Select Page

Lost in motherhood: 9 ideas for reclaiming your identity. 

I had heard the stories – women who felt they had lost their identities after becoming mothers. After leaving my career of almost 10 years to have my first child, I knew this was likely something I would be tackling myself. Almost seven years on, I didn’t realise how much it would bug me that others, people who didn’t know me before I had my children, only saw my as a mum of young kids. 

 

Forward note: Not all mothers lose their identities outside of motherhood. Some women don’t feel they’re any different. Some have always wanted to be mothers and/or couldn’t be happier to fully embrace this identity. Some long for the identity of mother but it hasn’t worked out. Whatever the circumstances, we are all wonderful, worthy human beings. This is simply an exploration of ideas I hope will resonate with you. I also hope it will help those who do feel they have lost themselves in motherhood find themselves again. 

 

“Here she comes, mother of two.”

Two older ladies I often encountered during my morning mail collection greeted me warmly.

“Don’t forget the third furry child,” I joked back, returning to the dog waiting for me in my car across the street. 

 

On the surface the exchange was light-hearted and polite. No doubt the older ladies were probably thinking back fondly about a time when they had young children at home. But, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit irked. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love my boys. My quirky and sometimes wild little people’s arrivals were carefully planned. They they fill our home with both joy and challenges. I just never envisaged myself being greeted on the street as “mother of two,” especially as neither of my boys were with me at the time. 

 

I got back in the car thinking, “what about my years of study, travel, my work in public health?” After my little overreaction and acceptance that “mother of two” being the only thing on my tombstone would actually be perfectly fine, I started thinking. My youngest heads off to school next year, and I really would love to start doing something that is just my own thing again. 

 

Perhaps you are in a similar situation. You’re just emerging from that phase of life that is little people 24/7. But what if, like me, you left your career and moved to a new place, got completely lost in motherhood and you’re not sure where to begin? Here’s some ideas to get you started.

 

9 ideas for rediscovering your identity outside of motherhood: 

1.  Get moving

Even better if you can go to a group fitness class or meet up with other people. Physical activity is a great way to get back in touch with your own body if a lot of your time is spent caring for and worrying about other peoples’.

2. Be a lifelong learner

I remember finishing my first degree and thinking, “thank goodness I never have to do that again.” Fast forward a decade and a bit later and here I am, a uni student again. There are so many options for online study now and the range of subjects gets wider every year. If you think you’d like to study but you’re not sure what you’re interested in, get Googling. There’s a great range of free and budget short courses out their you can try before you make a big time and financial commitment to more official tertiary education.

3. Have conversations that aren’t about your kids

As Mum’s, especially if you’re a stay at home mum, a lot of your social interactions likely involve hanging out with other mums at kid friendly activities. Keeping the conversation about our kids is safe and easy, especially when you’re suffering from a bad case of sleep-deprivation induced mummy-brain. However, if you are looking to reclaim your identity outside of motherhood, try to move the conversation beyond child rearing and learn about each others beyond the subject of parenting. We all still have interests, hopes and dreams.

4. Do something creative

It can be hard to find the time. However, drawing, creative writing, digital design, cooking, journaling or generally giving a range of different mediums a try can be an extremely useful as an avenue of self expression or as a way to discover a pass-time you find really satisfying.

5. Go back to your old job/career

This can be a bit of a taboo topic sometimes, as there can be guilty feelings associated with leaving your young children in the care of others to return to work. While I did the opposite of this – thinking I would be going back to work, then resigning instead; I know plenty of women who have gone back to their positions after a short break. They find they appreciate their work even more and are happier mothers. The whole family benefits as a result.

 

6. Try a new job/career

Perhaps you don’t have a job to go back to or you have no interest in returning to your pre-baby vocation. Sometimes picking up part time or casual work for a period of time can help mothers regain a sense of independence and help them work out what kind of path they might like to explore in the future.

7. Volunteer

Much like trying a new job, a volunteer position may also help you find independence and identity outside of motherhood and help you discover wider interests.

8. Consider a new look

This one is still on my to do list. The regular cut and colours, waxing and new outfit purchases of my pre-baby life really aren’t practical, or even a priority right now. However, when I do get a new haircut, or on the rare occasion I find a great fitting pair of jeans in my price range, I do feel a little bit more ‘me’. While I haven’t taken the plunge of a full makeover, saving pictures of possible hair styles and filling online wish-lists with favourite items for my future capsule wardrobes (digital window shopping if you will) can sometimes leave me feeling just as satisfied without the credit card hangover. If you have the means and the inclination go for it though (and share you before and afters with me so I can live vicariously through you).

9. Think outside the box

If exploring your identity outside of motherhood is really important to but you’re not sure where to begin, just start dipping your toes in a bunch of things. I started when my first son was about 18 months old, studying a couple of teaching units. I realised traditional teaching likely wasn’t going to be for me, but it did lead me into the world of online learning. I’ve tried basic website creation, copywriting, digital design, online networking, affiliate marketing, direct sales, mindset work, course creation and a whole lot of other things that interested me for a few weeks or months and some I stuck with for over a year. The best part of trying “all the things” is the new connections you make and finding out about whole new niches, careers and technology you never knew existed. For now I keep returning to health science and non-fiction writing, so for the foreseeable future you’ll find me right here at my laptop, chipping away at another degree and finding ways to make time to write.

Do you feel you have lost your identity outside of motherhood? Have you tried any of the suggestions above? Or maybe something not listed here? I’d love to hear your story. Please share in the comments below.

Further reading:

Here’s some ideas from other bloggers on the subject of motherhood and identity that I found insightful:

 

Why Moms Lose Their Identity and How to Get It Back – A Mother Far From Home

A Woman’s Identity: Who Are You Outside of Motherhood – Seacoast Moms

Who Am I Beside Mom? Struggling with identity in motherhood – The Pragmatic Parent

 

Related reads: 

When being a mum is hard: story time from the trenches