Life can be pretty tiring after having kids, and sometimes it can seem impossible to find any time for yourself. Many women experience a loss of self, where they feel they are no longer the same person they once were.
This is perfectly normal, but can bring up all sorts of negative thoughts and feelings. As if bringing up children wasn’t tiring enough, we now also have the emotional baggage that these feelings can cause—the feelings of low self-esteem and even resentment.
Life after having a child
Before you had children, you were full of energy and could make plans at the drop of a hat. You never had to let anyone down at the last minute, and you had a bustling social life. Life was yours for the taking, and you were the priority.
Since having kids, life has turned into an endless chaotic mess of washing, cleaning, birthday parties and play dates—not to mention the public tantrums you have to deal with and the lack of gratitude.
Your childless friends may have drifted away and conversation now revolves purely around the children. Date nights? Good luck finding a babysitter! Those dreams you had of being a doctor, an artist or a beautician seem lost in the ocean of dirty nappies and spilled juice.
Does all this sound familiar? Of course it does, because it’s normal. What you wouldn’t give just to be able to throw off the shackles of family life and let your hair down properly. If you talk about this, you become known as moany, or perhaps some judge you as being ungrateful.
So, you keep a lot of these feelings inside and they grow, making you feel like, perhaps, it is only you who longs for more.
Well, it isn’t just you. Women everywhere feel just like this, and it’s time for it to stop. Here are five ways to regain that sense of self and be more than just ‘mum’.
1. Take control
The first step in taking control of your life is to let go of as much stress as you can. Make a weekly schedule for household chores and stick to it. Perhaps you could clean the bathroom on Mondays, hoover on Wednesdays and have a thorough tidy on Fridays.
Work out this schedule to fit around your current commitments, but remember: a clean and tidy house leads to a feeling of inner calm.
2. Get confident
Once you are feeling calmer, work on your self-confidence. A good way to achieve great self-confidence is to identify what is holding you back. Have you put on some weight since having kids? Is your wardrobe outdated? Are your hair and skin in need of some serious treatment?
Set a goal based on how you want to look, including your style, and break it down into achievable targets. If you want to lose some weight, try using an app such as My Fitness Pal. This tells you how many daily calories you need to reach your goal weight and even breaks down the nutritional value of each meal.
It allows you to keep a tangible check on your progress, which can be very encouraging.
Once you are looking more like your old self, you will start to feel like it.
3. Get help
You may be excellent at juggling housework, childcare and a job, but this doesn’t mean you can’t do with a helping hand at times. If you work full-time, make sure your partner helps with the housework.
Make a schedule for your children to help with chores. Children as young as two can put their dirty clothes in the wash basket and tidy away toys. There are a range of age-appropriate chores for your children to get involved with, and this comes with the added bonus of them learning valuable life skills.
If you feel you don’t see your friends as much as you would like to, make some plans and stick to them. Once a month, arrange a coffee date with a girlfriend or go out for a meal with your old school friends. Make a babysitting arrangement with a friend and take it in turns to let each other have a night out.
You could also use this opportunity to have a date night with your other half. Just make sure you leave that phone face-down; there’s not much point in going out if you are only going to stare at Facebook all night. Whatever you used to enjoy doing socially, do it, but remember: a hangover with young kids is not much fun!
5. Own your dreams
I’m not talking about the kind of dreams you have at night; I mean the daydreams of youth. Did you dream of doing something that you haven’t yet pursued? Once your life is running to some sort of schedule, you will find that you can make some time for yourself. If you use this time to pursue a life goal, the rewards will be great.
If, like me, you always wanted to be a writer, set aside a little time each day to do just that. You could write a blog, giving you the chance to write regularly and practice your skills.
There are plenty of websites available that will help you set up a blog site for free, and you can buy your own domain name for a small fee. If you fancy yourself as a novelist, give it a go. What’s the worst that can happen?
Even if you never get published, you will gain a hobby and a feeling of purpose beyond the kids. You could even take a home-study course, adding to your sense of achievement and your CV.
Whatever it is that you wanted to do when you were younger, do it. Of course, you have to be reasonable. Becoming an astronaut as a thirty-something-year-old mum of two is not realistic, and let’s face it, you don’t really want to leave your life as mum behind. You just want to enhance it.
If you follow these tips, you really can make a difference to your life after having a child. Life will become less of a chaotic mess and instead be an organized, fun-filled and very satisfying experience.
Those feelings of resentment and low self-esteem will disappear, and the happier you are, the happier your kids will be.