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*I am writing this post from the perspective of a mom with young children. I’m sure I’ll have to revisit this later as my kids get older and turn into pre-teens and teens*
After having kids, it can sometimes be difficult to identify yourself as anything other than being your child’s mom. It’s really no wonder. Kids of all ages and stages take up so much time, energy, and money just to keep them alive, let alone happy. It’s super easy to get lost in the chaos of it all and lose yourself along the way in your parenthood journey.
What’s the problem with this?
This problem is really two-fold. First, you are sending a message to your child(ren) that you are not as important and have a lower priority than they do in the family. Second, you are creating a co-dependent relationship with your child. They need you to be their momma and you need them to validate your existence. Remember, you were once a whole person all your own, with a completely different set of goals, priorities, and dreams before you had kids. You don’t need your children to validate you, or give you a purpose… that’s for you to do on your own. The big trouble here is once your kids realize they are first on your priorities list, they will (unconsciously) take advantage of that. It won’t make prioritizing yourself any easier, I promise you.
So, how can you re-discover yourself?
Here is a list of 15 tips to help you retain or re-discover your identity while you are raising little kids. Some of these will feel like no big deal but believe me, you will feel the impact.
- Listen to your own music. Play your favorites in the car, your house, or load them to your phone and listen with earbuds. Music can have a huge impact on your morale. Many, many people have a special playlist to motivate them when they go to the gym, this is the same concept.
- Make your to-do list first priority. Whether it be out in town, or in your own home. Make the things you need to get done happen first. Then you can move on to others needs and wants.
- Take a day off for yourself. This is not always easy to make happen, but it can be worth its weight in gold. Make sure you have time for yourself on a regular interval, even if it’s just a couple times a year!
- Efficiency errands should be completed on your own as much as possible. Trips to the post office, grocery store pickups, or other short tasks are much easier to be done alone. Most trips like this aren’t fun for littles and can be done much quicker without them under your feet. Even a few minutes of being alone out in the world can help reinvigorate your identity.
- Get dressed every day. You be you. Wear what you feel good in. If you wear makeup, refresh your routine to a daily 5-minute face. You’ll feel a lot better about yourself when you look like the person you know you to be.
- Make decisions. Big picture and everyday decisions. There is a lot of empowerment in this. Even if you are simply ordering a drink in a coffee shop drive-through, know what you want and own it. This brings me to my next point…
- Don’t give your kids the power of everyday decisions. Try not to leave the ‘what should we have for dinner?’ or ‘what should we do today?’ or ‘where do we go first?’ questions up to your children. You can (of course) discuss these things with your kids as you see fit, but the day is really yours – you make the decisions.
- Keep up your self-care practices. Maybe you need a regular spa day or maybe you need a daily trip to the gym. It really doesn’t matter what it is, just be sure to take care of yourself without the burden of mom-guilt. Remember that taking care of yourself puts you in the best situation to take care of others.
- Create personal adventures. This can be interpreted a few different ways, but basically, it means to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Take a trip to somewhere YOU want to go (with or without your family). Take a class on something you want to learn about. Learn how to play an instrument. Start a business. Whatever dream hides in the back of your mind, start taking steps to make it a reality.
- Make friends with someone who isn’t necessarily a parent. Mom friends are amazing. They totally get you and everything you are going through, but they are often pretty focused on mom life. A friend outside of that ‘mom friend’ zone will have you talking about things other than your children, and possibly help to widen your horizons.
- Journal. Creative write. Blog. Vlog. Adult communication is sometimes few and far between. Make the best of this situation by writing.
- Create a ‘quiet time’ in your house. While your kids are doing independent activities or napping on their own, you take some time to be you. Read a book, pay bills, surf the internet, knit a sweater… try to make the best of the time by doing something that needs your total focus.
- Don’t let your children interrupt your phone calls or conversations. Teach your children not to monopolize the conversation during face to face meetings, and to respectfully stay quiet while you are on the phone. Not only is this a good lesson in manners, but it also allows you to have a thoughtful and clear conversation. Ending a lunch date or hanging up the phone because you can’t communicate with whoever you’re trying to talk to is totally unsatisfying. Honestly, I am still struggling with this one… I have a few chatterboxes in my house!
- Own the things you own, do not let your children take ownership of your things. Your phone belongs to you. Explain to your children that you share your belongings with them for a specific purpose. Maybe the phone helps to keep your kids quiet while shopping. Tell them that. It is not their toy to delete things off of, throw, chew on, or destroy by any other means. Your iPad is not just for kids games (you are just sharing the game, not the device), your insulated mug is probably not always filled with a kid-friendly fruit smoothie (you are sharing the drink, not the cup)… you get the idea. You own your things.
- Prioritize to make your most important relationship be the one you have with your spouse. Although it’s fantastic to have a close relationship with your children, your spouse should come first. They are the balance and support to your life, things that your kids can’t really provide. By shifting your efforts to your spouse, you are benefitting both your relationship and your personal needs.
Obviously, not all of these suggestions will be for everyone. Maybe some feel a little selfish or some just don’t apply to you. It’s okay. Pick and choose what you think will work best for you, or will give you the best feeling of self.
Remember that you are a crucial member of your family and a contributing member of society. You deserve to have your own identity, even when raising a family. Maybe even especially when you are raising a family.
You be you, Momma!