Readers, have you ever tried to reinvent yourself as a mom, maybe driven by a new phase with your kids? I just saw an article about how life essentially runs in seven-year cycles, and it struck me as SO true, and a ripe opportunity for a mindful reinvention. So let’s discuss! Have you realized differences in your time and energy as your children moved through phases — finishing napping, for example, or being old enough to entertain themselves and not need constant supervision?
Psst: for those of you closer to the baby stage, I wrote about my postpartum identity crisis…
I cannot find it for the life of me, but there was a great article or discussion somewhere recently about the idea of life running in, essentially, seven-year cycles, and this struck me as SO true, particularly with kids. My youngest just turned 7, so this feels very apt right now — it kind of feels like we’re entering an entirely new phase of our lives. We’re done with the strollers and sippy cups; we’re done with the need to watch the kids like a hawk or constantly entertain them on the weekends.
I’m very aware that this time is fleeting — my 7-year-old and 9-year-old are both willing to go on family outings like the zoo or a hike, or toss a ball, or gather around a pizza. My 9-year-old son sometimes seems like he’s going on 17 — the eyerolling and harumphing has already started — but for the most part we’re in this sweet spot where the kids can entertain themselves if they need to, and not, you know, slice off fingers, but are still game to play with the parents if we want to.
So I find myself thinking about how I want to change myself during this new phase — what do I want to leave behind from the toddler/baby years? I’ve realized that my evenings, for one, could use a lot of improvement. When the boys were small, our evenings were jam-packed with what I once called the “bedtime funnel”: dinner –> bath time –> reading –> bed. It was rich with rituals and felt like it required a lot of attention to not screw it up.
When we got out of the funnel and the kids were sound asleep, though, my own time was less than great — I’d scroll social media for hours. We have yet to do a post about it, but a lottttt of the stories on “revenge procrastination” really resonate with me — the idea that you don’t have time to yourself during the day so even though you KNOW you should be sleeping, you instead feel justified and entitled to procrastinate going to sleep with, um, social media and so forth. My hand is raised high, what can I say.
As the kids’ bedtime because less complicated, though — and rituals fell away — my own bedtime never got better. The social media scrolling just extended, and extended, and extended. The question now — as I realize my family is entering a new phase — is how can I make my own bedtime more restful and “productive,” in a sense. I’m not hoping to slot a few more hours of work into my regular evening routine, mind you, but — do I want to pick up hobbies and see a project through to completion? Do I want to do yoga or barre in the evenings? When I was in my 20s and single I would often see friends for dinner in the evenings, which felt like a “productive” way to use the time beyond just coming home and crashing in front of the television, but is that possible in our new phase, and is it even something I’d want to do now?
So you can see how this idea of reinvention is coming to me now — I feel like I’m defining parts of myself that have been a bit, well, blurry, for a while. Reclaiming them for “me” — but it feels like I also need to learn this new “me,” because I’m not the same person I was before kids.
I don’t know, readers — what are your thoughts? Have you been cognizant about how you’ve gone through new phases with your kids — and did you use each new phase as an opportunity to reinvent yourself as a mom, or reclaim part of yourself as a single entity (and not a mom), or otherwise address the new cycle in a mindful way? What books and resources have been helpful to you?
Stock photo (blue butterfly on leaf) via Stencil.