Don’t make your life just about your children and being a mom. Learn the biggest reason parents should have a life beyond kids.
Moms, it can sometimes feel like we have no life.
We hardly have time to shower or cook, much less exercise the way we used to. Tasks clutter our to-do list and the kids clamor for our attention. Sleepless nights and diaper changes are all too common. We can’t always follow the advice to make sure our own needs are met. And we know we should have a life beyond kids, but can’t seem to figure out how.
Instead, we focus so much on the kids, prizing them more than any generation in the past ever had. We don’t let them get bored, and we sacrifice so much for their benefit.
Maybe the importance of balancing parenthood with other aspects of your life isn’t convincing enough. Nor is getting a break from mommy madness, or building the ubiquitous village to raise your kids. After all, even these feel “selfish.”
Why you should have a life beyond kids
Though well-deserved reasons, there’s one crucial reason to have a life beyond kids that’s truly eye-opening:
Your kids will grow up.
You see, you’re likely a mom of young children. You may not have entered the years of raising tweens, much less teenagers. You’ve yet to find yourself saying goodbye to motherhood as you know it.
But you don’t have to look too far ahead to realize that your kids will likely no longer need you the way they do right now.
Look at your toddler, who, not too long ago, you had to carry around and spoon-feed homemade baby food. Now he’s comfortable waddling on his own feet and feeding himself blueberries.
Kids grow up quickly, no doubt. And their goal? To be as independent as possible. That same toddler will one day stop holding your hand when you cross the street. He’ll want to do his own homework, make his own bed, and even cook his own meals.
As I say in my book, You Are Enough:
“As long as the days can feel, those moments when you realize you’re not kissing your child’s feet any longer or they’re too big to carry in your arms are a blunt reminder of how quickly the years go by.”
In the teenage years, he might turn to you for guidance less and less as he begins to feel more confident in his abilities. He’ll become a young man, different from the baby who once depended on you for everything.
But guess what? This is a good thing.
I’ve long since believed that our number one job isn’t to make our kids happy or confident. Nor is it to provide them with a comfortable future or to widen their horizons. These are all worthwhile endeavors, but the most important job we have is to raise future adults.
Hopefully, your grown kids won’t have to rely on you to function and have a normal quality of life. Instead, they’ll turn to you for support and company, relishing a close relationship with you as adults.
But they might not live near you, or even have children of their own for you to dote on once again. They’ll be young adults whose lives will likely no longer be your sole focus.
What will your life be like?
Now, imagine yourself at that moment: What will your life be like when your youngest child has reached adulthood?
She may have moved out of your home and into her own apartment. She’s taken down the posters in her old bedroom and purchased her own pots and pans. She doesn’t need nor want your constant attention. What will your life be like?
Will you feel a void in your family life or lose a sense of yourself, having no one to fret over? Will you still have friends, especially if your current social life revolves around her? What will be your hobbies and lifestyle?
Will you hover over your adult children just as you used to do when they were in your home? Or will you give them the space they need to be capable adults?
That’s why it’s even more important to have a life beyond kids: they won’t always need you the way they do now. Eighteen years seem like eons from the starting line, but it’s a fraction, a short lap, compared to the length of a lifetime.
Motherhood is only one part of you
Yes, you’ll always be a mom. I still rely on my mom in ways I don’t rely on other people. And I hope my kids know they can always turn to me well into their old age.
But you can’t focus your entire life on the kids. At some point, they won’t need you in the same way. How will you fill your time and your days when the rattles, school bags, and college applications are gone?
Wear your mom badge proudly, then add to that your other badges. Pursue hobbies that are your own. Nurture friendships and a solid marriage that can continue even with the absence of children. Dive into a cause that you believe in.
Because one day you won’t always be sleep-deprived and your daily routine won’t revolve around naps. Your two-year-old will speak in complete sentences and learn how to dress herself without your help. She’ll listen to music you won’t understand, make friends without your help, and choose her own college courses.
And she’ll grow into an adult much too quickly, no matter how inevitable you knew the time would come.
So, the next time you feel guilty emotions for hanging out with old friends or playing a round of tennis, remember you’re doing a good thing. Both for yourself now, and many years down the line.
Get more tips:
- How to Explain to Your Kids Why You Work
- How to Balance Parenthood with the Rest of Your Life
- Adjusting to Motherhood and Life with a Baby
- How to Make Time for Yourself (Even If You Have Kids!)
- How to Cope when You’re Bored Playing with Your Kids
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