It’s easy to lose ourselves in the midst of motherhood. Sometimes we get so busy trying to build a life and raise our children that we forget about ourselves. We may even begin to believe that our needs don’t matter.
Little by little our sense of self erodes away. Pretty soon we don’t even recognize the person we have become. The memory of who we once were is now vauge and distant.
I have struggled a great deal with this. I really thought that in order to be a great mother I had to give up all the things that made me who I am. That is what moms do right? Wrong.
What it really takes to be a great mom is love and commitment, not a self admission to martyrdom. In order to give and recieve love, we have to do our part and take care of ourselves.
We have to fill our hearts with things that make our souls sing, and then we can truly be the mothers we were meant to be. This is no easy feat but it can be done!
If I can do it, anyone can. I am just a regular gal that lost sight of everything that mattered to me, other than our children of course.
Here are the 5 things that helped me rediscover myself.
1. Create a vision board.
At first I thought this was a little hokey. I mean, how can gluing a bunch of magazine pictures to a piece of cardboard really change your life?
Although I wouldn’t say that my vision board has changed my life, it has helped me redsicover things about myself that I forgot exsisted and opened me up to new ideas.
Making a vision board is a great exercise in self exploration and discovery and rather inexpensive to make. Start by gathering some old magazines, I used travel, home decor and fashion magazines.
If you are like me and went digital with your magazine subscriptions hit your local thrift store or ask friends and family if they have any old magazines you can take off their hands.
Next, make the base you plan to glue your collage pieces to. I wanted mine to be portable and to stand on a table top so I glued a couple of file folders together to make an accordion.
Then I made 3 categories on my board physical self, spiritual self and personal self. I started cutting out the pictures and ideas that I was most drawn to and placing them on my board in the categories they related to.
It took a little practice to really understand what it meant to be attracted to something. I had to stop saying to myself how silly this all was and just focus on my project.
Before long, I started to gain real insight as to what I want my life to look like and new things to try. Keeping my vision board in a highly visible place helps serve as a reminder of things I need to focus on.
2. Look back at your pre-kids life.
Motherhood changes us in ways that we would never have imagined. Some aspects of our lives before we had children are better left behind, but others are what makes us unique.
What hopes and dreams did you have as a child? A teenager? A young adult? What hobbies did you enjoy? What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I reflected on those time periods I was able to see a progression of what I wanted to do with my life.
As a child I wanted to write childrens books. As a teenager that dream evolved to aspiring to be a journalist. As a young adult I wanted to simply do something that mattered in the world.
While these things may not exactly fit in to my life now, I did find that the common theme is something I still want to do. I still want to share my words with the world, tell stories and help people.
Give it a try, you will probably surprise yourself with what you come up with.
3. Start a discovery journal.
I started my discovery journal just by picking up a pen and writing down what ever came to my mind. This was a giant brain dump session that proved to be rather cathartic. Once I got all those random thoughts out of my head I was able to think more clearly and explore different ideas.
Eventually I moved on to very broad writing prompts. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- What makes you happy?
- What upsets you?
- What is your favorite color and why?
- Which family member do you most admire? Why?
- Find a picture in a magazine you like. Why do you like it.
- Find a picture in a magazine you dislike. Why do you dislike it?
- If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
- If you could go back in time what period would you go to? Who would you want to see?
- Write a letter to yourself from the perspective of the 100 year old you (your future self).
- What are your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
You don’t have to answer these in an essay format. This discovery journal is for you to express yourself however you want. Draw pictures, make a collage, write a poem, make lists do whatever, just make it uniquely you.
4. Get out of your comfort zone.
I know what your are thinking…everyone suggests this! Well, the reason it is always suggested is that it really works. How do you expect to find new things you might be interested in or meet new people if you never leave the comfort of your normal routine!
This one was the single most difficult thing for me to do. I have a hard time putting myself out there. For me getting started was the hardest part, once I made getting out of my comfort zone a habit it became much easier.
Some things you can try are:
- take an exercise class
- join a book club
- go to a paint night event
- try a new hobby
- write love letters to your spouse
- start persuing a goal
- tell another mother how awesome she is
- confront a difficult situation
- smile and say hello to random people
- read something you wouldn’t normally read
One of the most inspiring books I have ever read is Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now by Maya Angelou. The essays are short and thoughtful, topics range from spiriutality, humanity, travel and general women’s issues. This book was not one I would have normally chosen, but I am glad I did.
I devoured the book in one afternoon and then went back and re-read each story and reflected upon it in my discovery journal as a sort of daily devotional. This is the one book that changed how I percieve life as a woman.
5. Create a simple self-care routine.
This is important to help preserve your new sense of self. Don’t let all that work you did for yourself slip away!
Set aside a small amount of time each day devoted to refilling your soul, even if it is just 30 minutes. You might want to read, work on a project, exercise, what ever you decide be sure it is something that you want to do.
This time should be something you look forward to each day not something that feels like a job or “just another thing on your plate.” After spending some time doing the things that make you happy you should feel relaxed and refreshed.
I know a lot of mothers have a hard time finding those quiet moments of solitude here are some tips on how to find some extra time in your day!
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