Redefining Motherhood: Balancing Identity, Relationships, and Self-Care

New Chapter: Motherhood

Motherhood is a journey full of immense joy, love and beauty, but it is also a time of intense change. As a new parent, it might seem as though you’ve experienced a radical identity shift and the person you were ‘before’ is essentially gone. You’re not really starting completely from scratch, but sometimes it’s going to feel like it! In some ways, now you get to discover a new sense of self, which is both exciting and daunting. Taking care of yourself in new ways, prioritizing your relationships, and doing the work to get your groove back are three ways to show up for yourself.

Figuring out how to take care of yourself when you’re also taking care of a tiny human can be difficult! However, you are worthy of attention and care, too, even if it’s in small doses. The foundation you build now will serve you well for years to come.

The Evolution of Motherhood

Although it is different for everyone, there are definitely going to be things that have drastically changed in your life! Whether that’s not sleeping in and getting a lot less sleep, taking much (much!) longer to get out the door, not having the freedom to travel, a changed work situation, new realities in relationships and more, it will take time to get comfortable with the new life you’re living. Parenting also leads to immense self-discovery for many, but that takes time too. You will likely experience change in many areas, including everything from your social life to your self care routine to your finances.

Embracing Holistic Self-Care:

No matter how you came to motherhood, it’s very likely your body has changed a bit since your twenty somethings. It might take some time to get used to your new, amazing body, and that’s okay! On top of that, hormones and lack of sleep have a real effect on our mental and emotional health.

The advice ‘sleep when they sleep’ is often repeated… and often not super helpful. However, you can still try to work in a few minutes of basic self care when your baby is asleep or occupied, whether that’s taking a nap, a shower, or reading a few pages of a book, or eating a snack with two free hands (a surprising novelty in early parenthood).

Rediscovering Your Passions

Is there something you were super passionate about pre-kiddo that you can engage in again, or something new you’re interested in– even if it feels small? Sometimes we just need a little mindless scrolling on social media, and honestly, that’s its own form of self care. But taking even a few minutes to do something that makes you feel like your own separate person is crucial. It might be listening to your favorite music (perhaps on headphones if it isn’t kid-friendly), finding a new podcast, making the time to read that next book in a series you love that just came out. If you have the option for childcare, it might be taking a class, laying on a blanket in the park, or even an overnight away.

No matter what, your world has drastically changed, and it will take time to adjust. In the meantime, finding the things that make you feel ‘like you’ (new and old) is so important for your sense of self.

Building a Support Network

Historically, very few people parented in a vacuum, but in the modern world we are often isolated. Especially if most of our friends are kid-free or we don’t have family nearby, motherhood can be a really solitary endeavor at times. Get comfy with asking for specific help from the people who love you, and look for new communities as well. In the long-term that can look like many different things, but at first that might be other parents with kids for future playdates, baby-parent yoga, or babysitting collectives. Building a community around parents with children of similar ages can also help you share resources, including handing down clothes, toys and more!

If you struggle to find support that is up close and personal, still make the effort to connect with others. This could look like video calls, texting distant friends, or good old fashioned phone chats. It could also include looking for social media groups around parenting issues that are especially relevant or interesting to you.

Prioritizing Adult Conversations

If you have a partner, it can be easy to talk ‘all-baby, all the time.’ And don’t get us wrong: we have all had a hard bedtime routine and then missed the baby and looked at photos of them while they sleep! While that’s special and important too, try to talk about non-kid-related interests with your partner as well. This might feel impossible sometimes, so consider finding podcasts, a fun show, favorite music or another easy interest to share. Spending enormous amounts of time with a tiny person who can’t even talk yet can be alternately sweet and lonely, so try to remember to release yourself from that when you’re with someone who can actually carry on a conversation.

Prioritize relationships that make you feel like your own person, as well as building new relationships that support and uplift you personally and as a family. Share responsibility with your partner, co-parents, and family if possible so you can both have some time for yourselves.

Establishing Boundaries:

Setting boundaries, unfortunately, is so uncomfortable for many of us! But new parenthood is a really good (and necessary) time to get cozier with setting limits around your time, availability, and personal ideas about child-rearing. The more you practice, the easier it will be! The things you need and feel are vitally important, and sticking up for those is essential to your sense of self. At first this might look like making sure you have enough time to recover as a brand new parent, and as time goes on, that you have the time to prioritize yourself.

Redefining Personal Success

Slay the damaging stereotype that women have to be super parents AND amazing career-builders. You might sometimes be both, or one, or other times neither. Success can also be measured in small milestones, including choosing to prioritize your work or family time. It means remembering to celebrate achievements, both personally and as a family. Your changing sense of self does not make you a failure in any way, even if it might look different than you imagined.

Setting realistic expectations about what you need, want, and are capable of doing will help you give yourself the grace you need to thrive, not just survive.

Invest in Your Well-Being

Becoming a parent is an enormous transition, and growing with your child means things sometimes change as soon as the ground feels steady under your feet! When we add in issues like postpartum depression and other emotional challenges, a key part of self-care for parents is reaching out and receiving therapeutic care when we need it. Sometimes that might look like seeing a counselor, or working through a workbook on your own. Through the years your relationship to yourself, your partner and more will change many times. Advocate for mental health care for yourself and other parents. Allow yourself to be unfiltered and find other moms who are willing to do the same!

Investing in your own well-being as a whole person sends a powerful message to yourself: that you’re worth making time for and deserving of care. Remembering to take care of your mental health as well will help build a healthy environment for yourself as well as your family.

Balancing your identity as a person and a parent is an ongoing process that will keep changing as time goes on!

Try Veauty™ (Beauty for Your Vulva):

In the midst of finding the balance between motherhood and self, take the time to prioritize your body and feeling positive about it. Since Vulva health is often overlooked but vitally important, our say la V.™ Vulva skincare products help you feel clean and fresh, while adding a little beauty back into your self-care sesh. It’s the small things sometimes!

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