Once upon a time, you defined yourself as student, girlfriend, wife, professional, expert, or all-around rad single gal. Now you have one name and one name only — and it’s not Rihanna or Madonna. It’s “Mommy.” It kind of seems like motherhood is pushing your sense of self further and further away. Suddenly you’re so super-focused on parenting that you can’t even remember what you used to do with yourself in those pre-baby days. Seems like it’s time to get some of that “you” back in your life. Before losing yourself to a world of breast pumps, playdates, and diaper debates, check out these ways to refresh and retain your own identity as a new mama.

A woman happily waters a flowering plant

1. Be a joiner. Sign up for a local group in real life or find a social media group that is all about your interests. And no, we aren’t talking about a mom or parenting group. Push past the mommy brain that’s slowing you down and think back to the days when you had hobbies and interests. List them out, and then look for communities that focus on the things you used to do. You’ll get the chance to meet people with similar hobbies, learn what the new scoop is in your area of interest, and maybe even talk about something that doesn’t have to do with cracked nipples or spit-up.

2. Hang with non-mommy friends. Come on, you have at least one childless friend. Whether she’s your BFF or your coworker in the next cubicle, she doesn’t know anything about proper swaddling techniques, and she doesn’t care. Tell your S.O. it’s their turn to watch the baby, and have a completely mommy-free girls’ night out. If you’re so lost in motherhood that you can’t come up with anything to do, let go and ask your friend to plan out the evening.

3. Reclaim “me time.” You find yourself asking, “Hello, me? Are you still in there?” It’s almost impossible to remember who you are if you never get to spend time with yourself. Get a sitter, ask your other half to watch the kiddo, or get your own mama to come over while you take a break for yourself. Don’t stress about taking a whole day for yourself (we know that’s almost impossible). Start with something simple that you absolutely love doing. Walk to the local coffee shop and read a book, go jogging, or take yourself shopping for one non-baby-related item.

Two women look at clothes on a rack outside a store

4. Ditch the maternity duds. It’s your baby’s first birthday and you’re still wearing those tent-like tees you bought when you were preggo. Stop. Now. We get it: Your body changed. Suddenly you have a Kardashian-esque backside that’s stopping you from fitting into your skinny jeans. No one is saying you need to sausage yourself into your old outfits. But you also don’t need to give up and spend the rest of your years wearing a five-pound nursing bra. Revise your wardrobe, ditch the maternity wear, and get back to your own personal style.

5. Try anything new. Okay, maybe not anything. But try something that you’ve always wanted to do. Maybe you’ve dreamed of flying through the air on a trapeze. Hey, there’s no need to join the circus — take a class with a few friends. Imagine THE activity that would absolutely put a smile on your face now and for the next year. Then go out and do it!

6. Stop the mommy-talk. You’re in baby mode 24/7. Not only are you all about baby, but you’re sharing your all-baby, all-the-time self with everyone else. It’s the trap of being a new mama. But that doesn’t mean you can’t cut down on the percentage of baby talk you’re doing. Designate “baby-talk-free” zones such as work or margarita night with the girls. If that’s not working out, pick 30 minutes each day (or more, if possible) and talk to your S.O., a friend, or your sib about anything other than babies, babies, babies.

7. Give yourself a break. No, we’re not rehashing “me time.” You’ve already taken a literal break (from the baby). Now it’s time to cut yourself some slack. There are no superwomen here. So don’t put unrealistic expectations on yourself right now. Instead of trying to be the perfect mother, perfect partner, perfect employee, and perfect everything to everyone else, take a breath and relax. Rather than molding yourself into everyone else’s expectations, just be you. That’s more than good enough.

How do you like to maintain your personal identity? Tweet us your ideas @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)