If someone accused you of being 'fake' you'd probably be offended. And yet as a mum it's all too easy to lose your authenticity, and give up the things that motivate you, boost your confidence and make you happy.
For a short period this isn't too damaging. But long-term, a lack of genuine fulfillment can eat away at you. So how can you stay authentic? I've identified three 'fake traps' that it's wise to avoid at all costs.
The fake career trap
If you've been lucky enough to find a career you love, you'll know how it feels to be fired up with ambition, ideas, creativity and motivation. But when you don't do something you love and are instinctively great at, it's hard to be brilliant. You don't have the interest or drive to go that extra mile, and instead count the minutes until you can escape work and get back to the rest of your life.
As a mum it's easy to assume that a career you can pursue with passion is now off limits. Instead you strike a balance between a position you're qualified for and that will stretch and reward you in equal measure, and one that offers the flexible working terms you need.
But beware of the compromise job. Taking on a lesser position just because it enables you to earn something in the time you have free may meet your needs for a while, but in the long term you risk losing part of you.
The fact is, when you gave birth you didn't lose your ambition. You're still the same person today as you were all those years ago when you first embarked on your career - albeit with more life experience and new priorities and restrictions. And it's just as important to pursue a career that leverages your skills, experiences and passions, even if you can only work a few hours a week. After all, if you're going to be away from your child you need to make that time worth it!
Stay true to your ambitions and you'll still be 'you' - and not resentful that the rest of the world seems to be living their dreams, while yours somehow got lost along the way.
The fake housework trap
I don't know about you but when I was at working hard at school, I didn't think, 'I can't wait until my day is filled with laundry, washing up and tidying'. Yet there have been moments over the past few years when that's just what happened. And I hated it.
While I like a tidy house, I don't actually enjoy keeping it clean and tidy. However, a few years ago my freelance work went quiet for a few weeks. During this time, my daily life revolved around my home, my kids and my partner - and it just wasn't enough for me.
It made me realise how important work is to keep me sane and happy. So now I hire a cleaner for two hours a week. It doesn't take care of everything, but means I can offload some of my most hated chores.
So unless keeping your home clean fills you with satisfaction, don't pretend it's enough and let it drag you down. Be honest about what you do and don't enjoy about the tasks that fill your day, and hire a cleaner or share out some of your least favourite jobs with your partner and kids. It's for their own good too - you'll be happier, more inspired and have more energy!
The fake relationship trap
When your partner fell in love with you, the chances are it was a pre-child version of you. A vibrant and interesting woman who was successful in a career she loved. You probably shared a lot of the same interests and talked long into the night about your dreams and ambitions.
And then you had a baby.
While usually, when a baby comes along, the dad's life continues pretty much the same (most go back to work as normal), for many mums it's a life-changer.
And with that change comes an entirely new perspective. Suddenly securing your next promotion, or getting a table at the new restaurant in town isn't top of your list of priorities any more.
If you're authentically you, becoming a mother shouldn't change your relationship too much. You're still interested in the same things and reaching out to the world in the same way (albeit with rather more restricted time).
But if you don't hang onto 'you' somehow, it's easy to become resentful of your partner's apparent freedom to pursue their life pretty much as before. It can feel as if they get to have their cake and eat it, while you're left at home trying to squeeze the remnants of a life from what's left of your energy, time and brain. And that's never a great recipe for a healthy relationship.
So what's the solution? Continue to make time for the things you love. See your friends, read your favourite novels and pursue your career. Do these things and more, and you WILL remain true to who you are; you'll still be the person your partner fell in love with all those years ago - just better.