some time out of my busy schedule to take care of myself. Some changes I had to learn to accept — like always feeling as if there are not enough hours in a day.
The ways in which my children continue to change my life every single day continue to amaze me. I often meet new moms looking for reassurance on balancing all the aspects that go into being a working mom. I know we all want to hear that it gets easier as the children get older, but the truth is that in motherhood, there are always challenges — just different ones. My children have taught me to always be open to changes, to never take anything for granted, and to stay fully present and mindful of my own energy and my needs. I can only be a good mother to my kids if I take care of myself first.
BELLABEAT: How do you find balance?
This ties into my last response – taking care of myself first is the key. Even if it means getting up 30 minutes earlier, I cherish that time in the morning before our household awakens, and enjoy starting my day slowly with a nice cup of tea. I used to spend my mornings going to work out classes, but since having children, I started doing my exercise at home via online video classes. This gives me so much more freedom to do my workout routine whenever I find the time to.
When my children were smaller, I chose to be a stay-at-home mom for that period. Now that I work, I feel like I still manage to successfully incorporate most of my routines into my busy days. I like taking my time when having coffee, and I love it when my children join me with their foamed milk (which we call “kid’s coffee”). Every day, they find a way to remind me that we need to have our well-deserved coffee break.
BELLABEAT: What advice would you give?
My biggest advice for new mothers and soon-to-be mothers is to trust your own intuition. You know what is best for your child, yourself, and your family. Trust yourself to know your child, but don’t be afraid to ask for help from a pediatrician, a friend, or your family. When someone offers you help that you need, do not hesitate to take them up on their offer. Raising children really does take a village.
Remember that taking time to care for yourself does not make you a bad mom. But most of all, enjoy every single second – it's true when they say that children grow up too quickly. When you spend time with your little ones, make sure to be fully present.