When you became a mother, you did not stop being YOU! The you that grew up wanting to make beautiful things, or be a boss, or dreamed of changing the world.
It’s something I hear over and over again from my clients – “since having a baby, I feel like all I do is wash bottles, make meals, wipe butts, and pick up toys. I don’t feel anything like who I used to be.” Been there?
If you’re anything like me, when you were younger you had this idea that your identity was so simple. Or that it was just one thing. I’m an athlete. I’m a musician. I’m a nerd. And then for me – I’m a student. I’m a lawyer. I’m a wife. And it seemed to suddenly transition to “I’m a mom.”
But we’re complex beings and I continue to learn that we’re all many different things and that’s ok. In fact, it’s awesome. And the more we can explore and connect with these other identities outside of motherhood, it’ll actually make us better moms.
It’s good for our kids to see that mom isn’t “just” mom. She’s a woman who had a life before me, and will have a life after me, and she does things that don’t just revolve around me! Newsflash – our kids aren’t the center of the universe! I want my kids to see me do a bunch of things – yeah sometimes I listen to gangsta rap and not Cocomelon. Sometimes I read novels and not just Curious George. I have my own friends. I work on many different projects. I lead businesses. I serve at my church. And no matter what all this looks like, it shouldn’t cause you guilt. It should be celebrated and encouraged!
You’re the exact person God created to be their mom – on purpose. And you should show up as your whole self. Whomever you were before you were their mom, she still matters.
If we’re doing this parenting thing right, the better of a job we do, the less they’re going to need us when we launch them into this world. Mamas, we’d better have a life that exists separate and apart from our kids, or when they leave us, we’re going to have a major identity crisis.
So in this season, let’s make sure we don’t lose our “AND” and by that I mean, I’m a mom AND an artist. I’m a mom AND a business owner. I’m a mom AND a runner. I’m a mom AND a comedian – whatever that AND is for you.
We can be more intentional about building time for ourselves – not to do errands or basic self-care like going to the dentist, but time to really pour into our souls and explore the women that God created us to be beyond a mom. Here are 4 ways you can start – 4 Ways to Maintain Your Identity Outside of Motherhood.
1. Have your own friends
We’re women, and for the most part, we are very social creatures, and we thrive on communication and connection. And more than that, we weren’t created to do this life alone. We need each other.
I remember a time before I had kids, right when we moved to Miami. We left all our friends and everything we knew, and I remember praying for friends. Like real friends – friends who’d be around in all seasons, friends who’d know me and my family and watch my kids grow, friends I could do life with. And God showed up big – like big big.
And maybe that’s you right now. Maybe you’re feeling isolated in this season and like you don’t have that circle of friends, or even that one friend. I would encourage you to put yourself out there – I promise you’re not the only one. Talk to that mom in the park you think you could hang out with, talk to that neighbor you see pulling her kids in wagon down the street, maybe your kids go to daycare or school. Get involved in your church or a community organization you’re passionate about. Post in a mom FB group in your community. For the most part, women (especially moms), are looking for community and you initiating a conversation might even be an answer to someone else’s prayer – how cool is that?
2. Take up hobbies that bring you joy
What are the things you loved to do before you had kids? Maybe you loved hosting dinner parties, or thrifting, or blogging, or playing an instrument, or hiking. These are the things that make you feel alive. Things that clear your mind. Bring your peace. This is how you best find rest.
Hobbies help take our mind off our to-do list for a moment. They help give us perspective. Just an hour doing something you love – you’ll feel encouraged, refreshed, and yup, its going to make you a better mom.
Speak to the people in your support circle and tell them you’ve decided it’s important for you to still do things you really enjoy. And then ask them to help you come up with a plan to make it happen. This doesn’t have to be some big elaborate thing – but ask your husband or your mom or a friend or hire a sitter to help you find a block of time to yourself to do whatever it is – play the instrument, write the poem, craft the craft. And then start small – maybe you just do this once a month and see how it goes and adjust.
And then make it a priority. You know it’s ok to go for a hike instead of washing the floors, right? And that it’s ok to go thrifting and fold that laundry later tonight? Give yourself the permission – this is me giving you the permission!
3. Set and work towards personal goals
Having personal goals and then having that sense of accomplishment as you take the small steps towards completing the goal does so much in helping you maintain your sense of self. Like your hobbies, it allows you to focus on something unrelated to motherhood – something that’s yours.
So let’s say your friend offers to take your kids to the park (yay!) or your afternoon meeting got canceled and you find yourself with some time to yourself. At first, you start to get that tingly sensation – time to spend with a friend, time for my hobby, time to work on my goals!
But then that analysis paralysis hits, right?! What are you going to do with this unexpected freedom? You start feeling anxious – like the time is slipping away and you’re not using it wisely. And then you start Googling. You’re so wrapped up in making a decision that before you know it, aw man—your break is over!
Next time, you need a Motherhood Moments List. Here’s the idea – you take the time beforehand, to write a list of things you love and want to do. Things that you wish you could do, but cant seem to find the time for. That way, when you unexpected get a stretch of time to yourself, you just whip out that list and bam – you pick an activity and go for it!
To get you started I’ve create a blank Motherhood Moments List for you. It’ll just take you a few minutes to fill out with your activities and I think you’ll find it to be really helpful!
4. Connect with your partner
Parenting is one of those things where the better we are at it, the less we’ll be needed one day. That means in 18 years – give or take depending on how old your kids are, there will come a point where they leave and do their own thing. And you and your partner had better have some deeper connection than simply having been co-parenting for the last 18 years because that season of life will have passed. Just like we were so much more than moms before we had kids, our relationships had their own identities before we had kids too.
Our marriages need to be prioritized before and above our kids. It sounds controversial, but it’s so true.
Our kids are going to come and go – we’re going to have to launch them into this world. But we made a life-long commitment to our spouses that we can’t neglect for 20 years while we’re raising kids. I would encourage you to make some time to date each other. Put it on the calendar. Make a plan for the kids now. It doesn’t have to be elaborate – go for a walk, go on a coffee date, work on a project together. Find a way to connect in your relationship that has nothing to do with the kids, the house, the chores, etc.
Maybe just choose one of these 4 ideas to start and celebrate the small steps! I want to hear all about it! Leave a comment here or shoot me a DM @themotherhood.podcast and let me know how it goes!