When you begin growing your family, you trade in your multiple titles for one: “Mother.” It’s not that your other titles go away, they just seem to be overshadowed by the most meaningful, demanding, and exhausting one of them all. Between diaper changes, homework, dinner prep and all the other responsibilities of motherhood, it’s easy to lose yourself. Besides, you haven’t slept in months, so any rare free time you are given is spent catching up on sleep rather than creating something new or finishing that book you started a year ago.
But through the challenges of motherhood, you begin to wonder, “Who am I apart from raising my children?”
Your children are in clear focus while your sense of self fades away. It’s like your identity has been stolen and replaced with a person in permanent survival mode with no clear direction of the future.
But why does it have to be you versus them?
Why do you have to hide yourself away while you raise your children only to be reintroduced years later to a tired, haggard, version of yourself you no longer recognize!
Well, you don’t!
You can choose here and now to honor yourself while you migrate through motherhood. You don’t have to give your children less because you give yourself more. In fact, you will start to see that you’re able to give your children MORE when you remember to recognize and honor yourself.
Think about the last time you spent time doing something you love! Did you come away from that experience feeling worse or better? I’m going to guess you felt restored and at the very least experienced better personal alignment. When you spend time filling yourself, you have more to give! Motherhood is service and sacrifice. But how will your kids experience those things if you have nothing to contribute because you have drained your sense of self in the process?
You’re probably thinking you can’t afford the time, but I’d like to challenge you by saying you can’t afford NOT to find the time.
Here are some tips to get started giving yourself the time you need:
1. Choose an activity you love and schedule time for it each week.
For me, I love listening to podcasts and drinking tea. So once a week I strap the kids into their carseats and give them whatever they need to stay quiet. This means a pacifier for my son, who isn’t supposed to have them, and a sucker for my little lover-of-candy. I pull into the Starbucks drive-through, order my chai, and turn on my podcast. I drive around until the podcast (or two) is over, and then I feel so renewed upon the arrival home! My kids know this is my time and have learned to look forward to their little luxuries of pacifiers and lollipops while I enjoy time for myself.
What is it that YOU can add into the course of your day? It will be a hard adjustment for your kids to respect at first, but don’t give up! They will eventually understand and learn from the routine. It WILL get easier.
2. Make space for some adult time!
Maybe your idea of “adult time” is to actually get through a quality conversation with your husband, or maybe you have girlfriends from before kids that you would love to spend time with! I love hanging out with my husband but between his work and mine, it’s hard to find the time. What has worked for us is taking time after dinner to talk on our front porch swing while our kids play in the yard. Sure, there are interruptions, but we are working through those and they are becoming less. I have heard of other families who take walks each day just to talk to their spouse while their kids enjoy a ride in the stroller or on their bikes. Adult time will not naturally happen and will require scheduling and commitment from all involved! You respect others enough to show up on time as a family, respect YOURSELF enough to show up for “adult time” and ENJOY!
3. Take time away each day to catch your breath and fill yourself up.
At the end of each day after I put my children to bed and before I start working, my husband knows he is on duty for at least 20 minutes putting the kids back to bed, getting their water, or taking them to the bathroom while I sit with my essential oil diffuser going and a good book. Sometimes I skip the book and welcome the white space where I shut my mind off completely before making the transition into work. No matter what, you can find 20 minutes a day to yourself if you really want it! This could be waking up before the kids are awake to make that warm cup of coffee or simply laying in bed without your electronics and giving your body and mind time to breath. Sometimes this happens for me between 4:30-6:30 a.m. I don’t ever get out of bed, but I spend time praying or thinking through the following day without interruptions. Think about when that time can be for you and make an agreement with your husband and/or children for accountability and support.
You are worthy of time and attention! I didn’t begin making time for myself until recently, and, let me tell you, I’ve found joy again that I didn’t think was possible until my kids were grown. I hope you’ll try it too! I promise that your entire family will see the benefits.
Remember YOURSELF, mama!