How To Feel Like Yourself Again After Becoming A Mom

My boy is almost 4 years old, which means he is in a big Daddy phase. Since he’s detaching from me a bit, I have had a little more time to myself— that is, when I take it. I’m happy about this newfound freedom, but a little sad at the same time. Life as a parent is always a mixed candy bag of emotions.

Sure, I could have another baby and get thrown back into 24/7 family time filled with endless diapers and sleepless nights, or I can use this time to get back in touch with myself. And for many reasons (once written about here), I’m choosing mystery door number two.

But even moms who are chasing after more than one child and have little free time, getting back to ourselves is still essential, especially if we want to keep our sanity!

Mom Lizzie Duzynski says, “I struggle with this nearly every second of every day. If I don’t have time for exercise and good sleep and reading for myself, I honestly can’t keep my anxiety disorder tamed. Once it’s out of control, the whole family feels it.”

For many moms, taking time for themselves to enjoy self-care, explore new career choices or engage in fun hobbies is hard! It’s easy forget who we are when we are not “Mommy” and may feel guilty taking time away.

Kate Rope, author of “Strong as a Mother: How to Stay Healthy, Happy, and (Most Importantly) Sane From Pregnancy to Parenthood” says this is challenge for many reasons.

“One, I do believe parents, and, in particular, mothers, have a biological caregiving drive that orients them toward taking care of others (often at the expense of themselves),” she explains. “And, two, our society sends moms all kinds of messages about the bazillion things we should be doing and nowhere in there is anything about spending time taking real care of yourself. So, we look at it as an extra, an indulgence, when, in fact, it’s imperative for our mental health and the health of our families.”

But what does getting back to ourselves even mean? Sure, Bikram yoga a few times a week, massages here and there, and drinks with mom friends is a good start. But how do we go deeper and connect to our purpose? I just turned 44 this year, which means the years are creeping by too fast and now is the time to reflect.

According to Rope, it means getting back to the things that feed your soul.

“When my kids were 4 and 9, I began a yearlong experiment to figure out what brought me back to me,” she says. “The main thing I discovered was that daily exercise was critical to my mental wellbeing and then I took up fiddle lessons as a way to be creative and productive that had nothing to do with parenting or working.”

I wish I could play the fiddle. But that’s probably not happening for me in this lifetime. Though, I would be happy to sing on a microphone in front of a nice audience any day. Note to self: Sing more, and not just in the shower!

Fiddling aside, Rope also offered some suggestions for figuring out how to connect with your non-Mommy, get-out and-sing self:

We’re currently on vacation at Fire Island, where my husband has been running around silly on the sand with our son at the playground, while I sit on a beach a few yards away looking at the water. Sure, I can go over and play too (and I eventually will), but I’ll take these moments to look out and connect to that deeper place and voice telling me what’s next — well, after we get off this island.

Getting back to who you are is a process, but it’s the most important thing you can do for your mental health (and probably the mental health of your family, too). And the best part is that if you’re patient and willing, every deep breath and present moment can help get you there.

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