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.
4. I made time for play.
When you’re raising kids, it’s easy to get bogged down by your to-do list – there’s the never-ending pile of laundry, the yet-to-be-unpacked dishwasher, meals to cook, beds to strip and activities to get to. I got stuck in a cycle of rushing around with the kids without taking time to really connect with them. That’s when we introduced pre-dinner play time. The whole family gets involved in playing with toys, having a game of hide-and-seek, doing puzzles or dancing around to tragic '80s tunes. It’s become my favourite part of the day and the kids love seeing mum and dad unleash their inner child.
5. I bought the shoes.
Raising a family can be an expensive business. The kids have lots of educational toys, do a fair few activities and we invest in as many life experiences as we can afford – museum visits, weekends away and birthday parties where they end up inviting the whole kinder class. While it may seem superficial, I love indulging in the odd spot of retail therapy, something I stopped doing when the kids were young. After years of stained yoga pants and mum buns, I started buying clothes that express my personality. Black and grey made way for colourful shoes and ridiculously age-inappropriate outfits and it made me feel good. Really good. So now? After the term fees, groceries and bills are covered, I make sure I have something left for “feel good” frivolities. Because I work damn hard and I deserve it.
Being a great mum doesn’t mean sacrificing things you enjoy on the altar of motherhood martyrdom. Quite the opposite. Looking after your own wellbeing makes you a more fulfilled, balanced and content person which soon rubs off on your little ones. Don’t forget the ‘you’ that exists outside of being a mum. Look after her.
What did you do to get your mojo back after becoming a mum?
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Since 1961, Fisher-Price™ has been testing the functionality, quality, fun and excitement of all our toys and baby gear with parents and kids themselves. Squeals of delight, sighs of contentment, giggles of joy … those are some of the reactions we hope for from families using our baby gear and toys. There’s a less visible one, too: peace of mind. Because Fisher-Price toys and baby gear are put through the wringer long before landing in your living room. To stay in touch with Fisher-Price please click here.