Motherly Collective

Motherhood can be an all-consuming role—many women report a sense of losing themselves in motherhood. Especially with young kids, it is a season of life where many new moms feel short on time, energy, money, space and resources. Messages about taking time for yourself and prioritizing self-care are all around, but often miss the mark. The way we talk about self-care in our culture often creates more shame or sense of self-doubt than actually helping to boost our wellness because it prioritizes achieving an external standard of what self-care should look like over our own ability to assess and decide what helps us feel our best. 

As a new mom and therapist, I ache seeing the impact this has on so many women in the early stages of motherhood—though I am not surprised. Working on developing a self-connection is where I start with most women I see in my therapy practice. Women most often come into my therapy room for help with anxiety, trauma, perfectionism or burnout, and I have found that underlying a lot of those symptoms is a disconnection from self. 

Over time, this outsourcing of our wellness disrupts our trust in our innate ability to know what we need or what will help us feel better. This is something that most women struggle with, but in my years of practice I have noticed that some groups of women are often more disconnected than others: teachers, healers, and you guessed it: Moms. Self-connection is really the cornerstone for emotional wellness, and something that we so often skip over because it conjures images of spa weekends or hours in meditation that feel unrealistic to most mothers. If you have the time, resources and support for those things, that’s amazing—enjoy it! 

But if you don’t, you are not alone. For busy moms, what is really needed to practice self-care and self-connection are ways to bring this practice into what they are already doing so it’s not just one extra thing to add to an already-impossible to-do list.

While connecting to your self is an intuitive process (no one can script it for you), as a licensed therapist I can give you a few concrete jumping off points that have been helpful for me and my clients, many of whom are busy mothers just like you.

3 ways to reconnect with yourself when you don’t have a lot of time

1. Make eye contact with yourself in the mirror 

This is different than when you fuss with your hair or makeup or check out how those new wrinkles are progressing. Actually look into your own eyes. Ask this simple question of yourself: “How are you?”. Try to keep that eye contact about 15 seconds longer than you are comfortable with. Pro tip: attach this ritual to brushing your teeth because you are already in front of the mirror. 

2. Take one deep breath, and notice what your body needs 

I do this every time I run water (to fill my water bottle, make tea, wash my hands, etc.) because attaching this habit to something I already do is a good reminder to do it throughout the day. This one breath is enough to pause and check in, which can help you notice that you have been thirsty for awhile, are clenching your jaw or have been meaning to go grab a sweater because you’ve been cold all morning. Taking a minute to meet a simple need like that is a connection point to your self. 

3. Do one thing that is pleasing to your senses 

Pleasure is a huge connection point, and usually the first thing Moms let go of (seriously…when was the last time you did something purely for your own pleasure?). This can easily trigger a “who has time for that?!” response, so let’s keep it as simple as possible: Try pleasing one sense at a time. Light a candle. Use a scent of hand soap or lotion that you really enjoy. Play a song you enjoy between the 47 daily rounds of the “Encanto” soundtrack. If it’s that first sip of coffee (the only one that’s hot after you warmed it up for the 5th time), close your eyes, breathe it in and notice the taste as it hits your tongue. Pop on your favorite earrings or lipstick, even if it doesn’t match your messy bun and sweatpants. Finding one small way to delight one of your senses just for a moment is a connection point. 

Is taking a deep breath going to make motherhood less chaotic and overwhelming? Nope. Of course not. But, building these connection points into your days can help you find yourself amidst the chaos. Coming home to yourself in motherhood is a process and this is a great first step. 

This story is a part of The Motherly Collective contributor network where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood, and that every mother's journey is unique. By amplifying each mother's experience and offering expert-driven content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you're interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective please click here.