The day I became a mother, I felt like I found a community of people that I could easily fit into. I joined a mom’s group filled with playdates at the park, coffee at our houses with crazy children sloshing our cups and night’s out where we complained about all the mom things over wine. Coffee, wine AND complaining? It’s like I had finally found my people.
The day my youngest finally went off to school for a full day, there was a lot of excitement…and also a giant identity crisis. I, honestly, did not know how to socialize without my children. What was I supposed to do all day and what was my new role now that they are gone (for a few hours at least)?
Here’s the thing. You are MORE than just a mom and you were more than that before they were born. There is still that same person in there and I can tell you, after years of feeling like I was lost at sea, that you will find her again. For some, there is a really smooth transition and a quick embrace of this newly found freedom. For most though, it’s a weird stage that you don’t exactly know what to do with yourself.
Here are five things I have discovered in this chapter of my motherhood journey.
Don’t Jump Into Anything Right Away
I hear a lot from moms that they feel guilty just staying home during the day without kids to care for, but if you can afford to enjoy that for a little while…DO IT. You have earned every moment of that time and you deserve to spend time doing the things you always said you would do if you didn’t have kids at home. Read books, indulge in a great television series, meet friends for early bird movies and make lunch dates with your husband. While you are doing all those fun things, give yourself time to figure out what your next goals are and begin daydreaming about what that new life might look like.
Align Your Passions with Volunteering
We all have passions whether it be for a cause (like feeding the hungry at a local soup kitchen or food pantry) or a talent that you could give (like knitting a blanket). Check out Volunteer Match to see if you can find a way to use your passions to help benefit your community.
My passion, for example, is reading. Each week I work as a mentor to help kids develop better reading skills. It brings me a lot of joy to see them excited about reading. In one hour, I feel good about what I am able to accomplish.
Not only will you feel good about finding a way to give back, but you also might find a permanent job. Many of my friends experienced this when the organization is hiring. Many people start out as volunteers and through that commitment find an unexpected career.
Join a Gym
One of the quickest ways to form a new community is to join a gym. Since I work at home, often my only social opportunity is to get out for a class at my gym. Not only can you find people to bond with, even if it is just for that one hour a morning, you also are doing something really incredible for your health too. Check sites like Groupon to find deals on gym memberships or take advantage of free trial memberships that gyms offer to figure out what types of classes or equipment you prefer for your workout routines.
Learn a New Skill
There is no better time than now to learn a new skill! Check your local library to see if they offer any classes you might like to take, check the art museum for courses they are offering, or check out sites like Craftsy or Skill Share to learn a new skill. Some of my best skills have come from taking online courses, courtesy of my iPad, while taking a walk on my treadmill.
Avoid the Spending Trap
Remember that it can be easy to fill this time with shopping and spending money. Boredom spending happens a lot in this new role and you may find your house filled with a lot of things you don’t need as you try to fill that emptiness during the day. When you find yourself doing this often, take a moment to pause and consider the outlets I have suggested to fill your time in better ways.
Your journey is just beginning, mama! Make the most of this new freedom and discover how big your new world can be!