4 Small Ways to Feel Like Yourself As a New Mom

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by Chelsea Becker, Editorial contributor

Before I left for maternity leave, I pre-wrote most of my pieces for this site, but knew I wanted to leave a slot open for once my son arrived. I figured I’d want to escape from babyland with a writing piece - and I wanted to see what would be inspiring me. While I can’t wait to write about several topics that I’ve brainstormed half-asleep during the 3 a.m. feed, one thing consistently comes to mind: how hard it’s been to feel like myself during early motherhood. Is this normal? Will I ever come out of this fog? Do moms ever feel “normal” again? Have I totally lost my identity because of my son?

I prepped the nursery with everything we needed and was prepared with healing essentials for my body, but one thing I hadn’t thought about before labor was preparing to not feel like myself. And maybe that’s something you can’t prepare for, but I do wish I had a resource for the temporary (?) loss. Between scattered sleep, constant attention on the baby, rushed showers (if any), endless laundry, no social life, and so on, I wasn’t seeing any glimpses of the old me. Which was scary! The beginning had been beautiful, but it also resembled a life unrecognizable to my pre-baby self.

While I won’t pretend like I’m feeling “normal,” I’m doing my best to make a new normal for myself. One that incorporates what’s always made me feel like myself, all while dedicating most of my time to a newborn. I’ve been finding pockets of my identity and wanted to share ideas if you’re struggling with the same loss:

3-minute skincare: The first week, I completely ignored my skincare routine - something I truly loved and honored before motherhood. As vain as it might sound, it’s an important step in my appearance and one that makes me feel confident. Plus, it’s all sorts of relaxing. After realizing how much I missed that routine, I paired down my normal one to something very, very simple: cleanse, vitamin C serum, moisturizer + lots of this eye cream. This takes all of 3 minutes and I do it while my husband cleans up bath time.

Non-baby hour: It’s easy to fully immerse yourself in all things baby and I found that I was drowning in it. I was up late reading forums on newborn sleep. I was texting my girlfriends about the baby. It was all my husband and I talked about, and so on. Sure, that’s normal for the beginning, but I think it’s one of the reasons we tend to get lost. I now take an hour a day (split up or all at once if I’m lucky) to read non-child content, watch TV, or call a friend and talk about life outside children. It’s a wonderful refresher and has already made me a better mother.

Walks: Getting the baby in the stroller and finding my own sense of independence during walks has been huge. It’s taught me that it’s doable to leave the house and has also been a time to touch base with the outside world through podcasts or escape a tired haze with a playlist.

Physical errands: While Amazon Prime has long been my BFF, the ease of delivery wasn’t doing my isolation woes any favors. I started leaving the house a couple times a week for Target or the grocery. Though I could have had these things delivered, seeing humans and having conversations (the checkout clerk counts!) felt surprisingly good since I’m such a social person.

Did you feel lost during early motherhood? Do you still? What’s something that made you feel like YOU again?

Chelsea Becker is a San Francisco-based writer, creator of becker editorial, and on the editorial team at MU. She’s also a new mama. For her thoughts on body acceptance during pregnancy click here.