Five Steps Back To Self
Two years ago you wouldn’t have even had to ask me how I “balance being me with being a mum” – the answer was spelt out loud and clear in my unwashed hair, two year old maternity wear, and blank stare: “NOT VERY WELL”! I was right smack bang in the middle of “Mama Pyjama Syndrome”, living each day just to get through to the next nap time. I’d let myself go, forgotten my passions, and had made putting myself last an art form.
Two years on, I still battle to keep the Mama Pyjama at bay some days, but I’ve worked really hard to rebuild my sense of self and ensure a better balance exists between my dedication to my family; and nurturing my own passions. I thought I’d share the first five steps I’ve taken on my journey back to self…
Step One: Let go of your preconceived ideas of what the “perfect” wife and mother is.
Obviously each of our definitions of “wife” and “mother” will be different, but the key point here is that these internal definitions can wreak havoc with our self-worth. I would guess that 95% of definitions would include the assumption that in order to “do your job right” you must always “put others ahead of yourself”. First questioning this assumption, and then rejecting it was a huge step for me. Doing so lifted a tremendous weight from my shoulders. It has also given me the freedom to actually just be myself and in turn to be the best wife, mother and person I can be.
Step Two: Accept that time alone is necessary for your health and wellbeing.
Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty about taking a little time out to do the things you enjoy. If you don’t nourish your own passions every once in a while, you won’t have the energy or desire to do anything other than just get through the day. Squashing your own wants and needs all the time serves no purpose other than to teach your children that it’s ok to let go of your dreams and to stop seeking new experience and personal growth. Fair enough, if you were to put marbles into jars for time spent doing things with/for your ‘kids’, ‘partner’ or ‘self’ and if in the end there were more marbles in the ‘self’ jar than anywhere else, perhaps you’d need to rethink your priorities a little. But I’d hazard a guess that this would not be the case for any of you.
Step Three: Stop saying “no” and start saying “yes”.
Sounds so simple…but breaking the “no cycle” can be really difficult. You get so used to saying “no” to life because it is just easier than trying to organise a babysitter, seek time away from your family, or prepare to put yourself out into the world again. Reorganising schedules, calling on help from others, even getting yourself up and out of your pyjamas is hard work – but rebuilding your relationships with your partner, extended family and friends is even harder if you let them slip away from you under the excuse of “sorry, but I have kids”.
Step Four: Schedule, schedule, schedule! And make sure some of it is dedicated to “me time”!
When you’ve got kids, having a schedule is even more important than ever. Just like you schedule activities for your children; encourage your partner to schedule in time to do something for themselves on a regular basis – and afford yourself the same opportunity! Even if it is just an hour a week – lock it in and try not to shift it unless absolutely necessary. Commit to this block of time with the same dedication you would to a date night or your child’s Christmas pageant.
Step Five: Share your passions with your family.
Nurturing your passions does not always have to be a solo act. Where possible, involve your children and partner in activities that you are passionate about. Share the experiences with them – it’ll help your children to build a better understanding of who you are as a person in your own right, and not just as their mum.
Those are just five of the steps I’ve taken along my journey from Mama Pyjama back to Kellie. Life is all about balance. Sometimes (who am I kidding?!)…most of the time it’s a juggling act trying to keep all the different aspects of your life in check and attended to. It is so very easy to drop the little “me” ball when there are too many in the air to catch – it’s what we’ve been taught to do…but it’s my mission to un-teach that! The “something” that’s got to give doesn’t ALWAYS have to be you. Part of being a great parent is knowing who you are and what makes you happy. Don’t let “yourself” get lost amongst the dirty nappies and sleepless nights any longer than is absolutely necessary (yes, there’s a period of time where there is little choice but to put our “selves” on the back burner, but that period doesn’t need to last forever). If you see an opportunity to reignite your passions – seize it. There’s no shame in being both a “parent” and a happy, fulfilled individual. We wouldn’t want our children to settle for less than that as adults, so let’s lead by example!