It can be easy as a parent to lose a bit of yourself in parenthood. For a while your whole life, out of necessity, revolves around the beautiful tiny people who inhabit your home; which doesn’t leave much room for, well, anything else really.
For many parents who have more than one child, this can mean years of holding this parent role first and foremost, so it’s not surprising that the person you were pre-children becomes a distant memory – almost like you’re thinking of a completely different person. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though! Parenthood is wonderfully fulfilling and enriching, and so it’s completely normal for it to become your main focus – but after a while it can start to take its toll on your mental health if you don’t complement Parent Life with “You” Life. We all need an identity, we all need a purpose, and we all need to feel like we know ourselves. Whilst fulfilling and enriching, parenthood can become monotonous (even with the chaos), consuming, and honestly rather exhausting – after all, we’re giving all of ourselves to others.
Rather than getting down in the dumps about losing our identities, I propose we shift the perspective slightly; we are now beautifully fresh canvases, ready to shape ourselves into whoever we want to be, armed with the strength that comes with motherhood and the motivation of role modelling to our kids what being an awesome person looks like. And that’s exciting! Parenthood allows us (and by allow, I mean force) to look at our values, our dreams, our priorities. So what better time to start deciding who you really are than now?
I can feel you thinking, “sure Bunny, but how the heck am I meant to do that when I hardly have time to pee let alone go out and do all the adult things?”
Well love, I know that parenthood can suck time into a black hole; honestly, I do. And I know that people say “the time passes” and yadda yadda yadda, but you don’t have to wait until you have more free time to start figuring yourself out. This process, believe it or not, can (and should) occur simultaneously with parenthood. The time will pass anyway, so you may as well use it – and figuring out your “thing” might just motivate you enough to make time for yourself to do it.
So how do you find yourself? Well – start by asking yourself these questions.
What did you want to be as a child?
There’s no better place to start than the beginning, so think back to when you were a child. What were your passions? What did you enjoy doing? What did you want to be when you grew up? As children we were able to dream big without placing limits on ourselves, so it’s helpful to think about what we wanted to be when we were sure we could be anything.
What are your hobbies?
What do you enjoy doing when you have free time? (Or what will you want to do when you finally get some free time in the future??) What makes you feel alive? What do you look forward to each week?
What do you think you’re good at?
Notice how I phrased that “what do you think you’re good at?” – because at the end of the day, unless you’re going for a job or trying to be selected for the All Blacks, the most important thing is whether you feel proud of your skill and achievement, not anyone else. Even if it feels like everyone else thinks you’re a bit rubbish at art, for example, (which they probably don’t) if you believe you’re good at it, it doesn’t matter what others say or think.
What’s one thing you want to change in the world?
Whether you make a difference on a big scale or a smaller scale, everyone has the capacity and opportunity to change the world in some way. All actions can have an impact. So what’s one thing you see that you think “I could make that better”? Figuring this out goes a long way into figuring out your passion and your purpose.
What do other people thank you for?
Ok, so I know I was just going on about it not mattering what other people think, but just because I can, I’m going to completely contradict myself now and say it does. Hear me out, now! Sometimes we don’t fully grasp or see the positive effects and value we’re having on other people’s lives – often because we’re not doing it to be thanked or even recognised, but simply because we want to help. It can be easy to brush it off when people share their gratitude, because so often we’re subliminally told by society that it’s rude to accept compliments or positive feedback – so we either consciously or unconsciously hush the positive feedback (but hold on to anything negative!). But actually, paying attention to what people thank you for is a huge indicator of what good you’re putting out into the world – and it can often show us that we’re making more of an impact than we think.
Just as a personal example, I recently shared on my Instagram story that I was having a bit of a rough emotional time. I felt a bit conflicted because I normally try to share my struggles in terms of how I get through them (rather than while I’m still in the middle of them), and so I worried that my followers would be disappointed that I wasn’t practising what I preach. But actually, the opposite happened – and people thanked me for being honest. For being real. For showing both sides with transparency and truthfulness. And it wasn’t until I received that feedback that I realised the extent of what I’m doing by sharing that raw and vulnerable part of me. It was both eye opening and humbling to see that my hope for connection and support to others was actually happening.
Answering these questions won’t always be easy, and the answers won’t always be the same. But keep reflecting, keep finding pieces to your life puzzle – and get excited about who you’re becoming.
Until next time,