Some days I feel like I’m losing myself. The tiniest thing sets me off, I’ve got chores coming out my ears, and all I want to do is drink my coffee while it’s hot.
I used to love to study, read, work out. I worked outside of my apartment and saw people everyday, had normal conversations with real life adults.
Now my life is consumed with diaper changing, breast feeding, nose wiping, baby chasing. Getting to clean something without interruption is a HUGE luxury.
Entering motherhood, you take on a completely new role, and it can be isolating. The daily details of your life are no longer as relevant to your friends. You don’t have the time or energy to go out as often. Unless you have a unique situation, your husband is probably gone all day. When he is home, you don’t feel like the wife you used to be.
If you don’t proactively protect and reinforce your identity (outside of motherhood), you can quickly find that you’ve lost sight of it completely. And it can be very difficult to rediscover and reclaim once it’s slipped away.
How do you keep your identity (and sanity) when your whole existence revolves around taking care of other people? It’s still a work in progress for me, but it always will be. If I don’t fight for my identity, no one else will do it for me.
Here are seven ways you can strive to maintain a clear view of yourself amidst the bustle of motherhood.
7 Ways to Feel Like Yourself When You Become a Stay at Home Mom
Get Dressed (Almost) Every Day
Before having children, you might have excitedly anticipated wearing pajamas all day for your new uniform. While some days, this is absolutely necessary, it’s not something you want to make a habit of.
Our appearance has a huge impact on the way we present ourselves, as well as the way we view ourselves. In the working world, we felt professional and dignified when we dressed up. For a night on the town, we left home feeling sexy and confident. You wouldn’t go those places in your pajamas in most circumstances. In fact, you probably rarely leave the house in your pajamas.
The danger of always living in your loungewear is that you never feel put together and respectable. You might be embarrassed to even be seen by the UPS man.
Staying in your pajamas all the time:
- Sets the tone for your day,
- Diminishes your self-confidence and self-respect,
- Leaves you unprepared to leave the house,
- Tells your brain you aren’t going anywhere or doing anything important.
Taking just two minutes early in your day to change your clothes can totally change the trajectory of your day, and goes a long way toward solidifying your self-image and feeling a little more human.
Establish a Morning Routine
In the last couple of years, Western culture seems to have become suddenly enlightened to the impact of having a morning routine. There are entire books, podcasts, and websites dedicated to educating us on morning routines. However, as busy mamas, our morning routines will look quite different from that of a Fortune 500 CEO.
It’s great to learn how successful people structure their mornings, but it’s also necessary to realize we’re in a different season of life than they are. With littles, our morning routines need a lot of flexibility. Even so, establishing a morning routine is very important.
Until recently, I severely undervalued a good morning routine. I let my baby run my morning (which you have to do, to some extent) and before I knew it, noon had rolled around and I felt like I’d gotten nothing done. Such an unproductive feeling left me unmotivated, sluggish, and reclusive.
I kept thinking, when life gets a little less unpredictable/when my days are more consistent/when my baby is older/etc. THEN I’ll work on a morning routine.
But life did not get more predictable or consistent until I started to focus on building a morning routine. When I finally set my mind to it, though, I found that most resources out there don’t take into account the needs of both mom and baby. They expect that you have an uninterrupted block of time where you’re primarily responsible for only you.
Since I couldn’t find a structure that fit my needs, I made my own. If you’ll just tell me where to send it, I’d love to share it with you.
Even just a few minutes of fresh air does wonders to clear your muddled mommy mind. Many times when my baby was fussy and I was near the breaking point, just putting her in the wrap and going for a stroll around the block would calm her and put her to sleep.
When you’re outside, you can’t see the messes you need to clean. You can’t see the food you need to cook. You can’t hear the laundry calling your name (unless your socks are just obnoxiously loud). It’s a chance to relax, pray, think about anything, or think about nothing. Anything that calms both mom and baby is a win-win.
Go for Simple Outings
I’ve always been quite introverted, but during the last leg of my pregnancy continuing into my life postpartum, I became very withdrawn and would go days (and days) without setting foot outside of my apartment. The problem was, the more reclusive I allowed myself to be, the more anxious I was about going anywhere. You can see how that might turn into a dangerous cycle.
Our mommy hormones make us naturally a little more introverted around the time a new baby is born, but you have to be cautious that this doesn’t become the new normal.
You can counteract hermit-hood by taking simple outings. Aside from necessary errands (which I avoided like the plague), I enjoyed going to places where I wasn’t going to buy anything. I had no agenda except to get out of the apartment for a little while. I’d so somewhere like Michael’s, Home Depot, or Ikea.
Plan Dates With Yourself
If you’re going to retain your sanity as a stay at home mom, you HAVE to have time for just you. Alone. By yourself. In the beginning, this might be a half an hour at McDonalds with $1 coffee and a book, or a fifteen minute walk around your neighborhood.
As you get more comfortable leaving Baby with dad or family or whomever, these dates can be a little longer. Right now, I have a date with myself on the calendar for the end of the month for coffee, planning, and goal setting. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to it!
Pursue Something You’re Passionate About (Outside of Your Family)
You need something to get excited about other than poopy diapers and marathon cluster-feeding sessions. Home life is very repetitive and monotonous, and if you don’t have an external passion to elevate your day (and your mood), motherhood can easily descend into drudgery.
For me, it’s this blog. I have always enjoyed writing (especially research writing), and besides the release I get from writing itself, running a business forces me to be more organized and prioritize my tasks. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and productivity.
For you, it might be volunteer work or crafting or scrapbooking or organizing a mom’s group of some kind. Think about the skills you have and the activities you enjoy and find a way to use them daily.
CLAIM Your Time, Even If It’s Only Five Minutes
I am trying to go for a walk or run every other evening while my family starts dinner, and then take some time to myself to do whatever I want at home (frequently cleaning). Yes, I miss dinner (I still eat), but right now, preserving my sanity (and my patience) is worth more than one meal together, and my husband understands that it’s the only chance I have to unwind by myself. The time leaves me feeling motivated and refreshed.
Claim a block of time and make it clear you are not to be interrupted unless actual zombies are trying to break down your front door.
I wasn’t able to do this right from the start. My husband was gone from before I woke up until after I’d gone to bed with the baby. But now that we’re finally to a place where we can make it work, my me-time is invaluable.
A Final Word of Advice
Taking the time and energy to pursue yourself isn’t selfish; it’s necessary. I’ve witnessed firsthand the discord in the lives of women who lost sight of themselves while taking care of everyone else. It’s not good for their husbands, it’s not beneficial to their children, and least of all is it healthy for them.
Imagine yourself as a pitcher, and the other members of your family as cups. How can you fill any cups if the pitcher is empty?
I also want you to remember that spending time with your baby IS productive. I know as well as anyone the overwhelm of chores and messes and meal prep and errands. But babies don’t keep. This time will come and go. The housework will wait for you, so enjoy your children now.
Are you feeling the pressure of motherhood? How are you coping? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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