Welcoming a new member to the family can be a joyous time. However, it also comes with a host of challenges that were hard to foresee and nearly impossible to plan for. Overnight, everything changes and mothers can struggle to keep their very sense of identity as they knew it before motherhood. Below we’ll discuss
Welcoming a new member to the family can be a joyous time. However, it also comes with a host of challenges that were hard to foresee and nearly impossible to plan for. Overnight, everything changes and mothers can struggle to keep their very sense of identity as they knew it before motherhood. Below we’ll discuss these changes and how to navigate them in a way that helps new mothers to retain and redefine their sense of identity.
When a new baby arrives, nearly everything in the schedule shifts. The day now revolves around caring for the child, from feeding them and changing nappies countless times per day to trying to establish some kind of nighttime routine that involves actual sleep. If the child gets fussy or has colic, that can mean hours of the day lost trying to soothe them.
Exhaustion can quickly become the new norm, as new mothers juggle taking care of a child with a possible career, social obligations, household chores and financial responsibilities. Add in night feeds and a decent sleep has become a thing of the past.
Even with reading all of the parenthood books you can get in preparation, parenthood might not be what women expect. It’s one thing to read about it and another to live through the intensity of it. Every child is also unique with their own personality and quirks from a very young age, making fully planning for what to expect impossible.
All the scheduling changes above can also lead to new mothers losing their sense of identity. The roles we fulfill throughout the day tend to define who we are, from the hobbies we fill our evenings and weekends with to the jobs we have to the roles we play as a spouse, friend or family member.
Once someone has a child, those old routines take a hit and women can wonder who they are anymore. Hobbies have to be put on hold, some women choose to leave the workforce to raise children and many no longer have the social time they once had. All of this can have a major impact on a woman’s sense of personal identity.
Even something as basic as personal care can slide by the wayside. An All Things Hair survey showed that 68% of women stated that their self-care practices shifted after becoming a mother. Time in the morning that went towards doing hair, putting on makeup or even taking a shower is suddenly spent taking care of the new baby.
Redefining personal identity
Thankfully, there are ways new mothers can work on keeping and reshaping their sense of identity. These include:
· Ask for help if you are able, such as having a family member or professional babysitter to give you some ‘me time.’
· Keep up on beauty routines using little shortcuts like dry shampoo instead of a full shower or finding easy hairstyles.
· Recognize that just because you’ve added “mother” to your list of life roles doesn’t mean you’ve completely changed as a person. Carve out small chunks of time for the old hobbies and people who make you feel like yourself, like reading for even five minutes after you put the baby to bed or remembering to call family.
Having a baby comes with challenges. It doesn’t mean women have to lose their sense of identity but it does mean they have to work on it more consciously than previously.