Katie Wells of Wellness Mama, on Motherhood

Katie Wells, who thinks most bios are pretty boring, wants to “live in a world where laundry folds itself, moms get to wear the superhero costumes they’ve already earned, and where kids never have to deal with the health problems our world is currently facing.”

A mom of six with a background in journalism, Katie took health into her own hands and started researching to find answers to her own health struggles. Her research turned into WellnessMama.com and a podcast that reaches millions. If Katie was writing this, she wouldn’t tell you that she’s written 1,200 blog posts (can you imagine?!), 2 books, and was named one of the 100 most influential people in health and wellness.

Earlier this year, I had the chance to meet Katie and her husband over some breakfast tacos. Of course, I had to ask her to share a bit about her motherhood journey with all of us.

How would you describe your transition into motherhood? Full of excitement and anticipation – and also a little fear. I was young and assumed that everything would just go “right” and that I’d be able to make it through birth and early motherhood without any problems. I’m grateful that the birth of my first child went pretty well, but I ended up with interventions I didn’t anticipate that left me feeling “not good enough” or that I’d somehow failed at birthing. Looking back, it was just that I ended up with an on-call doctor who wasn’t familiar with me or my goals for birth although my regular OB was. This taught me early on the importance of finding medical professionals that you like and trust and who are willing to work with you on your health.

The adjustment to early motherhood was also tougher than I expected.

I’d been a nanny and babysitter for years, but was not completely prepared for the lack of sleep and mental challenges of the first few months of motherhood. I didn’t realize just how often my baby would want to nurse or how little he’d want to sleep or that I’d be taking showers with one leg out of the shower bouncing him in a baby bouncer.

What surprised you most? How much I changed when I became a mother. By how much I loved my child. By the level of exhaustion I felt many of those first days and weeks. And by how I was able to function and even eventually thrive with much less sleep and so much more to do.

What was your biggest challenge in those early years? Probably breastfeeding. I studied the research and always knew I wanted to nurse my babies, but I wasn’t quite prepared for just how much time it would take and how uncomfortable it could be. As a very type-A person who isn’t used to sitting down and taking breaks every 1-2 hours, this was a big adjustment. In the end, I’m so grateful I pushed through because I learned a lot about savoring the small moments in life, such as time to snuggle my baby.

What is the most helpful piece of advice you were given? There are actually two, but they are somewhat dependent on each other so I’m breaking the rules and sharing both!

  1. Always keep my marriage front and center, and make it a priority in ways that the kids could see. It’s so easy to get lost in the early days and years of parenting and let the marriage slip in priority, but kids find a sense of security in knowing their parents are solid.
  2. Never do anything for kids that they are capable of doing themselves. This means that when they can go to the bathroom alone, they do. When they can do laundry by themselves, they do (our five-year-old does her own now). And if they can do schoolwork/homework on their own, they do.

The core idea of both of these is that we are working to raise independent and productive adults who are capable of caring for themselves and of being kind and helping others.

What got you through the hard times?

Strong friendships! My husband is my best friend and business partner, and we always have each other when things get tough. I’ve also realized more and more the value of other solid friendships, especially with other women and moms who can offer advice and commiserate about the trials of potty training. When I was a young mom, I created a “Girls Night” with moms with kids of similar ages. Once a month we’d meet up at a restaurant or one of our houses and stay up until 2am sharing stories, laughing, and drinking wine. Usually we’d have at least a couple babies in tow. These moments were so important and often just to know that someone else understands the trials you are going through helps makes the experience seem so much more manageable. As my kids have gotten older, I’ve also made it a priority to spend time with my closest friends on a regular basis. It might just be a day away to relax at a park or a spa, or even a weekend trip somewhere fun.

What do you want other moms to know?

  1. You are a great mom!
  2. Modern society puts a lot of pressure on us that previous generations didn’t have when it comes to parenting. We’re supposed to manage a household and a career and raise perfect children who can speak multiple languages, play at least two instruments and ace the SAT. But so much of that pressure is misplaced!

One of the most important factors in raising great kids is NOT doing everything for them, but rather letting them make some mistakes on their own, letting them experience boredom and frustration, and letting them learn how to work through challenges. This is one of the most freeing things I have ever realized.

This realization removes the mom-guilt of feeling like I’m supposed to spend hours a day playing with them on the floor and teaching them languages and let’s me focus more on the things they love (and need for good psychological development) like playing outside, climbing trees, building forts and getting dirty!

What do you wish mothers had more of? Reminders of just how important we are! In today’s world it can sometimes feel like it isn’t enough to be “just a mom,” but in reality, this is one of the most important things we could ever be! Think about it. Not only are we raising and shaping the next generation, but we also control most of the purchasing power in our country and can directly impact the future of our society.

What are habits you practice to be a healthy and happy mom? Sleep and sunlight! These are my two non-negotiables each day. I make enough time to get enough sleep and also spend at least 30 minutes outside in the sun (in the morning when possible). Sun exposure is great for circadian rhythm and the brain and also helps improve sleep!

Your favorite self-care tools?

A shiatsu massage pillow and magnesium! Both help my lower stress level.

And your proudest moment throughout your motherhood journey thus far? I can’t pick just one, but I always feel proud when I see my kids showing kindness or independence when they don’t know they’re being watched. At the end of the day, raising them is the most important project I’ll ever undertake and those moments make all the bedtime struggles and potty training moments worth it!

Edited by: Nikki Sobhani and Jessie Collins

Post Author
Alex Winkelman
Alex founded Hello My Tribe not because she was an expert on motherhood, but because she was a mom who desperately needed support and community. During those tough first months of motherhood, Alex spent day after day reading and learning about motherhood. She learned: 1. She wasn’t alone in her feelings about motherhood. 2. Everything we could have ever dreamt of existed for the baby, but there was a lack of resources for the woman/mother 3. There are many maternal health issues in our country that need attention and need to be addressed. Hello My Tribe was built upon these needs. Previous to launching Hello My Tribe in 2016, Alex was a professional and volunteer fundraiser, raising millions of dollars for non-profit organizations. Alex lives in Austin, TX with her son and two rescue dogs.