Parenting is one of the easiest things to lose yourself in. It’s common to get sucked into the world of our littles, and many applaud those who do. It’s not a surprise then when so many parents tell the story years later of “I woke up one day and realized I no longer recognized myself and wasn’t happy with my life.” Reclaiming who you are now is essential to ensure you don’t get to this place years later.
Being surrounded by the world of your children isn’t the only factor in this, though. It’s often a series of events and things that factor into the feeling of overwhelm and inability to recognize oneself after years of focusing on others.
Overcoming this is not about “getting back to who you were” but figuring out who you are now! If you resonate with any of this, grab a pen and paper and jot down some answers to these questions to get you back on track to reclaiming yourself even in the middle of child-rearing years.
The key word here is “sustainable.” It’s easy to pass off our kids or partner as our highest priority and get praise for it, but this can cause burnout years later. When a parent puts themselves so much lower on the list, the toll mentally, physically, and emotionally can creep in slowly and quietly before rearing its ugly head in many ways.
However, the reality is that your kids ARE important and high up on the list. So how do you balance it all? Start with a list of important values without names or people attached to them. These could be things like security, stability, love, adventure, peace, excitement, honor, integrity, and so many others! A quick online search can help you with prompts. For an additional step, try putting them in order of most important values to less important. It’s more complicated than you may think!
Keep these values in mind as we look at the following two points and how the actions you come up with can fit into these values in the prioritized order you put them in.
I know that discussing free time in a blog about parenting is almost laughable! What we’re looking at, though, is more a thought experiment of “IF you had free time and couldn’t spend it on anything related to chores, kids, work, or recovering from said activities, what would you do?” That last part is critical. What would you do if you were fully rested and had an entire weekend to do what you wanted to?
It’s essential to ask this question because some people default back to what they used to like to do before kids, but that may not be what they find enjoyable now.
Would you read a book? Travel? Go dancing? Spend time with friends?
When I ask this in counseling, many people draw a blank. That’s ok! That means it’s been a while since you’ve thought about what you would want. Start an idea list of things you might find interesting in this situation. Keep this on hand and start to slowly work through these one at a time to see if there are things you actually do enjoy on there!
Pleasure is such a vital part of reclaiming yourself. It also goes beyond bedroom activities, though those are still important! Finding pleasure in life includes the food you eat, the clothes you wear, and the small daily moments that give you that sense of pure enjoyment.
What do you find pleasure in now? One of the answers can be your kids! But we also want to add more to the list. Do that now!
I encourage my clients to find one intentional moment of pleasure during the day. This could be anything on your list. Just at that moment, I want you to slow down, take a breath, and enjoy that moment for all the pleasure possible.
How do you implement all these things? Check out our blog on boundaries titled “Boundary Setting for Beginners” for more ideas on making these steps a reality!
If you want more personalized help in this journey, please contact us for a free consultation to get started today!