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Amber questioned how she would balance everything and if her business, something she loves that also feeds her soul, would end up taking a backseat to everything else. Would she end up losing her identity as a mom in the midst of quarantine?

“When the shelter-in-place orders first came out, I was really scared,” says Amber. “My husband works on total commission and I run my business out of our home. Trying to fulfill orders, help with school work and keep up with the household, everything felt overwhelming, especially at a time of year when my business picks up dramatically.”

Amber Brown is an entrepreneur, wife and mom of three children who are 11, 8 and 4. Before COVID-19 hit, she described her life as busy, full and satisfying.

“I can tell that the balance is off quite a bit,” Amber says. “I don’t really feel like I am doing anything well at the moment and that can really mess with your outlook on life for sure. Sometimes, I feel like I am failing at everything.” 

Routines are Important

Fortunately, Amber and her husband were able to have a conversation about their work situations. They also discussed what their girls needed from them and what they both needed in order to stay sane during this crazy period of time. It helped them figure out some semblance of a routine that was reasonable.

One thing Amber noticed about her girls is they were quick to pick up on and react to her emotional state, even if she thought she hid it well.

“I recognized that if I was filled with anxiety about this situation, my kids would be too,” Amber says. “I’m trying to be cool and relaxed so they will feed off of that. I am trying to keep all the balls up in the air and hold on to who I am at the same time.”

The Browns decided it was important to still have routines to help them get through the day.

“I can tell you that just about every day, if it’s past 8:30 and they are not winding down, I tell them, ‘Mommy is done. I love you, but I need time for me.’ In fact, last night at the dinner table, when we had finished eating, I told everyone, ‘This has been fun, but I have a necklace I have to make today. I love you, and I am heading to my office.’”

Amber says it has been helpful that she and her husband came up with a plan. That plan allowed both of them to still get in some exercise and some “time out” moments in order to stay sane.

“I think the biggest thing I have realized is so much of who I am involves activities outside our home. I love my husband and children and I also love being part of the praise and worship team at our church, immersing myself in my work and being around other people. Right now, I just feel disconnected from a lot of what I love that makes me who I am. I have worked hard not to be resentful in the midst of the quarantine. There are definitely moments of sadness, but honestly, this slower time has been lovely for us as a family.”

The Browns have worked hard to keep things fresh while living on a tighter budget. They have spent a lot of time outside. Plus, they have learned new games together and enjoyed just hanging out.

“Our oldest has learned to cook, which I guarantee you is something that would not have happened previously. We would have been running around to dance class, Scouts and everything else she had on her plate.”

Comparisons Aren’t Always Helpful

Amber has tried to guard against comparing herself to other moms and what they are doing right now.

“When I feel comparison creeping in, I realize I have to let it go,” Amber says. “We have figured out what is working for our family right now and that is what really matters. I do have moments of mommy guilt when I think about all the things I should be doing or that I want to be doing that I’m not doing because I just don’t have the energy to do it. At that moment, I try to remind myself that I have been a mom long enough to know it’s going to be okay. We will catch up. Beating myself up is not helpful.

“Our oldest seems to be handling this pretty well. Our second grader needs my attention most right now with school. My goal is to help her stay confident. School is not fun with me, it’s fun with her friends. Normally, right now I would be focused on helping our 4-year-old learn her ABCs, but at the moment, my goal is to focus on her social and emotional well-being.”

What You Can Do When You Feel Like You’ve Lost Your Identity as a Mom

Maybe you’re reading this and realize that you’ve lost your identity as a mom during this crisis. If so, here are four things you can do:

  • Acknowledge when you have reached your limit and need a time out. Create space for that to happen. It’s good for everybody to be apart for a period of time to hit the reset button.
  • Give yourself some grace if you feel like you are not measuring up. Nobody is at their best at this moment. More than likely, however, we are all trying and that for sure counts for something!
  • Do what works for you. Consider what is best for you and your family at this moment. Don’t worry about not looking like everybody else. As Amber said, comparisons aren’t helpful.
  • Be willing to adapt and adjust on the fly. Walking in unknown territory requires some agility to bend and flex depending on the situation. Sometimes it doesn’t look very pretty, but who cares if it’s what works for your family.

Things are starting to open up and many are no longer sheltering in place. When asked about getting back to normal, Amber says she really believes life will look different for them.

“Even though I was a bit panicked when this whole thing started, wondering what we were going to do, we have really enjoyed being together as a family and the slower pace,” she says. “We will all enjoy having the freedom to go and do things and I will appreciate getting back to the things that fulfill me and help me to be a better mom, but I think we will work to keep the slower pace. It just feels good.”

Image from Unsplash.com

College was a good time for me, but something happened when college wasn’t the center of my life anymore: It was like I woke up and didn’t know who I was. Change is hard, and I almost lost myself trying to adjust to my new situation in some unhealthy ways.

Have you ever felt like you were losing your identity?

Author Anne-Marie Alger defines “identity” as “a group of attributes, qualities and values that define how we view ourselves, and how others may also view us.” Identity involves the labels we place on ourselves, the activities we do or even the places we work. But what happens when we let those labels take over our whole lives? We get consumed by one attribute or quality, and then we begin to lose the rest of ourselves. What happens if we are stripped of that one quality or attribute that we strongly identified ourselves with? A guest on Oprah’s podcast Food For Thought said it this way: “We lose ourselves because we are betraying ourselves in some way.” Now that’s food for thought!

For my entire life, people have viewed me as upbeat and very social. But then adulthood hit me after college graduation and I was not ready. I’ve always had people around me, but I wasn’t nearly as social the last semester of school and after graduation because “adulting” required me to be alone more.

Seeing less people and having fewer social interactions caused my moods to change and I was not the upbeat and social Akeyla that everyone knew. My friends and I had to work, so our relationships felt like they were changing in a negative way. We were too busy to connect with each other. I noticed I was changing, and my energy was so different. I felt depressed because my social life wasn’t as full as it had been. And I began to hate that my social life dictated my feelings and mood.

Recently, something hit me while I was teaching at a summer camp. I began to realize that I had let my social life become my identity. This realization helped to change my perspective and as a result, my relationships with my friends and family began to improve. Moving into adulthood, I now know can have faith and confidence in myself, my talents and my abilities.

Here are some tips to remember when you feel like you’re losing your identity:

  • The most important relationship you have is with yourself! Knowing who you are will make it easier to seek help if you begin to lose yourself.
  • Remember to invest in yourself. Alone time can be the best time!
  • You don’t have to build your life around socializing, but there are lots of ways to keep in touch with your friends. The older I get, the more I realize that people are just busy. We can’t be around each other 24/7 but we can still keep in touch.
  • Stay connected with your family. They are your biggest supporters. And guess what? They know you the best! They will probably notice any changes before you do. For example, my Nana noticed the changes in me first.
  • Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, so get used to it. Find healthy ways to deal with it since it will be happening for the rest of your life!

You walk through the door after dropping your baby off at college. The silence is deafening. Who knew that one more person could add so much noise to the house?

Trying to hold back the tears, you wonder what they are up to. Will they miss you? How long will it take them to call? Will they pay attention to a thing you taught them?

Even if the past few months have been challenging, there is something about an empty nest that jolts you into a new reality. Life will never be the same. Ready or not, the next season of life has arrived.

Experts say that couples who find themselves “alone again” often find it hard to adjust. For years – schedules, meals, activities – everything – revolved around the kids. This moment in time can feel like an identity crisis, but you never really stop being a parent. You just parent in a different way when they head off to college. Instead of directing, you now move into a supporting role.

Right now, you may feel like you will never be the parents on television who sadly said goodbye to their college-bound child and then joyfully headed to Disney World.

Take a deep breath and try some of these suggestions. They might make the transition a bit easier:

  • Acknowledge the change. This time offers you a great opportunity to redefine yourselves and your marriage.
  • Get some rest. Since you aren’t coordinating meals, after-school activities and other things, you can actually go to bed at 8PM if you want. Allow yourself to slow down, settle in and rejuvenate!
  • Allow yourself to grieve. It’s common to feel a sense of loss or regret during this time. And, FYI: The empty nest hits men just as hard as women.
  • Resist the temptation to fill up your schedule. While you may feel a huge void in your life, instead of filling up the time and space with new commitments, enjoy your newfound freedom.
  • Ask for help if you need it. If your empty nest marriage is showing signs of withdrawal, alienation or negativity, seek professional counseling. It can help you process all that is going on.
  • Keep your sense of humor. It will definitely help you get through the tough times.
  • Stay connected. Care packages, real cards in the mail, emails and the occasional phone call are great ways to stay connected to your teen without coming across as overbearing, miserable or desperate.
  • Enjoy the silence. Remember the times you would have killed for just five minutes of complete quiet? Instead of fearing the silence, embrace it.
  • Reconnect with your spouse. You can now plan romantic dates, schedule gatherings with friends, take up something new like skydiving; AND, you can even walk around the house naked if you want!
  • Finally, CELEBRATE!

Parenting takes a tremendous amount of time and energy. Launching your child into the next phase of life is quite an accomplishment. It is important to acknowledge where you have come from and where you want your relationship to go in the future. This is your time…enjoy!

Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV on this topic!

As a mother, have you ever looked in the mirror and asked, “Who am I? Where did the woman I used to know go? Will I ever be known by my real name again, or will it always be _________’s mom from this point forward?” If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are in good company. Plenty of moms out there wonder the same thing.

Although being a mom is a great gift, a lot of moms struggle with losing their identity in the midst of motherhood. Let’s face it, from the time they are born, children require a lot of time, energy and brainpower. It is easy to feel like your identity is slowly fading away as you constantly focus on your family.

While many moms have resigned themselves to thinking this is just how life is, losing your identity in the name of motherhood isn’t helpful to you or your children. If your tank is running low because of all you do for your kids, more than likely your stress level is high, your fuse is short and the least little curveball can throw your entire day or week into a full-blown tailspin. You may even feel guilty about doing something for yourself  and think that it may add more stress to the already-complicated schedule.

On top of this, moms often play the comparison game. It may seem that one woman’s children behave better, she keeps a cleaner house or is better-equipped for all sorts of tasks.

If you are in the early years of parenting, moms who have been there have some words of wisdom to share with you. Here’s what they wish someone had shared with them during that stage of their lives.

  • Make sure you surround yourself with a supportive friend group that includes women your age and older.
  • Ask for what you need. Don’t assume your spouse or others know your  needs. Tell them.
  • It’s really important for your children to see who you are as a person. Consider what you really enjoy doing or are passionate about. Seek to create opportunities to engage in those pursuits. Even involving your children in those activities isn’t a bad thing.
  • Creating space to re-energize and regroup teaches your children the importance of taking care of yourself. Growing up in a family where children learn that the world does not revolve around them is healthy. 
  • In order to parent well, it is vital that you put your oxygen mask on first. You cannot give what you do not have. If you are always running on empty, it’s impossible to be the parent your kids need you to be.

In the end, you are preparing your children to leave the nest and be independent. But when the time comes for the kids to leave, many moms find themselves in an identity crisis because their entire world has revolved around being a mom. Maintaining some independence of your own and modeling care for yourself as you raise your children is crucial to your well-being and theirs. Then when the next stage comes along, you’ll be ready to take it on with confidence.

For more insight on parenting, download our E-book “4 ways to stay connected after Baby.” Download Here

Looking for more resources? Watch this episode of JulieB TV for an in-depth look on this topic!