The prevailing message being sent to moms is that if we don't devote our entire selves to our families, then we are doing it wrong. We have to sacrifice everything for our kids. We should spend all out time with our kids and then the time we spend away from them should be spent planning outlandish creative activities, creating bento box lunches, and generally still focusing on them.
This is completely untrue and in fact barring some crazy life circumstances, constantly hovering over our children is actually harmful to them.
In reality, we want to be models for our children. We want to show them what life has to offer them when they grow up. We want to show them that happiness is possible. We want to show them that having kids does not means our life ends.
In order to do this, we have to prioritize ourselves and our own goals. Giving up on dating our spouse, or hanging out with friends, or pursuing our hobbies is not a requirement of being a mom.
It's ok to want to start a business while your kids are young. It's ok to leave the kids with a trusted friend or family member for a few hours while you bond with your spouse. It's ok to just take some time to yourself to complete a bucket list activity like skydiving or going to a movie alone.
The first thing to note here is that pursuing the goals and desires that rest in our souls make us better parents. Kids can tell when you are stressed, or unfulfilled, or depressed. They want you to be happy. They want to know that they are not the cause of your unhappiness.
If you are constantly talking about the monotony of mom life, or your inability to pursue your dreams until your kids grow up, your children will hear that. They will grow up thinking that parenthood is a prison. But it isn't, or it shouldn't be.
Many of our goals and dreams have been in us for as long as we can remember. They have remained dormant. Some of them placed in us before we were even born.
Dreams are what we’ve always hoped to do, what we’ve always loved to do, what we were born to do. They are what fill us with passion and energy. They help us to have purpose and drive.
We can try to stifle them, or re-prioritize them but they will—at the most inconvenient times—resurface and pound on our heart.
You may ask yourself: Is it possible to do both? Is it possible to raise your family AND pursue your dreams? I believe the answer is YES! In fact, I believe it is ESSENTIAL to your happiness.
We must always be growing on an individual level. The second we forget about our own personal desires is the second we become unhelpful to both ourselves and others. Our goals are constantly changing as we grow and whereas beginning a family is a goal at one stage, many other goals will pop up before, during, and after. This needs to be acknowledged, not suppressed.
A solid foundation is essential to building a house; without a foundation anything built is unstable and likely to collapse. The same for goes for us as individuals. We must have a solid foundation as a person to be able to build anything upon it, such as a family. In this way we must stay well balanced by having personal goals.
But how do you actually do it? How do you make time for both? How do you pursue your goals without sacrificing your family?
It's the same idea behind balancing work and family. You need to look at what is most important to you. What is necessary and what is extra, and make some decisions.
The first step is to re-prioritze. What is most important to you? More time with your family or more quality interactions with your family. What can you take off your plate so that you can add in more time to work on yourself and your goals?
While at first glance everything might seem important, not everything is. Often in times of catastrophe, we are able to give things up to make time for others. For example, in the event of the hospitalization of a child or parent. We drop many things on our plate to make time for those we love.
If you were in such a situation, what would you give up first to make time for your family member. What else would you give up? Your happiness is just as important as these situations. Consider giving these same things up in order to make more time for yourself.
If thats too much, you can start small. Find times that you can work on your dreams that take the least time away from your family. This might be in the early morning, during naps, or after bedtime or while your kids are playing on their own.
In the beginning use this time for planning. Choose the goal you want to pursue and make a plan to pursue it. Take into account the restrictions on your time or finances and make a plan that will actually work for you.
Don't know what goal to pick? Check out my recent post on setting and achieving your goals. Once you have a your goals and your plan to achieve them, its time to start implementing.
There is no perfect time to start achieving your dreams. Just like when you started a family, there was no perfect time to have your kids. You can't wait for circumstances to perfectly align, you need to start.
Once you start, you will create momentum in yourself. Progress begets progress. Seeing what you have done so far, inspires you to achieve more.
Raising a family and achieving your goals are not mutually exclusive. In order to be the best mom you can be, being fulfilled is essential. Take time to improve yourself and see how much better you intereact with your kids and family.