I had an office job for a good six years and picked at a college degree before my son became my full-time job. During those pre-baby days, I had plenty of hobbies, goals, and time for self-improvement.
And then I became a mom.
Wow, was that a shock to the system. During those tough newborn days my goals and hobbies went from varied to nil (OK, getting a shower was a good daily goal — although, I can admit, it was not always accomplished).
It took me a while to realize I had kind of let myself get lost in the never-ending laundry piles, stacks of dishes, ongoing feeding schedules and diaper changes. One day an acquaintance took me off guard with, "So Debbie, what do you like to do for fun?" I was silent. It was like trying to remember a former life. I loved being a mom. I loved the giggles and the cuddles. I loved the feeling of giving so much of myself for the growth and development of this little person (who had my eyes and my husband's long fingers and toes) but I needed to find me again.
Do you find yourself in the same boat? Fulfilling the physical and emotional needs of a tiny human is a 24/7 job. Giving some time to yourself to rediscover and develop your interests will not only give you a sense of identity but you will have much more to offer this new person in your life. Let me offer a few suggestions:
Assess your current situation
Start out slow. If you're still in the sleep deprived, all-the-days-blur-together stage with your baby, set some small, doable goals. Bad idea: Exhausting yourself with strenuous work-outs so you can fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans. Good idea: Taking daily walks, beginners Yoga or finding a low impact workout. The goal is to add balance to your life, not add more stress or exhaustion.
Variety is the spice of life
. Remember the ending of the movie "Groundhog Day" when Bill Murray finally wakes up to a new day after years of being trapped in the same routine and life? I loved what he said: "Anything different is good." That line still resonates with me when I'm feeling depressed with the daily mundane tasks. Sometimes we just get stuck in the same routine and need to shake things up a bit.
Download a new playlist to your iPod.
Dance to your new playlist.
Go on morning walks with other moms.
Find a park you've never visited.
Eat lunch outside.
Visit a museum.
Learn a new recipe.
Go out to lunch with some friends (they will probably be shocked at you coming out of hibernation).
If you have the energy and time for some bigger breaks, some other options include:
Take an art class.
Start a mothers' group.
Teach or take music lessons.
Learn a new language on CD.
Start a journal or blog.
Take a cooking class.
Join a gym or make a work-out schedule.
Volunteer at local community events.
Take or teach a dance class.
Learn a new recipe every week.
Take a night class or community education course at your local college.
Have your husband give you a foot or back massage.
Learn how to quilt.
Have a girls-night-out with other moms.
Go to a matinée movie with a friend.
Or, the best one yet, schedule time for a long, uninterrupted nap.
The possibilities are endless.
Let go of the guilt and remember breaks are healthy
It might feel selfish at first to work on a new goal or leave your little one with your partner so you can have a lunch with someone who talks back to you. But having little escapes is not only good for you, but also for your child.
Victoria Moran is the author of "Creating a Charmed Life."She says we need to let go of the distorted images we have of the "sainted mother." "Frazzled is not pretty," Moran says. "If you don't put gas in your car, it won't run; if you don't give some nurturing to yourself, you'll be a pretty poor nurturer."
The role of a mother is a taxing one — especially with a brand new baby. If you're feeling short-tempered and stressed with the demands of motherhood, it's probably time for a little "me date." But remember not to add things to your life that will only create more exhaustion and raise your stress levels. If you strike the right balance, you will discover that taking time to reconnect with yourself will be therapeutic and allow you to become a much happier, more interesting person to your child.