Looking back, it seems inevitable to go through a bit of an identity crisis after having a baby. And in talking to other moms I’ve realized that almost every new mom has gone through it. Whether it hits after a few days, a few months or even a few years after becoming a mom, there’s no doubt about it: Motherhood causes a major shift in identity.
For example, before baby, you were convinced you would be back to work after six weeks of leave and resume your blossoming, busy career. But after baby, you find yourself CEO of your own household, and the thought of going back to work full-time makes your lungs close up with dread.
Or you wake up each morning utterly perplexed on how to dress for the day. Are you now destined to forever wear loose-fitting clothes that hide your stubborn post-baby belly? How much time should you spend on your hair and makeup versus precious morning time with your little one?
When it comes to defining who you are, does it always have to go “mom” first then “partner” then “friend” or “sister” or “woman”?
New moms constantly express priority changes, which are good and completely expected. However, these changes can cause different areas of your life to feel unbalanced. When at one time you were completely focused on your genius startup or curating the perfect capsule wardrobe or spending quality time with friends and family, you now find yourself balancing time with your kids, time with your partner and the household budget.
This shift can leave you feeling lost + questioning who you are now.
Here are 5 tips to help you navigate the inevitable identity crisis so you can emerge a stronger, more focused version of your best self.
1. Embrace the change.
First things first: Don’t fight the change.
So what if you were absolutely, totally, without a doubt going back to work after maternity leave but you are now a stay-at-home mom?
Accepting that life changes constantly is paramount to moving toward the new you.
What once seemed like a good idea might not fit into what is best for you and your family now—and that’s okay. Look at the change as an exciting opportunity. You get to take a step back and really look at who you want to become in this next phase of life.
2. Be determined, but don’t be stubborn.
It’s easy to feel stubborn about your life path. You had a concrete idea of what you wanted your life to look like, but now that path has led you in a completely different direction. If there is something that having a new baby teaches us, it’s that flexibility makes everything easier.
This is the time to be open to all new possibilities.
3. Focus on one area at a time.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to “find” the new you all at once.
So many areas of life are affected when a baby enters the picture—inner and outer confidence, relationships with partners, family and friends, career goals and your personal style. Trying to tackle everything at once will be both frustrating and ineffective. Instead, focus on one thing at a time. Attack the area that seems to be taking up the most mind space first.
If you are constantly thinking about getting back into shape, create a nutrition and workout plan to help get you where want to be. Only once you feel comfortable you are doing all you can in that area is it okay to move onto the next.
4. Accept the new you.
Don’t think of getting through an identity crisis as trying to rediscover the old you.
That you is gone.
She disappeared as soon as you held your little one in your arms for the first time.
Think of this time as a redefining moment. Who do you want to be moving forward?
You have now obtained a new label—capital “M” Mom. Using this as a jump start, take the time to sort out what feels uncomfortable. Do you have friendships that no longer make sense in your new life? Do you need to learn a new tool for communicating with your partner? Does your inner swag feel more swag-less? Don’t waste energy mourning these changes. Instead, use them to fuel your journey forward.
5. Understand everyone goes through it.
It’s so easy to get swept up in the Instagram and Pinterest lifestyle.
People on social networks really look like they have all their ducks in a row, don’t they?
Trust me—they don’t.
That perfect-looking mom who seems to “have it all” struggled with identity just as much as the next mom. When a change as big as having a baby happens, no one is immune to personal upheaval. It all comes down to handling those changes with introspection, dedication and grace.
They’ve gone through it.
But you’ve got this.