Wake up. Make breakfast. Play. Clean up. Make lunch. Wash dishes. Do laundry. Cook dinner. Put the kids to bed. Crash from exhaustion.
This is what my to-do list typically consists of. And that’s just on the days when I don’t have to work.
Sometimes I’m so busy taking care of my children I don’t know where my day has gone. And one day somehow turns into many. What no one told me about motherhood is how rewarding, yet all consuming, it is.
It often feels like society expects mothers to, or applauds them for, selflessly sacrificing their physical and mental energy, the food on their plate, alone time in the bathroom, and their pre-child identity. Don’t get me wrong, it does take a degree of selflessness to be a good mother. The reality is your kids needs come before your own. And this is a sacrifice I gladly make for my girls.
But it’s also important to not lose yourself in the process.
I reached a point where I didn’t even know who I was outside of my children. I couldn’t answer simple questions like, “what do you do for fun?” or “what’s the last book you read?” Does Dr. Seuss count?
All my conversations with other adults resulted in me talking about my kids. And let me tell you, your childless friends probably aren’t too enthusiastic about hearing those 25 “you had to be there” stories about your kids, or watching all those cute videos in your phone.
I also couldn’t recall the last time I had gone anywhere without a kid in tow – besides Walmart. And I often felt guilty for even considering taking time for myself.
When I realized I was drowning in taking care of others, it was no wonder I was always exhausted.
I’m usually not one to set New Year’s resolutions, but this year I did. I set a resolution to get some of myself back. Here’s how I’ve done it.
Creating a ritual for alone time. I’ve tried to let go of the guilt that I feel for wanting time alone. This means going to a coffee shop and grabbing lunch. Or having dinner and drinks with a friend. Even something as simple as stepping outside and getting some air. Any alone time that doesn’t involve a chore like grocery shopping.
Setting goals for myself. This blog was one of those goals. I’ve always loved writing and have wanted to start a blog for a long time, but I’ve always had excuses like being too busy or too tired. But I started this blog in February and I’ve posted consistently since then. You might have goals like learning a new skill or working out more. Whatever it is, go for it.
Pursuing your pre-child passions. Kids keep you busy. And the more you have, the busier you are. When you have limited time in a day, you have to take stock of what tasks are most important. And helping your kid with homework is likely going to win over watercolor painting any day. But you can fit in your hobbies. Maybe it means going to bed a little later, or waking up before everyone else, or making the most of nap time.
Create your mom tribe. Remember those “you had to be there” stories I mentioned earlier? These are the people who are going to want to hear them and will probably have a few of their own. Having people you can relate to is important. They can understand your struggles and frustrations. And even if going out and meeting friends in real life isn’t your thing – because making friends is hard – there are plenty of mom groups on social media. I’m in a few Facebook groups and I love them.
If you find yourself lost in motherhood, don’t worry, it happens. But reconnecting with yourself is beneficial not only to you, but to your children. A happier mom is a healthier mom. And that’s a good thing for everyone.