Before you had kids, I’ll bet you were pretty hot stuff. Now the lack of sleep, lack of exercise and lack of time is taking its toll. Your wardrobe hasn’t been updated for a few years, and you’re starting to feel more Mommy than maven, more potluck than hot dish. Well friends, it doesn’t have to be that way. While you can’t turn back the clock, with a tiny bit of effort and a new attitude, you can be well on your way to Red-Hot Mamahood.

1. Adjust Your Attitude.

Hot Mamas do not complain. They wear what they want because it’s fun! I just went shopping with a friend who refused to buy anything because she wanted to lose 20 pounds. Hey, getting the baby weight off does help you feel better, but if you wait until you’re perfect, you could have years of Hot-Mamahood pass you by.

2. Accessorize With a Vengeance.

Shoes don’t care what size jeans you fit into. Neither do handbags or hair toys. A very wise woman once told me: you can never have too many beads, or too much fringe. Beads and fringe are very Hot-Mama. Once you start, you may never stop. Find some trendy eyeglass frames, clunky boots, or a fringed scarf… and look out!

3. Vamp Up those Underpants. 

I loved nursing my babies. But let’s face it, there’s nothing remotely sexy about a nursing bra. Once you’ve left yours behind, you may notice that “the girls” need a little extra help. Fortunately, there are tons of options nowadays, from water bras to microfiber blends that actually reverse the effects of gravity. Start by re-measuring yourself (or have a salesperson at a nice department store do it). You may be surprised that your measurements are different than pre-baby. And purge your panty drawer. My husband held my ratty cotton granny panties hostage and kicked me out the door to buy new stuff after our second son was born. We’re both a lot happier now.

4. Broaden Your Shopping Horizons.

I know, I know, you’re broke. Once you outfit a couple of kids and spend $100 at Costco on diapers and spot remover, it’s hard to think of spending money on yourself. Start with this mindset: cheap is chic for the new millennium. It’s a blast to watch your friends’ jaws drop when you tell them you got your new dress at Kmart for six bucks. It’s not worth spending big bucks for trendy clothes that you’ll only wear a season or two. Even second-hand has possibilities— I got four sweaters at the Goodwill this year for $16. Paired with some boot-cut hip huggers, I was covered for the winter.

5. No, You Are Not Too Old To Wear That.

The key is just to make sure you go with your strengths. If you have abs of iron, there’s no reason to not show a little skin by wearing a crop top. Since I have abs of deflated latex balloon, I like to keep mine under wraps. I do, however, have great collarbones, so I look for open-necked styles. Great hair? Beautiful skin? Cute ankles? Lovely hands? Find something to show them off!

6. Treat Yourself Like a Grown-up.

Subscribe to a non-kid-related magazine. Read a book that’s just for fun. Play some old CDs from your single days. Indulge in grown-up food. Just because your kids will only eat yellow cheese wrapped in plastic doesn’t mean you can’t keep a lump of Brie in the fridge for a treat.

7. Get a New Do.

There is really no reason you can’t be the redhead you’ve always wanted to be. Try a wash-out over-the-counter product, or a whole new look at the stylist. I’m still on the quest for perfect mom-hair— must look good without washing every day, can be styled in under five minutes, and does not require the use of dangerous hot things. Since I can’t pull off a crew cut, I’ve found that being back to my natural blonde self does wonders for my self esteem.

8. Take Your Ride in Stride.

Actually, I can’t save you here. It’s hard to be a Hot Mama in a filthy station wagon. You can, however, buy cool sunglasses, roll the windows down and pretend.

9. Kick Up Your Heels.

Once you no longer have to haul a baby around 24-7 and you get your sense of balance back, try some high-heeled boots. Your feet may want to kill you, but there’s nothing like diva footwear to make you feel good!

10. Go Someplace Special.

Now that you’re a Hot Mama, you have to have some place to go. My husband and I made a deal to go on a grown-up date once a month. We take turns getting the sitter, and Burger King and a trip to Home Depot do NOT count. Concerts, cool restaurants, sporting events— any place where you need to look good and pay attention to one another. Girlfriend dates count too— if your hubby won’t go to musicals, gather a group of friends for a dress-up date.

Now, suck in that gut, throw those shoulders back, and have a great time. Hot Mamas always do!

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