Missing your pre-baby life and identity? You are not alone. We even have a fancy name for it! Matrescence.
Matrescence is the psychological, emotional and physical transition women experience when they become mothers. Women take on a more family-focused identity and with that, can be a great sense of loss and grief.
One of the biggest adjustments for mothers is the loss of FREEDOM.
Freedom to express themselves as they did in their pre-baby life. Physical freedom to do what they want when they want. Psychological freedom to act and think in a carefree manner or prioritise themselves.
What freedom do mothers miss from their pre-baby life?
Mothers are always on and putting their needs and desires last. They feel a loss of control most commonly missing their carefree former selves.
Simple actions before now seem impossible:
- Going to the shops when you want
- Meeting friends at any time including late at night
- Going to the gym whenever you’re in the mood
- Making a last-minute decision to do anything at any time of the day or night
- Not pre-planning dinner because you don’t care what or when you eat
- Ability to take alone time whenever you needed to reset
- Planning your week based solely on your desires and needs
Mothers can be surprised by the way these feelings of loss present themselves.
3 ways feelings of loss of your pre-baby life and identity show up
Loss of control and disappointment leave you short-tempered and everything feels like a trigger.
Feeling depressed, sad or angst is the most common expression of loss. You lack the motivation to do anything other than necessities.
Loss of control, confidence and understanding of your identity leads you to second-guess everything you do, wear or think.
How to cope with feelings of loss during matrescence
Improve your rage, grief and indecision with these 4 simple yet effective actions.
Express your feelings
Tell your nearest and dearest how you are feeling. Those closest to you will be more than willing to make adjustments to help you rediscover your identity and give you moments of freedom to express the carefree version of yourself that still exists.
If you are one of the first in your social circle to have children, the loss of freedom is magnified because your friends’ lives continue as they were. If this is you, speak up! Let your friends know how you are feeling and how you’d like to still be included in the circle.
Take time for yourself
Your baby will survive without you for an hour. Organise some regular time for someone to babysit or for your partner to take control so you can be alone and do something for yourself. Maybe it’s going to the gym, heading out for a coffee date, or sitting outside to paint. All you need to do is ONE thing that gave you joy in your pre-baby life.
Don’t have a babysitter or partner? That’s ok! Remember that the chores will ALWAYS be there so decide on which day ONE chore can be skipped. Establish a regular time for yourself when your baby is sleeping to do activities at home or take your baby out for coffee with you and let your friend pander to their needs.
Our identity is most obviously expressed through our clothes and the way we look each day. THIS is the fun activity! Your body is likely to have changed so it’s normal to not feel comfortable in your pre-baby clothes. Spend time sorting your wardrobe. Anything that makes you feel like you stays and everything else goes! Then it’s time for a shopping spree. Don’t forget your makeup, hair, jewellery and shoes too!
Lacking funds for an overhaul? That’s ok! This isn’t a weekend process. Go a section at a time maybe it’s a haircut or colour first then take a break. Try things on at the shops then wait for sales or head to your local charity shops. My sister and I have great success in second-hand stores!
Go with your gut
Stop second-guessing yourself when you need to make a decision. Go with your instinct or gut decision every time. Don’t overthink it or take a long time just make an instant decision. Your inner self knows what the right answer is.
Friends ask you to coffee…yes, babies adapt to different environments. Can I go for a walk now if my baby is due for a feed in 30 minutes…yes, you’ve got plenty of time and if you’re breastfeeding you can walk and feed if desperation comes knocking.
You will never be your pre-baby self again. Now you are an improved version of that woman. A self-validating, confident woman is a powerful force. Once you get your stride back life will feel more positive. Your carefree self still exists and is just waiting for your approval to shine.