Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner: Lost Myself and Can’t Find My Feet

Agony Aunt for MumsThe Problem

I received an email from a Mum a week or so ago that reminded me so much of what many of us feel at times in our lives:

I feel like I’ve lost myself and really can’t do anything, be a good mum, work or even decorate our house which we moved in last year. I don’t really think I’m depressed, but just can’t find my feet. 

 

I got a little more information from her, and here are the cliff notes, which I bet many of you can relate to as well:

  • 2.5yr old daughter who is not a good sleeper and goes to nursery two days per week
  • started her own consultancy business that her husband joined, but stopped working when had daughter and now feels unneeded in the business, although does some admin for it.  Can’t think of what to start instead and doesn’t have the confidence in herself as feels she is out of date now.
  • about a stone heavier than before having baby, size 14, doesn’t drink enough enough water, doesn’t priorities exercise each week
  • does wear makeup, but doesn’t spend much on self
  • organising building work on house
  • no nearby family support, a few friends
  • closeness is lacking with husband and intimacy is limited

 

Such a classic situation don’t you think bless her heart?

 

My Answer

Don’t feel bad lovely, this is such a normal way to feel and place to be, it doesn’t mean you have done something wrong or aren’t a good mother.  For a start having children changes our priorities and values, which can be very discombobulating.  It means that things that were once important to us aren’t anymore, so we have a bit of an identity crisis. We also lose power in our relationships because we often feel like we are contributing less.  Plus we have to do a pile of stuff that is just plain boring and doesn’t light our fires.  Then we add to that whole mess by not taking care of ourselves, and so the spiral continues down and down.

I like to work within our limitations, rather than rage against them.  So the idea is to find you ways of improving how you feel whilst you are still the major caretaker of your daughter, as things naturally shift when they start school.

 

There are several issues here, and this is the priority that I would look at them in:

1) Health and Fitness

2) Beginning to research ideas for work that can blossom when your daughter goes to school

3) Spend more time with husband

4) Sort out intimacy

 

The reason I’ve put them in that order is because if you gain confidence in yourself, the relationship will improve, if not disappear altogether.  The key is to start with yourself, even if all/some of the problems seem to be ‘out there’.  The key to when we are feeling so low is to give ourselves a fighting chance by strengthening the body; it’s amazing how that can help with how we feel emotionally and mentally.

When you says you are not ‘depressed’; hmmm who knows where the thin line between being down and being depressed really is.  I would warn you that you are close to that line.  I’m going to assume that you are well enough to be able to sort it out yourself when given clear action steps to follow.  HOWEVER, if this doesn’t work, please come back to me and I’ll give you a way of motivating yourself.  If that doesn’t work then I’ll know what to do, so don’t worry; it just means we need to tackle a few confidence issues directly.

 

Action Steps

 

1) Supplements

You are that tired that I think you might need some supplements.  Pop to a health food shop with a shop assistant who knows lots about it.  Also read my posts about getting more energy and supplements.

 

My favourite immediate energy boosters are:

  • Blueberries – magic little creatures!
  • 2xcup Epsom salts in bath – buy a BIG bag from health food shop when you are there.
  • Floradix – magic in a bottle
  • Omega 3,6 & 9 – otherwise my brain doesn’t work

 

2) Hydration

Your body can’t take in all those lovely vitamins and minerals unless you drink enough liquid.  It’s like trying to run a car without oil.  So you need to reduce the coffee by 1 or 2 cups, and not drink after late afternoon and drink more water.  Check out my post about why hydration is so important.

My top tips for adding water into your day is:

  • Drink water when you and your daughter brush your teeth – that’s three extra glasses.
  • Have a bottle of water in the car for when you go on the nursery run or to the shops.
  • Have a specific time of day mid-morning where you have a glass of water.

 

3) Nutrition

It doesn’t sound like you need to lose weight, but I reckon your eating isn’t helping the situation.  There is lots more information in my section called ‘Healthy Eating For Rubbish Cooks‘, but here are the most important points:

  • Eat 5 fruit and vegetables a day (one with breakfast, one for snack mid morning and mid afternoon, then one or two with dinner and/or lunch)
  • Use a good fruit juice not from concentrate (counts as 1x5aday)
  • Eat different colours of fruit and vegetables
  • Eat something for breakfast however small
  • Eat a balanced meal with Protein AND Carbs AND half a plate of vegetables/salad (or fruit for dessert)
  • Cut back on the sugar – it’s a big downer (I’d say the same for alcohol if you were drinking much)

 

4) Exercise

A certain amount of exercise will get you healthier, a bit more will get you fit.  I know that you are running around with your daughter, but that won’t give you the endorphins or fun that exercise can give you.

  • On the days when she is at nursery your FIRST priority is to go to the gym or somewhere and do a fun class like dance/zumba or something that will calm your worries like yoga.  No cleaning or admin for the company until this is done!
  • EVERY day go outside for a 15 minute walk – even with your daughter

 

5) Ideas To Blossom

You aren’t ready to ‘find something to do’ yet.  So let’s get realistic and let’s get you researching ideas as your confidence improves.

  • Get yourself a notebook and write in it every idea you’ve ever had on what you could do.  DO NOT discount any ideas, even if you think you are unqualified now or you think they are pipe dreams.  Then keep adding ideas.
  • For each idea write the Pro’s and Con’s down.  There should be the SAME number of Pro’s as Con’s.  If not, you need to think a bit more about that idea to find more.
  • Also write what qualifications, skills or experience you have that might help and the additional training or experience needed that you don’t have.
  • Get into the habit of counting 3 blessings every night, even on a bad day there might have been a lovely rainbow, or good cup of coffee or hug from your daughter.  You can write them down if you like.
  • Get some of the rubbish out of your head and onto paper 1-5 times per week by writing all your worries and stresses down.  3 pages minimum.  Do it at least once per week.
  • I’m really not keen on you doing the ‘admin’ for your company, considering you started it initially and a virtual assistant is £20ph.  I see the logic in your doing it, but I don’t think that it’s good for your psychology.  We’ll chat more about this next time!

 

Then

Come back and let me know how you are doing regularly (you can comment on this blog anonymously).  Once you are feeling stronger in yourself, we are going to look at subtly shifting the power in your relationship with a clever trick that I know and getting you more sparkly.  Then we can look at your relationship itself – I have a few blog posts scheduled that you are going to like, so make sure that you have subscribed to my blog by email as well!

You might want in a week or two to buy my book ‘Six Steps To A Sparkling You And Enjoying Being A Mum‘.  I’m in the middle of writing version 2 (with just a few minor changes and tweaks) which will also be out in paperback.  Once that comes out I’m raising the price from 89p!  (Remember you can read a kindle book without a kindle).

What do you think?

I’d love to know what you think, whether you are the originator of the question or not?

Have you felt like this too?  Can you let her know that it’s normal and only temporary, especially if she starts to take care of herself more as I suggested?

Or do you disagree and think she should go straight for sorting out her work and relationship?

Got a problem of your own?  Submit it to my problem corner.

Worrying About Losing Your Identity?

I spent the afternoon with one of my favourite people, who is also very heavily pregnant.  From being a pragmatic, grounded, sensible girl the ‘Mummy Worries’ are beginning to creep in (it happens to the best of us!).  This one was all around ‘being out of the loop’ and ‘not getting back to life’ or basically losing your sense of identity. 

Now it is easy for an existing Mum, who is a little bit further on to say ‘Don’t worry, you’ll make it through, and out the other side, and do you know it isn’t that bad!’, however, logically she’s not daft, so she knows that.  But it isn’t going to make her FEEL any better.

Do you worry about never getting your ‘old life back’ etc?  If so, here are some quick ideas to help you really feel that you will be OK.  You might need a mate to give you some objective ideas to work through it, or you can always ask me for some assistance.

First some bits of information for you to think about:

Info 1 – Break the Myth – Life is not ‘better’ or ‘worse’ after a baby or any life-changing event.  It’s just different.  Just as good.  Just as bad.  So don’t fall for the myth that life is ‘better’ or ‘worse’ afterwards, because that will cause you pain and discomfort.

Info 2 – Identity can’t disappear – Nothing disappears – try making water disappear, you are only going to get steam or ice, but not nothingness.  It can change.  It just can’t disappear.  So you will still have a network, just made up of different people (and not everyone talks about puree and nappies all the time!).  You will still be sexy, but for some it will change from a Kate Moss kind of sexy to a Nigella Lawson kind.  You’ll still be able to work/party, but it is likely to be slightly different.  But then think about it this way – wouldn’t life be boring if everything stayed the same for the rest of your life?

Info 3 – Don’t get scared about stereotypes about Mums.  Yes, even the most ‘sensible’ can get excited about poo, but that doesn’t mean it is the only thing they think about.  It’s just like normal life, there is a broad spectrum of mums, and you are bound to meet someone you click with.  

Here are the steps to work through in order to calm those worries, they may take a couple of hours, but you don’t have to do them in 1 fail swoop.

Step 1 – List where your network/role/identity/loop is now – whatever you are scared about losing.  E.g. work mates, partying mates, body shape etc

Step 2 – List where it could go e.g. baby classes, Mums groups, gym, coffee shops, church, online (e.g. netmums, mumsnet, twittermums – loads!), seeing more of your family, maybe neighbours.  Keep going until you can see there is ‘as much’ of the new identity/loop etc as there was before.

Step 3 – What are the downsides to the way that life is now, or just before you were pregnant?  Did you get hung over lots?!  Is there a lot of pressure to deliver at work?  Were you at times feeling dissatisfied?  Were you broody?  Do you not actually know many people near by?  Were you always to-ing and fro-ing?  Are you beginning to feel it might not be such a bad idea for a change?  If so, go on to the next step.

Step 4 – What would the benefits of the new network/identity/loop/way of life be?  You’ll know what you are doing every day.  Just having a shower can be a major achievement!  You appreciate the small things in life, like having 30 mins to yourself.  It’s a brilliant way to learn about life, you and people in general.  It can mean a change of work.  And of course there is the baby!

Tip – Join LOTS of Mums groups e.g. anti-natal swimming, yoga, NCT, local Mums & Babies, music classes, baby swimming, everything you can.  Plus, my most successful place to meet mums was Starbucks!  As the time goes by, people go back to work, people move, some Mums become unpleasant (hey, they are just human), and some you just won’t click with.  So start with a big network, to give yourself plenty of space for pruning over the first 18 months!!

I hope this helps for any mums worried or worrying about life having changed or being about to change.  Let me know if you have any feedback.