Remember when I said The Decluttering Queen is more than just a site to show you how to clean out your closet? How it’s also a platform to help others declutter their heart? Well this is one of those times. I really wanted to write a message to other moms about embracing motherhood while also not losing yourself. How important it is to remember who you were before you became a mom. To never forget to take time to fill your own cup every now and then.
This post is more than just a manifesto on how you should take time to do a hobby or start a new fitness routine. You’ve heard that message before. It’s me telling you that it’s OK to be selfish sometimes. To not make your kids the center of your universe. I know they aren’t the center of mine. And they aren’t my everything. And my role as a mom doesn’t define me. I’m not just “Mom” – I’m Katie.
Now the first couple of sentences you just read may make me seem like a cold-hearted, unloving, mean mommy. Trust me, I’m not. I love my kids unconditionally. I work from home getting up at the wee hours of the morning so I can spend my days with them. Like other moms, I worry about them and love on them and tuck them into bed. I kiss them goodnight and read them books and stick band-aids on their boo-boo’s. My kids get a lot of me but they don’t get all of me.
I must admit, I am not one of those moms who “always knew I wanted to be a mom.” The one that loved to babysit as a kid and played with dolls all the time. When I had my first son, I did though go a little overboard with finding the right bathtub for him, following the suggested food introduction program, and taking pictures of literally everything he did. I was ga-ga for baby.
But during this season of my life I also worked full-time. My husband was unemployed thanks to the economic troubles of 2008. I was the only income and my job as a corporate trainer took me away from home quite a bit. I would spend days in exciting cities all across the country only to wish I was in my small two-bedroom apartment back in Wisconsin. As I reflect back on this time I now realize what a blessing it was. It taught me to let go of having to be with my baby all the time. And it taught my husband how to take care of baby on his own (a skill I still appreciate to this day).
After months of time spent traveling to and from, I began to realize that who I was was not defined by me being a mother. I still took this job very seriously and hated being away from home for long periods of time. But I also took a big step back and changed how I viewed myself. When I introduce myself to someone do I say “I’m Mom”? No, I say “I’m Katie”. Katie isn’t just a mom. She is also a wife. She’s a writer and entrepreneur and hopes to run a successful organization business one day. She’s a Christian working on self-publishing a daily devotional journal with two friends. She loves to read and scrapbook and run. She sometimes eats healthy and other times eats jelly beans for breakfast. She’s a good friend who cares for others and loves to encourage them to achieve their dreams. She sends out handmade birthday cards in the mail and is trying this new thing called minimalism. And she manages a blog called The Decluttering Queen.
Wow, I’m a lot of things… I’m sure you are too. But how do we combine being a great mom with embracing everything else about us? One thing I can say it that this doesn’t just happen by chance. And it doesn’t work unless you get a little support from someone else like a husband or family member. But it is so worth it. Happy women make for happy moms.
Here are a few specific ways you can begin reclaiming your identity:
Write a manifesto on who you are. Above I wrote about 5-7 sentences on who “Katie” is. It was empowering and enlightening. Take time today to pen your own “this is who I am” manifesto and be specific! It will help remind you of what you value and who you are.[spacer height=”18px”]
Teach your kids some self-sufficiency. Keeping in mind each age’s ability levels, start showing your kids how to do some things for themselves. My son began making his own lunch at 7 yrs. old. He’s made is own bed since he was 5 (mind you it’s not perfect and that’s OK with me!). Make them pick up their own toys. Have them clear their plates at dinner. Teach them how the washing machine works, how to keep a tidy bedroom, or even how to zip-up their own coat. And, by all means, get those shoe tying lessons in so you aren’t bending over every five minutes.[spacer height=”18px”]
When you are out with friends, never come home until you know all the kids are in bed. I have a rule when I am out for the night. Unless you physically kick me out of your house, I’m not leaving until at least 8 pm. I get to let loose only a couple times a month. Getting home after this time gives me the awesome gift of not having to do the bedtime routine – brushing teeth, potty, pj’s, songs, books. By 8 pm, the kids should be sound asleep thanks to my husband and I get to come home to a peaceful home and go straight to bed.[spacer height=”18px”]
Discover what you’re good at and monetize it. I have always been one that wanted to contribute financially to the home. Other women are perfectly content with only taking care of their kids – you go girl and embrace who you are. But if you feel a desire to find your own career, now is the time. If you are unhappy with your current job, consider other avenues which you would enjoy. If you stay at home, consider looking into what I call side hustles – babysitting, selling handmade goods, helping others declutter, writing, blogging, dog walking, eBay selling, photography. The ways to make money while working from home are endless.[spacer height=”18px”]
Find what makes you tick. Everyone has at least 2-3 things that really spark their interest. Those activities that make you lose track of time; leave you feeling energized and alive. Do more of those things. For me it’s scrapbooking, running and writing for you here on this blog. Even if it’s the busiest week of the year, I take time for these hobbies. They fill my cup and give me more the energy to tackle the not so fun jobs like cooking dinner and breaking-up toddler wrestling matches.[spacer height=”18px”]
Use your birthday as an excuse to do something special for yourself. I use to never buy shoes for myself. My kids were always in need of something and spending $50 or even $20 on shoes seemed crazy. I could never pull the trigger. But unfortunately we all need shoes and I was embarrassed when I would go places with my falling apart slip-on’s. Three years ago, I started a new birthday tradition. I would buy myself a new pair of shoes. I would go to the store, not look at the price, and find my perfect pair. One year I bought a $100 pair of Brooks running shoes. Another birthday it was an $80 pair of Sperry’s. Both are still two of my most favorite pairs to wear. And I put my little spending spree in the budget so I never feel guilty. Don’t forget to treat yourself.[spacer height=”18px”]
Have a least a few friends that you can talk with about topics other than kids. I love my mommy friends and we often talk about things related to our kiddo’s. But we also talk about other things too – lots of other things. Remember when I said that my kids aren’t my universe? Well a big part of that is because I don’t have them on my brain all the time. I love moments when I can get lost in conversation about faith, fitness, or even world news.[spacer height=”18px”]
Let your kids play by themselves sometimes. Even when my kids were little – like little, little. I left them alone to play by themselves. I would be in the dining room typing on my laptop while they were nearby on the floor looking at books or pushing around trucks. Or I’d be scrapbooking while they drew in coloring books. Sure sometimes they scribbled on 3 or 4 walls before I caught them but my kids were safe and happy and content. You don’t need to be on the floor with them every second – they need space to explore who they are as individuals too.[spacer height=”18px”]
Volunteer at somewhere other than your kid’s school. One of the best things you can do for your soul is give of yourself to others, to strangers even. We too often see our family on this little island by ourselves and forget that there is whole community right outside our front door that is suffering or in need of help. I cringe a little when I hear a woman say she’ll help out more when her kids are grown. Don’t wait until someday. You have the ability to help now. Even if it’s an hour a month or a couple times of year, giving of your time to others renews your spirit. It also offers an opportunity to meet people you wouldn’t otherwise run across while allowing you to feel more connected to your community.[spacer height=”18px”]
Take advantage of your kids practice time. Kids are involved in so many activities these days. And I have heard so many mom’s say they spend most of their waking hours in a car taxing them around. First of, you don’t have to. If your kids schedules are consuming too much of your family’s time then stop the madness. Have them narrow down what they want to do. For those times when they do have practice, don’t sit on the sidelines checking Facebook every two seconds. Use your time for YOU! Run on a nearby track. Bring your laptop and start planning your next business venture. Take your eyes off the screen and talk to the person next to you about something other than your kids. Finish your book club novel. Or sneak out if you can and explore a new restaurant or cafe in town.
Don’t sell yourself short… ever. I am here to tell you that no matter if you have one child or a whole basketball team, you can still be YOU. There are many hours we spend taking care of and tending to our children. It’s a fact of life and a choice we all made. But we can also have dreams.. big dreams. We can also have passions… deep, undying passions. We can also have an identity as a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a community member, an employee, an entrepreneur, an artist, a kick-ass woman. The world is literally our oyster whether you have a baby at the breast or one out on the soccer field.
So now it’s time to take an inventory of where you are at. Have you pushed your identity aside for far too long? Have you let motherhood consume every aspect of your life? If so, I want to encourage you to make a change. To begin embracing once again your soul, your heart and your desires.
Being a fulfilled and content woman is a gift I not only give myself but also a gift I give my children and my family. By being happy (and a little selfish at times), I am able to more joyfully embrace the blessings and challenges of motherhood. Next time you see me, call me “Katie”…. I wouldn’t have it any other way!
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*Photograph taken by Liz Bladorn Photography