You know those people that radiate light and happiness, but also know how to keep it real? I don’t blame you if you needed to take a minute to think about it, because it’s a hard find these days.
Ashlyn Sailsbury is one of these wonderful people!
A social media expert, she shares her life as a new mom of two and is honest about the struggles she goes through when it comes to parenting and self-care. But, through it all, she is still so contagiously cheerful and inspirational, which is a presence that everyone needs on their Instagram feed!
Sam: Tell me about yourself!
Ashlyn: I’m 29 years old and I teach kindergarten at an international school. I’m married to a writer who is thoughtful, curious, hard-working, and extremely tidy… I am not extremely tidy. We have a three-year-old boy, Owen, who is unlike anyone I have ever met, and a little baby girl, Lea, who is honestly the nicest person. We live in Copenhagen, Denmark and love living abroad for many reasons. Sure, the bike riding, pastries, colorful buildings and modern design are huge perks, but mostly we love that we are almost always slightly out of our comfort zone. It forces us to stay curious; to constantly shift our perspectives and challenge our existing ways of thinking. Some other fun facts about me are that I have a little sister, I enjoy ice-breakers, I cut my own bangs, and I love wine and pastries.
Sam: What have you been doing for self-care? Has it been challenging to incorporate into your schedule since you became a mom?
Ashlyn: My self feels most cared for when I am proactive, organized, and thoughtful. Self-care for me has to go beyond a face mask and a candle (though I do love both of those things). It’s having a clear understanding of our finances, having a plan for a healthy dinner, and communicating with Austin each night about the “to-dos” for the following day. When I am exercising regularly, spending time outside, seeing friends, taking time away from my phone, and learning something new (through a friend, podcast, book, new knitting pattern, etc.), my self feels cared for. And yes, it’s a challenge. I fail often.
Sam: How do you maintain a healthy, positive lifestyle, especially with two kids?
Ashlyn: This is so hard. It’s really common to hear “momming is hard, but it’s so worth it” or the ever popular “you got this, mama”. But the reality is, you truly cannot know what it is like until all of a sudden you’re in the thick of it, and then, you know. Our family has it really easy; healthy, smart kids, access to food, culture, daycare, extended maternity leave, and loving, present parents. But, Austin and I basically switch off days of having mental breakdowns because our stress levels are at an all time high. Our toddler is a force to be reckoned with (to say the least), and lack of sleep combined with absolutely no time to yourself really takes a toll. When I feel myself slipping into that melancholy, foggy state, I have to get outside. It’s normally the last thing I want to do, but I cannot deny that it makes me feel better. A change in scenery, a long walk, a trip to the park, exercising, or moving my body in some way always puts me in a better mental state. Getting dressed for the day as soon as I wake up also sets me up for success, or listening to an audio book while at home with Lea makes the time feel less lonely and somehow more productive. Making an effort to be playful and physically connected with Austin is also really important, and I’ve realized that learning how to diffuse tense or stressful situations with humor is both an art form and a game-changer. I’m definitely still trying to figure it out, but those are a few things that make me feel like a healthy version of myself!
Sam: What advice can you give to those struggling to find time for self-care?
Ashlyn: I certainly cannot dole out any specific advice here because self-care is such an elusive and person-specific idea. Your time is so precious and limited, and I think it is important to figure out what really makes you feel cared for. To do that, you have to know yourself. Sounds easy, but trust me, it isn’t. We live in a time where we are constantly being exposed to ads and ideas that are marketed really well. But, the reality is, those things that are advertised, like an expensive massage or an açai bowl, are probably not what your soul actually needs. Your soul probably needs to have a good long chat with your best friend. Your soul probably needs some time away from your phone. Your soul probably needs you to commit to exercising regularly. Figure out one or two things that will fill your tank up, and plan for them. Tell your spouse or friend or parent or whoever, that you need an hour on Monday to do “x”. Then do it.
Sam: How do you strive to positively inspire your followers?
Ashlyn: Social media is a strange place. You know it, I know it, we all know it. Influencer culture is complicated. If you’re not in it, all you can do is make judgments based off of what you see on the ‘gram. But, the reality is, it isn’t easy building an authentic community on social media. It’s not all free gifts and hours of free time. Sure, it is some of that – that’s the desirable side of having a social media job. But, it can take years and years of consistency and unpaid work to get to a place where you can make social media a viable career. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it really does take a lot of thought and mental energy to consistently post authentic and creative content. I am honestly so thankful that the women who follow me seem to value authenticity, humor, parenting misadventures, travel and treats. I love that my audience is small; it truly does feel like a little community of people who engage with kindness and respect. I would love to inspire women who follow me to feel the freedom to be themselves – to embrace their quirks, find their voice, ask the hard questions. I would love to inspire against diet culture and point people towards balance. I would love to inspire women to make a dang gynecologist appointment. I want my followers to see me taking up space, asserting myself in a kind but serious way, and realizing that they can absolutely do the same.