The Vortex: How To Not Lose Yourself In Parenting


how to not lose yourself in parentingThe vortex. You may not have heard this term before but you’ve definitely felt its pull. It’s the feeling of being so wrapped up in parenthood that you lose all sense of yourself as an individual. Inside the vortex you forget who you were before you had children. You may think I’m being dramatic (or very clever depending on your perspective) but I didn’t even come up with this, it just hit so close to home for me I had to share it with all of you. 

The parenting term “the vortex” came from a new TV show I started watching recently. It’s called Single Parents. In it a group of single parents that help each other with babysitting and school pick ups meet a new member. This member is a single dad and he has fallen so deep into the vortex he doesn’t even have regular furniture anymore, just bean bags and an indoor trampoline as big as his living room. 

Now this may be an exaggeration for comedic effect, but I have been there.

Somewhere around the time my child hit a year old I realized I had very few interactions with adults where my baby wasn’t the topic of conversation. I certainly didn’t have time with other adults where she wasn’t on my hip. I was lonely, lost, and frankly kinda sweaty from having her on my body at all times. My main topics of conversation with other adults (even ones who didn’t have children) were nap times and her developmental milestones. And that was all well and good to be concerned with, normal even. But the loneliness was getting to me. My shirts were consistently stained, and I sometimes didn’t even get dressed for the day because who was gonna see me anyway?!

So I talked to other moms who had been doing this thing far longer than I had.

I needed an adult, an adultier adult. I needed a real deal mom who had seen it all. I called my mother, my friends with older kids, and my sister-in-law. They all confessed that they had felt the exact same way and had an abundance of suggestions on how to get out of the vortex.


Here are my top secrets to clawing your way free and back to feeling like a full grown adult person with interests and feelings of your own again.


Join a community. 

Churches are the easiest since they often usually have child care. Your kid can learn social interactions while you enjoy some adult time thinking about the bigger themes of life. If you aren’t religious and are more into group activities maybe a walking group or exercise group where you bring your baby along is better. For me I joined both a moms group and a church. They provided different things but it still helped me get out of my home and into talking with adults. It doesn’t really matter what you are talking about at first since you’ll still talk about sleep training or co-sleeping as you wean yourself off of the parent talk and take your first step out of the vortex. 


Join a gym.

Ideally you’ll look for a gym with childcare included. I joined the YMCA. Added plus that they have activities for kids when they are older like dance, gymnastics, and soccer. If you get some exercise you will feel clearer, calmer, and more ready to parent without obsessing over the small stuff. 

Confession: When I first started I wouldn’t even work out. I was so tired and nervous about leaving my baby I just sat outside the childcare area and ate snacks at the vending machine while looking at my phone for a half hour.

But after that first couple times I realized I finally was able to have some time to myself. I felt like a new woman stepping out of the gym. I’ve now found another workout I love as well. For me it’s pole dancing (I know, CRAZY) but it makes me feel like a sexy woman who can move her body to music and it’s not about anyone else. Find your physical thing that makes you feel like a person outside of your kids. The thing that gives your brain a break from all those mom thoughts and just gets your heart pumping. 


Go on a date. 

I mean a real one. Even if it’s not often. I know that we aren’t even at once a month much less once a week but we do save up our pennies and do it every once and a while and it is worth its weight in gold. You see when you are caught in the vortex the very thing that brought you that beautiful screaming child is often getting the least attention: AKA your marriage/relationship. So get a babysitter. Go to a movie. For us it works if it’s during the day since we can get a grandparent to watch them easily at like noon to four and my husband works from home (which often makes it even harder to have delineation between parenting and the rest of your life). So we get lunch and go see a movie and make out in our car like teenagers. It’s great, you should try it.  


Remember who you were before.

I know it’s been a while. Your whole life has changed. Maybe you used to be a party animal and now your nights consist of rocking a baby to sleep. Maybe you used to be active in politics but you feel like you can’t leave you house. Well let me tell you my friend, you are still that person. You’re a new an improved and stronger version of that person. Your party may not go as late or maybe now it’s a small gathering of friends at your house after the kid is asleep. Or you may have to bring the baby to the march but you are allowed to have things of your own.

You are allowed to be someone outside of your kid.


You are important and if you don’t show up for you, who will? How will you show your child the kind of life you want to them to admire? Our children look to us to see how they should live and it won’t be done while sorting through laundry on the couch every single day. You cannot put everyone else’s needs before your own and survive this intact. You’ll find your way out of the vortex and be a better person than you’ve ever been. Believe me, I am. 


Previous articleKitchen Gadgets That Will Make Meal Prep A Breeze
Next articleThe Best Paleo and Vegan Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Liz McTan is an entrepreneur, blogger, singer/songwriter and above all a mom. On her blog The Redheaded Rambling Mama she focuses on the necessity of connection and establishing our own village. Liz also writes about maintaining a sense of self after children, and beating the illusion of perfect parenting we see throughout social media and keeping a sense of humor to stay sane. She is a proponent of traveling, protesting, and even attending festivals with your kids. Through her battle with post-partum depression and anxiety she has found a new sense of self and purpose in her writing and music with her band Echo Hill. You can read more of her work at or on her social media pages and