The challenges that marriage and motherhood present are not to be underestimated. Even if you love caring for your family, it is normal to feel exhausted and like you have no time to care for yourself. Cheryl Richardson, author, radio show host and teacher, states that many mothers fall prey to the common misconception that their identity is merely wrapped up in what they do. You are more than the care you give your children and the responsibilities you take on for the good of your family, and you can reclaim your identity after children and marriage.
1. Ask Yourself What You Like
Getting to the root of who you are starts by taking the time to remember what you love to do and what you are passionate about. When life is full of taking care of your family, it is easy to forget to listen to your favorite music or enjoy an afternoon spent doing your favorite hobby. Richardson reports that allowing your natural qualities full expression will help you get to the root of your identity crisis, as you remember what things in life excite you and bring energy to your life.
2. Nurture Yourself
Take the time to take care of yourself so that you have the energy to care for your family and the clarity of mind you need to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Dr. David B. Hawkins, author and psychologist, reports that there is a difference between nurturing yourself and being selfish, and that considering what brings you joy and delight is essential when it comes to re-charging. Leave your kids with your husband as you take the time to enjoy a relaxing bath, go on a walk or read a book you have been wanting to get into for months. If volunteering is your passion, trade off child care with your husband or a friend and work with a cause that is important to you. While caring for your children and nurturing your marriage is important, you are also a valuable member of the family and taking time for yourself will help you to feel more of a whole person. Nurturing yourself also gives your children a good example of how to balance responsibilities and individual needs.
3. Promote Independence in your Kids
Teaching your children to be self-sufficient may give you the time you need to focus on your own life. Kenneth N. Condrell, child psychologist, reports on "Fisher Price" that although a woman has to be there for her baby 100 percent of the time, many women never come out of this stage. These moms often end up raising children who are overly-dependent and unable to make independent decisions and they often lose a sense of identity other than "Mom." Dr. Condrell recommends working to help your children gain more independence once they turn three, slowly increasing their responsibilities as they mature. More independence helps your children to thrive, and it gives you the time and space to nurture your own sense of identity.
4. Seek Professional Help
If you cannot regain a sense of control over your life and find yourself battling constant depression, it may be time to seek professional counseling. Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur, editor and author of "Letters to Mary from a Young Mother" reports on "Spiritual Woman" that postpartum depression is real and treatable, and that both you and your children will be happier if you make the decision to get the help you need. Although some mothers see it as a weakness to need outside help, the truth is that admitting you need assistance is the first step in regaining your strength and restoring the happiness you deserve.
- The Mothers of Reinvention: Reclaim Your Identity, Unleash Your Potential, Love Your Life; Jennifer Pate
- Baby Zone: Finding Your Personal Identity as a Mom
- The Mask of Motherhood: How Becoming a Mother Changes Our Lives and Why We Never Talk About It; Susan Maushart
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Managing Maternal Depression Before and After Birth
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