Embracing motherhood can be difficult.
And, as most moms can attest to, you can easily lose yourself in the role of being a mom.
For instance, I remember my daughter’s first doctor’s visit. Instead of them addressing me by my name, I was referred to as “Grace’s mom”.
That’s when I knew that my identity would forever be tied to my children.
And, although I find great pride in being their mother, I never wanted to lose myself in being a mom.
I simply didn’t want a life that revolved solely around them and their interests, only. I knew that there had to be a way to embrace the selflessness of motherhood without giving up all of me.
Now, two kids in, I can say that it is possible to embrace motherhood without losing yourself.
What does it mean to embrace motherhood?
Embracing motherhood simply means accepting all of the responsibilities (and challenges) that come with being a mom.
The truth is that life changes when you become a parent.
As a new mom, much of your time and effort is spent ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of a helpless human being.
And, of course, there are the physical changes that happen as well.
Combine that with adjustments in your time, space, and finances and it can be a bit overwhelming.
With all of these changes, it’s easy to resent motherhood. Which means that you have to make the decision to embrace motherhood.
The beauty in this, though, is that you can do so without losing yourself.
How to embrace motherhood without losing yourself
The most important thing that you can do to not lose yourself as a mom is to maintain your passions.
Just because you become a mom doesn’t mean that you’re no longer entitled to your own interests. Motherhood, after all, is an extension of who you already are, not a replacement.
So, how do you do it?
For starters, it requires that you be very intentional. Losing yourself is easy, but maintaining your identity outside of being a mom requires planning.
Here’s what you need to intentionally do to avoid losing yourself as a mom while embracing motherhood.
1. Prioritize your self-care
If you don’t take care of yourself, who will?
That’s the question that you should always ask yourself when you feel guilty about taking time or spending money on yourself.
Prioritizing your self-care is recognizing that you are a person who needs to be cared for just as much as your kids.
Now contrary to popular belief, self-care isn’t necessarily expensive massages or facials. These things are great and should be a part of your regular self-maintenance routine.
However, self-care can simply mean creating the space and time for you to decompress and relax.
It’s easy to lose yourself when you’re constantly caring for everyone else. That’s why you must be intentional about caring for yourself, first.
Some ways that you can prioritize your self-care are:
- Having a personal morning routine to start your day with peace & quiet
- Setting standing appointments for self-maintenance so that it gets done
- Including self-care activities in your budget
These things are just a start. So, I recommend reading our article on some budget-friendly self-care ideas for moms to get some more tips on things that you can do.
And, if you struggle with decompressing and relaxing, I also suggest reading our article on how to mentally detox.
2. Find a supportive community
Moms need community and, more importantly, support.
The old adage is true: It takes a village to raise a child.
I wholeheartedly believe that the village is necessary so moms can get a break!
If you want to start embracing motherhood without losing yourself, you’ll need the help of others. This is why finding a community– whether it be family or friends– is important.
Support can come in many forms.
It can mean babysitting so that you can get some time to yourself. Or, it can mean encouraging you to pursue something you’re passionate about with judgment or shame.
Whatever it is that you need, find the people who can provide it.
Now, this may be a little difficult as you may find yourself miles away from family and close friends. This is especially true for those pursuing educational and career advancement.
Nonetheless, it’s possible.
Here are some ways to find your tribe:
- Join Facebook groups for moms in your area who share the same values
- Connect with other parents at your local community center, library, school, or place of worship
- Ask people in your network to introduce you to other families that they trust
There are more people willing to support you than you think. You just have to go out and find them or cultivate the relationships that you already have.
3. Communicate your needs
According to the 2023 State of Motherhood survey done by Motherly, moms take on the majority of duties around the home.
This survey supports an earlier report released by Gallup showing that even in households where both parents worked outside the home, the mom still takes on the majority of household and childcare responsibilities.
So what does all of this mean?
It means that if don’t want to lose yourself and, simply, have time for yourself, you need help. And getting help starts by, first, communicating your needs.
It’s so easy to suffer in silence. But, you don’t have to.
Tell your spouse or partner where you need help. This may mean that they pick up that responsibility or that you agree to outsource it to someone else.
Remember that community I mentioned early? Let them know what your needs are as well. The only way that people can help you is if you let them know that you need help.
4. Make time for your hobbies
If you don’t want to lose yourself, you need to actually do the things that make you, you!
What are your hobbies? What things interest you? Explore them.
And, if you don’t have a hobby, I suggest finding one that doesn’t involve your kids.
The goal here is to not tie your identity into solely being a mother. Remember, you had a life before kids and eventually they’ll leave your home to pursue their own life. So who are you apart from them being there?
So, perhaps, while your kids are in swim lessons, you’re enjoying crocheting. Or maybe it’s a Saturday morning mile with the local running club.
Whatever your “thing” is, make time for it.
5. Set boundaries with your kids
Yes, it sounds a bit harsh, but you have to set boundaries with your kids.
They need to understand that, like them, you’ll need time and space for yourself.
Fortunately, I’ve seen some really great examples of boundaries from other moms that I’ve used with my own kids.
A major one was having them sleep in their own room from the moment they were able to roll over and sleep through the night.
Although this wasn’t the most convenient thing for a breastfeeding mom, it established a boundary for sleeping in their own beds. Now, I can get a full night’s rest without waking up to a tiny foot in my face.
A few other ways that you can set boundaries with your kids include:
- Establishing a time when they can enter your room in the morning so that you can sleep in and get rest
- Teaching them to engage in independent play or quiet time for 5-10 mins when you just need a quick moment to yourself
Obviously, these may not be a boundary that you want to set.
Nonetheless, I encourage you to create some boundaries that will allow you to get whatever time and space that’s appropriate for you.
Managing guilt and expectations that come with motherhood
Society has expectations of what a mom should do.
There are expectations about how you should parent, how you should dress, and even how much help you should get.
But this is your permission to do motherhood your way.
By embracing motherhood while not losing yourself, you’re setting the most positive example for your kids.
Not only do they get to experience you as your most authentic, whole self but you’re teaching them:
- How to care for themselves as adults
- The importance of community and teamwork to achieve a goal
- How to ask for help and communicate their needs
- Ways to enjoy life and explore their own interests
- How to set healthy boundaries with others
You shouldn’t feel guilty about that.
Embracing Motherhood: Key Takeaways
Motherhood is a beautiful journey that you should embrace. But, you don’t have to lose yourself to love being a mom.
I believe allowing your kids to experience you as a fulfilled person is one of the best things that you can do for your children.