Let’s talk about what life is really like as a new parent. I remember looking down at my daughter days after she was born and feeling overwhelmed with the fact that I was now responsible for this tiny little human. The first time I took her out by myself, I made sure I had absolutely everything that she might need (and then some!) but still felt anxious as I pushed her along the road while she slept soundly in her pram. Those who know me will know that I’m all about being organised, but even this didn’t completely settle my nerves now that I was a parent.
Before long, I began to find my flow as a mum. But then just when I thought I had it down, more adjustments were needed. As a parent, you are constantly learning what you are doing while your child is growing, and that’s okay! The issue escalates when you feel conflicted by the need to grow and learn alongside this little person.
Many of us are so consumed with the responsibility of parenthood, that we lose who we are in the process.
Yes, parenthood requires you to give your all, but you can’t pour from an empty cup. The identity issue is a common theme among parents. Who are you aside from mum or dad? Who were you before you became a parent? Who would you like to be now that you are a parent?
It may be even be that becoming a parent has helped you to find the very best version of yourself – I know I can say that without hesitation. But I can also say that I too was trying to rediscover my identity once I had my daughter. I believe that we all face this reality in one way or another, as we are called to what may be an entirely unfamiliar concept of selflessness; especially when dealing with a newborn. This beautiful, precious child is equally the most needy, vocal gift you will every receive!
Truthfully, I am still on my journey to balance who I am with my role as a mother, but I know I have made a great deal of progress from when I first held my little girl in my arms. I think it is unreasonable to expect ourselves to “arrive” at this point where we have it all together, because life just doesn’t work like that.
Parenthood is full of endless learning corners let alone curves! You have to find your way along with what you know, and even then you may not know as much as you think you know. Even what others know may not work for you in the same way that it has for them!
Parenting ultimately is a rollercoaster of experience. You need to find a way to hang on tight when things get tough, as well as to enjoy the ride and let loose as much as you can! If you feel like you are still struggling to establish your identity aside from your role as a parent, then the following tips will hopefully help you to find your way back to you:
Take some time out for just you
Of course it is important for you and your spouse to establish some time for yourselves and your marriage where possible, but it is equally as important for you to be able to spend time with yourself. I remember one day where I was feeling particularly stressed, and Liam was just about to head out for his own down-time. He could see how I was feeling, and encouraged me to head out instead while he stayed home to care for Inaya. All I did was head out to sit by the quayside, but it was exactly what I needed at that time. It also made me realise how long it had been since I had just had some time to myself like that, and reminded me of the need to make me a priority too.
Make a list of your hobbies and interests
What are the things that you loved doing before becoming a parent? What are the things that make you feel more like you? What are the things that you would do if you had more time?
Honestly, I didn’t have a great deal on my list, and I questioned if I needed to find some new hobbies and interests (that’s okay too and can be a great self-care tool). Instead, I chose to focus on what I did have on my list and try and find ways to make them a part of my life again. I began listening to podcasts while cooking and travelling. In the time that I would usually spend doing chores, I tried to instead include at least an hour a week to start writing again. If you really want to make time for something, you will find a way to make it work. Even if it involves adjusting your routine to factor in at least an hour a day for yourself, that hour can mean all the difference.
Do the things that make you feel good
As a mum I’m talking to every mum about getting your hair or nails done, buying a new outfit, even shaving your legs! (A personal achievement for any new mum…) For the dads this could also be a fresh haircut, a new outfit or pair of shoes, and of course a good shave never hurt you either!
One of the things that helped me to still feel like me as a new mum was making an effort with myself for myself. I wasn’t doing it for my husband, I was doing it for all of me.
There is just something about taking an interest in your own appearance that takes you from blah to okayyyyy and creates a complete mindset shift. You act differently when you feel good, and I noticed how much it has and continues to help to keep me feeling myself. Of course we all have our lazy days, which are a parent’s essential! But if it’s been a while since you feel like you’ve had a reason to make an effort, try making yourself the reason to start doing so again.
As I type these words, I’ve been sat in my car facing the waves of the sea while my daughter is at home taking her nap. I’ll soon be back to do as we parents do, but I’ll be able to do so feeling energised thanks to the time that I’ve taken for me.
Who am I aside from mum? I am a writer, a dreamer, a thrill-seeker, a creative-thinker – I am all of these things and so much more, but being a parent is by far one of the crowns that I am most proud to wear. Tell me… who are you?
By finding yourself again, you will only strengthen your impact as a parent and be able to better guide your child in building their own identity. The following questions can help you to get started:
- What would you do if you had a day to yourself?
- What makes you smile?
- What gets you excited?
- What one thing do you miss that you used to do for yourself?
- If your child was to see the way you see yourself right now, what would they discover on the inside?