Do you ever feel like you are so consumed by motherhood/work/life that you have forgotten who you are?
Think about your late teens or early 20’s- were you in an expressive phase of your life? Were you independent and in control?
I certainly was and it is that exact feeling of empowerment that I feel is hard to find in my ‘Mum Lifestyle’. Quite rightly, I am no longer my no.1 priority.
I am going to share 3 tips that you can add to your ‘Mum Lifestyle’ to help you start on the journey to find yourself again. Remember - you deserve it!
Let's talk about identity…
When I was expecting my first baby there was so much hype and excitement around her arrival that I got caught up in the importance of my pregnancy journey and birth plan. I went to pregnancy yoga so that I could relax. As an expectant mother I wanted to be in a calm mental state, in control and ready…. I can hear you laughing at my under-preparedness already.
Let's be honest things rarely go to plan with labour and childbirth, so it goes without saying that my birth plan quite quickly got chucked out the window and the focus was very much on making sure that my lovely daughter arrived safely.
The experience was incredibly formative for me as a woman. As a mother, it doesn't matter whether childbirth was traumatic or an empowering experience for you, it changes you. It feels as if you leave yourself at the door when you arrive at the hospital and you don't leave as the same person that you were when you entered.
I now have two wonderful daughters and I feel incredibly fortunate. At the same time, as the years have gone by I have felt more and more like I'm at the bottom of the pecking order. The priorities that existed in my pregnancy (self care, relaxation and pampering) have long but disappeared.
Fear not, I am going to share the following 3 simple actions that have had a positive impact on my sense of self.
There's nothing better than feeling like you have turned up for yourself to take ownership of your body and your mind! Let’s make time for your well-being and your health.
Whilst it can be challenging to fit it into a busy home life there are ways to make it easier. Pick an exercise that you can do from home such as an online workout, online yoga class or running, which you can do from your front door.
Face your fear
For a lot of people yoga is scary and running is an impossible task. I have spoken to a number of people that have said “I can't do that, I'm not very flexible” or “I’m just not a runner”. This is a massive misconception. It is not about being an athlete. It is about making time for you.
The best part is that it will:
Give you a boost.
You will have a sense of achievement. You turned up and you have listened to your body and your breath.
Mean you have invested in you!
Help you to reconnect with your inner self.
Promote a calm state of mind and help improve your wellbeing.
It also helps you stay balanced when #mumlife gets too much and you are about to lose your s***.
2. Write a List
Actually write 2…
It's so easy when you write a to-do list to just fill it up with absolutely every thought that is in your mind, every single tiny task that needs dealt with at home or at work and it just isn't possible to do all of those things in a day. Especially when you're at home with small children who need lots of attention, snacks and make quite a lot of mess. So the key here is to learn to prioritise what tasks really need done. This is why you need to write two separate lists.
Every night before bed sit down and add to or edit these lists. The reason I say to do it at night is that there is nothing worse than getting to bed (usually totally burnt out) to remember something you need to get done- queue a restless night's sleep.
This is your brain cleansing list
Write down every to-do you can think of
Be as specific as you can about what is required for each task
Look at the brain dump list and pick three of the most urgent items. This will become your list of actionable tasks for the next day.
The three things that you are aiming to achieve the next day can be simple tasks. Often the simplest of tasks can feel like the most impossible. Putting the bin out for example - sounds simple enough- but involves me removing two children from my legs and then asking them kindly to stand at the door whilst I run down the drive. This inevitably means one or both will accidentally fall over and injure themselves in that exact moment (what is with that?).
The small tasks can sometimes present themselves as huge challenges but that’s why this list system works well in helping you to make personal achievements. The action of ticking off tasks on your list makes you feel good.
By limiting it to three tasks means you can achieve your whole agenda in a day and feel like Superwoman!
Before having children - every day was about productivity, it was about being busy and getting stuff done. This is a way to have a small slice of that pie again.
3. Gratitude Journal
I've put this in my three tips because I find it all too easy to be worn down by the small challenges of the day-to-day tantrums, spilt milk, the 300 million trips to the bathroom, the dinner that you cook that doesn't get eaten or just the overall exhaustion.
However, like me, what you might realise is that when the kids eventually go to bed and fall asleep, that you love and adore them more than you can ever express. You look at photos of them and you reminisce about how quickly time is passing and how adorable they really are.
This is where the gratitude journal can really help you to embed that thinking throughout the rest of your day.
This tip isn't about necessarily connecting with an old self it's about creating or nurturing part of your new self.
You as a mother. It nurtures the positive associations you have with motherhood and although it doesn't feel like it sometimes- you are doing a great job! I think that's something that you should be telling yourself more often. By starting each new day with a positive mindset that you're grateful for your experiences, good and bad. It also allows you to be more present in your day and feel more rewarded by what you do and all the energy that you put in as a mother.
This is a disciplined activity a bit like yoga. It is a habit that needs to be started and repeated so that it becomes embedded in your day-to-day life.
It is simple. Every night (or morning if it suits you better) write down three things that you are grateful for. These things could be about mum stuff, they could be about your passions or interests, your health, your body, your husband, your home or your wider family.
Then in the morning when you wake up remind yourself of the things you have written and start your day. This will help you:
to be present and connect with a positive part of yourself. Creating positive associations which in turn will have a positive impact on your self worth and experiences. Giving your mind and your body the time and focus that it deserves.