Mothering is a full time job with no time off for good behaviour, 24 hours a day, and 365 days a year for a minimum of 18 years. We all know this the minute we get pregnant and it doesn’t stop us from leaping headlong into it. The rosy glow of pregnancy and the deep love that we feel for our partner makes it all seem eminently doable – it won’t change our lives, our little bundle of joy will enrich our lives and we will be different from all the other couples we see.
This illusion lasts right up until we get to take our precious baby home and it suddenly becomes very real just how much responsibility we have taken on. All of a sudden you no longer have just one job title, you have several. You are now wife, mother and for some whatever job they do out of the home. What gets forgotten in the juggle of keeping all these balls up in the air is time for you to just be YOU!
It is easy to lose yourself in the mix of trying to be everything to everybody and it is the one thing that will save your sanity. For women who immerse themselves completely into the roles of wife and mother the day dawns when their children no longer need them and they finally realise that they have lost themselves and their world comes crashing down.
How do you navigate all your new roles and still maintain a sense of who you are?
Take time out for yourself on a regular basis; keep in touch with your girlfriends and schedule shopping trips or coffee mornings without the kids so that you can focus all your attention on being you and not just a mother.
It’s also important for you and your husband to have time to yourselves, regularly, without the kids and there is nothing wrong with having a fortnightly “date night” or more often if you can swing it.
Develop your own interests
It can be easy to allow all your interests revolve around your child: their sports events, their school activities, their music lessons. Just as you want them to be involves in lots of activities, it’s important for you to realise that you need outside interests as well. Look out for clubs that you would like to join, join a gym or take up a sport. Developing interests of your own also helps you connect with other people who may or may not have children so you can widen your network of friends.
Enjoy time to yourself
With all the rushing around and busyness of being a mum it can be nice to have some quiet time to yourself. Sitting quietly reading a book or developing a meditation practise can be another way of allowing yourself to reconnect with who you are and turn your focus inward. We often feel guilty if we are not doing something, especially when there are a never ending list of jobs to be done but time doing nothing is very restorative so allow yourself this gift.
Learn to say “NO”
There can be a lot of demands on mothers from baking goods for school functions, school trips and carpooling , it can feel like your time is not your own. Learning to say “no”is a valuable tool so start practising. We tend to make excuses so that we don’t feel guilty but a plain “No, that doesn’t work for me” leaves everyone clear that you have other commitments, they don’t need to know that your commitment is to yourself and some downtime.
Just as it says in the airline emergency drill “put the oxygen mask on yourself first” looking after yourself is vital so make sure to start while your baby is still young so that by the time they are at school looking after you is second nature.