As a mother you have to get used to the idea that you frequently live beyond your comfort zone. And often. No doubt you remember that groggy realization as a first-time mother. That moment when, even though you were sleeping, you realize someone else needs you. And not in the morning, or next Wednesday at 2pm. They need you NOW!

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Welcome to the New World

That first night with a brand new baby is a never-to-be-forgotten moment as you push beyond your comfort zone for the first time as a mother.

For me, those nights in hospital after an emergency C-section, are vivid memories – as much because of the unfamiliar surroundings, as the unfamiliar demands. A different room. And a strange hospital bed. With other mothers being woken up around me, we were escorted to the lounge where our crying babies waited. We all sat there, blinking in the bright clinical light, half asleep, holding our newborns, and not quite knowing what to do.

It was like, “Welcome to the new world gorgeous!” And we’re not talking to the baby here.

For new mothers, waking up for the needs of a hungry newborn is the very beginning of learning motherhood life beyond your comfort zone. Even if you felt quite maternal and relaxed as a pregnant mother, there’s no doubt that once your darling arrived, you sometimes were tempted to swap the term “little darling”, for “little monster”!

So, have you remembered what it was like now? That feeling of inadequacy? Of not knowing what to do? Of feeling all at sea, even when there is no sea in sight?

That’s when you are outside your comfort zone.

A Couple of Definitions of “Comfort Zone”

  1. “A place where things are familiar to you. A place that feels comfortable to you”, says life coach Sarah Blick.
  2. “A comfort zone as a situation or position in which a person feels secure, comfortable, or in control; or one feels safe or at ease.” Online Dictionary

So, motherhood is a prime example of leaving that safe space, and it’s often very uncomfortable! Every time you turn around the stretch continues. Of course, learning to breastfeed is just the start; having to ask others for advice when you are used to being independent; talking to other mothers who have very little in common with you; even preparing food in the kitchen one-handed while you rock an unsettled baby. And that’s just the first week of motherhood life!

At every age, and every stage there are new personal challenges for every mother. Of course, you might take these changes in your stride. Or, really struggle with the loss of identity because you are no longer your own person – sometimes the feeling of motherhood regret is overpowering. And I feel for those women who have left a high-power career to look after a new baby. That’s such a massive transition.

In addition to loss of identity, you may also feel loss of status in the world. “Oh she’s just a mother!” people say.  No doubt you have heard those words, and maybe have even used them to describe yourself!  And then there is the loss of personal space because you are on-call 24/7.

The Never Ending Story

Realistically, this “Live Beyond Your Comfort Zone” story will continue. For years. It’s an overwhelming thought. And this is why motherhood is such a defining moment in a woman’s life. Not so much because you now have a child to care for, although that’s huge. But because it’s a life-changing event that will shape the rest of your days, and you must think about it and meet the challenge.

I remember one time beyond my usual comfort zone when Daughter Number Two graduated from Primary School. I’d learnt after Daughter Number One that it was a good idea to go and get hair done at the hairdresser. Why? Because I’m no good at that sort of thing! Fussing with hair is not a strength of mine, and yet I could see that for the dignity and “cool-factor” of said daughter, this was a thing that had to happen.

I rang up and made the appointment a week ahead of the big day, and it was a done deal. But as I walked with her from the car to the salon, I was quietly imploding, completely uncomfortable at the thought of such a frivolous thing as a hairdo. I’d set everything in motion, and that’s why I was there. But for me, it was a totally challenging space. And from that one small thing, I grew. I learnt to set things up so I had to go through the uncomfortable thing. And I learnt that I would survive!

How Do You Do It?

The reason you make yourself go through these uncomfortable moments is partly out of necessity (baby needs to eat), and partly out of love (daughter needs her hair-up). All because motherhood is an all-encompassing experience which takes you, willingly or unwillingly, beyond your comfort zone to live a bigger life.

To live a big life, choose to live beyond your comfort zone.

It’s hard work. But you learn so much about yourself. And if you can push through, you will also be a better all-round human being. Of course, the learning comes with the repetition, just like when you learnt your times tables at school. The more you do it, the more comfortable you become.

So here’s a step-by-step plan to help you consciously live beyond your comfort zone.

  1. Start

  2. Keep going

  3. Push past the uncomfortable feeling

  4. Yes, it feels awful – but embrace it. This is your learning moment

  5. Talk about it with others

  6. That will cement what you have learnt in your head

  7. Notice how you are improving. This is part of being self-aware

  8. Keep on doing it!

Take the Challenge: Live Beyond Your Comfort Zone

You know what? It’s your personal development we’re talking about here. Because like it or not, it will happen to you. And by embracing it, you will be a mother who rocks!

And here are two reminders to help keep you going when things get tough:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9 NIV

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

Is there an area where you are aware you have been really challenged outside of your comfort zone lately?

Next week, 20 Ways to Rock at Being a Mother [15]: Let Go of Shame