How to avoid losing yourself in motherhood
I remember after giving birth, when there is no routine, and you do not know when your baby even feeds or naps, I was learning to do everything one-handed and trying to find time each day to shower.
I read somewhere that as long as the baby is fed, safe and warm , it is OK to let the baby cry while you showered or got ready and I decided that every day the minimum I would do for myself was to shower and put my makeup on, so that I felt like ‘me’.
When my son was 5 weeks old, I stupidly searched on Youtube for what a routine at 5-6 weeks should be.
I stumbled across a video of a lady in America (note to self – never look on Youtube for any parenting advice – ever!). She explained that the key for feeling good was to wake up 30 minutes before the baby and shower.
I remember thinking, ‘How does she even know when the baby will wake up to make that happen?’ Then I watched her put on her gorgeous make-up, curl her hair immaculately, all in time for the baby waking to sit on the bed breast-feeding and meditating at the same time! The baby wore cute matching clothes and she dressed so elegantly.
She even managed to fit in some work in the baby’s nap time, and exercise by walking with him around her block! I was so deflated and messaged my husband saying I was clearly doing something wrong since I had no routine and did not even know when he ate or slept. He replied with the best reply which helped me so much. He said, ‘Heather, your only job is to keep him alive every day and you are doing that amazingly.’ I needed to hear that so much because my life was not like the lady’s routine on Youtube.
How to keep our hobbies, education and self care after becoming mothers
Sometimes, when we are new to motherhood, or even throughout the different phases in our childrens’ lives, we can fall into the trap of putting all of their hobbies, education, self-care and friends above our own, and this is where the overwhelm comes in.
We get to the point where we have so many tasks to do in a day to work, run the house, organize the kids and prepare ourselves, that something has to give, and often it is the things we like, enjoy or need.
It is really important to acknowledge that we are also important, and if we have no energy because it has been taken up by looking after others, we will either burn out, have a melt-down or get physically more prone to sickness.
Stress manifests in many ways, from skin breakouts, chronic pain and insomnia to being more susceptible to colds, viruses and infections. We have to look after ourselves and realize we are number one in this family dynamic.
If you are someone who gets great pleasure from putting others first and not focusing on yourself, as long as it feels good physically and emotionally, there is no need to stop, but you do not get points in life for being the martyr and letting yourself go for the sake of your children.
Top 5 tips to reduce overwhelm, focus on yourself and manage all of your tasks
1- Have some time for yourself every day
Even if this is only 5-10 minutes for a shower or to read, it is important that you have some time for you. This can be once the kids are in bed, but to have people depending on you and doing things for others every day is too much and you will burn out eventually.
Practicing self-care is very important for your emotional health and gives you time in the day to look forward to, because all self-care tasks should be things that make you feel good emotionally, spiritually, physically or socially. Having hobbies that are just for you, also help you feel fulfilled and allow you to retain a sense of self when lots of mums feel they lose themselves in motherhood.
2- Prioritise your tasks
Whether you have help at home or are doing it all alone, it can be overwhelming to have the house to run, chores to do, groceries to buy, bills to pay, the school run to do and try to have a life of your own. The key here is to write a list of absolute musts, and then prioritize the other things.
Can something be put off for another day? Does it matter if it does not get done? Do you have time to do all the things you have put on your list? Are you experiencing perfectionism? There is no point creating a to-do list and doing 1-2 of them and feeling like a failure all day, when you are in complete control of changing and reducing the list!
Make an achievable list and aim to only do those things. Once they are done, allow yourself to feel proud and maybe even, reward yourself.
3- Raise your spiritual vibration and your mood
By taking some time each day to practice gratitude for what you have in your life. So often, we say we will be happy when we lose the weight, have the baby, get married, get the dream job, but the fact is that we need to be happy NOW in order for those things to come into our life, because if we focus on what we do not have, that is what will come. Be grateful as often as you can throughout the day for what you already have – your health, amazing friends, your family, a home, a comfy bed, a hot shower, lovely weather, a car that works, birds singing – anything!
Feel into it and experience how thankful you are to have these things in your life. When in a state of gratitude, it is physically impossible to think of anything negative, so it is one of the quickest ways to change a bad mood into a good one and it keeps your energy high throughout the day, which brings in more good things.
4- Focus on your own importance and why you are worthy of loving yourself.
Sometimes when mums are preoccupied with looking after their children, they feed their kids, bathe their kids, get their kids ready and forget to put themselves on that list! Decide what things each day are non-negotiables for you to feel good, and do not let anything get in the way of them.
So, if you want to shower before the kids wake up, or go for a run or do some housework, ensure you set your alarm and do not compromise on doing those things. You read so many stories of mums who do not have time to have showers, put make up on or do their hair, and if these are things you WANT to do because they make you feel good, you have to put time aside for them, before tending to your children.
5- Rid yourself of any mum guilt
I do not understand why so many mums feel not good enough so regularly, but one thing this usually comes from is comparison. You may see a mum taking their children to horse riding, football clubs or dancing classes and you cannot afford them, so feel guilty. You may see others take their family on holiday and you do not have the funds, so you feel guilty. Or perhaps, you feel guilty for working and not spending enough time with your kids.
Everyone is doing what they can within their means and their capabilities and the only person this comparison is hurting, is you.
Your kids will remember the time you DO spend with them. They will remember how you made them feel when you hugged them after falling. They will remember that you gave them opportunities to learn new things, no matter if that is with you or in classes or school.
They will remember that you did what you could to provide for them and will appreciate the time and love you gave to them. They will probably be oblivious to the things you want to do for them because they do not know any differently. To combat any mum-guilt, say to yourself every single day 3 positive affirmations such as, ‘I am doing everything I can and that is good enough’, ‘I am the best mum I can be to my kids’ or ‘I am a kind, caring, loving mum who gives them everything within my means’.
Write them on post-it notes and put them on the mirror where you get ready, or brush your teeth to remind yourself to say them every day. The only reason to ever feel guilty is if you have harmed someone intentionally, so remind yourself daily you have nothing to feel guilty of.
Setting boundaries does not make you less of a mom
In conclusion, as the phrase goes, ‘you cannot pour from an empty cup’ and we have to ensure that our cup is filled up first.
Similar to being on a plane, we are told to put our own oxygen mask on before tending to others, ensuring that you keep some time each day to look after yourself and do the things you love.
You have not lost your purpose, personality or path just because you have children now, so set some boundaries for your life, draw in some support from your partner, babysitters, nannies, grandparents or friends and do some of the things you loved to do before children were on the scene.