motherhood

5 Ways to Strengthen Your Identity Outside of Motherhood

Excluding the recovery, becoming a mom for the first time was a pretty magical experience for me. Just like the good ol’ Baby Wise book said she would, my daughter began sleeping through the night at eight weeks. She napped well, and she never really woke in the night during her first year.

But one by one, we added three more babies to the picture, and lucky for my ego, my bragging rights were taken away. But despite the chaos and challenges of bringing four children into the world, I can say I sincerely enjoyed the beginning phase of my motherhood.

As an introverted mom, I was thrilled to have left my very people-oriented job to be home. I loved planning my own days, loved the structure and routine I could build. And naptime was my haven.

Motherhood was my identity, and I was pretty comfortable with it.

Most of my energy and thoughts went into my family—rightly so. But along the way, I slowly started dropping any interests or talents I had.

I was exchanging my personal identity for that solely of a mother.

I was sitting at an appointment one day, when my doctor asked me if I had been exercising regularly. A little ashamed, I responded no.

He began to question me further and asked what I liked to do for fun. Fun! I thought. Does taking care of children count as fun? Is that a hobby? I couldn’t think of anything.

That was a defining moment.

I needed to find who I was outside of motherhood again, and for one very good reason:

I am more than a mom. I am a creative, unique, and interesting individual. A person who needs to care for herself in a manner that reflects self-love. After all, I want to like the person I’m left with when my children are grown and gone.

It may have helped that my babies were getting older, or maybe my doctor greatly influenced me, but whatever the reason, I gradually started picking up hobbies and exercise again. I started finding joy and excitement within my own self as an individual.

I’m determined not to fall into that trap again.

5 Ways to Strengthen Your Identity Outside of Motherhood

1. Practice regular self-care.

I feel like we women need to hear this one over and over again. Care for your body, your mind, and your soul. Self-care is not selfish. It’s good for you, and it’s ultimately good for your family.

2. Spend time with other adults. (Sans children when possible!)

Spending time with other like adults helps us broaden our horizons and learn new things that we, too, might like to do. Simply put: being around the right kind of people is inspiring.

3. Pursue a long-desired interest or hobby, nurture one you already have, or pick back up a passion from your youth.

When I realized I had been neglecting who I am, my first step was to pick up a group photography class. Even though the hobby itself was a splurge, it has led me to other passions and has become useful in photographing my own family. It has truly become one of my loves.

Related: 21 Ways to Celebrate Who You Are Right Now

4. Keep a list of things you would like to do one day.

Where do you see yourself in ten, twenty, thirty years? What would you like to have accomplished? What would you like to be doing? What are your dreams?

Envisioning your future-self will help you to strengthen who you are today.

5. Continue to learn.

Read, listen, travel, explore. We can’t learn it all, but we can certainly have fun trying. There is something very fulfilling about learning new things, especially, I believe, as an adult. Never stop learning.

Bottom line. Are we proud of being moms? Heck, yes! Motherhood is the noblest cause we’ll ever embark on, but it’s not necessary to lose ourselves in the process.


What other ways can you think of to strengthen your identity outside of motherhood, and have you ever felt like you’ve lost yourself even just a little bit?

Lifestyle photography via Kelsi Wood Photography & Design. Find her on Instagram here

14 Comments

  • Reply
    5 Ways to Strengthen Your Identity Outside of Motherhood - Amy M. Brinton
    July 19, 2017 at 4:59 pm

    […] I’m over at THE LIFE ON PURPOSE MOVEMENT with 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Identity Outside of Motherhood. I would love for you to follow me […]

  • Reply
    Christine
    July 20, 2017 at 5:58 am

    If only these ideas were in the manual you get when you become a mom! Wait, where’s that manual?

    It’s so important, yet so hard to stop losing ourselves to motherhood. I’ve found that it’s easier to become more “me” again as my children have grown. In elementary school, we began sharing our favorites and interests together in love letters, so they could learn about me and save their memories. It’s fun to find that they’re actually interested in some of the things I find interesting! And as their interests expand, so does my contact with new ideas and people. It’s amazing that there’s so much to learn about ourselves from our children, too. Thanks for encouraging us all to be ourselves more often!

    • Reply
      Amy
      July 20, 2017 at 9:23 pm

      I love all of this Christine. Especially how you said we learn so much about ourselves from our children. So true! Not to be underestimated. <3

  • Reply
    Staci
    July 20, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    Love love this and needed to hear every bit of it! Recovering from my 5th…I am trying to remember the last time I did something for myself??? It’s been too long. I love being a mom, but I do need to take care of myself too! Thanks for the reminder!

    • Reply
      Amy Brinton
      July 20, 2017 at 9:26 pm

      You own that recovery girl! But yes, it’s essential to find time for ourselves, and some seasons are just harder than others I think. XO

  • Reply
    Zoe Smith
    July 21, 2017 at 12:23 am

    So true! I have one child, and between my job and being with her, I don’t have a lot of time, and tended to spend it watching TV shows or going online. I felt completely lost and alone, and started thinking very dark thoughts, and even feeling that dreaded resentment towards my child, when she’s the most wonderful thing in the world.
    Then I went to a concert from a band I love a month or so ago and something clicked in my head, suddenly I was full of energy for the possibilities of life. It took a while to calm down enough to concentrate on what I might do, and there were a lot of tears for the all the time I hid myself, but I’m back reading, and going to a dance class, and I’m learning guitar, and listening to music that makes me feel the same feelings that concert brought.
    Getting back out there I’ve met some awesome and inspiring people too.
    It’s scary that I could’ve carried on on that path, forever, and I am sad for the time I lost, but I’m glad that I’ve had this chance to change.

  • Reply
    Zoe Smith
    July 21, 2017 at 5:37 am

    Ps: I really like the idea of the list of things you’d like to do. A bit like “what do you want to do when you grow up” 😊

    • Reply
      Amy
      July 24, 2017 at 10:15 pm

      Zoe I love that you shared this! It’s an amazing thing when your soul wakes up to “you” again! So glad you found yourself once more. Keep it up! <3

  • Reply
    Krista O'Reilly-Davi-Digui
    July 23, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    Yes – I have felt lost and kind of forgotten after years of motherhood. I realized, when my son was in grade nine, that I was back in low-grade depression again and needed to shift some things. He and I decided that he would attend public school the following year (I would still have two at home homeschooling). Later on – when I turned 40, I went back to school because I needed something that was about me and my personal interests beyond motherhood. But also, I knew that I was so heavily invested in these people of mine that as they started to leave the nest it would feel excruciating unless I had something else positive in my life to pour my heart into. Let’s just say that it is still achey helping them learn to fly on their own:)

    This stage of life is so interesting – hard in many ways – but also a time of almost “picking back up” parts of me that I surrendered 20 ish years ago.

    I will be sharing your beautiful post with my email readers in the morning, Amy.

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      July 23, 2017 at 10:34 pm

      I always love hearing a bit more about your journey, Krista. You are just a fascinating, big-hearted woman. <3 Thanks for passing this post on to your community!

    • Reply
      Amy
      July 24, 2017 at 10:18 pm

      Yes, yes! Krista you’re an amazing example, and it’s helpful to have views from mothers who are a step ahead of me with older children. Thanks so much, and thank you for sharing with your readers as well!

  • Reply
    Nic@nipitinthebud
    July 29, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    I definitely recognise myself in this post. Having a second baby has woken me up to it as I felt so torn between my newborn and 4 year old in those early months. It made me realise some of my struggle over who to prioritise if they both needed me was rooted in never prioritising my own needs. I was exhausted, frustrated and felt like I was failing both of them. When I decided not to return to work I felt I needed to still have a little bit of time when nobody needed me. So one morning a week my husband has my youngest and I swim and get a couple of hours to myself. I felt bad at first as if I was rejecting my child but I now see it gifts my husband and son special time together. We all appreciate our morning time and appreciate the handover too. If I do nothing else for myself in the week this 4 hour slot is sanctified!

    • Reply
      Amy
      July 29, 2017 at 9:07 pm

      I love the solution that you came up with! Even just a couple of hours to ourselves can be pure bliss! And having my second child was the hardest adjustment for me, so i totally get ya! Sending love and encouragement your way.

  • Reply
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    August 8, 2017 at 10:05 pm

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