I recently went through a time in my life when I felt as though I had no idea who I was. I barely ever had time to think, read, be with friends, or do any of my hobbies. I felt like I had no personality! I was there for my husband, for my baby, my work, my small group bible study- but I felt like I wasn’t really there. I was just doing. Then I would go to sleep at night and do it all over again the next day… and the next day. I realized that, as much as I love my family and will always be there for them, I needed to have a little time put aside to be alone. These are the things that I’ve found, when doing them alone, I have been able to reclaim a little bit of the self I had forgotten about. Keep in mind that I am in no way encouraging a Wanderlust approach to finding yourself! Never. However, I do believe that a mother will need to take time to remind herself of her identity beyond just being a mom. This is how I did that:
1 Go on a walk/run alone.
I know that to some people going on a walk or run alone may feel lonely but I strongly encourage you to give it a try! There is no other time when my thoughts come more clearly than when I am walking or running. Now I love to run with baby boy, we do it all the time. But my mind many times will wander off thinking about how much longer he’s going to last before he get bored, hungry, etc. When I am by myself, I can really think. In my intro I mentioned how there was a time when I felt I was losing myself. And I blame that primarily on never having any time to actually THINK! Everything I did was in robot mom mode. Work, feed the family, take care of baby, wife mode. Those are all good things but at the end of the day I would realize that I hadn’t taken one moment to pray, to think, ponder, (let alone touch a hobby I would love to do). And after a while of this I began to realize that I was losing who I was- my personality, my opinions, my hobbies. And I began to feel myself burning out. I’m the type of person who is very quick to assume all responsibility and then regret it later. I had to learn that it was ok to ask my husband to watch the baby and then just go and get out of the house. In allowing myself to have more alone time, I am able to pray more and align myself with who God wants me to be; I can decide how I react to conflict instead of allowing my emotions to decide for me. I am able to form my own opinions about certain situations that are going on in my life instead of only listening to others. Walking alone had always provided me with clarity and, if nothing else, time to organize my thoughts, and leaves me to come home to a more peaceful mind.
2 Read a book alone.
In the wise words of Lowes, “Never stop improving”- yourself that is. Now I love to curl up with a glass of wine and read a classic or exciting modern novel as much as the next mama, but I challenge you to pick up a book that will leave you with new thoughts to ponder or having learned something. Whether you’re reading the Bible or a self-improvement book recommended by a friend, take an evening of alone time and use it to renew your mind. As much as I hated doing homework when I was in school, I really miss learning! And like I said earlier, anyone can easily slip into “robot mom” mode. Robot mom has no time or need to develop her skills and understanding, she just does what she needs to do to get she and her family through another day. I don’t want to be “robot mom.” I want to be a mom who is insightful, takes the time to educate herself, and tries new things! And who says you can’t curl up with a self-improvement book and a glass of wine?
3 Watch a movie alone.
My last two points have been about taking the time to be alone so that you can think, grow, improve yourself, etc. But sometimes I just want to take an hour and not think much at all. Is that ok?? One great reason to watch a movie alone is simply the fact that you get to pick the movie! And I mean really pick the movie- not being told to pick the movie and then scrolling through ten different choices until everybody finds a movie they can agree on. My all time favorite movie is Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightly. Do you know when the last time was that I watch that? Probably at least 3 years ago. Do you know why I haven’t watched my favorite movie in 3 years?? Because if I did force hubby to stay and watch with me, I would have to try to enjoy it between lots of joking and eye rolling, and who wants that right in the middle of an intense unspoken love?? Instead, on quiet nights when Josh has to work, I don’t feel like doing anything that involves, you know, doing- or thinking- then I can truly enjoy my favorite classic.
4 Shop alone.
I don’t know about you but sometimes I find shopping relaxing- if I’m alone. If baby is with me then shopping is a race against the clock. All I’m thinking about is weaving through all the people who don’t have babies in their strollers to get in and out of the store ASAP. And usually when I get home I realize I forgot the one thing I went to the store for. When I shop alone- again- it gives me time to think! And I need that when I’m spending money! There’s so many times when I come home and I realize that I forgot to use my coupons, I bought the wrong brand, or I forgot to get something important simply because my mind was preoccupied. I know that lots of moms don’t have the luxury of shopping alone, and trust me, it’s a rarity for me too, but if you do have the opportunity, to have someone watch the kids, do it!
Josh and I like to do a lot of different things together. We workout together, watch Netflix shows together, sometimes I’ll even play a video game with him. I’ve found, though, that having a hobby of my own allows me to reclaim a bit of my own identity apart from being a mom. I can be a mom and a writer, a mom and and artist. It’s helped me to feel a little less taken over by this role that came up pretty quickly in our marriage (if you don’t already know, Josh and I found out we were pregers with our son about 6 months into our marriage. And we were married at age 21). It also allows me to be creative and get my mind working outside the facets of robot mom mode. If you had a hobby before you became a mom and seem to have forgotten it, try to pick it up again after the kids go to bed! Not sure of a hobby you’d enjoy? Browse the pinterest DIY section or get a membership at a local gym. Find out what gets you in the zone and trying new things.
6 Meet up with a friend alone.
While it’s great to be able to have friends who accept and love your kids and maybe have kids themselves, we all know that there is a big difference between meeting up with a friend with kids vs without kids. When I am out with David- and I LOVE spending time with my buddy- I usually feel like I am on a timer. I’m preoccupied with keeping him entertained and happy while trying to have a conversation which leads to a lot of interrupted thoughts. Many times when I get coffee with a friend and bring baby along, I find myself somewhat relieved by the time we get in the car to leave. Not because I don’t love my friend or didn’t want to be with her, but because trying to sit and have a meaningful conversation is HARD when I have baby with me. So while I think it’s important for children to be able to come with you to meet friends and to learn to respect adult conversations, it’s also enjoyable and sometimes needed to meet up and leave the babies at home.
I hope that in trying these things, you are able to reclaim some of the self that has been put on the shelf for a while. Ultimately I have found that I am more confident, more relaxed, and more aware when I am able to, for at least a short while, get alone and recuperate.
Please! Tell me what you would add to this list! What are some things that you love to do by yourself that help grow you as a person? Let me know in the comments below!
I am a mother of 5 children, who are all now grown, but I remember telling my wonderful husband that once in a while I would like to be at home alone. I would like to just experience home by myself for a little while. And he would take all of our kids to a park or some place with him for a couple of hours. It didn’t happen often, but it felt like a treat to me, especially since I homeschooled and had all 5 with me all the time. I would do a project around the house or read a favorite book with a cup of coffee uninterrupted. But it was my time.
Hi Chelsea, I felt the same way after having my daughter. I love being with her, but I also need a little time to myself. Every mom needs a little “me” time to be their best self for them and their family. I have been fortunate enough to have a monthly moms night out with some amazing mommy friends. Its always nice to have some adult conversation. I really enjoyed your post!
Rachel G says
Watching movies by myself is too boring–I don’t imagine that even when I have kids I’ll ever do that, I see movies as a social activity only, with husband or friends, sure. By myself? I never want to. Reading, though, is definitely something best done alone–it’s hard to do it with anyone else, anyways, unless you’re reading aloud to a group.
[email protected] says
I just love this post! Time alone is so precious. 🙂
Sam // DIY just cuz says
Ever since having a child, I have enjoyed some of my alone time. Even just driving around in the car alone can be peaceful and relaxing. Of course I LOVE my family time – it’s the best – but if you forgot to make time just for YOU, you’re losing a part of yourself. I can totally relate to this. Can we just go off and be best friends? Thanks! 😉
Haha sounds good to me! Being selfless is a really honorable thing when it comes to parenting, but we don’t want to completely lose ourselves!
Great list!!! As a stay at home mom to 4 kids under the age of 10, I treasure my alone time!
I’m not a mom but I definitely understand needing some time alone! I am a college student and more often than not, I need a moment to myself! It’s great you found a good list to help you find some peace!
So true. I miss all these things! Particularly reading a book (any ADULT book) and shopping alone.
Jessica Harlow says
I think a lot of Moms fall into this trap! When you become a Mom, your whole existence revolves around your family. There is little time or thought to keeping yourself sane by doing things for and by yourself. My youngest just started full day Kindergarten so I’m in the middle of figuring out what to do with myself and remembering who I am? lol
This can apply to non-moms as well. Last night I was beating myself up mentally for not cleaning the kitchen (it’s not terrible, a few dirty dishes), while I was reading a book. Husband? Also reading a book. I know for a fact he wasn’t having those thoughts.
Kylee Kolesar says
Shann Eva says
I totally agree with you. I need some alone time….even if it’s for 5 minutes…every day. I just need the peace and quiet and to be alone with my thoughts. I love to read, shop, and walk alone too. Great post!
YES! Moms need to remember that they are still themselves – this person that is also a mom. I forgot this truth and didn’t do anything alone for years. I lost part of myself and felt oh so alone. Now I try to remind moms that it is so important to get alone time – doing something, anything, that they LOVE!
This is great! Funny thing is, this actually sounds like my life! If I had to pick things to do alone, this would be (and usually is!) be my list! Beautiful blog, I found you through Bloggers2Brands so I will check back often! 😉
Liz Mays says
I definitely shop better alone. I can’t focus with other people (actually that’s probably a good thing, haha). I do enjoy seeing movies alone too!
Erin @ Her Heartland Soul says
I love going on solo walks!
eliz Frank says
What you described happens to a lot of new moms and if we don’t make time for self, it grows into a monster. It is healthy for the family, for Moms to still maintain an identity outside of being Mom, and I’m glad you found your footing again.
Alone time is definitely something beautiful and good 🙂 Great suggestions!
I love doing all of these things alone and I always encourage people to try them out. It is so peaceful!
Yes, yes!! To all of this!!
Just pampering myself with a bubble bath, soft music playing and no one pounding on the door to be let in. It was heaven for me, even now when the kids are grown it’s my me time.
Dawn W says
I love all these suggestions. I was able do most of them at one point or another while my kids were young. However, I fell into the “robot” trap after each child was about 3 months old. I want moms to realize that you can’t wait until all the kids are a little older, or until the baby sleeps through the night (so you can sleep through the night!), or until your husband comes home. Do it now. When you think there’s no way you can break away, that’s probably when you need it the most. Call a neighbor, a friend, a babysitter… But get out before the robot mode sinks in. I’m a stay at home mother of 4 boys (and one deceased little girl, but that’s another story), and our home is energetic, rough & tumble, and high-strung. I force myself to do something for myself once a week, or I’ll get lost in the vortex of running screaming competitiveness. But the hardest part for me was to reset about 3 months after the birth of each child. Even though I was nursing, if I could just get two hours every three or four days without someone attached to me, it helped SO much. Thank you for your wise words. I hope many young mothers read these words and integrate them.
Amber M says
P&P is my fave movie, too!! But my hubby actually watches it with me. He likes making fun of Mr. Collins. LOL “What excellent boiled potatoes.” We also like to comment on the amazing camera work. It’s a beautiful movie.
BTW, if you happen to have the version that comes with the directors commentary, I highly recommend watching it!
I’ve become a bit of a Jane Austen fan. I’m currently reading Emma in my “Mommy needs quiet time”. Ha!
The Jessie K says
I so agree! It’s a blessing to be at home with my kids all day everyday but if I don’t get some time to myself I become cranky and not the best version of their mom that I can be.
I truely believe that spending time alone as a mother is a necessity to sort of reset and calm your brain. It’s better in the long run and everyone seems happier too. 🙂
I would add listen to your favorite CD alone, and dance to it, or simply sit & enjoy all the feelings it may bring back from an earlier time in your life.
It took me so long to recognize that alone time for a mom is a MUST. So many experienced moms told me that when my son was first born. I had no idea how right they were. I always felt guilty when I was off on my own but I slowly learned that it is ok to take “me time”. And all those occasions you mentioned are really perfect opportunities. Must read for new moms.
As a single Mom of three, doing anything alone is infrequent. However, with the unwavering support of my own Mom, I do truly enjoy going to the movies by myself (the Raisinettes are all MINE) and, more importantly, going to church. I treasure that quite time which helps me to find peace, reflect, and refresh.
My boys are older now so I do shop alone most of the time. I try to make a point of connecting with young moms who are shopping in a rush with babies in tow. I try to encourage moms and just say “you are doing a great job, keep it up, give yourself a break”, etc. In my alone time, I like to walk while listening to audiobooks. I tap into my local library offerings via the Overdrive app. I especially enjoy listening to books that have become movies or self-help books. It’s a great way to improve mind, body and soul and it’s totally free!
I kept waiting for the next one on the list to be Go To the Bathroom! No privacy at our house!
Yes that would be my addition too – a mum must go to the bathroom on her own!! Great list – and a great reminder.
Oh, yes!! I had to wait until they grew up and left home…and the cat died.
Jessica Tartaglia says
Kind of hit a little sore spot cause this us just how i feel. Im here 110% for my daughters and do all im supposed to as a mom, a wife,a sister,a friend, and caretaker. I try to go abive and beyond for everyone but I guess nit for myself. I think i list my own identity. It came to the point where i had to go see my Dr. Because i just felt numb, here but not here, happy on the out but so sad on the inside. If suffer from ptsd and i am glad i went to the Dr when i did cause the outcome was not gonna be good. I am going to couciling and on meds because i let the past get the best of me but one day at a time. Thank you for sharing your story as to everyone and we all have to believe in ourself and not forget who we are.
Now I know how I survived raising my four girls without going nuts! I did everyone of these things! Thank you for sharing. I couldn’t have said this better myself, great advice. I’ll be sure to send this to my girls who are all grown now and raising families of their own.
I am a mother of 2 who are in college and all this article definitely hits home. I am a single mom and now that my sons are doing their own thing I am having to find myself, who am I. I have spent the last 11 years mothering that I’ve forgotten about me and I am having a hard time trying to figure this out. So, for you younger moms, take my advice, do something for yourself so you don’t forget who you are.
Love these ideas! I stumbled across this on Pinterest, I just wrote something very similar, one of the tips I have for other moms is to take time with your friends. I think that’s something a lot of women feel guilty about but they shouldn’t its so important to have strong friendships! Thanks for sharing!
Yes, having female friendships is so darn important as a mom. You might not get as much time with friends as you would like, but the time you do have can be really refreshing!
This is a wonderful article. ‘Robot Mom’ this is exactly what I feel at times and have mentioned it to my husband too but honestly I couldn’t have said it this well.
I agree to all the 6 remedies you have mentioned Chelsea, to regain ourselves as a mother with all those great abilities we have apart from daily house n kids keeping.
But somewhere in this Robot Mom lifestyle we always underestimate those abilities.
Thanks for sharing this beautiful post.
Super love the run/walk idea! My husband and I go to the gym together and I tag along and do what he does mainly because I feel lost and don’t want to make a fool of myself… but maybe I need to claim my independence and get out there on my own! In high school I use to love going on a run in the evenings maybe I need to start that up again as well.
Reading books is one of the best things I love doing when alone. Mostly when my children take a nap or early in the morning before they wake up. It makes me improve myself and renew my mind.