Smart Strategies to Not Lose Yourself as a Mom
Simple Strategies Not To Lose Yourself As a Mom
When did becoming a mother mean that we have to give up everything about ourselves? It’s bad enough that I barely recognize myself in the mirror. Pregnancies, lack of sleep, and general ageing have not been kind. Children may keep you young at heart, but my body, both inside and out, feels old.
In my heart, I am still that fun loving, young woman. In my head, I think I can still stay up late, gossiping and people watching with friends, enjoying a few glasses of wine on a patio. Then reality sets in, and like Cinderella, I turn into a pumpkin. At least Cinderella had until midnight, I turn into a pumpkin around 10 pm. The time of night I used to be getting ready to go out for the night, I am now ready to turn in for the night. Raising little humans takes a lot out of you.
Being a mother has brought a love and fulfilment to my life that I never thought possible. Nevertheless, somewhere along the way of becoming a mother, I have stopped being my own person. I used to be a three-dimensional person, with many different aspects of myself that together, defined who I was. Along the way, I just became two dimensional. I was just mommy.
I know…I know…just a mommy? Just saying those words conjures up negative emotions. Being a mommy is a rewarding and wonderful thing. But it doesn’t have to come at the expense of everything that made you you before becoming a mommy. It should be an addition, not a replacement.
As it stood, my life revolved around getting through the day with kids and planning what the next day or week would hold. I was no longer the person I remembered. It chipped away at me and my relationships with other people. It wasn’t their fault, they were the same people. It was me who let everything go. I had to learn how to navigate this new set of circumstances.
In learning to adapt, I came up with a top ten list of ways to find yourself through the parenting jungle:
1. Play Dress Up
I don’t mean that you should dig out that sexy nurse costume from your closet that you wore to Halloween 10 years ago. I am referring to not always wearing your mom uniform, which for me, generally consists of a mom bun, yoga pants and a t-shirt (which may or may not have stains or spit up).
Put on some makeup (mascara and lip gloss can do wonders), style your hair, put on a more flattering, but still comfortable outfit. It doesn’t have to be fancy or look like you are heading out for a night on the town, but taking an extra few minutes in the morning to make your outside look its best, can make the inside feel better.
2. Talk About Something Other Than The Kids
When your whole day (and by design your life) is consumed with kids, it’s hard for that not to be the only thing you talk about.
I get it, of course, everyone wants to hear about that crazy blow out you had to clean up while at the grocery store, or that cute thing your toddler said on the way to school.
Nevertheless, whether this is with your friends or your partner, set aside some time to discuss subjects that aren’t child related. Discuss current events, a movie, the weather…anything. Try and set up a certain amount of time per day, where you can discuss something, anything, except the kids. Hey, you can even make it a game, the first one to talk about the kids has to change the next diaper.
3. Go Out Sans Kids – With Your Partner
If you are like me, nights out without the kids are a distant memory. Is it still called going on a date? It’s been so long, who remembers.
I recently bumped into an old childhood friend, and he said: what happened, you used to be so cool”. I smiled but cried a little on the inside. He wasn’t trying to be mean, but he was right. I used to have fun, anywhere. Somewhere along the way, I stopped being me. My oldest son was two and a half, and this was my second night out alone with my husband in that many years. We had to change that!
Not having a babysitter shouldn’t be an excuse. Have a date night in. Put the kids to sleep, get dressed up, order in from your favorite take out place, light some candles and remember to talk about something other than children.
4. Find a Hobby
Remember when you were only responsible for keeping yourself alive? When you used to enjoy dancing, reading, or working out and made time to do all those little things.
Figure out what used to make you happy pre-children, or start something new, but find a way to incorporate at least one of those things back into your life.
Bonus points if this can get you out of the house for at least an hour without the kids.
5. Pamper Yourself
We tell our husbands (or at least I do) happy wife, happy life. Why should our happiness be in someone else’s hands?
Make yourself happy by finding a few extra minutes a few times a week to do something luxurious for yourself. As luxurious as it sounds these days to be able to go the bathroom without being watched by a toddler, take it up a notch. Have a bubble bath with a glass of wine, put on a face mask, get a manicure (even if you do it yourself). Whatever makes you feel as though you spent time at a spa.
Bonus points if you can do this while the kids aren’t screaming downstairs.
6. ACCEPT HELP
It takes a village –as cliche as it sounds, raising little humans is difficult and no one should do it all alone.
I know, no one else does it quite like you, and no one is trying to replace you. But sometimes, you’ve gotta do what you gotta do. People inherently want to be helpful. Let people help! Whether that be your partner, family or friends.
Now, I certainly am not suggesting that you should leave your children with that random person you met at the grocery store, but there are always people who are offering help. Whether that be to watch the children or to help you pick up the groceries.
There is no reason to be a hero. Let your mom watch the kids for a few hours. Allow your husband to help around the house, even if he “doesn’t do it right”. This frees up some time for you to be able to go out or pamper yourself.
7. Schedule a Play Date – For Yourself
Get out with the girls. I know this will require getting out the calendar, and scheduling the time, but make it a priority.
Can’t get out with your friends? Set up some time, and schedule a phone call. When was the last time you had one of those marathon calls with your best friend?
8. Make a Date with Your Friends That Don’t Have Kids
Remember them? The ones you used to stay up all night with. The ones whose Facebook feed reminds you of the life you used to have. Dinners, dancing, late night fast food.
Reach out. Sometimes it’s nice to be your old fun self, if even for a night.
9. Socialize Online – Find a Tribe
Can’t get out of the house? Is it 3 am, and you just need some adult interaction? Connect with some people online.
Join a Mom Group or another group with like-minded people.
When I was pregnant with my first son, I joined a few mom groups on Facebook. Some were full of drama, and I didn’t need anyone else’s drama in my life. But there was one group of women that although I haven’t met most of them, I feel as though we are all friends. We have shared in the ups and downs of relationships, children and life. I know I can always go to them for advice, to rant, or share in our daily struggles.
Having more people in your social circle can only benefit you.
Besides, sometimes you just can’t justify calling your best friend at all hours in the morning to chat.
10 Stop setting yourself up for perfection
It’s hard being a mom today.
Pinterest and Instagram pictures of perfectly coifed lunches in bento boxes. Expectations that your children will never have processed foods or sugar. Constant rules and expectations.
Who has that kind of time and patience? You can go crazy if you try to do it all.
The answer is easy…don’t.
Try your best, but if that means that your kid gets a Lunchable in their lunch box today, hey, we survived. If going to McDonald’s drive-through for dinner on your way to soccer practice means that you can get a few minutes to yourself today, do it.
Perfection isn’t happiness, moderation is. Do what you can, do your best, and stay sane.
What are some of your suggestions to making sure mommy stays happy?