It’s Tuesday morning, and time for another round of Build ‘Em Up with Kelly, Erin and Courtney. This week we’re talking about remembering you and taking care of yourself and keeping your identity. When things get busy and life gets overwhelming how do you make time for yourself?
Your life will never be the same.
Yes, I know. I heard that phrase over and over during my pregnancy. In fact, it was thrown my way so many times that when I would hear that phrase, I would mentally check-out. In my head, I was preparing a to-do list and nodding my head politely, while the person talking took on the speaking voice of Charlie Brown’s teacher. It was always some variation of the classic pep-talk people love to give expecting moms. I use the term pep-talk loosely because my morale was never actually raised in the process.
Looking back, you know what I wish someone would have done differently? I wish someone would have looked me straight in the eye and said something like this:
The nights are going to be long, the tears plenty. That first phase will be scary and full of uncertainty, but it won’t last. You’ll find yourself again, you’ll smile more smiles than you ever imagined, you’ll love deeper than you’ve ever known. Sure things will be different, but the world isn’t ending honey, your season is just changing.
I’ll be sure and tell that to myself next time, actually. Those first few weeks and even months were scary and unexpected. I truly felt like I had left me behind when I became a mother, and I would never be able to fit into her clothes again. And maybe I believed that. I was immersed in this role, and so caught up that it began to completely define me. The problem with motherhood being all consuming is that it becomes easy to let our other roles fade into the background a bit, it becomes even easier to let ourselves fade into the background.
When we forget about ourselves, we forget about the little things that make us happy. Because when we think about the things that made us happy before being a mother, we think about things that we didn’t do with our children. Where is the middle ground? That’s tough, because there is no model of perfection, no perfectly balanced scale that you can use to base your decisions. I want to share with you, a few things that helped me find myself and evolve as a mother, yet keep my identity in tact.
- Find something that is yours. I mean, really yours. Some people have a love for running or yoga, maybe baking or playing tennis. For me, I love to write and share on this space. It’s mine and I don’t consult with others on it or answer to anyone about it. I don’t have specific time lines (unless I accept them) or restraints on my writing. It’s a great space to come and share what’s on my heart, or what I’ve been working on in the house, or a party that I planned. All things that I love and sharing them becomes an added bonus. Here’s the catch, take it seriously. I’m not talking about blogging specifically, I’m talking about whatever it is that you do for yourself. Negotiate times and don’t put yourself last every day.
- Take care of yourself and take time for you. Sure, I can’t do all of the things I did before I had a child and give time to everything else that is deserving. The dynamics have shifted, my season has changed. At the same time, I can’t completely let myself go either. You know what they say about when mama ain’t happy. I have things that are non-negotiable like getting my hair done (I just schedule it in advance) and the occasional pedicure. Taking time for myself was instrumental. Whether you stay up late at night or prefer early mornings, take some time for yourself. It can be mindless reality television or online shopping, baking a technical dessert or reading a book. Anything that allows you to check out of caring for everyone else’s needs and listen to your own.
- Give up the guilt. I still struggle with this some days, I’m not even sure where it comes from most of the time. I always feel better in the end and that’s always better for everyone else. We put immense pressure on ourselves as mothers and use other peoples words to project guilt onto ourself. Everyone has different needs and parents differently, listen to your heart and decide what’s good for your family. You have a friend who never takes a girls night? It doesn’t make you a bad mother because you do anymore than it makes her a bad mother because she does. Our needs are different, our seasons are different, our hearts are different. I had to step back and really assess the source of my guilt. Was I doing anything to feel guilty about? No? Then I was probably letting my emotions get the best of me.
Sometimes it’s impossible to keep everyone else happy, but you can keep yourself happy and that will impact the happiness of everyone around you. Don’t forget about you.