Turn Setbacks into Setups
How To Not Lose Yourself After Parenthood
July 9, 2019
Dear helicopter parents: it’s time to slowly back away from your kids.
Stop dogging their every move. Stop the playground overprotectiveness. Stop hovering over their homework (or doing it yourself).
Sure, we get it: having a baby really does change everything. There’s a tiny human who’s wholly dependent on you. You’re literally all they have. And that means putting every bit of your energy into giving them the best possible life.
But when we bury ourselves completely in our children’s lives, we can’t fulfill our own needs. (And worse, we’re often doing our kids a disservice—but that’s a topic for another day).
Maybe you’ve recently looked up, wondering how you ever ended up here. Maybe you’ve recognized that it’s time to be a little “selfish,” and to get back to what makes you thrive…and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s possible to strike a better balance between your personal identity and caring for your children—and we have a few quick tips to get you started.
1. Maintain your personal interests.
Do you remember all of those things you loved doing before you had kids? Well, get ready to dive back in! Anything that made you feel happy or inspired is free game. As a bonus, it’s a great idea to get involved with a community related to your interest. Whether you join a group of online knitters or a language-learning community in your town, invest a little time in something that makes you feel more like yourself.
2. Actively pursue your friendships.
Maybe you’ve ignored your friends since you had your child, or you’ve had to blow off their invites for a while. (And maybe “a while” is actually “several years.”) But at the end of the day, most people are more than happy to reconnect with old friends, and chances are, your friends will be more than happy to welcome you back into their lives. Set up a friend date, send them a message, or have a video chat—and talk about things that have nothing to do with work or kids.
3. Make some “you” time.
Ideally, this is something you’ll coordinate with your spouse or partner, ensuring that both of you get equal amounts of alone time. On a regular basis, both of you should make time to do you, whatever that means. Go for a run in the park, sit down in a café, or window shop at the mall. Take an art class, see a movie, or drive to a friend’s house. No matter what you enjoy, it’s crucial to have time to relax and to explore your own interests.
4. Set personal goals.
Setting yourself up for some kind of personal success, outside of parenthood, is a great way to get a better handle on your personal identity. Whether you want to work on your career or improve your health, dare to set goals that inspire you to move forward. As you achieve these personal goals, you’ll remember the person you are outside of being a parent, and you’ll challenge yourself to grow and improve.
No matter what you decide to do, it’s crucial to allocate some of your time and energy to yourself, creating a balance between parenthood and your own personal identity. Don’t forget—your child will always need attention, but it’s still important (and okay!) to put yourself first sometimes.