When I had my first child nearly five years ago, I finally understood what the #soblessed crowd were on about. As soon as that little red, wrinkly face looked up at me, it was love. Determined to be the best mum possible, I spent every waking moment focused on my baby’s wellbeing. Eighteen months later, number two came along (surprise!) and life became even more full on. Two under two meant double the amount of nappies, spew, cuddles and crying (mostly by me). Somewhere amid the joy and chaos, I lost bits of myself. Bits I valued.
Don’t get me wrong, motherhood changed me for the better in many, many ways. I became far less self-absorbed, less judgy, less materialistic and a lot more affectionate and patient. At the same time, I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognise the doubtful, exhausted frumpster looking back at me. I’d lost my mojo and I wanted it back. Here’s what I did.
1. I stopped putting things off.
I’ve always loved my career, but after I had kids I found myself in a career rut. The humdrum nature of my job didn’t excite me but I told myself to stick it out because I had flexibility and part-time hours. I had always planned to start my own business but wanted to wait until the kids were older. Then I thought, what exactly am I waiting for? I bit the bullet and started my own business. I applied for a business scholarship and I got it. I discovered a network of small business owners who became my village and things started to go well, really well. Is it hard work? Hell yes, but I still get to spend lots of time with my kids and I feel excited about my career again.
2. I changed the subject.
My kids are the lights of my life and I find their every milestone amazing, but I’m their mum, I’m meant to. For many people, kid talk can be a total snoozefest. So instead of talking about potty training and the naughty step, I changed the subject. Now when I catch up with friends, we talk about our travel plans, their Tinder/Grindr dates, books, movies and theatre shows (with a few kid anecdotes thrown in to keep it real). We laugh until prosecco squirts out of our noses and it reminds me of the ‘me’ that exists outside of being a mum. Then when I get home I sneak into my kid’s rooms and kiss their cheeks and I feel completely content and grateful for my multi-faceted life.
3. I focused on my health.
I put on an exorbitant amount of weight over my two pregnancies. I’m talking 30 kilos. While I’m a strong advocate for positive body image, I had niggling concerns about my health because heart disease and Type 2 diabetes are prevalent in my family. Every time I felt tired, I would reach for the chocolate and eat the whole block! In January, I decided enough was enough. I started to prioritise my health and the chocolate became an occasional rather than a daily indulgence. I’m never going to be thin and I’m OK with that, but I know that I’ve added years to my life by getting my BMI out of the danger zone. I also have heaps more energy to play with the kids and feel a lot more confident.