Jennifer Lopez: Why Moms Must ‘Take Care’ of Themselves

04/07/2010 at 04:00 PM ET
Courtesy Redbook

Women do themselves a disservice in their rush to be all things to all people, Jennifer Lopez says in the May issue of Redbook.

“We tend to give away a lot,” the 40-year-old actress and singer points out.

“We take care of a lot of people, and we can’t forget to take care of ourselves.”

As for just how an overwhelmed mom might set out to make that happen, Lopez suggests starting small.

“If that means once a week you’re going to go off without the kids … and just go shoe shopping — well, that’s me, because I love shoes — or get a facial even if your sister thinks that’s selfish, or join a Zumba class, or take a painting class, or whatever, you’ve just got to do it,” she explains. “It’s just two hours a week, for heaven’s sake.”

Getting away is only half the battle, however, and Lopez admits that no matter where she is her thoughts are often with Emme Maribel and Maximilian David, her 2-year-old twins with husband Marc Anthony.

“I never expected to feel the guilt of not being able to be there for them at every single moment,” she confesses. “You feel guilty whenever you can’t have your kids right there with you on your hip. And for me there’s two, so it’s bad back and bad arm time having a 50-pound kid on each side.”

In fact, Lopez goes on to list guilt as the biggest surprise of motherhood. Remarking that “nobody every tells you” about the feeling, she theorizes that perhaps, “women are a little ashamed to admit it.”

Coming to terms with a growing family and demanding career “takes a lot of work,” but Lopez is quick to point out that it’s far from a solo struggle.

“I’m not different from any other mom who feels the need to go out there and work to provide the best for their kids,” she insists before adding, “I ask myself, ‘What would make me the best me to my kids?’ And that’s being a happy, healthy individual who has a sense of fulfillment and can give them everything they need.”

It is the latter sentiment which Lopez says drives her today.

“My main priority now is that my kids are happy; that’s my number-one focus in life,” she reveals. “Are these little people happy, content, and getting everything they need? Everything after that is secondary.”

Taking the focus off work and putting it instead squarely on Emme and Max has proven eye-opening in more ways than one. “I think the biggest thing they’ve taught me is what loving someone is and what it should feel like,” Lopez explains.

“It’s like, ‘Wow, how much do I love these children?’ No matter what they do — it doesn’t matter. This is what unconditional love means. It’s crazy, but it’s heaven and earth.”

FILED UNDER: Multiples , News , Parenting

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Lau on

Well, there actually IS a difference between her and many other mums! If she just decided she wants to stay home all day for the rest of her life, her kids would probably still have everything they need now and forever.

Not criticizing her, just wanted to point this out.

jackie baldacci on

Jennifer seems so happy and seems to a great mother to her babies. She has been my favorite actress for years, they are lucky children to have her as their Mom.

michelle on

Ok, I never comment, but WT HELL… her kids are 2 years old and weigh 50 lbs each??? I hardly think so, my daughter is almost 6 and weighs 56 lbs!!! Sorry Jenny from the block…. you are a liar!

SHB on

One word – delusional !!

April on

I really don’t understand the JLo hate that I always seem to find here. I don’t care for her much as a singer or actress but I think what she says here is very relatable, at least to me. You DO need to take time for yourself and your own mental health.

giftbox on

I agree, April. I am sure Jennifer is well aware of what economic differences exist between her and most moms on the planet. That doesn’t negate the truth of what she said. And why are people so bleeding literal, on here? I didn’t think she meant that her kids actually weigh 50 lbs each, just that when she’s toting two at once it *feels* like they do.

AfterlifeAlli on

I thought this was a great message! I think Jennifer’s exactly right that we all need to take care of ourselves. She was calling out moms specifically, because she realizes how hard mothers in general seem to work trying to take care of everybody. But I think it applies to everyone. We all need to show ourselves some love. It’s hard to take care of anyone else when your own needs are going unattended.

The other part of this quote that I love is when she talks about how her children have taught her what it feels like to really love someone. As a mom, I know exactly what she’s talking about. It is unconditional love when it comes to that relationship. Then, as a Spiritual writer it struck me that at its core it was a powerful Spiritual message, and it inspired me to write more about it. I was glad to see this article, and felt there is something to be learned from the points she makes.

Pencils on

Uh, OK, Jennifer–are you going to come over and babysit my kid while I go shopping for shoes I can’t afford, or get a facial I can’t afford? Because I can’t afford a babysitter and my husband and I work opposite hours to pay for our house.

Liliana on

I don’t find anything wrong with what she said.

It doesn’t have to be shoe shopping or getting facials. Moms need to take an hour or so out of their day every so often to breathe and do something they enjoy. Perhaps it’s reading a few chapters of a book or taking a bath. Those are FREE. Regardless, we all need time to ourselves.

People need to settle down. Of course there’s a financial difference between Jennifer and other moms but there’s also many similarities.

Michelle, you must be kidding me. It was an obvious exaggeration. She’s not adding 15 pounds onto her children’s actual weight to look good. She said it just as a person would say “I haven’t slept in 10 years.” Have they really not slept in 10 years? No, but it gets the point across.

Mina on

I dont think Jennifer meant to insult any ladies out there. Those are just her examples. She just means to take time for yourself because taking care of yourself isnt selfish. I think some people are taking things & running with it.

Erin on

Some people literally troll around looking for certain types of comments so they can be offended. I like to hit the shops with my sister for hours on Saturdays. And then go to dinner with my husband. Without the kids. And then Sunday the whole family spends the entire day together doing whatever it is that needs to be done or what sounds like fun. Kids don’t need to grow up thinking the world or merely their parents lives revolved solely around them. The fact that many of them are/were brought up that way explains a lot about today’s society. I never thought I’d say it, but I agree with Jennifer Lopez on something!

Cookie on

Oy, pencils, my 5 year old and I had a spa day today at home! Google homemade hair mask, homemade face mask, etc. We made ours out of eggs, olive oil, and honey, stuff most homes already have! You can give yourself a good facial scrub by blending equal parts oats (quick cook is fine) and almonds, then adding a little water to the coarse powder it makes and scrubbing away. Sounds like you have an abundance of bitterness and a defecit of creativity!

Jamie on

What she says is absolutely true, many mothers are simply devoured by motherhood. There is this societal notion that you have to give up everything when you become a mother, that your needs are no longer important. If you lose yourself, if you lose your identity as a woman, wife/girlfriend, worker, whatever else, and become only a mother chances are you will not be a very balanced one when your children stop needing you as much. It is also a rather selfish burden to place on a child, “I gave up all I was for you”. Parents may be many things, but they must never be selfish.

I will never understand mothers hating on other mothers and trying to find something to pick on just because these mothers have money. It doesn’t matter how much money one has, it still remains true. For all that she is a millionaire she is far more mentally healthy and aware than some of the women I often hear or read. Surely a good, respectful attitude costs nothing. Surely a bath after the children are in bed, or a short walk, cost nothing. Martyrdom is always a choice, J.Lo seems to have chosen a balanced life – good for her!

Electra on

Usually I find something wrong with what jlo says but this time,I don’t see anything wrong. She was clearly exaggerating about the 50lbs thing. Her kids are really tiny..and one should make time for themselves…I mean I never really had a lot of money growing up but my mom used to go to the market by herself, or just go for a walk…I used to resent her for it(i was a mama’s girl and wanted to be around her 24/7), but now i see she was just getting her “me” time.

Ashandra on

Lovely sentiment, Jennifer. It’s so important that mothers take care of themselves mentally, and physically. I always think about the analogy of the oxygen on an airplane- mommies need to put theirs on before they can help their children. So, we must look after our own needs as well, or we will be ineffective as mothers. However, that means different things for different people. I always knew that I would not be a martyr to my child, just a very good mom.

I’m sorry if some of you resent the fact that JLo has quite a bit of money and can go out and shop and get facials often. You know, I would also love to have money for shoe shopping and babysitters all the time. But that is not my reality, so I am creative with what I have. I’ll buy a $2 mud mask at the drugstore and have a home spa and bubble bath while my husband takes our child out. Or you can swap off having free time when one spouse takes the child to a birthday party (event, whatever) and the other has alone time. Also swapping off one night a week so the other can go out with their friends/ visit their mothers or siblings is good too. I’m also a huge advocate for keeping in shape. It’s so important for me, as a mother, to be able to keep up with my kids and spend as long as I can in their lives. I may not have a gym pass, but I can buy a pair of running shoes and wear shorts (no fancy spandex required) and run around the block some mornings, or I can do sit ups and push ups while LO is busy playing with his toys. I can rent free books and DVDs for the library for quiet time.
Sorry for getting long winded, but if you feel like things are unfair, there are lots of ways you can carve out time for yourself and take care of your mind and body. Check out some frugal websites, they have great ideas for penny pinching and still having fun. Best of luck to you all.

annie on

I’m always surprised when celebrity mothers say “no one told me” or “no one talks about….” my sisters, mother, girlfriends, and I talk about all elements of pregnancy, childbirth, childrearing. If anything, I think we may share too much. I guess I’m just very lucky.

commentor on

i agree with her message, mom should make time for themselves, but honestly coming from her its a joke.

she seems very fake to me and all of the above quotes seem contrived.

André on

^^ well you don’t know her to call her a fake. You just sound like a bitter old woman who’s just jealous.

Rach on

I dont think the 50 pounds comment is crazy. My niece is skinny, but tall. She is 2 going on 3 and weighs around 40 pounds and has been upgraded to a booster seat. We actually had a problem with her being underweight for her height limit. Appar her idiot mother thought that it was appropriate to feed her ONLY fruits and milk because she wanted her to stay thin for a future modeling career. When she came to us,she looked awful, her hair was falling out and thin, her skin was pale with dark sunken in eyes.She couldnt even stomach solid real food, or know how to eat it. Now she has thrived so much being with us now. She is slim, but healthy and she has so much energy ! We knew our goal was 40 pounds from what the pediatrician specialist said that we took her to, because at that age a few months ago she was wearing the same diapers,clothes etc as my baby !

bo-peep on

hey, i am a little sick of people getting stuck into mothers for being “martyrs” and “giving up their lives” etc etc.

I don’t think much of daycare for under 2s, my husband works 6 days a week and i have no family within 300 km.

So i don’t get a lot of time off. I think life would be more fun if i got more time off. BUT i am sucking it up and being a fabulous mum for the few years that my kids need me most. And frankly i think i deserve a high five for making such a commitment to my kids. Self-sacrifice is not just for losers.

Leena on

I get that these celebrities are being asked questions in interviews about how they juggle work and motherhood….I just guess it would be nice and refreshing for one of them to say “I don’t think I am in a position to give regular 9am – 5pm working moms advice. My life is very different financially, work schedule wise and the available help I am afforded”. The bottom line is, that most of us reading this can’t relate to her life, and she can’t relate to ours – and I think a lot of people (by reading various comments on here when stars try to give parenting advice) really take offense to the “tips” given by people who have every desire at their fingertips, while most of reading this are working hard for economic stability and a healthy, happy family life.

Pencils on

The point is that she should have said that moms need to take an hour or so here and there for themselves. To exercise, to read, to watch TV, to take a bath. Or to shop, whatever is your preference. Instead she said that moms should go and be consumers once a week. She has lost all touch with what ordinary people do. That’s the point. I don’t hate her in particular, it just struck me as an especially dumb celebrity statement.

Leena on

Lee – I agree that some people who post on here do seem to take things too personally, and as you so eloquently put it “throw a fit like a child”. Unfortunately, I still stand by my opinion that celebrities should be more aware of their audience and if they want to continue to try and relate and appeal to mothers in general, they should put some more thought into their statements and tips.

CelebBabyLover on

Penicils- She was clearly just using those things as examples! She never said that everyone should go out and do the exact same things that she mentioned!

Also, celebs are hardly the only ones that go shoe shopping, get facials, etc. I know plenty of “normal” people who do those same things (and I assure you, none of them are swimming in money, either!)!

Cape Town Mum on

Michelle, I’m sure she didnt mean 50lbs literally. Are you serious with that vicious attack? Why is it necessary to call her a liar? You have a serious, serious problem. Envy is such a ugly thing.

Ada Baker on

Jennifer really tells it like it is. Many of the women writing all the negative, are showing thier sour grapes towards life and their negative pursuit in life. Personally, I think she is right.I am a young great-grandmother(became a widow at 28, raise 3 children by myself and I did not cry sour grapes)it has not been easy but I did take time for myself. Get all these negative people off the block, Jenny from the block is telling you to take care of yourself for your family’s sake. How bad can that be? She is a great actress. singer, mother and role model. Yes, she did make mistakes in her younger life. Which one of you have not? If you have not then go ahead and throw the firt stone. I know I could not. Give her a break, she is doing great.

marilyn on

Her twins probably feel as if each weighs about 50 lbs. when she’s carrying them around, – one on each hip, lol. I got it; it’s not rocket science.+ I don’t think other mothers would misinterpret what she said so literally either. Jennifer realizes that her circumstances are different from some women. I’ve heard her acknowledge it in interviews more than once. But the fault finders will then claim she’s bragging.. Get some help if you need to hate; it’s unhealthy and it could rub off on your kids.