My husband and I were celebrating my birthday in Hawaii back in 2007 when he looked at me in a champagne-haze and uttered the phrase, “I’m so happy with you, but if you woke up tomorrow and said you wanted to have a baby with me, I’d be so happy.”
What a waste of a full sip of champs when it came flying out my nose and mouth. We’d only been married three years and together 5. I wasn’t ready for kids. I was young. I had a career. We were having too much fun together traveling the world, enjoying marriage and making our way in life. I didn’t want a baby…did I? I was too scared that I’d lose myself. What if I didn’t have time for my husband anymore, or anything I enjoyed in life? I was scared I’d get lazy and no longer keep my house clean or want to get up and get ready in the day. I didn’t want to lose me. I wanted to be a mother and give my husband the babies he’s always wanted, but I wanted to be me. So I said I’d not lose myself in parenthood. That was September. Our first daughter was born a week before my due date the following July.
It’s been 7 years since I became a mother, and I am proud to say that even with four kids, a career I am in love with, a handsome husband and a house that’s approximately 3 times the size of our first house that I have to find time to maintain, I have not lost myself in parenthood. And you don’t have to, either. It never ceases to amaze me when other new moms tell me that they’ve lost themselves, that they don’t have time to keep their house clean, or do their hair or makeup during the day, or that they can’t go on date nights with their spouse now that they are parents or that they can’t do the same things they did before. You can; trust me. Let me tell you how now to lose yourself in the wonderful world of parenting – because once you lose yourself, you are no longer the best you can be.
Motherhood puts a lot of pressure on all of us, but doesn’t have to stop you from being you. What you need to do is learn to prioritize. What’s most important to you? When you realize what is most important, you will be able to put other things to the side at the moment and get these accomplished. For me, the most important thing is being her for my kids. That means sometimes I have to put work aside when I don’t necessarily want to so that I can be here.
Make time for you
I need time to myself, and my husband knows this. We both recognize when I’m falling prey to the ‘mommys’ and need a break. He’s very diplomatic about noticing this, that husband of mine. He’ll come home with a gift certificate to the spa and tell me to make an appointment for a massage and facial or whatever so that I can get out of the house. He can see that I’m a raging nightmare and losing my patience quickly, and that means I’m already nearing a point that’s not good for anyone in our house. The point is this; make time for you. Leaving the kids for a few hours is not going to kill you, and the kids aren’t going to forget you.
Make time for what makes you happy
What makes you happy? What makes me happy is reading. I love to read. So I will make time to do this, even if only for 20 minutes at a time. It makes me happy, let’s me have some of ‘me’ back and it gives me a chance to regroup and face my family once again.
Get up and get dressed
This is the most important. When I am not put together, I feel all out of sorts. I need to get up each morning, do my hair and makeup and choose an outfit that makes me feel pretty and put together. I’m a bit vain, but I think that when you dress the part, you feel the part. If you want to be ‘you’ and be happy, take care of your appearance. You can’t forget about you.
Wake up earlier
I wake up at 5 every morning. I do this not because I love 5 am, but because I am an early riser. I like to get some work done while the house is quiet. I like to sip my coffee while the sun comes up so that I can watch it. I like to have that time to myself to start my day off on a good note so that I’m not immediately in a bad mood. When I oversleep and get up with my kids, I don’t feel like me. I feel like a monster because I did not get that time to myself.
Accept help or ask for help
Help is nice. If your husband offers to keep the kids so you can go out with your girlfriends, do it. If your mother-in-law asks to keep the kids overnight, let her. If you need a break, ask someone to help you. Do it; you won’t regret it.
Date your husband
I never want my marriage to fall to the wayside because of the kids. I want our marriage to stay strong for us and for our kids. I want them to have a healthy example of a good marriage and good parenting so that they do the same when they grow up. That’s why I date my husband. I have no problem telling my kids that mommy and daddy are going to dinner and they are not invited. They love it, and they love that time with their grandparents.
If only for a night every so often, get away from the kids. Go somewhere fun and do something you can’t or would not do with the kids around. Sometimes my husband and I will book a night away close to home just so we can stay up late with a bottle of wine and one another and then sleep in late the following morning. Why? Because we don’t get to do that at home.
Enjoy your kids
If you don’t enjoy your kids, you’ve already lost yourself. It’s far easier to enjoy your role as a mother and your kids if you are happy with you. Enjoy your kids. You only get them once, and these moments will pass too quickly.
Life is not meant to be taken so seriously all the time. After all, no one gets out alive, you know. So why not have some fun? Have fun with the kids, with friends, with your spouse? Live your life; don’t let your life consume you.
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images