Why I go naked in front of my kids, despite their criticism

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

"Ugh, Mum's nude again," I heard my seven-year-old son tell his little sister after he'd climbed into my bed for a morning cuddle. It didn't put him off the cuddle; he stayed for 10 minutes or so and we had a lovely chat about what we were going to do that day, and then he left.

It was then he delivered the warning to my daughter in the hallway outside my room.

My son doesn't love the sight of me naked, which I try not to take personally. He commented recently that when I bend over, my belly hangs down which, sadly, it does. I told him that he and his sisters are responsible for that because they grew to 10 pounds in my belly and made it stretch out.

He seems unrepentant for the damage and unimpressed by my imperfections.

My two daughters don't seem to mind when I walk around the house sans clothing, which I do with reasonable regularity. It's not that I cook naked or stretch out on the couch to watch TV without a stitch on. But I do sleep naked, and I will walk around the house in the mornings and evenings.

It's not that I'm an exhibitionist. On the contrary, it has taken me a long time to feel comfortable walking around with no clothes on. I've adhered to a well-worn female path of hating on my body as a teen, abusing it with food and alcohol in young adulthood, going through ten years of pregnancies and breastfeeding, and then learning to love it for what it can do now that I'm in my forties.

I eat well and I keep fit, but I'm aware that gravity has taken its toll on my breasts and I have more skin on my belly than I know what to do with. As much as I try to accept everything for what it is, I still don't feel one hundred per cent comfortable and I can't quite convince myself to wear a bikini at the beach.

But at home I embrace nudity.

I'm aware my children are inundated with images of women all over the internet, and a large percentage of them are unrealistic. What we're seeing on Instagram and other social media are curated images of women that are put through a thousand filters and often photoshopped into oblivion.

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And let's not even get started on the unrealistic expectations created by the women in porn. My son hopefully has a few years left before he sees all of that, but my teenage daughter is old enough to know what's out there.

Like many teenagers, she hates her body. She told me she thinks she's fat and disgusting, which breaks my heart. But look at what she's comparing herself to – it's not her peers at school, it's Kardashians on Instagram. Nobody can compete with that, not even the Kardashians in real life, I suspect.

So going naked at home is my little act of rebellion. It's showing my children that this is what real bodies look like, and that I love my body even though it doesn't look like the ones they're seeing online.

Will it help my kids to learn to love their bodies a little bit more, and to have more realistic expectations of others? Who knows, but imagine if the only bodies they saw apart from their own were those unrealistic ones we see in the media. They'd definitely think they were freaks.

And maybe one day they'll ask me to cover up, to put it all away, and that's okay. I have no desire to make my children truly uncomfortable. My teenager is still fine with it, and despite her feelings about her own body, she still appears naked from time to time, which I think is wonderful.

My five-year-old daughter has so far shown no signs of even noticing the difference between when I'm dressed and when I'm not. She just wants to know if she can have a cookie.

And as much as he regularly registers his disapproval of my naked form, my son still climbs into my bed in the morning for cuddles most days, and comes into the bathroom for a chat while I'm showering. If he really wants to avoid his naked mother, he can. I'm sure some day he will, but until then, I'll keep showing all of my children that being naked is entirely normal and natural, and almost believing it myself.