When you reflect on it, being a mum is an amazing experience; you’re facilitating your child’s development from a tiny new-born, to a toddler, a school-aged child and then into an independent young person. And, of course, how you ‘mother’ changes along the way, but it takes a lot of time and energy.
Much of a mum’s time is spent doing the practical things: getting up for a feed in the middle of the night, making sure your child is eating properly, changing nappies, reading with them or helping with homework, looking after scratches and bumps, being a taxi service to dancing classes or footy practice and much, much more. Some of these jobs are fun and others less so, but we just have to do them. And at the end of each day we’re often exhausted and just want to fall into bed.
However, it’s important to take care of yourself too, because if you get run down you can’t be as good a mum as you could be. Making time for coffee with a friend, going to the gym to keep fit or learning yoga can help provide balance in your life. But for some of us it’s hard to do even that much for ourselves.
But there’s something else you should take time for: to grow and flourish as a person, just like those you are looking after. The adults around you, your partner, family and friends, are still immersed in work and the adult environment, and are developing skills, both professionally and personally.
You might feel that you don’t have time or money, but taking time to grow doesn’t have to take long or be expensive, it just needs some creative thinking and planning. For example, you could join a book group where you need to read a book every month and then get together with a group of others who might challenge your thinking. You could go for a free guided bushwalk where you learn about your local environment, or to the opening of an art exhibition.
Checkout your local community centre or TAFE. Many offer childcare and run classes ranging from jewellery-making to computer skills and everything in between. The ring you make in class may be awful or it might just be amazing, and in the meantime, you’ve learned new skills, chatted with people you might otherwise never have met, and had time just for you.
If you live in an isolated area or just can’t get out of the house, an option is to join an online community in an area that you’re interested in, like making children’s clothes, growing organic veggies, environmental issues, or caring for children with disabilities. You might go on to do a course, and there are plenty available online. Down the track this could lead to a new career.
Taking time to grow means you’re continuing your personal and professional development and reminds you, that you have a role in the world beyond your family. This in turn, makes you a better and more positive mum. It’s a win-win situation.