Identity - more that "just a mum"
I've had a chat to a few different mums, both those who are at home full time and those that are back working. A common theme that seems to come up is identity. By identity I mean defining who you are as a person other than just a mum or a dad.
When you become a parent your priorities change. You're generally aware this will happen and that the days of doing whatever you want whenever you want will be over. But sometimes, even all the preparation in the world doesn't actually compare to the reality that hits you. From the various conversations I've had with others and in my own experience, this can become quite consuming if you let it.
At first, you're forced to make the kids the centre of your universe because they can't take care of themselves. And it just seems that this kind of just flows on as they get older. As a friend of mine put it, "I'm more than just a mother! I have needs too." I agree!
What I've learnt is that if you're a parent at home (and it's mostly mums) you can lose sight of that person you were before you had kids. Maybe you had a promising professional career ahead of you, a lawyer or a manager or a consultant. Maybe you had a future in sport. Maybe you had a hobby that you've had to put on hold. You end up wondering "where did that person go?"
Now it's not to say that having kids isn't rewarding in itself. Ask any parent, we all love our kids! But ask yourself, when did you last have a holiday away from the kids, just you or just you and your partner? I've had one night away from all my girls since the twins were born. Just one night! As a couple, we haven't had any nights away. Other parents I know haven't had time away in 5, 8, 10 years or more!
If you've read any of my other blogs, you'll see I'm great at asking the questions, but I don't generally have many answers! But I have been thinking about this topic of identity for the last few days though and I've realised the answer is in finding balance. Way easier said than done, but I think it can be done!
Obviously if you had a career, you can get that back, but it may take some work. If you had a future in sport, you can still be part of that sport! It may just be in a different capacity. To get that balance back and find time for yourself, it takes just as much work if not more as it does to make sure your kids are fed and have everything they need.
Work on making sure that your needs are met, and that your partners needs are met. Find someone who can watch the kids and take a night or a weekend away. Or a week away! Speak to family and friends who have kids and find out what they did. The bonus is that if you're happy, your home will probably be happier!