As a mother, you are constantly thinking about your children. It’s not always easy, especially because everyone else comes before you.
Over the years, you have to adapt and learn how to maintain who you are while being a wife and a mom.
The stress and pressure are all-consuming your thoughts, mind, and being. For a small period, you are the only world your kids have, and those are pretty big shoes to fill. You can’t take a break when you want. You can’t pick up a book when a newborn is hungry or ignore a toddler who wants help painting. I mean, you could, but I don’t have to tell you what happens to your brain when a baby doesn’t stop crying. I also don’t have to tell you what happens when you leave a toddler unattended with paint and a brush.
Every now and again, you will realize it and mourn the loss of your identity. But, it is still there, and there are ways for you to tap into who you are as an individual, despite the demands of parenting.
Here are some simple ways that you can maintain your sense of self during these busy years as a mom.
1. KEEP IN TOUCH WITH FRIENDS
Text them, call them or just go drop by.
Your friends, the people you have known for years, are the heart and soul of who you are. These are the people who were there before you sported the smokey eye look — that’s just a reflection of the bags under my eyes.
These people are all still around, despite not living in the same state or having kids themselves. They are the family of folks who celebrate you as their friend. Not as a wife, a mother, an appointment maker, or a sticky-spot-on-the-floor-finder. Keeping in touch with these friends can be difficult under the daily demands of life, but make an effort.
Even though you have never been a voracious reader, but trust me when I say that books are the perfect escape. Just one chapter every night or even a page can transport you to a different world for a few minutes and give you respite.
Or, on the nights you can’t, read the kids two extra stories before bed. Because everyone loves a bedtime book, sometimes it can be the same for the mom and the kids.
3. FIND A HOBBY
One of the best ways to keep a strong sense of your own identity as a mother is to maintain some of your old hobbies and activities. Things you used to love doing before you became a mom. Sure, you might not have the same amount of time to devote to them nowadays, but carving out a little bit of time to spend on them can do wonders for your mental health and sense of self.
Whether it be photography, painting, or a favorite sport, try to spend a little bit of time each week on that hobby. You'll be amazed at how refreshed and energized you will feel after tapping into that familiar activity again.
4. TALK TO YOUR PARTNER
It is important to let your partner know how you are feeling and what you are needing in order to be happy and feel full-filled. Be open and honest with them about your needs and what they can do to support you in keeping a sense of yourself while being a mom. With their support and your dedication to yourself, you can find ways to not lose yourself in motherhood.
It might be that you're needing them to pull their weight more around the house, so you're not feeling like you've got the weight of the world on your shoulders. Maybe it's that you need them to look after the kids once a week, so you can escape to go do your hobby or activity for a few hours. Be open about your needs, and hopefully your partner will be supportive of them.
5. BABYSITTER TO THE RESCUE
I know, I know, easier said than done. On average, you would have better luck finding a gaggle of geese more fit to watch your children than a sitter under $25 an hour. Maybe find your mother or sister to do it for you. Don't fill yourself with MOM GUILT.
The “perfect mom” voice might pop into your subconscious coxing you into believing that if you spend time on yourself that you are somehow taking something away from your child, but like all negative thinking this doesn’t serve us well. Recognizing this voice, labeling it without judgement and choosing to focus on the positive things you are doing for yourself, helps make you the best mother for your child. Healthy concern is good; shame and guilt are not.
6. TRAVEL BY YOURSELF
If at all possible, traveling by yourself can be a very rewarding experience. Now, it doesn't necessarily have to be for a week, but escaping every now and again and going somewhere new on your own can be very refreshing. When traveling on your own, you are depending only on yourself and you are responsible only for yourself.
You can connect, breathe, and just enjoy the experience of being somewhere different, without worrying if you packed enough diapers or snacks. This is not something that is always feasible, especially in the early days when your babies are little. But, it is something to keep in the back of your mind and try to treat yourself to every now and again.
7. MAKE HABIT OF SELF-CARE
You might be thinking, "I barely have time to sleep, let alone take care of myself." And it's so true; as mothers, it's very hard to find the time to look after yourself, but it is also so important!
Self-care looks different for every woman too, so you need to decide what it looks like for you. Maybe it's getting yourself on to a better vitamin routine, getting more sleep, or working out more often. Maybe it's finding time to decompress by meditating each day, getting your nails done once a week, or getting a regular massage. Whatever it may be, try to take small steps towards incorporating more of it into your daily life whenever and however you can. You are the rock that holds your family together, and you can't care for everyone else if you're running on an empty tank.