How to cope with identity loss as a mum

Becoming a mum brings many challenges, among which is identity crisis. It normally catches us off guard because nobody talks about it. This article is about why mum identity crisis happens and how to cope with it.

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When we become a mum, we’re suddenly “so-and-so’s mum” or “so-and-so’s” wife or partner or whatever it is. We’re no longer the person that existed outside of us becoming a mother. 

I don’t think as women we are adequately prepared for the loss of our identity, or mum identity crisis as it were. 

We certainly get prepared for all the physical aspects of becoming a mum, like what changes are going to happen to our bodies, going into labour/breastfeeding/bottle feeding etc. But, we don’t talk enough about the identity crisis that comes with becoming a mother.

I definitely have felt this myself, as I struggled with how I could be both a mum and a business owner.  I suffered in silence because nobody was talking about it, so I didn’t even realise it wasn’t just me who felt that way. 

It’s not that I wasn’t happy about being a mum – I was and still am overjoyed to be one, especially after having gone through a very difficult fertility struggle to have my little girl. I am abundantly grateful to have her. 

Mum idenetity crisis - family photo

However, that doesn’t mean I don’t crave that identity outside of being a mum. For me, it was being able to continue my business and grow my skills. For you, that may be advancing in your career or changing your career altogether.  Perhaps you’ve taken a few years out to focus on being a mother and now you’re wondering where to even start getting back into work.  

We can end up feeling very isolated and alone in our thoughts because not everybody understands what we’re going through, unfortunately.

And that is the reason that motivated me to raise awareness. I have a podcast episode which you can listen to here and hear my tips on what I have done to overcome this.

Healthy and Thriving Career Mums Podcast: Bonus episode 3 - How to cope with identity loss as a mum

Mum identity crisis is real and many women experience it. It’s so critical to talk about it, really! Because your child will grow up and become more and more independent. So, you’ll find yourself in one of these stages eventually:

  • coming out of a season with a young baby, or
  • having just sent your child off to university, or
  • whatever other similar situation when you don’t have to look after your child ALL THE TIME!

And because all the while you’ve forgotten about your needs to be able to raise your kid(s), and have perhaps taken a career break, you find yourself in the position of not knowing what to do when all of a sudden the house becomes quiet. What now? How do I go back to work? What do I do to fill my time, to feel productive, to go back to doing what I enjoy doing?

We get lost in being a mum either unconsciously (because we run on autopilot, us mums) or because of what ‘the right thing’ to do is as a mum – what society imposes, or really because we fear that we’ll be judged. I feel like sometimes as working mums, we’re expected to work as if we have no kids and we’re expected to mother our kids as if we don’t work. Sometimes I feel that judgment so much, even from family members.

You were someone before you were their mum, and that person matters - Wendy Griffith

But, it is completely fine to want to grow as a person and/or business woman while being a mum. No mum should ever feel guilty about having the urge to work towards achieving her goals.

So, the million-dollar question is how do we do that? How do we knock down mum identity crisis and win this fight?

Well, I think it has to start with finding the spark. And I have a short podcast episode on that, called “Chase the joy” which you can listen to here.

Healthy and Thriving Career Mums Podcast: Bonus episode 1  Chase the joy

I’ll share some examples of where you could find your spark to give you ideas:

  1. maybe you want to reconnect with an old friend
  2. maybe you want to go back to work
  3. take a course to up your skills?

But, it has to be something that makes you smile. So, when you ask yourself if it feels good, and nod to yourself, just lean into that. Chase the joy to start reclaiming your identity. You will be the one reaping the benefits of those steps you take to reignite the old YOU.

Get one step closer to prioritising yourself to start finding the joy again with my Habits of Health Guide. Or focus on introducing healthy habits that will give you a push in the direction of finding your spark.