In the blur of child rearing we become so wrapped up in our children that to know ourselves, to truly know ourselves is difficult. For some parents, they never lose sight of who they were BK (before kids) as they purposely continue with elements of their life that existed before children came on the scene. This may include hobbies, sporting pursuits and often work, particularly for the main breadwinner who continues in the same role even after kids come on the scene. For many however they press the pause button on these pursuits saying “I’ll pick that up in a few years” – whether its diet, exercise, social life (not just social media), education, or work. Invariably however a few years can turn into a decade in the blink of an eye. Often parents find themselves lost in a haze and then, once all the kids are off to school, they ask “Who am I?”.
The big thing for me was, as my husband and I kept having more children, diet and exercise. I had made excuses for eating a truck-load of “not-so healthy” food – “I’m breastfeeding”, even though my child had practically weaned. My other was “There’s no time to do formal exercise” and with a babe, a three and a five year-old this was a completely plausible excuse. But, these elements comprising a good diet and frequent exercise, were quintessentially who I was.
I found this had become a continual struggle between the existence I really wanted (to be fit, healthy and lose the “baby weight”) and my current state. This tug-o’-war had started to impact our marriage as I didn’t like who I had become and it was causing a rift due to my own personal dissatisfaction with my situation. Now things could have gone downhill from here. The good news is, I identified who I once was and the importance and significance it was to me. By sharing this with my husband we were able to put a plan in place to make the necessary change. Three years’ later I continue to enjoy 3-4 gym visits a week and, while the odd deviation occurs with diet we have, on the whole, a healthy lifestyle.
My situation is not unique and my husband and I even share the childrearing in the household! Think about the primary carer? They often find themselves stepping out of their career for a minimum of 5 years. Sport, exercise, study and other time intensive lifestyle pursuits are put on hold. Chained to the house, the children, the routine for so long makes it challenging for the primary carer to remember; to know their true identity.
And yes, I am a list person. Part of rediscovering my identity was to write it down. What did I used to do? Where did I work? What did my lifestyle look like? Then, I continue. What did I like? What did I enjoy? Most importantly what made me smile? Both inside and out. This included recreation, physical pursuits, sport, creative outlets and study.
Reflecting on this list allowed me to remember me. To rediscover my true identity. I would encourage any parent in a similar situation to do the same.
In our next edition we will cover our personality and how this drives our career choices.