It’s a bad time to be a woman.
“I think that you have a lot of negativity in these questions.”
One minute you’re a corporate high flier, with every PR in town chasing your business – the next, you’re on maternity leave and no one remembers your name. Suffering an identity crisis, post-baby, is one of those mental battles many women don’t like confronting and/or talking about. After all, there can be no greater societal tag than “mum” – it’s an achievement in itself and by far the hardest job in the world, if you ask me. But how do you cope when you’re accustomed to being invited to the best parties in town, but – post-baby, self-imposed isolation – you’re flat out scoring a kiddie play date?
And what about the mental anguish and unease associated with going from challenging, mentally stimulating full-time work to stay-at-home mum? How do you reconcile the two roles: from businesswoman to baby wrangler?
Personally, as a freelance journo and new mum, I hate the term “housewife” and bristled when my GP had me labelled as that on a medical form. I find these societal tags diminish you and your achievements. “No, I’m a freelance journalist!” I chided her. The poor love just looked at me like I was a crazy person. Leading psychologists say to make peace with this new chapter in your life.
Enjoy this time: It may sound like a cliché, but this is a special time in your life, and if you’re fortunate enough to be able to spend time at home with your small people, that really is a positive. After all, this is a time-limited role – your babies will quickly grow into school-age children, become less dependant as they begin to interact in the wider world and when you look back, the time you spent with them at home will have passed by in a flash.
Value the role: Raising the next generation to become useful, well-functioning citizens and ensuring that your child is raised in a warm, loving and encouraging environment so that he/she will reach their full potential is arguably the most important thing you’ll ever do. Recognise it for the important and valuable role that it is.
Focus on positives: If you are struggling, focus on positives not negatives. Don’t focus on what you’ve lost (status, stimulating interactions with work colleagues, for example). Acknowledge these losses, but then move on and focus on the joys of your new role: being your own boss, the sweet smiles, the first steps, first words and the knowledge that you are giving your child the best possible start in life.
Identify and challenge negative thoughts: Whenever you find yourself thinking something like: “I’m just a stay at home mum”, challenge the thought with something like: “Hold on, honey – that’s not true, I’m just being negative and making myself feel bad”. Don’t allow yourself to dwell on negatives, instead replace with positive thoughts such as “This is a really valuable role and a privilege to have this time with my child”.
Be kind to yourself: Inevitably, you’ll make mistakes at times. We all do, sister. Don’t beat yourself up, forgive yourself and resolve to do better next time. Find out from friends, family and parenting books how best to deal with the various issues that arise with recalcitrant small people and you’ll be better prepared to deal with the same situation next time.
Form your own support group: Find other mums in the same situation and support each other – encourage, debrief with and laugh about the tough times and encourage each other. Helping someone else in the same situation will empower you too.
Image via pixabay.com
By Nicole Carrington-Sima