I have a couple questions for you: During this moment of transition from trying to conceive, pregnancy, and into new motherhood, how do we juggle all the different identities that we claim (and lose)? What big changes can you make in your mind, body, and being to actually establish a lifestyle that works for you?
Allow me to introduce myself – my name is Virginia Furnari, and I’m the Head of Content here at Expectful. Much like the rest of the staff here, I’m a new mom and am in the thick of The Great Identity Shift as well. Going from wife/friend/daughter/content-creator, to all those things plus mother. Yes – anyone reading this now understands the difficulty, the contradictions, the confusion that comes along with all these identities. (Between us, I thought being thirty-something came with wisdom and knowledge and real adulthood, but I still have so many questions.) I’m working really hard at finding balance every day, trying this method and that theory, but what has proven to be most productive is by looking a bit more inward for clarity.
I’m not here to preach about the perfect balance of all these identities – has anyone ever truly accomplished balance? I still think we shoot for it, but what comes out is probably more of a modified lifestyle that works for your family.
Instead, let’s dig into the in-progress transition, the beautiful struggle we face as new parents… and before parenthood, too. I have my own turbulent fertility and pregnancy stories, so I understand that the battle begins well before you start to call yourself a mother. But through these shared experiences, loads of empathy, and a little bit of levity, I hope we come up with some useful ways to really make the identity shift through this journey not only easier, but (dare I say?!)… enjoyable.
No matter what stage in the game you are, it comes with its own shifting mentalities and perspectives. I apologize for my cliche analogy, but it serves as a pretty perfect image: instead of crashing into the waves, resisting the current and the splashes, how do we ride the tide, alongside our loved ones and all our goals and dreams, and end up back at the shore, complete, emotionally grounded, even through all the ebbs and flows? In other words, how do we fully accept and understand our identity shifts throughout our family building and mothering journey and come out on the other side saying, “hey, I did a pretty good job”?
Well, when you figure out how to magically manage all that, let me know.
In the meantime, I want to share with you three reasons why taking care of yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically during this transition (and every transition to come!) can bring you a little closer to your ideal lifestyle:
To be frank, passing judgement on your own experiences is neither helpful nor kind. You went through a lot to make it to this transition into motherhood, and that’s amazing!
Moreover, if we’re not cutting ourselves any slack, even when the control is out of our hands, we can’t begin to understand where our partner, friends, and ultimately, our children are coming from. What if we allowed ourselves to sort through these real emotions, understood how they impacted our lives and approaches to motherhood, and then made decisions that honor those true emotions? Maybe, just maybe, being kinder to ourselves can allow us to be kinder to others.
The terms “juggling” and “balancing” are active portrayals of the motherhood identity struggle for a reason – we often can’t have one without the other. It’s a yin and yang situation.
I’m an optimist-spinner with things like this. For example: “How lucky am I that I get to be multiple me’s? I get to be a mom and a daughter, a friend and a wife, a professional and a kid!” See? An optimist-spinner. I would recommend trying it out if you’re at a loss for direction.
In all seriousness, though, we cannot solely focus on one and think the rest will not suffer. Think about your job and motherhood. That is a dichotomy that is in constant flux with one another for so many people out there. And for each person, the answers to happiness and fairness are different. It’s a personal lifestyle, not a prescription. There is no answer as to how to exactly “split it up”; it just needs to work for you and your family and the motherhood transition you’re experiencing.
But isn’t that great?! You get to control the identity balance here – no one can tell you how to do it or judge you for your decisions (see previous point).
This final point is one that can go multiple directions – setting an example for your mom-friends, your partner, or your child, but really, it all works the same. By taking control of your emotions and mind/body state, you are showing others that self-care is a high priority, as it should be. After all, when we are happier internally, we can be a better friend, partner, and parent.
There are many ways you can start to manage of all these identities you carry in a way that works for you. From setting a morning/evening routine, to seeking out support opportunities, to picking up new hobbies to support your being. You know what’s best for you. We are here to help you.
Finding an enjoyable way to start or end the day can work wonders on your self-care habits. A great way to kickstart a routine is to be inspired. Check out how our CEO, Nathalie Walton starts her day – maybe yours could look something like that? Furthermore, if you are an Expectful app user (sign up here for your free 7-Day Trial!), you can set daily reminders to ping you when it’s time to take a few minutes for yourself.
Going back to work after having a baby is all kinds of disruptive, not to mention all the additional physical healing during this motherhood transition. From your mental and hormonal state to your childcare and home-life routines – it’s all flipped upside down already with the birth of your baby, and just as you maybe start to get into a groove, it’s back-to-work time! This interactive course was built by moms for moms and will help you transition back into your professional life while maintaining your new motherhood role. It’s available on the app now.
Hot take: this course might make you more productive than you’ve ever been before…
You clearly care about your overall wellness if you’ve found yourself here, so this will come as no surprise: Sleep is imperative to performing optimally – that’s true for mothering, working, and just being. That’s why Expectful has a 7-Day meditation series that is meant to help you develop better sleep habits and achieve more restorative sleep. Check it out here.
I’m not the first and I definitely won’t be the last to tell you that balancing it all is hard and an ongoing struggle. We all have to work at this every single day and lean on our support systems as our lives become more and more complex. Much of this attempt at balance, utilizing our own mindset and the help from others, will succeed through a cycle of patience, positivity (can you hear my relentless optimist-spinner coming out?), and practice. Sometimes, we will get it wrong. Sometimes, we will get it right. Either way, we have to wake up every day and at least try to crush this whole identity juggling again. All of us at Expectful are cheering you on and will continue to support you as best we can.
We understand that growing your family while having a healthy and happy pregnancy and baby is probably a top priority for you right now.
We created Expectful to help you harness the power of your mind to have a healthy, happy pregnancy and baby.
All of our meditation content is based on interviews with many soon-to-be and new parents just like you, and is created with the help of licensed psychologists, hypnotherapists, and meditation experts. You can practice in just 5 minutes a day.