When you become a parent, it changes you. Your heart starts to live outside yourself, and in these little people that are depending on you for all their needs to be met.
If you have a new baby, they can't do anything on their own. They can't walk or talk, they cry to express their needs, and you have to learn to decipher the cries. You have to feed them, change them, bathe them, and put them to sleep. Multiple times a day.
As a parent, this puts you into a state of hyper-awareness where you never fully relax. You have to be constantly alert for what they are going to need next. There is always work to be done, always needs to be tended to.
This can make you lose your previous carefree self along the way. You change with your children, and your identity starts to revolve around being someone's mom instead of being yourself.
Reclaiming your identity in motherhood
At some point, your children get older, and start to need you less. They learn to do things on their own. They can walk, talk, feed themselves and toilet train. They start going to sleep on their own.
After that happens, you get to reclaim a bit of yourself during motherhood, and become a bit of a separate person again. You get to have an identity of your own again, in addition to being someone's mom.
You get to have time for your work and your sleep. You get to eat, pee and shower alone again.
This reprieve allows you to find something that you love to do in your... spare time?! again.
But what happens when you aren't used to having spare time anymore? When you have forgotten all of your hobbies and interests? When you haven't seen your friends or gone out for drinks in ages?
It can take some time to adjust your routine to include these things that make your life more whole. To disentangle yourself from your little people for a while. That is what makes you begin to reclaim yourself.
Remember, your kids don't need you as much, or in the same ways as when they were babies anymore. Having some independence is good for kids as they are growing, and you need to let them have that, and take space for yourself at the same time.
Don't become a helicopter mom.
You don't need to over-mother your children as they are getting older. You don't need to be a part of everything they do. Otherwise, you are going to be in for a shock when your empty nest time comes.
As the mom of an adult and a 6 year old, I have an interesting perspective. I have a little one at home, and one thousands of miles away.
I remember when my oldest first started to drive. I had made my schedule around hers for so long that I finally had... freedom. I didn't know what to do with it. I finally got to change my work hours to a time that wasn't made around her school schedule. I got to decide what I was going to do with all that extra time.
I got to have hobbies and time for friends again. It is important to do that so you don't become a one-dimensional person all the time.
It is OK to be more than a mom. That is important to reclaim. And, you don't have to wait until your kids are teenagers to do it. It is OK to hire a babysitter without feeling guilty. You can take time away. You can let your kids learn to be on their own or with other people. It is good for you, and a good skill for them to learn too.
Take time for self-care
When you are a mom, it is also important to take some time for self-care. In the beginning, this can be as simple as taking a shower by yourself. As the kids get older, you can incorporate your skincare routine, yoga, mediation, journaling, or going for walks.
You can make time every day to do something for yourself for at least 15 minutes a day in the beginning. Then, as you get used to taking that time away, you can take an hour for yourself every day.
Self-care is good for your mental and physical health. It can make you happier, less stressed and have lower anxiety and depression.
Making time for yourself on a daily basis can help you rediscover what you like about yourself and your life.
If you are just starting out with self-care, you can take some time for a long journal session to figure out who you are, what you want, and what makes you YOU instead of just a mom. You can write about your thoughts and feelings and reconnect with yourself.
Or, you can do a long meditation and see what thoughts come up. This can give you a direction too.
When you become a mom it is easy to get wrapped up in your kids' needs to the point that you neglect your own. Sometimes for years.
It is important to detach somewhat from your kids so you don't become a helicopter mom as they get older. This can help you and your kids both.
You can take time for your hobbies and friends, and time for self-care each day. This can allow you to reconnect with yourself again, and find an identity for yourself in addition to motherhood.