Who were you before you became a mother? Are you searching to reconnect with yourself post-baby?
Becoming a mom is like having a major identity crisis. Juggling being a mother, a partner, a friend, an employee and, well, ourselves is often one of our biggest struggles. Finding the balance between all these roles is something I still personally struggle with often. I want to be present for every part of my life, but it sometimes seems like it just isn’t possible; something’s got to give. I tell myself that it is temporary, and eventually, as my kids get older and become more independent, I will regain bits and pieces of myself. But until then, I am always searching for practical ways to reconnect with myself and to fit in some precious time for the other spheres of my life (without spreading myself thin or drowning in guilt).
Are you feeling the same way? Here is an exercise to check-in with yourself and remind yourself what makes you feel the most like you. Grab a notebook or print out our free worksheet, ask yourself the following questions and write down your answers. See what comes up, and don’t hold back. Then take a moment to reflect.
What do I miss about my life before kids?
We love our kids. We will do literally anything for them. But we can love them and still long for certain parts of our pre-baby past. Maybe it is alone time or couple’s time? An activity, a sport or a hobby? Perhaps it’s freedom or having less responsibility. Accepting that things are different now is an essential part of having a positive outlook throughout motherhood. But different doesn’t mean that it can never be about you.
Once you have your answers, take it a step further and ask yourself why you had to give it up. Maybe it was not possible while you were recovering from labour and delivery, or maybe your child was keeping you up all night, and you didn’t have the energy. Do the reasons still apply? With a little effort, can you get back to it by taking small steps?
Certain things won’t ever be as before, but we often have an “all or nothing” approach when it comes to reintegrating parts of our previous lives into our post-kid reality. We know things can’t be as they were so we resign to trying to integrate these crucial aspects into our routines.
Doing what you love once a week, even if it used to be three times, is better than none and you will still reap the benefits.
How can I reintegrate what I miss the most back into my life?
The next step is to brainstorm some practical ways to re-integrate what you miss most back into your life. Keep an open mind, write down all possible solutions. What usually holds us back is a lack of time. There are just so many hours in a day, but take a moment to ask yourself if everything on your to-do list is worth your time and energy? Cut out what isn’t necessary and use this time for yourself. Delegate when possible, ask for help with the kids. Resist the urge to want to do it all and accept that some things are not worth sacrificing your wellbeing over. Are you feeling overwhelmed already? Here are some strategies to help manage your day-to-day. You may want to tackle this issue first.
Make it a priority
Now that you have figured out what you need more of and ways to get it, you have to plan it. Commit to yourself and make it happen. Put it on the calendar, and don’t let it get pushed or cancelled. Treat it like your child’s pediatrician visit and let go of any guilt that surfaces when the time comes closer. Remind yourself that you need this and that your needs are as valid as anyone else’s in your family. Just like on an airplane, you have to learn to put your oxygen mask on first; you don’t want to run out of air while tending to everyone else’s needs. Start small; maybe the list of things you miss is long, but re-integrate one thing at a time. Once you succeed at adding one back into your life, tackle another and so on.
Self-care is not Selfish
As moms, we have a misconception that putting our needs at the top of our priority list is selfish. That for some reason, everything should be about the kids now. And so we put ourselves last, and I mean entirely last; the dog has it way better than us some days. It is time to change our definition of self-care and to see it for what it is: an important element of overall health and an essential part of being a good parent.
Take a moment and list five benefits of re-integrating some “me” time back into your life. If you are struggling with guilt, then write down how self-care will make you a better caregiver.
Spending time doing the things we love fulfills us; therefore, we are more joyful, patient and less resentful. We aren’t only mothers, we still are all the things we were before, and it does not have to be either-or. It is time to unearth our desires and bury our guilt instead.
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