After my second baby was born, I was an emotional wreck. I had two babies 18 months apart and my husband’s job often required him to work 50 to 60 hours each week. I was alone with my kids a lot.
Every waking moment was spent making a meal, cleaning up a meal, rocking someone for a nap, coaxing someone else to take a nap, and changing diapers. My entire day revolved around taking care of my children and keeping our home from feeling like a pigpen. I felt a deep desire to embrace my new role as mother and homemaker, and put everything I had into staying afloat.
It didn’t take long before I had a meltdown about not feeling like me anymore. Where was the girl who loved learning classical piano pieces? Where was the woman who enjoyed writing research papers on child development? Where was the friend who loved laughing at the movies? Where was the reader, the runner, the singer? She was buried alive under this divine (and exhausting) calling to care for and nurture her children.
After a good long talk about how I was feeling and what I missed in my life, my husband encouraged me to make time for those things. Not all of them all at once (there is a time and a season; after all, kids need to be fed), but surely I did not need to be a martyr and resent these beautiful children we created.
It took a lot of juggling, patience, and planning, but eventually I was able to make time in my regular routine for activities that bring me joy. With a little juggling, patience and planning, you can, too. Here are some ideas how to approach it.
Step 1: Brainstorm
Get out a piece of paper (yes, right now) and write a list of all the things you would do if you had an entire day to yourself; everything—grand and small. Do you like bubble baths? Love to sleep in? Do you enjoy a long hike? Prefer curling up with a book? If you’re still not sure what your hobbies are, write down what you did for fun when you were a child. Did you enjoy drawing? Running in the grass? Baking beside your grandmother?
Step 2: Pick a Time of Day
Whether you are a stay-at-home or working mom, you may not have a lot of free time (if any). But we all get the same 24 hours and I am sure there are segments of your day when you can make room for something fun. Maybe after the kids’ bedtime, or in the morning before everyone wakes up? Do your kids nap or go to preschool? Substitute some fun in your morning instead of running errands! For instance, I have found that the 15 minutes I wait in the carpool lane after school is the perfect time to flip through a book or fashion magazine, which is one of my guilty pleasures.
Step 3: Start With Just One Thing
I have found it is less stressful to make small changes in my routine; so for now choose just one of those things on your list and do it twice.. So, two bubble baths, or two days you can sleep in (with the support of your partner, if possible), or two evenings you turn off the TV and read a book.
Being busy is not a death sentence. If you have time to scroll on your phone, you have time to go on a walk with your child in the stroller. If you have time to watch TV, you have time for a 20 minute soak in the tub with a good magazine and some music. Adulthood provides less free time than we had as kids (how many times did I tell my mom I was bored over the summer?), but you can realign your priorities to make time for what serves you. You are worth the effort, You can make time for you
QUESTION: Do you feel like you have lost part of your previous self since you have become a mother? What are some things that would make you feel more like yourself again?
CHALLENGE: Take some time today to think of a list of activities you want to make time for and commit to doing one of them, two times, this week.
Edited by Sharon Brown and Nollie Haws.
Image provided by the author.