Being a parent is very rewarding and, if in a fortunate position, being on maternity/paternity leave or being a stay-at-home parent can be a very special bonding time with your child.
However, spending day after day feeding, changing and cleaning up after children can be lonely and isolating. This new way of life can make any parent feel like they have lost their identity. So, how do you reclaim your identity when in the trenches of parenthood?
These steps will help you rediscover yourself while still being a great parent …
8 tips to reclaim your identity when you’re a parent
1. Savour the quiet times and have a cup of tea or coffee
If your house never seems to be quiet though, try introducing a relaxation period for your children every day. Whether the kids spend that time napping, colouring, reading, or watching TV, it must be a quiet autonomous activity.
You need this ‘me time’ to recharge and not be consumed by building cubby houses and playing tea parties.
2. Stay connected with friends without kids
These friends will help keep you in the loop on things you were interested in before you became a parent. These friendships are also a great outlet to talk about things that are not kid-related.
Be aware you may have lost interest in some of the commonalities you shared with these friends. It is important to remember why you were friends in the first place and try to maintain that connection.
3. Reconnect with old friends who have become parents
Friendships come and go over the years, and sometimes having children can rekindle a friendship you once had now that you have something in common again.
It is also comforting to have friends with kids who understand what you are going through, as they have been there themselves.
4. Go shopping for yourself
It is tempting to spend all your money on kids’ clothing and toys, but you need to look good and be entertained too. Treat yourself to a new outfit, magazine, or something that makes you happy.
5. Work on your fitness
Keep up your fitness through mum ‘n’ bub fitness classes or utilise the creche at a gym while you hit the treadmill. You may not have been interested in exercise before you became a parent, but did you know exercise can make you happier, relieve stress and anxiety, and help you sleep better?
Exercising also allows you to concentrate on yourself and your wellbeing.
6. Make time for your hobby
Do something that you loved before you became a parent, like gardening, cooking, carpentry or sewing. Rekindling your love of an old hobby will remind you of your former self, i.e. you before you became a parent.
If your child is old enough you may even enjoy teaching them this hobby.
7. Find a new hobby or enrol in a class.
From slacklining to shoemaking to ceramic classes, there are countless activities to explore. A new hobby may become a new passion or even turn into a new career.
8. Go on a night out
Leave the kids at home (with a babysitter of course) and have a night out. Be it dinner with friends or date night with your partner, take the opportunity to relax, have adult conversations and not worry about your kids. Spending time away from your children is not only good for you, it is also good for your children to bond with other people.
Knowing who you are and feeling confident in yourself will make you happier and a better parent. Do not feel guilty for prioritising yourself. It is important to set a good example for your children so they too will grow up with a strong identity and feeling confident within themselves.