Mamas, have you been there? Lost in motherhood? The place where you feel like you’re fading rather than growing? Feeling frustrated that you can’t find the time or energy to BE YOU? Where the only side of you that does seem to be growing is the angry, irritable, bitter side? Where negativity gets in the way of you being the mom you want to be, and the person you want to be?
Motherhood changes you, that is a given. Priorities shift, your concept of time completely changes (what on EARTH did I do with my free time before kids? Didn’t use it fully, that’s for sure.) Too easily, in that shift in priorities, your own needs or wants get shoved to the bottom, lost in the endless daily parenting and household tasks.
Changing diapers, making meals, cleaning messes, guiding behavior (“Please stop spatula-ing your brother’s head”! “Don’t whisk your brother!”… As you can see, we just got some new play kitchen tools), reading stories, getting groceries, cleaning more messes, fighting about bedtime, cleaning messes, and so it goes. It can feel like you barely have time to breathe. Before you know it, you fall into a mom-funk. And the whole family suffers.
You know you have to find time for yourself. As difficult as it can feel to make it happen, it’s crucial to help get out of the funk – maybe a relaxed bath, enjoy a favorite show uninterrupted, do some journaling, get outside for a walk, have a conversation with other grown-ups. You’ll feel better. But something might still feel missing.
That something is Growth.
In a thriving family, everyone is growing, learning and improving. Moms included. Growing, becoming MORE of yourself, is the antidote to losing yourself.
Doing things that challenge you is a key part of happiness. And while simply being a parent is challenging (to say the least!) it can be hard to feel successful even when you’re doing a good job. Instead, you feel stuck.
The unhappiness that sets in from stagnation can happen to stay at home moms whose whole day is centered on the kids. It can happen to moms work outside the home but aren’t feeling engaged with their job. You get your daily tasks done on autopilot. Everything feels like a have-to, an obligation. You need something to get excited about.
But how do you take on a new challenge when you already feel like you’re barely keeping your head above water?
The important thing is that you are learning, NOT that you are accomplishing a huge goal (though you might.) Take things you are already doing, and look for ways to make it new.
Amp up a hobby…
- If you run, train for a new race – something longer, or multidisciplinary like a triathlon or obstacle run.
- Try out different types of training or a new sport altogether
- Learn about a different side of your sport. Maybe you know all about different workouts, but never thought about biomechanics.
- If you draw or paint, try new techniques or materials.
- Do you write? Learn about and practice a new genre.
Re-engage with your day job.
- Look for a new project you can join or start.
- Is there a specific knowledge gap you want to fill? Enlist a coworker for an informal journal club.
- Develop a mentoring relationship with a newer colleague – helping others learn can be the best way to learn yourself.
Identify a household task you want to improve at.
- Expand your cooking skills. It doesn’t matter what level you’re at. Maybe you just want to learn to make a grilled cheese sandwich, or maybe you want to cook as well as those amazing kids on Master Chef Jr.
- Work on meal planning skills. Try out various methods – weekly or monthly planning, theme nights…
- Learn basic plumbing skills to fix your leaky faucet or running toilet. Or some basic construction skills to fix that wonky sliding drawer. The possibilities are endless!
That’s how I got here.
My realization that I was NOT growing is what led me to start this blog. Having a new, challenging project is exciting and energizing. It’s a chance to be creative. A chance to work on skills (writing, photos, basic website design…). A chance to connect with and help others. To make a little use of my education and professional history as a dietitian while I’m staying home with my kids. To have a sense of accomplishment. And even a chance to figure out more about who I am now.
Yes, finding some dedicated time to focus on it is tough. I’ve learned that it’s important to be flexible in my expectations, to not commit to overly ambitious goals. In my case, my blog progress here is painfully slow, due largely to a baby who is a problem sleeper. When I notice myself getting resentful that I can’t do as much as I want, I take a moment to appreciate whatever small steps I’ve made or things I’ve learned. Even if I wrote two sentences that day, it’s two sentences I hadn’t written before. If I figured out the basics of the photo editing software and made a blog graphic, I get to say I MADE THAT!
When I see those little seedlings of growth, it makes all the difference in my mood and energy level. I feel more whole, more me, and that translates into being a much better, calmer, more positive mom.
What about you? What skill or project you can work on to start feeling less lost in motherhood?