01 Sep Once You Become a Mama, Who Are You? by guest contributor Karena Skibinski, OT
There’s this weird sense of familiarity when you meet another rehab professional. It’s like you’ve been in some long-distant tribe that despite having never met, you already understand one another. Meeting Karena felt very familiar– there wasn’t any awkward moment and conversation could have gone on forever.
Through adulthood, I’ve always heard that you’ll find your best forever friends when you have children. I’ve wondered why that is. But since having kids, I get it. There is an immediate bond between two women who have children. You’re in the trenches together.
So when I had the opportunity to “meet” another mom-preneur/therapist, it was heaven. I felt at ease.
That might just be Karena though, as she exemplifies cool, calm and collected. So it only makes sense that she would be using her skills as an Occupational Therapists to help moms figure out how to exist in their new world, or better yet, thrive!
I am thrilled to have Karena featured on this blog and hope that you too enjoy reading. What do you do feel more like you since having children?
Once you become a mama, who are YOU?
9 simple ways to help you feel like yourself after becoming a mom
Once you become a mama, who are YOU?
That question can make us stop and think for a second because oftentimes, once we become a mom, our identity gets so tightly wound around that one and only role. We’re constantly tending to other people’s (no matter how tiny) seemingly never-ending needs, and it’s so easy, almost automatic, to lose sight of our other roles, hopes, dreams, desires.
Lenny, my son, is 10 months old and I’m just now catching some glimpses of MY own self.
After a haircut. In the mornings before the house wakes up, when I have time to slowly sip my coffee and read a chapter of my book. On walks (even though I usually take him with me in a stroller).
Yes, I’m a mom, but for me, it’s been a conscious effort to remember that that’s not ALL that I am. It’s a huge part of my identity, but it’s not my ENTIRE identity.
I’m also an occupational therapist, a partner, a sister and daughter, a podcaster. I love yoga, reading, coffee, and dogs (we’re working on finding that perfect-for-our-family one)!
Just a mom
Our society can make us feel like “JUST BEING A MOM” should be worn as a badge of honor and that it’s selfish to think about yourself. The “busy” culture, where busy equals importance, is all around us. But then what happens when the person that takes care of it all, the mama, loses herself in one role, and one role only?
If we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t fully take care of others.
Here are 9 tiny ways to help you find yourself again after becoming a mom.
Because YOU are still in there! And if you’re supporting yourself, you can support others, too.
A new haircut/hairdo
I recently changed my hair from brown to blonde and though it is taking some getting used to, it still feels good. You might not need something that’s SO drastic but even some bangs or a bit of highlights does wonders for your mama soul.
I’ve journaled since I was 6 years old (yes, I still have several of these journals). That doesn’t mean I’ve been writing consistently since then or that I have some sort of strict schedule around journaling, but it does mean that I’ve consistently had a space to jot down my thoughts, dreams, ideas, etc. There are countless benefits to this practice; a few include stress reduction as well as improved immunity, memory, mood, and ability to regulate emotions. The journal doesn’t have to be fancy (but it can be, if that’s what motivates you!) and there doesn’t need to be a strict schedule or purpose attached to it besides having somewhere to write down your thoughts.
Getting back into exercise
This has been a tricky one for me since I’ve tended to go through phases of having an almost-great workout routine down to cutting it back to simple walks throughout my day. Lately though I’ve been finding random 30-minute workouts on YouTube to do, and those feel good. Any movement is good movement!
Conversations with good friends
I’ve been using the Marco Polo app, which is like a video voicemail type of thing. It took some getting used to at first, but it brightens my day to hear from friends, and see their faces!
Embarking on a new hobby (podcasting)
This podcast has been a project of growth, learning, and so much love. During my own postpartum journey, I’ve clearly realized that moms don’t get nearly as much love as babies do, yet mamas need love, too. Because at the birth of a baby, there’s also the birth of a mother.
From conception and beyond, everything is all about the baby, with little-to-no thought given to the mama. Hence why the “what about the mama?” podcast was born. I’ve had the opportunity to chat with some wonderful people that support maternal wellness including a stylist, pelvic health occupational therapist, a yogi, and more. You can find the “what about the mama?” podcast anywhere you listen to your podcasts.
Find a good book to read
Currently reading: Untamed by Glennon Doyle, which I initially found on one of my friend’s Instagram accounts (@whatmelaniereads). It was subsequently recommended to me by so many of my friends and I’ve enjoyed it so far!
I use the Insight Timer for my meditation practice. Sometimes meditation just means taking an accidental nap but it’s okay: the time and space is there for the practice, and it’s all just a practice, anyway.
A good morning/nighttime routine
Good means whatever works for you. And know that it can change, and that’s okay. Some weeks I find that waking up in the morning to give myself time to ease into the day feels good. Other weeks, I feel like more time in the evenings is what I need. Lately though I’ve been loving my time in the mornings and have loved starting my day with a slow cup of coffee and a chapter out of the book that I’m currently reading.
Setting up and using a budget
I’ve never really been that great with my money; there’s always been room for improvement. One thing that has helped me tremendously with budgeting though is the app, You Need A Budget (YNAB). It gives me the sense of being in control of my money and the freedom to spend it how I choose without the guilt. I can budget for things for myself, such as a new hair style or some face cream.
Like seasons, things change
In general, I’ve been thinking about my own habits more-so like seasons than like something rigid that needs to constantly and consistently be followed, regardless of my feelings about it. For me, habits, like seasons, can morph and change to include more rest or more action; whatever “season” I’m in. It’s truly about consistently showing ourselves kindness, honoring our needs in that moment, and trusting ourselves.
There you have it, a few of the things that I’ve been trying to incorporate into my day that remind me that I’m not JUST a mom. What about you-anything that resonates with you or that you do for yourself that’s not on the list? I’d love to know. Find me on Instagram @whatabout_themama.
About the author:
Karena Skibinski, is an occupational therapist, mother, and host of the “what about the mama?” podcast. Karena’s work is designed to inspire mamas to shift the focus from all about the baby to themselves (even if it’s just during the episodes). Self-care isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of deal and it’s time that society changes its views on that. Karena strongly believes that self-care isn’t just facemasks and massages, especially as mamas; it’s also about setting boundaries and communicating your needs – although a massage is SO nice every once in a while! She enjoys trying new recipes, going on long walks, swimming, and lazy afternoons on the couch.
You can find her on Instagram @whatabout_themama or at www.whataboutthemama.com