TLDR: Feeling lost in motherhood is something most of us feel at one point or another. But there’s a crucial mindset shift we all need to make in order to not only feel like ourselves, but to have relationships that thrive. We need to realize that when we forsake ourselves, we also forsake the connection we feel with other people. So rather than feeling guilty about developing and rediscovering who we are, we are actually blessing the people we love most when we do. It’s time mama. 

I was sitting next to my friend at church one Sunday late last summer when I casually mentioned that I’d heard the Barbie movie was good and was thinking of going to see it.

She excitedly grabbed my arm to tell me just how much I would love it.

She said it was very pink. (I love pink.) She said it was funny and fun. (Who doesn’t like funny and fun?)

And then she told me that there was one part that was not to be missed. The speech.

How to Stop Feeling Lost in MotherhoodIf you’ve seen the movie, you know the one I’m talking about. (I mean, even if you haven’t seen the movie, you might know the one I’m talking about because everyone’s been talking about it. But if you don’t know or you want a refresher, here it is.)

So there I sat, in the dark theater, knowing that at some point during the movie, some speech given by the “mom” in the movie was going to rock my world.

I knew it when it came on screen. And she was right. It’s very moving. It’s very powerful.

If you check out the comments of the YouTube video of this speech, woman after woman talks about how relatable what America Ferrera says is. How seen they feel.

She’s talking about all the things we are “supposed to” do as women…and how contradictory those things can be. How it’s literally impossible to live up to all the expectations that are placed on women in our world.

And she’s right. We will always fail when we try to live up to other people’s expectations of us. There are too many of them out there and we are human. We will never please everyone.

And yet, as she said, we tie ourselves in knots so that people will like us. Not fun.

Expectations for Moms

But what does this have to do with feeling lost in motherhood?

This past weekend, I taught a class to a group of women, many of them moms, and we watched this clip. They loved that we watched it because they, like me, love this clip. We see ourselves in it.

I asked them (hypothetically, we didn’t have time to really do it) what this clip might be like if we made it specifically for moms. Could you come up with things that you’d put in it? Contradictory and impossible expectations that you feel in the midst of mothering?

Finding Yourself in MotherhoodKnow how to do this new-fangled type of 4th grade math so that you can help your 9-year-old with his homework but don’t get angry or lose your cool while you do it.

Get up early to get the kids off to school but be ready to stay up late when your teen gets home after a night out and wants to talk.

Keep your house clean but also let the toddler explore and let the preschooler try new activities like play-dough and finger-painting.

I mean, we could literally list hundreds of these, right?

Making Time for Your Own Needs

And don’t forget that you’re also supposed to raise these little humans and feed them and clothe them and teach them and discipline them and enjoy them and all the other things…and find personal time to prioritize your own self-care.

Maybe this seems as impossible as the things listed in the Barbie speech. Like two completely contradictory concepts.

Maybe you’re feeling lost in motherhood and you’d love alone time to explore new skills, relax, or do some of the things you used to love…but you almost can’t even remember what those things were and really, who has enough time to carve out space for yourself?

(Not to mention the mom guilt that can creep in when you do).

Shifting Your Mindset

But you also know that losing yourself isn’t feeling all that great and something’s got to change. And you’re right.

Can I get a little nerdy for a minute and tell you about the science behind good relationships?

We all have a basic need for two things: we want close relationships with other people and we want to belong to ourselves.

But often we think that, like the things in the America Ferrera speech, these things are mutually exclusive. As in choose one or the other but you can’t have both.

And as moms, we usually choose the relationships side of things because we LOVE our tiny humans, so of course we want to take care of them. (Not to mention that they can be fairly demanding and get your attention pretty effectively when you don’t pay enough attention.)

So, if we are choosing that, then sometimes we think (whether we realize it or not) that we have to put away our own autonomy and stop wanting things for ourselves.

Guess how well this works?

It doesn’t. Because as it turns out, (and this is the science-y part), you can’t actually just choose one or the other of these two needs. If you stifle one, the other starts to fall away too.

So when, as moms, we deprioritize our own needs, be that mental health, quiet moments to ourselves, our social life, quality time with people we love, regular date nights, or pursuing our own personal interests, we are actually limiting the connection we feel with our kids and husband too.

Oof. Didn’t mean to do that now, did we?

Feeling Like Barbie

Now the reason that we often do this goes right back to what we were talking about with the Barbie movie.

Stop Feeling Lost in MotherhoodWe know that other people have expectations for moms and those expectations are very high and usually revolve around taking care of the kids.

And because we as humans are so prone to wanting to please everyone else—it’s what we rely on to make ourselves feel valuable and worthy of love—we try really hard to live up to other peoples’ expectations of us.

Because then they will give us the stamp of approval we are looking for and we can feel good about who we are.

In other words, we tie ourselves into knots in order to have people like us. Just like she said in the famous Barbie speech.

Reclaiming Your Identity as a Mom

But as you do this as a mom, as you take care of the people in your life and try to meet other peoples’ expectations, it’s really easy to start to feel a major loss of identity.

A lot of moms start to feel like they don’t even know who they are anymore. They lose their sense of identity because they stop feeling like they have time to be themselves. Or because they are in a new role and navigating that makes them forget who they are underneath it all.

And that doesn’t feel good at all. (Trust me, I know because I’ve been there too.)

When you do this, you often build up resentment and your mental health may suffer. You will feel overwhelmed by everything on your plate and might feel like there’s no way out of this because you are already at your capacity.

So what can you do?

Get Clear on Where Your Value Lies

The very best thing, the first step you can take in this situation is to strengthen your sense of self so that you have the confidence to know that your worth as a mom or as a woman is not tied to pleasing others. This means learning to feel good about who you are without relying on other people for approval.

If you can start to see the good in yourself that is not attached to other people’s opinions for you, then you can feel more confident making choices for you and your family that are right for you.

Take an Inventory

Can you take a close look at the things you are doing as a mom and see which ones are tied to trying to live up to others’ expectations? Are there things you are doing that you think you are “supposed to do” as mom that aren’t actually valuable to you or your family?

Maybe cooking dinner every night isn’t your thing and you can find a solution that works better for your family. (Maybe that’s getting take out more often, maybe that’s buying pre-prepared meals, having breakfast for dinner once a week, or enlisting cooking help from your spouse or older teens.)

Stop Feeling Guilty in MotherhoodMaybe you don’t like running your kids to a million activities every afternoon or weekend and it’s got you at your breaking point. Is there a way you can alter this? (Maybe that’s saying no to some things, maybe that’s finding a carpool to join, maybe that’s getting clear on how much time you actually have or don’t have for kids’ activities.)

Looking at the things that you’re doing because of others’ expectations will be different for everyone.

But you may find that you can carve out some time and mental energy for yourself when you get rid of some of the “shoulds” that you’re attaching to motherhood. You can find new ways of doing things that work for you and your family.

As you do that, you might have to work to free yourself from the guilt that often plagues you when you fall short of what you think other people want from you. Again, it’s time to detach your worth from others’ opinions of you.

I know, easier said than done. It’s a process. (I’d love to help.)

Prioritizing Yourself Too

And this is maybe obvious, but it’s crucial that you prioritize yourself too. Remember, it doesn’t have to be either your or your family. It can and must be both.

When you take time to do things that matter to you, you will be a better mom.

This isn’t just a catchy cliché. This is science-backed truth. Taking time to develop who you are in ways that feel amazing to you will allow you to show up with excitement in your motherhood. And your kids will benefit from that.

They will also benefit from seeing their mom prioritize herself. They will grow up knowing that as a parent it’s not only ok to have an identity of your own, but it’s a good thing. You want that for them, right?

This might feel like a major shift and a big change from how you’ve been living. That might feel really uncomfortable at first. Do it anyway. Stick to it.

Though it’s a big change in your mind, the actions of it might be a more gradual process. Start small by making time for a few things that you like to do and sprinkling them in here and there.

How to Stop Feeling Lost in MotherhoodCan you take time out to do something with your best friend that you don’t normally do? Can you make time to read the book for your book club (or join or start a book club) if that’s something that matters to you? Can you find a quiet place to enjoy time with yourself for 30 minutes a day? Can you try something you’ve always dreamed of doing that you’ve deprioritized?


As you find small ways to reclaim your time, you will gain more confidence in prioritizing yourself and you might be surprised at who you find underneath all that parenting work you are doing.

If you feel a lack of you support as you do this, keep trying. It takes time to change old mindsets—for you and the people in your life.

Again, this process might feel slow and gradual. It might take a little while to get where you want to be and it might feel messy, but be patient in it. You need to know that rediscovering who you are is not only going to feel amazing, it’s going to be just what your family needs.

(And be sure to grab my free audio course about combatting mom guilt and reclaiming your time if you haven’t already.)

Hello Friend! I’m Dr. Amber A. Price

I’m here to help you thrive in your relationships with yourself and your family

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