How Not to Lose Yourself in Motherhood
How Not to Lose Yourself in Motherhood: Follow these 5 Guidelines
Motherhood! To many women, the word is a dream come true. At least it starts out that way. As the demands of a baby, then a two year old, more children, then teenagers continue to come at you at rapid speed, the word motherhood is a word you may want to run from for just five minutes. Maybe ten. Oh, why not for a whole day or two? How not to lose yourself in motherhood can sometimes seem impossible to do.
Do you wonder what losing yourself in motherhood even means? Here are two questions for you: Have you ever asked yourself, “Who am I besides a mom?” Or said to yourself, “I’m a working mom or a stay at home mom losing my identity!” When you become a mother, you devote your time, energy, emotions, and your physical body to taking care of another human being who begins life completely dependent upon you. It is an amazing miracle to be a mother and nurture a new life, a new child of God. It can also be draining physically and emotionally. Sometimes as a mom, you are so focused on your children that you neglect yourself, your spouse, your health, and your own personal interests-like friends and hobbies.
There is a way to avoid loosing yourself when you are a mother. If you already fell like you are losing yourself, rediscovering yourself as after motherhood can be done with the help of these 5 guidelines.
You are not just a mom. You are a unique child of God. You are a wife. You are a friend. When you understand how to prioritize each of these aspects of your life, you will not lose yourself in motherhood in the sense that you do not know who you are as a woman; you will discover, or rediscover, who you are as a mother and as a unique woman.
Follow these 5 guidelines to help you to rediscover yourself after motherhood.
1. Put God first.
God created you. He knows what will make you happy and fulfilled in this life on earth. His desire is that you know Him and love Him on earth so you can be happy with Him in Heaven.
So, how does that help you know who you are?
It helps when you put Him first. When you put God first, you are not putting yourself, anyone, or anything else first. This means that, by focusing on God, you are focusing on what is most important.
When you prioritize Him above everything else, everything else does not seem so important. You see yourself, your husband, your kids, and events in your life through a different lens. You see things as working together for a greater good-God’s ultimate plan. You see the simple beauty that you might have missed if you hadn’t been more aware of God in your life. You appreciate your blessings and your trials more, because you know that your loving God is with you through all of them, helping you to become the best person you can be.
When you focus on God and put Him first, little irritations aren’t worth your time and attention. Joys are more obvious and appreciated. The more you seek God, the more you want to seek Him so you can know and love Him even better than you do.
Action steps: Each morning give your day to God. Ask Him to be with you in all of your thoughts, words, and activities of the day. You can speak directly from your heart or pray the Morning Offering.
As time allows in your day, spend some more time in prayer, read your Bible, or read a religious book to help you grow in faith. Even if you spend just 15 minutes a day doing one of these things, you will grow in your faith and grow closer to God.
Resources: Morning Offering
Free printables: A Mother’s Prayer
2. Put yourself second.
It may feel like you are going against your intuition to put yourself second instead of last. You are a mother after all, right? Aren’t mothers supposed to be selfless and put everyone ahead of themselves? No. They are not. Sometimes, yes they are, but not always and not to their own detriment.
If you as a mother have not eaten in five hours or gotten enough sleep to function, how will you have the energy to take care of your kids? If you do not make the time to pray or learn more about God, how can you teach your children about God? If you put yourself aside so much for the sake of your family that you do not know who you are as a person, how can you teach your kids by word and example to discover who they are as wonderful children of God?
When you neglect to take care of yourself, you may become grumpy, resentful, frustrated, sad, or emotionally removed from your family. That is not a good thing. That is not the way you are called to live.
You are part of your family.
That bears repeating: YOU ARE PART OF YOUR FAMILY! No one family member is more important than another. You are all equally important. Of course, some family members may need more time and attention than others, like a newborn baby or a sick child, but every member is equally important.
As a mom, it is your responsibility to take care of the needs of your family, right? You are part of your family. You are responsible for taking care of your own needs as well. Doing so will help you to be a better mother and a better person. Doing so will help you to be the person God created you to be.
Action steps: Look at your daily life: Are you taking care of your basic needs of prayer, nutrition, and sleep?
Next, think about who you are: what do you like to do? How do you like to spend your time?
Lastly, decide how you can better take care of yourself. Pick one thing you can do right now each day to take care of yourself. Some examples are: sit down and eat a good breakfast, exercise, give yourself a bedtime so you can get enough sleep.
Resources: 7 Ways to Take Care of Yourself
Free printable: 7 Ways to Take Care of Yourself
3. Put your spouse third.
You got married for a reason! Do you want to one day look at your spouse and wonder who he is? Nope!
Working on your marriage relationship is very important. You two are a sacrament. Jesus elevated marriage to a sacrament because of the value it has. A good marriage is valuable to each spouse and to the children in the family. A strong marriage sets a good example for your children and helps you as a couple to weather all things together-the joys and the trials.
Make time to connect with your spouse, to pray together and to dream together. Make each other a priority in your lives and you will create a solid foundation together.
Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. A joyful relationship is a great gift to work for and appreciate.
Action step: Make time each day to spend with your spouse. You can pray together, talk about your day, talk about your dreams, cook dinner together, or plan a fun date night out or at home after your kids are in bed.
Resources: Prioritizing Date Night
Free printable: 5 Ways to Grow Closer as a Couple
4. Put your kids fourth.
It is not just important to take care of your children and their needs, but to nurture your relationship with them as well. You want to have fun together as well as have important conversations, especially as they grow up. Nurturing a good relationship with each of your children as they grow will help you to have open communication and mutual respect when they are older. Think of it as setting yourself up for success.
Have fun together, pray, cook, play, read, talk, and have date nights together. Sometimes it is not a matter of working to make sure all of our time together is quality time. Often, the quality time comes in the middle of just having time together. For example, you probably do not say to your son, “Let’s have quality time on Friday from 4:30-5:30.” That is not the focus of your time; just being together is the focus. The quality of that time is up to you. Sometimes the best quality is to have fun. Sometimes, it is to have a meaningful conversation. Other times, during time together things will come up unplanned that are important.
When you spend with with your kids, you get to know them and they get to know you, too. You learn each other’s strengths and weakness, likes and dislikes, and you grow in your relationship.
Spending time together does not mean you need to block off hours at a time on your calendar (although doing this can be fun!). It can simply mean cooking dinner together, going on a walk together, cleaning up together, playing a few games of cards together, or dancing together to a favorite song.
What makes your time valuable is the attitudes you have towards each other-the love you show each other and the words of kindness and encouragement you share.
Action step: Ask yourself what you can do this week to nurture your relationships with your children. Perhaps invite them to help with cooking one day, play a card game together one afternoon, or turn off the radio in the car and talk together. It may be helpful to write down or at least think about some ideas ahead of time so you are prepared.
Resources: Planning a Kid Date Night
Free printable: AM and PM routine planner
5. Put everyone else fifth.
Yep. This can be a difficult one sometimes. You may have family members or good friends who need your help or even expect your help at times. This can be challenging if you tend to have a people-pleaser type of personality.
The thing is, when you put your time and energy into others at the expense of your family or do not take into consideration the needs of your family, you and your family suffer. Your first responsibilities are to the vocation God called you to-your family.
Regularly putting your family aside to help others can lead to you, your spouse, and your children feeling frustrated and resentful, maybe even unloved and unimportant.
Certainly, when something important is going on, like a hospitalization, illness, or extreme loneliness, it is important to help out as you can. This can set a good example for your children, seeing you help someone else. Yet, you need to remember to have balance and not go overboard helping to the point that you are neglecting your own family and yourself.
Action step: Look at your schedule: are you prioritizing others ahead of your own spouse and children? If so, scale back. Add time for your family on your calendar first.
Resources: Fun Family Date Night
Free printable: Daily Planner
How Not to Lose Yourself in Motherhood is easier to do when you follow these five guidelines.
You do not want to lose yourself in motherhood in the sense that you lose your sense of who you are as a unique child of God. You do want to lose yourself in motherhood in the sense that you dive with both feet into the amazing life as a mom to your precious children. To help you to keep a balance between the two, follow these five guidelines: put God first, yourself second, your spouse third, your kids fourth, and everyone else fifth.
How do you like to balance these in your life?