If you’re reading this and you’ve eaten one too many LEGO cookies today, know Goodnight Moon like the back of your hand, and have circles the size of Mars ringing your eyes, this one’s for you.
Motherhood is demanding. I know this because I am a mother. Love propels us to new heights of adrenaline when a little person is dependent on us. I remember being amazed by my energy output in that first year as if I was on robot mode with endless battery power. I had only short moments to myself, which were often spent deciding between showering and eating, and never accomplishing either.
One day, after 12 months of diapering, feeding, changing, nurturing and playing with my little girl, I looked in the mirror and wondered where the heck “I” had gone. And while the self-neglect had been mostly inevitable, it was now up to me to reclaim a sense of balance, commit to wellness, and find myself again.
Sound a bit like you?
Motherhood changes us, and we can’t ever go back to the way things were. But if you’re yearning to put yourself into the picture again, here are some steps you can take to kick-start that journey.
1. Set Goals
Goal setting will get you excited about life and will put your own dreams at the forefront again. A fun way to come up with some ideas is to create a vision board using magazine clippings or Pinterest. While it’s important to have goals as mothers, orient these goals around you and what you envision for your future as an individual.
2. Book Some “Me” Time
Perhaps you have a hard time stepping out the door for some pampering because you feel guilty the moment you leave. Think of it this way: your children benefit when you take care of yourself. It also teaches them a valuable lesson, which is self-love. Whatever makes you happy and leaves you feeling refreshed and renewed, carve out time regularly and make it happen.
3. Talk Adult
Sure, it’s fun talking about potties, gackas (crackers), and Mr. Woof! Woof! all day, but your sanity could use a break. Get a babysitter and head out with some girlfriends, or make a date with your partner (chances are that relationship could use a bit of TLC, too). Make a point of not talking about motherhood, sleeping patterns, or poops. You’ll be pleased to discover you haven’t lost your intellect to hours of block building.
4. Say Sayonara to Harmful Influences
Motherhood is a big lesson in letting go. This includes pruning negative influences out of your life. If we tune in closely, we know what makes us feel icky, and what drains our precious energy. Surround yourself with positive people who offer understanding, compassion, and support. Dr. Seuss put it well: “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
5. Challenge Yourself
Repetition is one of the best ways to start creating new habits and routines. So is accountability. Choose one aspect of your wellness you want to improve, set some goals around it, and have a friend hold you accountable. If time is an issue, find ways to achieve these goals with your baby in tow, whether it’s including him or her in a smoothie challenge (babies love it!), getting exercise and fresh air together or meditating (OK, that last one was a joke).
6. If You’re Struggling, Talk About It
Motherhood is the most fulfilling thing you’ll ever do, but sometimes it’s just plain tough. In the same moment, we can feel like supermom of the year and the biggest failure the world has ever seen. During the rough patches, it’s important to talk about it with someone you trust and ask for help, even if it’s just cleaning the kitchen or having a double-shot cappuccino hand-delivered to you. Learn to express your needs so that your community can help you find balance again.
If all this sounds rather daunting, remember what Lao-Tzu said: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Choose one and commit. Soon enough you’ll be saying “hello!” to yourself once again.
Photo Credit: Paul Zizka Photography