Coping with change - Losing Yourself To Motherhood
From Lover to Mother.
Becoming a mother for the first time can be a wonderful experience but very often once the novelty has worn off, fatigue has taken its toll and then perhaps a second and third child join the ‘pack’ suddenly it doesn’t feel very sexy any more and you start wondering what happened to that ‘woman’ who had a ‘life’ before the family came along. You start realising that the only things you talk about or post on facebook are pictures of your children in fancy dress or even worse (their new school uniform) and the latest recipes as you compete with other mothers for the best gluten free cup cakes. Yawn alert! Then you come crashing down with a bump and remember that there was another girl that lived inside your skin, who travelled, wore sexy lingerie, could fit into her skinny jeans and did things with her partner that didn’t involve talking about potty training or baby sitting. You start envying your single girl friends who nip off for a romantic weekend with the latest lover and do things for themslves with their bucket loads of ‘me’ time. « Oh woe is me you cry ! », yes what happened to ‘me’ time? It is a silent demolition job, where you slowly fade away from yourself, your interests, your passions, your spicy sex life without even realising it is happening.
Here are some tips to help you claw your way back to ‘you’ if you have lost your internal GPS and some ‘prevention is better than cure’ tips for those of you who are just embarking on the road to motherhood.
- First start by asking yourself some basic questions such as: When was the last time I read a book and finished it? What is my favourite place to shop for clothing? What are my hobbies? When was the last time I had fun doing something that I love? When was the last time I had a romantic weekend away with my partner (without feeling guilty or calling the children or even worse the children bursting in just as….)?
- If you hesitated more than 5 seconds on any of those questions then you are due for a mental makeover. Being a mother is a never-ending world of pampers, bottles and breast feedings, sleepless nights, laundry, dinner, school runs and homework checking not to mention being nurse maid, story reader, educator and dispenser of endless amounts of love and affection. So RULE NUMBER ONE chose something from the list above (1) and organise it right now (no excuses) and each month repeat the exercise and then come back to the start again. In other words you keep ‘going past go’ and you keep collecting £200. I’m giving you a ‘get out of jail free card’ (you can blame it on me and The Riviera Woman ) so use it!
- When we become mothers we are so focused on preparing for the new baby that we seldom pause and consider how to navigate this huge transition and the effect it will have on our personal growth once the baby is born. We become frozen in ‘Mumsy land’ and even our language changes with every sentence being punctuated with mumsy talk as we distance ourselves further and further from our former girlfriends and to some extent even our partners. RULE NUMBER 2: Find a mentor Mum or life coach (who’s been a Mum) and who can be compassionate and tell you of the pitfalls to avoid from the beginning of pregnancy.
- As a new Mum you will get it wrong before you get it right and you will certainly struggle with feeling vulnerable. Lack of sleep, clarity and the greatest responsiblity you have ever had to assume won’t help either. The biggest danger is losing your identity. You must start being kind to yourself again. RULE NUMBER 3: Take care of your own needs first! Yes I know that sounds radical but you will be a better lover, friend, family member if you are a ‘whole’ Mum. Be a woman who likes herself, knows herself, respects herself enough to enjoy and experience her own life. If you can get a mother’s help then keep your day job too, even if only part time. Personally I have NEVER regretted working while bringing up my children. It took a lot of juggling but it kept my brain sane, marketable and a working Mum is a great role model for her children.
- After identity theft the next biggest crime that new mums are guilty of is lack of self-preservation. You are in this for the long term and you cannot give to yourself or your partner what you don’t have. So RULE NUMBER 4: weekly ‘me dates’ where you move away from your roles of wife, mother, business owner for a ‘date’ with yourself. Get to know you and think about your life. Go and get tickets to something you really want to see, go to the gym, for a hike, go to that workshop you’d love to try and then include a romantic ‘date’ with your partner where you stop being parents and do an activity together that singles do, while the children are being minded by someone else. Team up with another mother and agree to help each other out on this one.
- Finally make a conscious decison to end the ‘erosion’ and reown your life. Show up in your own life as ‘you’ not just as Mum and so RULE NUMBER 5: promise yourself to read and reread the following list at least once a week:
✔ Establish a weekly ritual that allows you some time alone (schedule this like an appointment and DON’T break it)
✔ Ask yourself what you can do right now to make yourself happier (act on what you have realised)
✔ Create a vison board of simple goals you have for your immediate future (a life coach can help you do this and also action it so that it works !)
✔ Enjoy something you did before motherhood (probably sport)
✔ Stop ‘nesting’ and start networking. Join a women’s networking group (New Women Networking – see facebook page- will help you connect with other women that you can relate to and who will inspire and help you in your journey.