By Lauren Verona
As women, we go through many transitions in our life span. But none as pivotal as the shift into motherhood. So it’s important to know how to reconnect with yourself when you become a mother.
These transitions in life are marked by evident physical changes, as we know. However, it is often the emotional and transformational changes that have a greater impact on us.
The shift into motherhood is major.
Despite the long, nine-month journey through pregnancy from conception to birth, nothing can truly prepare us for the changes that we undergo once our newborn baby is out of the womb and in our arms.
This period can be fraught with a cacophony of emotions as we learn how to navigate this new relationship and role, and how to reconnect with ourselves. It is a period of immense heart opening and great joy. Yet it can also be coupled with a cloud of fatigue, self-doubt, fear and uncertainty.
You have a baby. A new life is suddenly in your hands. And the life that you came to understand, and the version of yourself you knew, starts to dissolve.
No matter how ‘together’ your life was prior to childbirth, suddenly the simplest tasks can seem like a monumental undertaking. Things like washing your hair is a miraculous feat. Leaving the house for any duration is a huge accomplishment. And managing a couple of hours of uninterrupted sleep is your new life goal!
As women, it’s easy to judge ourselves harshly. Despite the outpouring of understanding texts offering support, encouragement and reassurance from close family and friends.
Motherhood can feel all consuming.
And you wonder what would be left behind if you took the mother hat off.
Where did all of the previous attributes that made you YOU, go?!
This concept of ‘losing yourself‘ in motherhood is common, so much so it is almost a rite of passage.
No matter how much you love you baby. And how much you have dreamed of motherhood since you were a child yourself. The role is full-time. And when five minutes of precious down time does appear, all you can think about is catching up on all those ‘jobs’ you have not been able to get to yet.
So, you might wonder just how to reconnect with yourself when you become a mother.
How can you get to know (and love) this new evolved version of you?
Well, self-care, despite the luxurious connotations it conjures, is vital.
Whilst hour-long self-care routines may be placed on hold during these early days of mothering. Even small snippets of time for self-care count. The key is to make the most of the pockets that appear throughout your day or night.
Here are some simple suggestions to prioritise self-care and reconnect with yourself in just a few easy steps.
1 // Meditation
It’s not about discovering enlightenment here!
Five minutes of meditation can do wonders. In fact, five minutes of meditation a day is enough to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, help to balance hormones, increase our immunity and boost mood levels.
If you have a meditation practice, then try and sneak this in when time arises. If you’re new to meditation, try downloading an app on your phone and finding some guided meditations that you connect with. This doesn’t have to be daily, but do start to take note of when spare moments arise and utilise them the best you can. Even listening to a guided meditation or yoga nidra before bed could be a blissful routine.
2 // Habit stacking
Habit stacking literally refers to stacking one habit on top of another.
For example, when you are feeding your baby, try putting your phone out of reach and using this time either for your meditation practice, a breathing practice or you could listen to an uplifting podcast. Think of other routines you have throughout the day – hanging out the laundry, tidying the house, sitting in the car, taking a shower, etc. Try and utilise these routines.
List out five things you are grateful for whilst the kettle boils, or take three big deep breaths whilst at traffic lights. We are creatures of habit so this can be a powerful way to easily introduce some new healthy routines into your life.
3 // Affirmations
The words we use to speak to ourselves are incredibly powerful.
Remember, you are listening to every word that you say. So, do your best to speak to yourself with compassion and love.
No matter how exhausted or overwhelmed you may feel, remind yourself of your strengths and the things that you admire about yourself. Look in the mirror and say to yourself, ‘I am strong, I am powerful, I am beautiful, I am competent’. Whilst it may not seem like much, and it may even be hard at first, these small affirmations are transformational when it comes to our self-worth and how we feel about ourselves.
4 // Journaling
We tend to capture everything through images these days. But keeping a journal can be a keepsake of this period of your life, whilst also offering you a private place to release everything inside of you.
Writing out feelings is liberating and helps shift stagnant energy. It can also help us to reconnect with various aspects of ourselves and shed light on things that our more cognitive, functional brain hides from us.
A few minutes of free flow writing is a powerful exercise. Keep a notebook somewhere close to hand, and when inspiration and time strikes, dive in.
5 // Movement
Moving our body is one of the best ways to naturally boost endorphins. Think of movement as a happy pill.
Whilst lying on the couch may seem more appealing, a few minutes of yoga on the living room floor or a quick walk outside can actually gift us more energy.
Whilst your baby naps, roll out an exercise mat and do some simple movements. You may already have a yoga practice, or you can try an online class.
Nap time can also be the perfect opportunity for a walk. Take the stroller or baby carrier out, and get a dose of movement, nature and fresh air all in one hit.
HOW TO START
It can be easy to put self-care on hold during the transition to motherhood, with so much time and energy devoted to caring for another.
Remember though that your health and happiness is paramount to you being able to care for your family.
Start off with a few minutes a day devoted to your wellbeing.
Become aware of how you are currently filling quiet moments of time, and try to make the most of these.
Do things that make you feel alive and connect you with the aspects of yourself that you love, or are missing.
You are now a mother, yet you are also everything you were before you became a mother. Whilst some days will be more challenging than others, there is room for all of you to shine.