What I learned: Keeping Your Identity
I hear a lot of Mum’s talking about ‘losing themselves’ since having a baby and it’s very common to feel swallowed whole by becoming a parent. I thankfully have not had this experience. Yes there are moments when everything is a little overwhelming but I’m a strong believer that you can keep your identity and that you’re more than a Mum.
Some of you might love being the kind of mother that gives up everything for their child, more power to you! But that isn’t me. I’m learning how to be a present and dedicated Mum, whilst also taking care of myself and pursuing goals of my own. Here are some things that have been working for me –
1. Try and keep your old friends – When you have a baby there are heaps of places to make new friends – mothers groups (all the ladies in my group are amazing!), hospital classes, exercise groups, swimming lessons, paint and play. The list can go on for ever. These outlets are perfect for meeting other families at a similar stage of life to you and to talk about baby stuff. But it’s very easy to get caught up in these groups and they can become your whole social life, which is fine if that’s what you want. For me I wanted to make these new friends but I also wanted to make the effort to keep my old friends. Sometimes it can be difficult to go out at night or even during the day with a new baby, there are all sorts of things like cluster feeding, bedtime, witching hour that you have to fight against. So we found an alternative, brunch. It sounds simple but it’s been a wonderful way for us to keep social and almost every weekend we have people over for bacon, eggs and waffles. Your friends without kids are a wonderful resource to have, they can help keep you sane! Talk to them about things that don’t include poop and vomit, talk to them about the things you love that don’t include your baby. They can be a great reminder of who you are when you’re not a parent.
2. Get a babysitter – I know this isn’t possible for everyone, but if it is use them! You don’t have to go out for a long time, but have a coffee date for an hour with your partner and don’t talk about baby stuff. I left Walt for the first time at 4 weeks and it was tough, but you know what? I came home and he was fine. He barely noticed I was gone and I realised this whole babysitter thing was harder on me than on him.
3. Have something just for you – It may be exercise or a hobby of some description, but make sure you fit in some ‘you time’. For me it’s been getting back into blogging again. While I was pregnant and exhausted I totally let it slip, but now that I have energy again it’s a wonderful outlet to express my feelings.
4. Dream – A few years ago I wrote a post entitled ‘Don’t Dream Too Much‘ and I totally stand by that concept, you can’t be always thinking about the future because you’ll miss out on enjoying the present. This is especially important when you have a baby, they’re not going to be this tiny for long so we should enjoy them. But there is balance in everything, when you’re sitting around the house covered in puke with a screaming baby that won’t stop, dreaming can be nice. But dream attainable dreams, maybe think about career moves or family holiday ideas. Thoughts that will enrich your life and not ones that will lead to discontent. The funny thing with dreams, is that they can quickly become reality with a little hard work.
5. Separate your time – As I mentioned I’m learning to be a present Mum. Because as much as I want to keep my identity, Walt is not only my responsibility, he’s my priority. So when I’m with him, I’m actually with him. We play, laugh and enjoy each others company. If he’s napping or playing happily on his own I will take time for me (and housework.) This is when I’ll write or do a little shopping online. Before I did this I would find myself getting frustrated with Walt for being a baby. I would be thinking about all the things I needed to do or wanted to do instead of just being with him. Once I gave up the multitasking (even if it was only in my head) when he needed me life went much more smoothly.