Remembering the y-o-u after mommy
Updated: Apr 29, 2019
6 strategies for remembering to be you after you become a mom.
Part 1: What the baby books left out
We all have aspirations for what we hope to be like when we become mothers. Our aspirations are often defined by what we’ve seen, what our mothers did, and the messages we’ve received from a young age.
And I’m sure you’ve heard from friends, or once thought yourself, that you had to do all-the-things before having kids because you’re basically dead after!
Well I’m here to tell you that it’s not true! I made a commitment to myself to never stop growing and to always continue to invest in myself and who I am outside of ‘mom’. But you have to make an effort because not-losing-yourself is HARD!
Here’s 6 things to do in the first year of motherhood that will remind you who you are and push you to grow. If you’ve missed the first year and didn’t do these things… Do. Them. Now. It’s never too late!
6 strategies to remember y-o-u after becoming mommy.
1. Trust other people to take care of your baby
This is essential. If you can’t commit to this, it’s going to be very hard to lead a life independent of your child. This means letting go of control, because no one will do it like you.
Rest assured, baby will still love you! According to Attachment Theory, very early on, your baby establishes its connection to you. Having other caregivers who are loving, affectionate, and familiar will be good for your baby and will not take away the love they have for you.
Why this matters for mom-the-individual: You need opportunities to remember that you are more than a fulfiller-of-needs. A snack-holder, butt-wiper, booboo-kisser, bottle-filler, and more. You are you and you deserve to grow and evolve.
2. Get a real hobby!
I was recently asked by Working-Momkind to list my hobbies, it said: “Think about the things you like to do when the kids are sleeping.” After my kid is asleep I wash dishes, finish laundry, and send out a few emails. If I’m lucky I read a few chapters, write for this blog, or catch up on Bravo TV. This is not a hobby!
I want your new hobby to have these 3 criteria: you learn something new, it requires regular engagement, and puts you in a state of flow.
Here’s a few ideas:
Take an improv, acting, marshal arts, or dance class
Get certified in something: yoga, childbirth education, something related to your career, essential oils, career coaching (bonus if your job pays for it!)
Take a cooking class - and practice your skills!
Commit to an exercise regimen and do it during bedtime at least 1X/week
Create! Paint, draw, sketch, create pottery, pick up a camera - preferably don’t scrapbook; you’ll only get stressed when you fall behind
3. Travel (sans kids!)
Travel solo, with friends, or with your partner. But for the love of all things independence, just do it!
Here’s the perks of each:
Solo travel, sounds awesome, but will I get bored?!
Here's what you can do:
Sign up for a conference. Meet like minded people and learn more about one of your hobbies, or something work might pay for.
Attend a fitness or meditation retreat.
Venture by yourself. If this is something you’ve done before, don’t stop just because you’ve had kids, pick a destination and go!
Travel with friends, sounds awesome, but who has the time?!
Here’s what you can do:
Say ‘yes’ to the trip you probably would’ve said ‘no’ to in baby’s first year, i.e. the bachelorette party, 30th birthday trip, or bridal shower weekend. Say, yes! But also, don’t be afraid to sneak in alone time on the trip either!
Visit a friend who lives in another city
Get another mom-friend to do a weekend getaway with you
Travel with your partner! sounds awesome, but why shouldn’t we just travel with the baby?!
Here’s what to do:
Do whatever you did to have fun before having your baby. Don’t just catch up on sleep, actually reconnect. Esther Perel says that when we do so, we increase erotic desire!
4. Go play another role: Daughter, sister, aunt, or cousin.
Once we have kids it’s easy to forget the many roles we played before becoming a mom. The roles that shaped who we are and who we have become. So if you want to get in touch with the you-before-mom, try this:
Be the daughter:
Travel one-on-one with your mom, go visit her for a weekend and stay in your childhood bedroom, go to your favorite local spots, and reminisce about your childhood. I’m sure there’s a high school scrapbook dying to be combed through.
Be the cool aunt:
Maybe your sister or friend-who’s-like-a-sister had kids before you and you used to spend so much time gushing over their photos and enjoying trips to the park but now you’re chasing your little one around. Go be an aunt. Get in quality time with those kids and get one-on-one time with your sibling.
Be the sister or cousin:
Have a sister or cousin who is getting married, celebrating a milestone birthday, going through a breakup, having a baby, or something else? Show up for them! Leave your partner or parent to take care of your little one (see #1) and go shed wisdom, bring wine, share laughs, and bond.
Note: I recently followed along as Jennie Mo of MoMommies left her daughter and husband to go be with her sister as she prepared for the birth of her 3rd child. She talked through role-switching from mom and wife to sister and how special it felt to do that for her sister.
Partying doesn’t have to equal drinking or hangovers.
This one is a personal favorite of mine because I love to party, and always have. I love music that’s too loud to hear myself think. I love house parties with friends. I love dancing till my feet hurt. I love full belly laughter.
If you want to create moments where you feel like mom-the-individual then it’s important to have moments where you aren’t carrying the mental load. Where you free your mind and move your body, and for me this only happens when I’m dancing and listening to music.
I’ll share my strategies for being a couple that still parties after having kids at a later date, but for now:
Plan a girl’s night and have your partner do the morning duty;
When you’re on that sans-kids-trip, go dancing together;
Head to a concert and don’t take a seat!
6. Seek out new professional opportunities
It's easy to get stuck somewhere because we're thinking about having a baby soon, we've just returned from maternity leave, or we're afraid to rock the boat. But you learn a lot about yourself when you leave a job, an industry or start something new.
Even if you don't make a big change it's important to keep asking yourself: what do I want to spend my life on? What's important to me in my work is it culture, benefits, prestige, the cause?
We talked about this at our event in January, Climbing the Corporate Ladder Baby Step by Step, on advancing your career while growing your family. Our panel of experts had some great insights such as:
How to see your maternity leave plan as an asset (oh and here’s a guide to write a great one).
If your employer is not understanding to the demands of pregnancy and new motherhood, it’s a good sign they won’t be supportive as your baby grows.
These points of transition can be a great time to make a change.
Let me know what you've done to invest in you since becoming a mom!
And if you feel like you've lost your sense of self and need some support to get back there, get in touch, Julie@thematernityplanner.com