Pregnancy + Parenthood

The Case for Taking Time for Yourself, Even as a New Mom

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For a long time, there's been this persistent idea that parenthood overtakes a person's identity; that when a woman has kids, her old "self" ceases to exist. Dani Burrell would like to tell you that this is bullshit. The fitness pro, talent manager and founding trainer of LA cult-beloved boxing studio Rumble has refused to shelve her career dreams even while devoting herself to raising her three-year-old son. Why? Because these two things aren't mutually exclusive. In reality, she says, they actually feed into each other.

"I want to be the best possible mom I can be but I’ve learned in order to do that, I need me time, family time and work time," she says. For her, that means taking the stigma out of being a little selfish sometimes. And it also means learning to say "no."

As a result, Burrell feels like she's thriving more than she ever has–even if some days are much tougher than others. Below, she shares how she leans into me-time, and how her confidence changed—for worse, and then for better—post-baby.

How do you hope to use your fitness expertise to influence others in a positive way?

Boxing has changed my life and I continue to train and also instill what I can from the sport with my clients as well. For the past 10 years I’ve merged the worlds of boxing and fitness and created a lifestyle that I absolutely love. My goal in my fitness career is to continue to break out of my comfort zone and enhance my platform with at home workouts and more video/social content. I want to reach as many health seekers as I can.

What does motherhood mean to you?

Motherhood to me means love, balance and patience. I’ve learned so much while being a mom. I’ve learned a lot about myself: my strengths and flaws. I want to be the best possible mom I can be but I’ve learned in order to do that, I need me time, family time and work time—I need balance. I need organization but also the peace of mind that things may not always go that way.

It’s so easy to become overwhelmed as a mother and entrepreneur. I used to have a very go-with-the-flow attitude towards life but I’m learning that structure is absolutely okay and it makes life a little easier. I’ve learned that personal time and space keeps me energized so I can give more to my son and husband. I used to feel guilty about wanting space but now I realize its value. Feeling that recharge keeps me sane!

There are definitely a lot of stigmas about motherhood—one being that you have to give up your career to make time for your children. This is true to some extent, however when you plan and prioritize, you can conquer anything. It's not easy, but to continue to pursue your dreams as a mother is the most rewarding and liberating feeling. Moms can do it all, but it takes love, balance and patience.

There’s a persistent (and misguided) notion that becoming a mother transforms you completely; that you lose your old “self.”

I was so conscious of this when I was pregnant. I knew that going into motherhood, I may never feel as confident or as sexy before having children. Lo and behold: I did feel this way for the first year and I still struggle with insecurities to this day. When my son was around 6 months, I made a goal for myself to get back in the gym more and get back into the fitness industry. I was desperate for some motivation and to get back to my body and myself. It was a goal—a high-priority goal. I realized through this journey that I never lost myself in the motherhood process. She’s always been there—but now she's stronger. I feel the most confident I’ve ever been in my whole life.

Is there anything that you wish you’d known about motherhood when you were pregnant? What do you wish you could tell yourself then that you know now?

I wish I would have been easier on myself. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be a great mom, wife, friend and entrepreneur. Sometimes it would stress me out so bad. Only within the last year have I gotten a grip on how to say "no," when I need space, when I need Max and Mommy time, husband time, when I should clean vs. take a nap, when I need a day off. I’m learning to enjoy life more instead of being spread too thin.

What steps do you take to nurture yourself, and how does that ultimately feed into your role as a parent?

Self-care is my happy place. It is a huge priority and something that I preach to a lot of women (moms or not). My most efficient self-care ritual is in the morning: I wake up, I give thanks and I cuddle with Max. It’s the most precious time to cuddle with him and show him love and that I’m always there. His affection fuels me in the morning. I then proceed to shower, brush my teeth, wash my face… it’s the little things but using rose water spray after I wash my face really makes me happy! I’ll then have warm water with lemon.

In the midst of the day (mom, wife and work life) I always try and find an hour for myself—whether it’s training, getting a massage, a walk, a drive or getting a mani pedi. That hour of self-care will ground me and make me feel at ease. I’m a huge advocate of self-care. It’s so important to give yourself those pleasures. We deserve it! Work, life, and play.

In what ways has becoming a mother empowered you?

More ways than I could describe but most importantly, I feel like I can do it all. I have never felt so confident in my mental and physical strength as I do now.


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