Each phase of life offers a new opportunity to learn something about yourself. Your needs will evolve, your perspective will shift, and you’ll continue to learn more about your own identity if you stay aware and present to what you are experiencing throughout motherhood.
So often, clients who work with our team of therapists in Denver, Colorado (especially those with young children) experience a post-baby phase when they are rediscovering themselves. After challenging (but rewarding) years of taking care of babies and toddlers, life starts to look different with elementary-aged children. As a mom, you may realize that suddenly there is more time for you, now that your kids might be more self-sufficient, which causes you to question everything from your sex drive to your career desires for the first time in many years. In this post, we’ll help you understand how to better identify your needs as you move from a new mom to a more seasoned mother.
Role of Caregiver
Likely, you’ve been putting the needs of your children ahead of your own for years now. In fact, you may be so accustomed to ignoring your own needs that you have a hard time even identifying what they are and how you can meet them. For example, if before kids you enjoyed cycling in the summer or skiing in the winter because it gave you quiet time to yourself to reflect and recharge, you may now feel guilty to even ask for this time away from your family, or have even forgot how revitalizing this time would be.
Shifting your role as a caregiver means reconnecting with your own needs, and it might require a certain amount of self-care and exploration to even understand what those needs are. Start small by taking walks alone or spending time journaling, so you can better see patterns and gaps emerge and where you can make changes. This might be identifying that you need one evening to yourself each week, or the time, space, and support to explore a new hobby. Finding satisfying activities after kids takes time and patience, and requires you to let go of any guilt you might feel when you begin to reclaim parts of yourself that might be dormant.
You likely had passionate sex with your partner in the initial stages of your relationship. And, then you may have entered a phase pre-kids in which sex was primarily focused on procreation. This may have included timing sex with your ovulation cycles, especially if you struggled with infertility, and was a time in which you took a more scientific approach to sex. Now, with your kids growing up, sex may have come full circle and in this new phase of time, your desires have likely have shifted. Typically, we see young parents (especially moms) too tired to engage in sex with their partner, or disconnected from their own sexual identity. Without the spark of young love or the need for procreation, many parents feel lost about the purpose of sex and must take time to rediscover what makes them “turned on” in the bedroom.
It takes vulnerable communication with your partner to explore together what the gas and break pedals look like for your new sexual relationship, as discussed by Emily Nagoski, PhD in her ground-breaking book Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life, It can also be challenging to talk to your therapist about sex. This is part of the self-discovery that happens for yourself and for your partnership as you emerge from the initial, exhausting stages of parenthood.
Having kids is sure to change your perspective on life. Your world view has shifted and you’ll have to recalibrate to the new meaning and responsibility that comes along with parenthood. This can cause you to question anything you do that takes you away from family time, including your career. Just like identifying your personal and sexual needs, it’s time to do so soul searching about what truly makes you excited to do outside of family time, while providing work-life balance.
You may also be considering going back into the workforce after staying home with your kids when they were young. Trust your instinct as you explore these new options and start small, so you can understand both the impact to yourself and to your family. Maybe a part-time job is an option if you have been home for an extended period, or a job that is extremely family-friendly, with a work-from-home option.
At Center for Shared Insight, we help parents who are soul-searching find their path, especially as they emerge from raising young children. When you are able to identify and meet your own needs, your family will recognize your happiness and fulfillment, which is good for everyone in your household!