How to Rediscover Your Sense of Self in Motherhood

sunset picture of mom in a cape

The pressure to become Super Mom is overwhelming at times — even suffocating for some. For this reason, women often succumb to the pressures of becoming an overachieving mother to the point that they end up losing their identity in the process.

How You Might Lose Your Identity

It's easy to lose your identity when you become a mom. After all, motherhood is a busy, never-ending list of demands including everything from sleepless nights, diaper changes and dinner-making, to carpooling, homework-helping, and errand-running. In fact, according to Happy Worker's facts about motherhood, moms stay pretty busy.

According to data, moms of preschoolers have to stop and take care of their child's needs at least 210 times per day.

And when it comes to household chores, laundry alone can eat up a mom's time. Eighty-eight percent of a family's laundry is handled by her, totaling more than 330 loads of laundry and 5,300 articles of clothing per year.

There are doctor's visits to schedule and attend, school functions to volunteer for, mouths to feed, boo-boos to kiss and so much more. It's no wonder that being a mom leaves little time for anything else, especially yourself.

No one knows when exactly it happens, but almost every mom feels a loss of identity at some point in her journey through motherhood. Suddenly, she realizes that things are different. She is different.

She remembers the days when she used to care about her appearance. The days when she napped if she wanted, watched what interested her on television, and ate when she was hungry. And although she is still in control of her life, things are different now.

She has other people to consider when making decisions. And many times, she gladly places her wants and needs on the back burner in favor of what her kids need instead. Following are some of the top reasons moms lose their identity. 

Motherhood Changes Your Life

There is something wonderful about being a mother. It is an experience like no other. But with it comes a number of changes. For instance, having children can have a big impact on your personality and temperament.

Maybe you are used to being a social butterfly, but now with a new baby in the house, you are not able to see your friends as often or when you do you have lots of awkward conversations. Or, maybe the demands of your kids' schedules keep you from doing the things you once enjoyed.

Suddenly, your life is not what it used to be. Because of this, you can begin to lose a sense of who you are because your life seems to revolve around what your kids need and has little to do with what you might need.

You never attend concerts and haven't read a book cover to cover in years. The things that made your life unique don't exist any longer and you're not even sure how to find them again.

Motherhood Limits Your Freedom

Before your kids came along, you were likely in complete control of your life. You decided when and what you were going to do every day and nothing was pushing or pulling for your attention.

You also may have devoted more time to your career by attending conferences and workshops, networking with people in your industry and lunching with colleagues. But now that the kids have come along, you have very little time for that. Perhaps you even gave up your career to stay at home with your kids.

Whatever your choices, you often realize that there are just not enough hours in the day to fit everything in that you used to because your kids are the priority. You just do not have the time or the freedom to be who you once were.

Motherhood Zaps Your Energy 

Sometimes being a mom is exhausting, especially when your kids are babies. As a result, it is not uncommon for moms to be sleep-deprived most days, operating on just a few hours of sleep.

Consequently, trying to function in this state takes a lot of mental strength and sometimes you only have the energy for what absolutely has to be done. Forget about squeezing in a hair or nail appointment or lunch with friends.

All you can think about is the next time your head will hit the pillow. And if days and months like this go by, before you know it, the person you once were is just a distant memory.

Tips to Rediscover Who You Are

While being a mother will always be part of who you are, it doesn't have to define you completely. You are so much more than the role you play in your kids' lives. It just takes some time to figure out who that person is.

After all, motherhood changes you. It teaches you to be less self-centered, more giving and to make sacrifices for the good of others. The key is to not let the role of mothering keep you from becoming aware of who you are. Here are some ideas on the steps you can take to rediscover who you are after you have kids.

Take Care of Yourself

Although this may seem like a no-brainer, so many women neglect themselves in favor of what they think the family needs. This may include everything from not making sleep a priority and not eating right to postponing doctor's visits and ignoring physical needs.

But the truth is, not taking care of yourself doesn't help anyone in the family, especially not your children. You want to give your kids the best of yourself and the only way to do that is to make sure you are taking care of yourself.

Set Simple Goals

Think about what you wish your days were like. Then write it down. Do you wish you could have lunch with a friend once a month? See a movie? Attend a concert? Join a book club? Whatever it is you are missing from your life, write it down.

Then, put a plan together on how you can make those things happen. Be realistic though, because you won't be able to accomplish everything on your list right away, especially if your kids are small.

Schedule Alone Time

Pick the same day and time every week and schedule it on your calendar. Then, be protective of this time because you need it. This alone time will give you a chance to step back and reflect on your life and what you want it to look like.

It also will give you a small break every week where you can escape the demands of motherhood for a short time. Plus, a little time away will refresh you and allow you to reunite with your kids and your family in a new way.

Do Something You Enjoy

You remember the things you liked to do before the kids came along. Maybe it was biking, scrapbooking, traveling, shopping or reading. Think about the things you enjoy doing and then carve out some time when those things can happen.

It's really important that you reconnect with the hobbies and activities that help define who you are. Doing so will help you learn to savor life again.

Connect With Your Spouse and Friends

Sometimes the best medicine for rediscovering your identity is spending time with the people who know you best. Carve out some time where you can have coffee with the people who love you and care about you.

Too many times, moms allow the pressures of motherhood to take them away from the people who can speak into their lives. Try not to allow this to happen. You need these people and they need you. Make time for them. Your kids will be fine if you are are not with them 24/7.

Stop the Comparisons

The secret to being content in every season of life is to stop the comparison game in its tracks. Not only should you avoid comparing your life to those around you, but also try not to look back on what your life used to be like.

Instead, look at your current situation and find gratitude in all that you have. Motherhood has changed you. The old you is gone and in its place is someone much wiser and more giving. She just needs a little tender loving care.

Get Some Extra Help

Whether it is hiring someone to clean the house, having Dad take over some duties, or inviting Grandma to stay with the kids once a week, you need to find ways to lighten your load. 

Give yourself a chance to breathe. Remember, it is not healthy to try to do everything.

A Word From Verywell

There is no doubt that motherhood changes you. As a result, you must redefine who you are despite all the responsibilities that come with being a mom. The key is to not allow the pursuit of being a good mother rob you of the importance of being kind to yourself as well.

Make sure you prioritize your needs right up there with every other commitment. By doing so, you will be giving your kids and your spouse a wonderful gift—a woman who not only likes who she is but also knows herself well enough to respect what she needs from life. 

By Sherri Gordon
Sherri Gordon is a published author and a bullying prevention expert.