If you’re like 38 percent of the population, you made a New Year’s resolution to shed a few pounds.

When it comes to body image, moms experience quite a paradox: the line between healthy self-care and vanity. For every joke about mom jeans and women becoming frumpy after becoming mothers, there’s an Instagram account from a mom who is fit and fashionable. The struggle to develop an authentic yet realistic self-image is real. Trying to decipher the biblical approach to this subject can be tricky too.

Consider the extremes

None of us want to exist in yesterday’s sweatpants or hair that’s past-due for a wash, but some days that’s what we’ve got—along with an unidentified stain on our baggy t-shirt. When a child is up all night sick, one of the first things we let slide is ourselves. And that’s how it should be. Right?

Then there’s the other end of the spectrum—Mrs. Hot Instagram Mom whose highlight reel gives the appearance that she’s calm, cool, collected, and looking fabulous 24/7. Are we supposed to be her?

Which approach is best? How do we treat ourselves well while also remembering that God cares more about our hearts? Can we keep our hearts pure but also enjoy fashion?

The answers to these questions will be different for every mom; this is not a one-size-fits-all issue. Didn’t we all lean different ways before having kids? Some of us cared more about trendy clothes or being fit than others. God designed us with particular interests, and that was on purpose. That also means that this is a subject you and only you can work through in prayer. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you ponder how to care well for yourself in the sometimes-harried season called motherhood.

Recognize the enemy

The Bible includes multiple accounts of Satan using appearance as a tactic for evil. The sight of Bathsheba bathing stirred King David’s lust and ultimately, adultery and murder; Delilah’s beauty enticed Samson to reveal his secrets; and on and on. The enemy still mutates beauty into shame as he wants us to feel ugly, inferior, and embarrassed of our looks. He wants us to spend hours focused on ourselves. The first step to sorting all of this out is to recognize that you have someone actively fighting against your attempts to care well for yourself.

Be realistic

Before kids, you probably had more disposable income to put toward new clothes, and I know you had more time to devote to exercise. However, your physical and emotional health are still worth a reasonable investment. For most of us, it’s not realistic to expect our bodies to look exactly as they did before birthing humans or for us to have the same amount of uninterrupted time for working out, but we also can’t use our kids as an excuse to exert zero effort.

Maybe you can’t make it to the gym every day after work like you did before kids, but I bet you could find a friend to take walks with a couple of times a week while your kids play together at the park, or if budget allows, join a gym that offers childcare. Even though you’ve added little people to the house, you are still a member of the family with needs.

Consider how you function best

You’ve heard the saying: “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” When do you feel full, or as full as you can reasonably expect to feel in this season? We are all better moms and wives when our own needs are being met (appropriately, of course). If running is your thing, change whatever you need to change about your schedule to fit in some miles each week.

Swap babysitting time with a friend so she can have time to do her “thing.” If being comfortable and cozy is your thing and you don’t want to be pressured to become something you’re not, decide right now to stop listening to the voices that pressure you to reach for a standard that’s not natural or healthy for you. If wearing makeup each morning helps you feel confident and ready to take on the day, by all means wear it.

God made you with a one-of-a-kind perfected kind of beauty. Ask Him how you can reflect it.

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