Becoming a mother can be like being on a roller-coaster, with many ups, downs and bumps along the way. Parenting provides little respite. New mums often discover time for themselves becomes lost in the unending responsibilities of parenthood. We find ourselves immersed in our numerous roles and responsibilities, and many of us forget the importance of retaining our own identity and maintaining our health and well-being.
Here are some ways to help you rediscover your identity and get your life back:
It’s important to fit your own ‘oxygen mask’ first. Make self-care one of your top priorities. When you look after yourself, it’s easier to manage everything else. It’s when we stop taking care of ourselves that things often fall over or break down.
Time for You
Prioritising and planning without guilt are keys to retaining your identity and well-being. Schedule ‘me’ time daily or weekly, working around your other roles and priorities. Taking time out to enjoy a favourite activity can make a huge difference to how you feel and cope.
Establish strong, healthy boundaries around work, family life and time for you. If necessary, learn to say “No” without guilt or explanation. Avoid thinking “I should…” or “I have to…”.
Establish a strong support network of family and friends – learn to ask for and accept assistance. If you don’t have friends or family to turn to, get to know other parents in the neighbourhood with similar aged children – you will probably find they are happy to help out. You may be able to return the favour or provide one another with ongoing support or childcare assistance.
Use time-saving ideas and technology, e.g. online, bulk or late night shopping. Consider employing additional support e.g. a cleaner, gardener or babysitter. Above all, do what works for you and your family.
Do a reality check. Avoid comparisons to other parents who appear to have and do it all. There is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ parent. Keep your expectations realistic, supporting a well-balanced life.
Focus on and celebrate the little wins each day, rather than beating yourself up over what doesn’t get done.
Remember it’s important to take care of yourself as well as your family. You are more than “just a Mum” – mothers are people, too.