To the mum who has lost herself,
I hope you’re okay. I’m writing this today because I’ve been in your shoes. I’ve been in that place where I feel I’ve given everything to my children and had nothing left for myself. I’ve sat, and cried because I didn’t even know who I was anymore. But I’m here to tell you that it can get better, it does get better.
It takes time, it could take weeks, months, even years. But you will get there. You will get back to you.
We don’t all start at the same place. Maybe you knew who you were before you had children, maybe you were just figuring it out, maybe you had no idea but you have even less now. Whatever the case may be, you are in there, the you that isn’t called Mum, the you that has interests other than changing nappies and googling silent reflux, the you that wants a social life beyond baby groups and toddler time.
I was you once, I was you for quite a long time (some days I still am). It hit me when my daughter was a year old and I suddenly realised that I hadn’t felt like myself for such a long time. My confidence was at an all time low and on the rare occasion I found myself child free I felt like I’d lost my security blanket. If I wasn’t being ‘Mum’ then I had no idea what to say, what to do, who to be. I loved being a mum, I’d thrown myself into it with every fibre of my being, but in the process I had totally neglected myself and the person I was before it all.
I know you feel lost, I know it’s hard to even know where to begin with getting bits of yourself back. But you can do it. Start by getting dressed in the morning, I mean really get dressed. Put on something that you love to wear, not just because it’s practical or it hides the mum tum – something that you put on and feel like a queen. Do your hair, put your make up on, if that’s what you like. Then go downstairs and put some music on, a song you loved when you were fifteen, or your wedding song, or the song you cried your eyes out to when your heart first got broken. Whatever it is, listen to something that takes you to a place before children, before you became ‘mum’. While you’re at it make a playlist of your favourite songs and listen to it throughout the day. Songs that make you feel things, songs that make you want to cry, smile and take you back to your favourite memories.
Think of something you like doing for yourself, something small and achievable. Like having a bubble bath when the kids are in bed using your favourite bath bomb, with a cup of tea or a glass of bubbly. Or like doing a workout on YouTube, get your heart rate going and get lost in working on yourself for once. Maybe you love to write, or paint, or sew, or bake. Whatever it is, do it. Then start to do it more often. Keep going, keep adding things to your life that are just for you, or that are for your relationship or friendships.
You don’t need to take anything away from your children and your life as a mum to get back to yourself, you just have to keep adding things. Positive things, that make you feel good. That make you feel like you again. Don’t feel bad for thinking of yourself every once in a while, it’s actually in your children’s best interests to have a mum whose cup isn’t empty. How can you keep giving them the best of you if you never take the time to refuel yourself?
Involve your children in the things that you love too. Don’t think that just because you’re a mum now you have to listen to nursery rhymes on repeat all day. Your children will love seeing you happy, dancing to your favourite nineties soundtrack and will probably want to join in. Or you could teach them a skill you have. Or spend time telling them about things you are really interested in. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that motherhood has to look a certain play doh mould kind of way. But it doesn’t. This is your motherhood, and you’ll find you do the best job when you are doing it in a way that you love.
The balancing act of Motherhood can be so hard; when you’re juggling that many balls it is inevitable that one will get dropped from time to time. But it can always be picked up again. A different one can be put down for a bit. It is just that – a juggling act.
Don’t leave yourself at the bottom of the list for too long. We all want to give our babies everything, we all want to keep our relationships on track, we all want clean and tidy homes. But it’s so important that we don’t stop looking after ourselves and doing the occasional thing just for us.
To the mum who has lost herself, I know you’re in there – I know you’re listening. Don’t be afraid to work out who you are again. Chances are you won’t be the same you that you used to be, but give yourself time and you’ll find a new, much more wonderful version of you.
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