Having a postpartum identity crisis is real. It’s frustrating, depressing, debilitating. You just feel lost all the time, amongst other things.
So rediscovering yourself after motherhood is important to retain your sense of self again.
There are ways to find yourself again after having a baby. Most of it involves a shift in perspective or a change in the way you think of motherhood.
But first, let’s dive into the possible reasons why women tend to lose their identity after motherhood.
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Why Do Moms Lose Their Identity?
Everything becomes all about the baby
Your body, your thoughts, your time, your energy – everything is given to and saved for your baby.
You carry them all the time. Your milk feeds them.
You think about their sleep, their milestones, why are they crying so much, etc.
You’re with them 24/7 with barely a break squeezed in.
You spend most days keeping them alive and keeping yourself awake.
You are not even the center of your world anymore.
For some moms, their whole world becomes their baby.
And when someone becomes your world, you only see their needs and wants. You don’t see yours anymore.
Thereby losing yourself in the process.
Living out expectations
Everyone in your life expects you to act like the type of mother they generally expect from society.
Strangers, teachers, heck, even doctors, nurses, call you “Mommy.”
Most husbands will even call their wives “Mommy” in front of their kids. They don’t even use your name anymore!
So you consciously take on that role. You set aside what you were, before having children.
You think of images of selfless, nurturing moms that can cook, budget, homeschool, keep a house clean even with a toddler around and even have the time to work out and volunteer!
So you strive to become one.
And when you do that role day in and day out, it becomes your identity.
You slowly lose the other aspects of yourself and you just become “Mom.”
Weak sense of self
If you’ve always been insecure, anxious, easily overwhelmed, have codependent tendencies, eager to please, and have low self-esteem, even before having children, you’ll be more prone to depression and other mental health issues.
It will be easy to lose yourself in motherhood if you have a poorly developed sense of self.
Signs You’ve Lost Yourself in Motherhood
- You can’t think or talk about anything other than your baby
- Your child is the only person in your life (other than your spouse)
- You often feel sad or angry and resentful
- You feel tired, bored, and restless all the time
- You find little enjoyment in your life
- You often think about your old life before having a baby
- You will feel like a failure and you feel regretful
Best Ways for Rediscovering Yourself After Motherhood
Accept that you’ve changed
If you’ve been denying it, you’ll have a hard time moving on and finding yourself again.
So if you feel like motherhood has changed you and you’re still in denial, go to the next phase until you’ve accepted it.
The change might be small or might be a major one.
Be angry about the change, be sad and depressed about it but ultimately, you would need to accept it so you can move on, get unstuck, and do something about it.
Become a role model to your kids
You don’t want your children losing their identity just because they’re in a new school, have new friends, have a new job, or with someone new, don’t you?
So think about your kids while you’re in this process of rediscovering yourself after motherhood.
This might be counterintuitive but think about it, would you like to set this example of a parent who doesn’t have a strong sense of self?
You will be in the process of finding yourself again, maintaining that sense of identity while showing to your kids that they don’t have to lose themselves to anyone or anything!
In the long run, these will both benefit you and your children.
Think about the future
One day, you will not be the center of your kid’s universe anymore.
You won’t be able to make them happy, you won’t be able to calm them when they’re crying.
You won’t be the most important person in their life anymore.
You will lose that “mom power.” And if you’re addicted to that power, it’s very hard to let go of your kids.
You end up becoming that mom who smothers their grown-up kids and who ends up hating their kid’s partners.
Don’t be that mom.
Think about a world where your kids have their own families, are living on the other side of the world, and would call occasionally a few times a year.
If you don’t have anything going on in your life by then, you’ll feel lonely and depressed. So start thinking about you, NOW.
This brings me to the next tip.
Mothers who have a tribe of helpers are better equipped mentally and emotionally to deal with the changes that come with motherhood.
Their social support (parents/ in-laws/ hands-on spouses/ relatives/ nanny), provides them the time to pursue other activities, such as hobbies, work, or even rest.
So if possible, create your village. Cause it takes one to raise kids. You need one to be well adjusted and happy in the process of becoming a mother.
If you’re alone in this motherhood journey, do the next tip.
Make time for yourself guilt-free
Create pockets of time to seek out the things you used to enjoy or look for new activities that you might enjoy, guilt-free.
The most important thing here is to not feel guilty about self-care and “me-time.”
You can’t pour into your children’s cup when your cup is empty.
You can’t become the best version of yourself for your kids if you feel like crap inside all the time.
So make the time for yourself and don’t feel guilty about it.
For instance, take a break when your baby is napping or sleeping at night.
Exercise, set goals, go back to your hobbies, find a new hobby, journal, practice the art of being grateful, sleep.
Let everything go – let the laundry and dishes pile up, let the house be messy, order takeaway. Even for just a while.
Just so you can feel energized and rejuvenated and be yourself again.
Do self-care regularly, guilt-free.
Rebuild your relationships
Do date nights again with your spouse, even if it’s just at home, while the kids are sleeping.
Reach out to your old friends. Or make new friends!
You can discuss with your spouse or trusted friends what you’re feeling.
These people that know you intimately, can help you out in your journey to rediscover yourself after becoming a mother.
They know you best so they’ll be able to suggest things to you that you might not think of.
And reconnecting with people that you know before you have kids, will bring back memories and will make you feel like yourself again.
So if possible, reconnect with old friends and maintain your relationship with them.
And don’t leave out your spouse. Remember when the kids are all grown up, they will all have their own lives. You and your partner will become empty nesters.
So rebuild a better and stronger relationship with your spouse even at an early phase.
Let your kids become bored
You don’t need to entertain your baby or toddler 24/7. You don’t also need to do that with your older kids.
Honestly, it’s mind-numbing, it’s exhausting and it can be frustrating. Especially when you have a lot of work or chores to do or you just want a break.
So let them get bored! Let them find a way to entertain themselves safely.
Encourage independence by leaving them alone for a few minutes to play within a safe distance. Don’t interrupt or ask questions when they’re playing.
Put your newborns in activity gyms or bouncers, swings, or rockers.
Give them some educational toys or activities that will hold their interest. Let them play on their own without you leading it.
Follow the French!
Apparently, most French moms retain their sense of identity by doing the following:
- Making time for themselves guilt-free.
- Not stressing and obsessing about a lot of baby stuff. Eg. it’s okay if each parent has their way of making the baby sleep. No need to follow mom’s way or do everything by the book.
- Letting their baby adapt to their needs, not the other way around. Eg. you let your baby get used to napping in a noisy and bright room.
Since most of them are pretty laid back, there’s less mom-shaming.
Of course, it’s not that easy for French moms as they need to keep up with the pressure of still being themselves, mentally and physically.
So take their beliefs with a grain of salt. Apply only what works for you.
Takeaway on Rediscovering Yourself After Motherhood
It’s not all that bad when you become a completely different person after having a baby.
Some women love the idea of becoming a mother. They thrive on it and they don’t mind changing for the sake of their kids and family.
Most of us become more mature. You learn how to deal with your childhood issues, so you don’t pass on any toxic traits to your kids.
You learn about childhood development.
Motherhood makes you emotionally, mentally, and physically stronger.
I think in general, being a parent makes you want to become a better person to set an example to your kids and others. To generally make the world a safer and better place to live in.
But still rediscovering yourself after motherhood is very important.
There is life after having a baby and when your baby becomes an adult and has their kids, you’ll be able to adjust to that phase more graciously.