Take Time To Take A Break And Refresh
by Mary M. Bartek
It's true that being a wife and mom is a full-time job and then some, and at first it would seem easier not to add to an already busy life. But, as is true of people in other professions, the at-home mom needs a break from the stresses and sameness of putting everything into her career. Fitting something for you into your life may be a challenge, but the benefits are many:
- Your passions will give you energy, and if there's anything an at-home mom can use more of, it's energy.
- Enjoying something just for yourself increases your sense of personal self-worth, a key to increased self-esteem which benefits the whole family.
- Pursuing outside interests provides balance. Multi-faceted people need multi-faceted lives.
Fine, you say, but I'm not driven by any burning desires. Sure it would be nice to do something for me. But what?
Identifying your passions
Finding passions isn't hard to do. It just requires that you do something you may not have done for a while: Think about yourself.
If you were a child who loved tumbling class, you may find fulfillment in an adult dance class. Perhaps you once dreamed of being a veterinarian. You might rekindle that love by raising or training dogs, or by volunteering at an animal shelter. Perhaps you played an instrument and loved it. Or never played an instrument, but always wanted to. Re-examining these past interests can help you find your passion.
Or you may find your passion embedded in your more recent history. Was there some aspect of a former career that still sparks your attention? Was it your computer skills, your ability to communicate, your writing ability that brought you the most satisfaction on the job? You may be able to concentrate on that strength and nurture that part of you that brought you joy.
Whether looking to the present or the past, other than your husband and children, what has given you the most happiness? When did you feel special? When were you the most satisfied? What made you feel most content? Rediscovering these good feelings is the key to finding your passions.
Perhaps after considering your former joys you'll find that they no longer interest you. You're simply not the same person you once were. Consider new ideas. Check out a hobby store for classes in the latest creative hobbies that may be of interest. Sign up for a class at your local community college that looks interesting.
Or perhaps your dreams are tied to visions of one day beginning a new career. Now is the right time for exploring your options, focusing that vision, and preparing for the next stage in your life.
Finding resources; finding the time
Once you've selected an area of interest, you'll need to determine how to get started. If you're interested in joining a book club, a call to your local library may be all you need to be put in touch with a group. Community colleges are great resources for the pursuit of passions, whether that might mean taking a class in water painting or a refresher course in business skills. If you know that selling a product or offering a service will be your ultimate goal, you may wish to contact the Small Business Administration for help as well. Whatever your interest, there are resources available which will make your path to self-fulfillment easier.
Now you've discovered your passion and found your resources, and you may be wondering where the time going to come from! Ask any at-home mom who has successfully pursued a personal interest and the advice will be the same: Don't wait until you find time. You have to make time.
Many mothers join or start a babysitting co-op. Members trade time watching each other's children for a couple hours each week. The kids are well-supervised at a friend's house, while you pursue your other interests, and the only cost is that of providing an equal number of hours for other co-op members.
Baby-sitting co-ops are just one way to "buy" the time that a passion may demand. Trading one-on-one on a regular basis with another mother can work, too, if you find someone whose needs are similar to yours. Mom's Day Out programs, which provide two to four hours of group supervised playtime at a church or recreational center, will work equally well. Hourly child care centers, which have become popular in many areas, can also provide the answer for those mothers who need much less coverage than a typical day care arrangement would provide.
But what about those household duties which aren't being done? Many women find that when they develop a schedule which includes personal interests, they become more efficient. The excitement of looking forward to having time for yourself may help with getting the chores done more quickly. Or, you may find yourself re-thinking your priorities. Women who have successfully found time for their own interests realize that the things which they find fulfilling need to be high on the "to do" list. And that may mean saying no to other, less pressing duties.
Making the changes necessary to pursue your interests may take some work, and seeking out support is crucial. Let your friends know what you plan to do. Listen to other women who have successfully found the time and energy to balance their interests with their families. And be ready to bounce back if the first plan doesn't work.
Looking to your spouse for support can be a critical factor in enjoying your passions. Whether a husband supplies child care or simply emotional support, discussing your decision to follow your dreams can be helpful to both of you. And your husband may find that by helping you pursue your goals, he enjoys the time with the kids, plus your relationship may be enriched by the joy and new focus your "other interests" provide. No matter what the activity, the benefits of enjoying time with something that enriches our lives can't help but carry over to our loved ones.
Even if your friends and spouse are behind you, it will be hard to pursue your interests if you don't feel you're deserving. If you just can't imagine doing something nice for yourself without guilt, it's time for a little mind game: put yourself in your children's place. If your son really wanted to try out for soccer and your daughter felt ready to pursue an interest in theater, how would you react? Would you feel they had no business being so self-centered and wonder what kind of child you were raising? Or would you acknowledge their interests and do what you could to support them? You know that your kids should follow their dreams. Why shouldn't you?
Learning to paint, preparing for your next career, joining a quilting club, biking regularly--whatever your passion, the advice is the same: Find it, live it, love it. You'll be glad you did--and so will your family.