This parent felt as though she had let herself go since giving birth to her 19-month-old, and commenters could relate hard. The good news? There are ways to reclaim your space.

By Beth Ann Mayer
July 21, 2021
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Life changes when we become parents—often in drastic ways. Vacations are no longer as relaxing as they once were, and people start viewing basic and necessary needs, like pooping alone, as self-care. (Just to confirm: Basic hygiene is not self-care.)

Naturally, the absurd expectations that are often placed on mothers can take a toll. One particularly overworked parent hasn't been feeling like herself lately, and she spoke out on Reddit.

An image of a mom holding clothes and her baby.
Credit: Getty Images.

Commenters offered both support and advice.

"What do you do when you feel just like a Mom Machine?" wrote u/LonelyDragon11 in the Mommit subreddit. "I feel like I've let myself go, and my sole purpose is my 19-month-old."

She went on to say something many parents can identify with: "My and my husband's focus and conversation [are] mainly about him," she continued, adding, "I don't wear jewelry anymore because he could break it. My clothes are pretty much T-shirts and lounge pants because they are comfortable and practical."

And now she's worried that people don't look at her the same.

"I guess I'm afraid my husband and the world view me as Mom, not the person he fell in love with," she said.

One commenter felt the post in the depths of their soul.

"With my 23-month-old teething, and my hubby going through a tough time, I'm number three on my priority list," the person responded. "If I ever manage an hour to myself, I feel like I'm wasting it browsing Reddit or watching YouTube. But I don't have the energy for my former hobbies right now. Also, friends? What's that?"

Others commenters offered advice to mom on how she can own her space and regain a sense of self.

"I feel this," said one commenter. "My son is 15 [months], and I just recently decided to reclaim myself. It started with going to the gym … and now I have a whole multi-step skincare routine. I needed to find my interests again and see if maybe I gave new ones by exploring different things. Are there any small things you can do daily just for you?"

"Once my youngest learned to crawl out of bed independently and start playing, my whole morning opened up again for myself," another commented. "Take it easy on yourself. Your husband probably thinks your nurturing is sexy and accepts that there are phases."

It's so important for moms to carve out time for true self-care, which will look different to different people but should not include a five-minute shower with the door closed. Your mental health and basic hygiene are not luxuries.

Here are three expert-backed tips for time-pressed parents:

  1. Map out time for movement. Working out helps your body release feel-good endorphins. Remember, though, this is your time. If you don't like running, choose something else, like barre or cycling. You'll be more likely to stick with it if you enjoy it.
  2. Prioritize pillow time. Sleepless nights are often thought of as a necessary part of parenthood, but getting enough rest reduces the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Don't feel selfish about turning in early—you need to care for yourself to care for someone else. Try this genius sleep hack.
  3. Re-introduce yourself to favorite hobbies. It can feel hard to make time for yourself when there are loads of laundry waiting, but consider it your chance to hit refresh. Journaling, meditation, or signing up for a cooking class you've always wanted to take can help you feel reinvigorated and more like yourself.