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!