6 Tips to Keep From Losing Yourself in Motherhood

Becoming a mom changes you. It shifts your priorities and gives your life new purpose and meaning, but it’s easy to lose sight of the things that were important to you before motherhood in the process. It’s normal for being a mom to define you, but there’s more to you than raising kids. Your dreams from before motherhood are still there, you just need to re-connect with them.

  1. Identify your goals

What are you striving for? Are you simply pursuing your career or continuing education because it’s “the thing to do?” Is your heart really in it? I’m sure there are plenty of moms that are miserable working because they’d rather be home with their kids. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being a stay at home mom, it’s something I often yearn for. What I mean is that spending time away from your kids doing work you hate is a bad deal. Before you haphazardly agree to take on more responsibility with your limited time, it’s important to sit down and reflect on what you want your life to look like in 5 or 10 years.  For me, connection with others through teaching gets me fired up. Becoming a better educator and communicator are things I’m stoked to invest more time in.

  1. Set aside time for being creative

Identifying your biggest goals might not come to you initially. You might not know anymore what you’re passionate about. At these times, it’s helpful to spend time playing or doing something creative. Scheduling time to paint, write, draw, take photos, dance, or make videos can energize you. I felt so depressed and tired this week. Do you ever feel that way? Like you’re in a fog and just going through the motions? I decided to take a pause to free-write for awhile to get to the bottom of what was bothering me, and it helped me a lot! I’m looking forward to spending more time developing recipes and creating art on a more regular basis.

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  1. Commit to something and finish it

Once you identify your goals, you have to start somewhere. The first piece of creative work you do might not be amazing, but you’ll be excited to have finished it! Good work comes through practice. While I was pregnant, I worked for many hours on countless drafts of a continuing education article for dietitians. I wrote a short course on the role of RD’s in prevention and treatment of obesity in kids. I’m not a strong writer, but I was determined to finish the project. While it’s not a very exciting read, but I’m so proud of myself for finishing it. Even if nobody reads it, I’m glad that I was able to accomplish this thing that I had set out to do.

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Check out the full article here! (pages 53-58)

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  1. Nurture friendships

It’s easy to feel isolated when the only people you spend time with are your kids. First of all, it’s so good for your marriage to schedule date nights (without your kids) to reconnect with your husband. It’s nice to have meaningful conversations like you used to before having children. Similarly, it’s good for your sanity to have other adult friends to connect with. Talking through what you’re concerned about or excited for with other women can be super therapeutic. If you don’t have many mom friends, join a mom’s group to make some! There are plenty of mom MeetUp groups, Facebook groups, and church groups.

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  1. Stay connected spiritually

Trust me- if you feel like you are just drifting or becoming overly self-centered at this stage in life, spending time in the prayer or meditation will re-align your purpose and fire you up for something more. To be honest, Colby and I haven’t been going to church since Everly was born. I miss the richness that participating in fellowship with other Christians brings to my faith, and I know that getting back to it will get me on track with my priorities and the way I want to live my life. The kind of person I want to be, the type of personality I strive to have are manifested through a spiritual life that is well nourished. Not sure where to start? Begin by implementing a gratitude practice. I like to start and end each day praying thanks for the blessings in my life. I’m also really digging this app, Headspace, for guided meditation.

  1. Don’t overlook the power of getting your blood flowing

This may seem trivial, but it’s a simple habit that can make a huge impact in your happiness. Exercise is a free and accessible form of self-care for most moms. If you can do it outside, it’s even better! Getting fresh air and surrounding yourself with nature can make you feel more grounded and refreshed. Awhile ago I figured out that my bad moods are almost always linked to being completely sedentary for more than a day. I know my body craves joyful movement- dancing, cycling, running, swimming… If I go too long without moving my body, I get disproportionately down. I can’t emphasize enough how much better you’ll feel if you get up early, move your body, and then go about your day. It just gets things started on a positive note and will give you an extra bit of energy in a way that sleeping in won’t!

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If you’re a mom, what do you do to keep other aspects of your identity alive? If you aren’t a mom, what habits do you practice to keep sight of your life’s purpose?

 

 

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Finding my way as a new mom

It’s taken me nearly a year to settle into motherhood!

I’m finally feeling like myself again, although a different version of who I used to be. I’m beginning to find balance and prioritize the things that matter to me. Here are a few things that have helped me find my way as a mom this past year:

Getting back to work

This was a tough decision. Before having Everly, I assumed I would be eager to go back to work full time. However, after she was born I began to feel more and more that being a stay at home mom might be a better fit. I had 3 months off for maternity leave and even though it was so hard to be home and responsible for my newborn 24/7, it didn’t seem right to leave her.

Luckily, my mom is the one who watches her during the day so I know she’s in good hands. It would have been a harder choice if I had to take Everly to daycare.

For the past 8 months, I’ve been back at work 4 days a week instead of 5 and I cut back on the number of diabetes classes I’m teaching. Cutting back has made for a good balance between work and home, although there are weeks that I get anxious about how much time I’m missing out on with Ev. There are other weeks, especially when Colby is out of town, that being home for 3 days straight with her is really hard. Weeks like those I feel guilty for feeling like I need time away from Everly, but I try to remind myself that getting a break makes me a happier mom when I am around.

Overall, I am thankful to have the opportunity to work at a job I love, help provide for our family, and still get plenty of time with Everly.

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Setting professional goals

I applied for my CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator) exam yesterday! Having a goal of passing it this November gives me a personal development challenge to work toward. I’m also super proud of a scholarly article opportunity I had recently. I’ll tell you more about it soon! I hadn’t done anything academic since the Beta Sandwich Science podcast a few years ago, so it was nice to push myself in this way.  Of course, I’d love to get back to blogging and recipe development more regularly, too. Tonight I had some time to post because Colby is traveling for work.

Finding a rhythm with nursing and pumping

I assumed it would be difficult to breastfeed until Everly is a year old. Here we are approaching her first birthday and I can’t see myself stopping anytime soon. I guess things get easier if you anticipate the worst! There are definitely days and nights that I don’t feel like pumping, especially when I’m exhausted. When I feel like giving up, I remind myself of a few things:

  1. If I don’t pump, I’ll end up waking up in the middle of the night with painful, engorged breasts and I DEFINITELY won’t want to pump at 2am.
  2. If I pump and nurse regularly, I’ll keep my milk production up and can keep feeding Everly!
  3. If I keep breastfeeding and pumping, that’s an extra 500 calories I’m burning per day, which means more food for me!
  4. Because of the changes in hormones with lactation, I haven’t had my period since before I was pregnant (2016!!), and that’s pretty awesome.
  5. Our dogs, Alec & Abbi, like to cuddle up in my lap when I’m pumping on the couch.
  6. Nursing Everly is pretty much the sweetest thing ever. I thought I’d be weirded out by it, but I love it. She snuggles up and I like the opportunity for extra cuddles since I’m at work most days, even though that means waking up two or three times a night.

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Getting back to working out

CrossFit had been a huge part of my identity prior to having Everly. I didn’t do any exercise at all for 2 months postpartum, and I definitely didn’t feel like myself when I wasn’t active. I got back into CrossFit when Everly started sleeping well, but stopped again when she began to wake up several times each night.

Not working out at all was really messing with my moods, so I decided to get creative about adding more physical activity. This is nice since I like a LOT of variety in my exercise. While I can’t usually wake up at 6am for workout classes because of Everly’s night waking, I sometimes walk on the treadmill at work or take a spin class before going to the office. Colby and I recently got a gym membership together, so we take advantage of childcare there a few days a week to be able to swim or lift weights. Oh! And I signed up for a moms’ running group once a week that will be starting soon. Maybe someday I’ll get to the point where I can run with Everly in a stroller!

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Outsourcing some things

I’m not a super-mom. I can’t do everything. I’ve started to outsource certain things to have more time with my family. A few things that have helped me find more balance between work and home are:

  1. Having a housekeeper come over every 3 weeks to deep clean. I used to think it was an unnecessary luxury to pay someone to do my dirty work, but I’m thankful every time we don’t spend a whole weekend day scrubbing bathrooms and vacuuming anymore. It’s been a huge relief to put cleaning on the backburner.
  2. Using Instacart for grocery delivery. Getting our groceries delivered is such a time saver! We waste less food this way, too. I still like grocery shopping with Everly sometimes because she enjoys the experience, but it’s nice to know I don’t have to add running to the grocery store for milk to my to-do list on already busy days.
  3. Not cooking. Ok- this one actually makes me pretty sad. I like cooking! But I like hanging out with Everly more… I’ve been packing really easy lunches for work and eating out more frequently than ever before. I try to pick entrees that will inspire future recipe development and make good leftovers for lunches the next day. When I don’t have leftovers, here is of my favorite lunches that takes very little time to pack: Wickedly Prime Minestrone soup, fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, Kind Bar, and a slice of Egg Bake with various chopped veggies. One of my favorite meals out is a Café Rio tostada with tortilla on the side (so I can use it to make a quesadilla at another meal!). The food at Flower Child is amazing, too.

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That’s it for now! Thank you for reading :) Please feel free to suggest other good lunch ideas in the comments or share how you adjusted to motherhood if you’re a mom.