Am I Still Me Under All This Motherhood?
It’s so easy to lose sight of who you are when you become a mum. It’s not that you don’t care about yourself, it’s just that your priorities have been turned upside down. Louise Hurley shares some tips on how to rediscover a sense of self after you become a mum.
It’s so easy to lose sight of who you are when you become a mum. Someone else’s needs suddenly become your top priority and your own needs very rarely get a second thought. It’s not that you don’t care about yourself, it’s just that your priorities have been turned upside down.
There are three main reasons why almost every mum at some point during motherhood feels a loss of identity:
There’s more than just physical aspects to your identity, but the way that you look and the way that you feel in your body is a big part of how you identify yourself. When you have a baby your body changes in many ways. It doesn’t change for the worse, it’s just different. Feeling as though your body just isn’t the same can easily feed into loss of identity.
Having very little time to do something for yourself
Being a mum is a 24/7 job, especially in the early days with a newborn. There’s almost no time to do the things you used to love doing.
Having very little energy left to do something for yourself
When you do find a small amount of time to do something for yourself, you often feel too tired to enjoy it.
Here are a few tips on how to rediscover your identity after you become a mum:
Remember that it doesn’t last forever
In the early days your baby needs you for EVERYTHING, but it doesn’t last forever (which is another twist in the motherhood rollercoaster). Your little ones become more and more independent as they grow and you’ll get more breathing space.
Don’t feel guilty about using childcare
Being on mum duties 24/7 can be extremely draining and leaves you feeling that you have no sense of self, no privacy, and no time to decompress. Childcare or babysitters are one way to get back a few hours to yourself in the week and certainly not something to feel guilty about.
Schedule in self care time
If it’s not scheduled in, it likely won’t happen. When possible, book on repeat self-care activities in advance, such as a massage. Block that time out in your diary once a month or more regularly if you’re able to.
Connect with friends face to face regularly
It’s easy to feel that we’re connected to other people when we have social media at our fingertips 24/7, but it can also isolate us. Meeting up with friends face to face for a walk, coffee or lunch is a great way to feel connected not only with your friends but with your identity.
Listen to audiobooks
Finding the time to read can be tricky. Try listening to an audiobook on a topic or genre that YOU love rather than books on motherhood.
Find a Fitness Group
Mum’s fitness groups tick so many boxes in reconnecting with your identity. There’s the social aspect, you get to leave the house with a purpose and you can start to feel stronger and healthier again. Move away from trying to get your pre-baby body back. Instead, focus on making the amazing body that you have right now strong enough to keep up with your little ones.
Remember, motherhood is hard and it’s OK to reach out and ask for help when you need it.
Louise runs Strong Mums in Gosford, NSW. She has a background in clinical and research psychology and became a mums’ fitness professional after having her first baby.