Indulge in me-time
Motherhood is the most rewarding job, but it changes your world forever. Your routine is turned upside down, and in that transition, the person you were before you had your baby can get lost. “In life we take on many roles,” says life coach, Elaine Harrison (elaineharrison.co.uk). “As a sister, wife, friend, mother and more, but we have to remember each of these are slightly different. Like a diamond you have many faces, but if you focus on polishing just one the others will go dull. You have to look after each part of your character in order to be the best mum you can be.”
You might feel elements of your identity have fallen by the wayside, but there are things you can do to find them again. “Leave the kids with dad and go out shopping,” says social psychologist, Dr Sandra Wheatley (potent.uk.com). “Walk around and pick up whatever takes your fancy. It could be anything from bath salts to a newspaper. It doesn’t have to break the bank, but does have to be impulsive.”
“Wrap them up and store them away in a draw. Then whenever you feel tired or lonely, sit down and open one up as a treat. It helps you to acknowledge that you deserve this and you’re a special person, as well as a hardworking mother,” adds Sandra.
Keeping your brain busy
Life is a series of habits and routines, so changing from working to being a stay at home mum can feel surreal. “Going from organising a team of people in an office to being a homemaker can be a demanding change and cabin fever can set in. Feeling like you’re not using your brain as you once did is completely natural,” explains Sandra.
Think back to what activities stimulated your mind and made you feel happy and fulfilled before you had children. “Take up reading, join a book club to stretch your mind, or piece together a photo album to get your creative juices flowing,” says Sandra.
Becoming a mum can even open your eyes to other opportunities and tasks you never thought you’d be able to do. “At home, it’s beneficial to keep a journal that you write in for three minutes every day. This ‘brain drain’ technique gets you putting pen to paper to empty your thoughts as a stream of consciousness. It’s therapeutic, rids you of negative feelings and brings a little bit of routine to your day where you can feel you’re working towards a more defined you,” adds Elaine.
Stay in touch with mates
“Taking time out one day every two weeks can help you rediscover who you were before mum, as well as helping you reveal a whole new you,” says Elaine. “Motherhood can enable you to make friends with people you’d not have encountered before and get you involved in activities that you weren’t interested in.”
How do you go about rediscovering your social nature? “Spending too much time with no adult company can leave you feeling cut off from the outside world, but going online and talking to other mums who feel the same can help you realise you’re not alone,” says Sandra. If you’re nervous, start small. “Invite old friends round for a movie night and take small steps from there. You’ll be surprised how, as time moves on, your relationships will grow, you’ll feel more confident and you’ll develop new interests. The place is not the important thing. Having an evening for yourself and friends is what counts,” says Elaine.
Reignite your relationship
Having a baby is a happy time, but the arrival of a new addition can change the dynamic between you and your partner. You now have the roles of mum and dad to play, as well as husband and wife. “In a day we have thousands of thoughts and a lot of them are negative,” says Elaine. “You have to feel confident in yourself to know who you are as a woman. Take five minutes to imagine you’re writing a small biography about yourself, list 10 positive qualities you have or would like to have, and pin them up. It’ll remind you of what you have to offer and give you the incentive to work towards who you’d like to be.”
Once your confidence builds, it’s time to get your relationship mojo back. “Get a babysitter, glam yourself up and go out for a date night,” says Sandra. Remembering that you’re in a relationship will lead to a happier you and a happier family. “Give him a compliment, a massage or a spontaneous cuddle just like you used to. Reminding yourself to do these things will help you realise that even though you dedicate yourself to the kids, you’re still a woman who’s in love,” explains Elaine
“I’m a Mumpreneur drowning in nappies, so Friday nights are my time. There’s no work, just wine and my first conversation of the week with my husband. Once a month, the kids stay at my mum’s and me the hubby go out together. Life is so crazy, it’s nice to go out every now and again and indulge myself.”
Eve Bell, 35, from Worsley, Manchester, mum to Seth, 3 and Louisa, 2.
“I love being a mummy, but I need to talk less about CBeebies and more about adult things. So I’ve decided I’m going to be mum and a student, as I’m going back to college to train as a counsellor. I wanted to do something that got my brain really working again and would better my family’s life. As a mother I tend to never think about just me, it’s always about what’s best for my family, but I know I have to start doing thing that make me happy too.”
Kirsty Madew, 26, from Stockport, mum to Heidi, 3 and Alfie, 20 months