Why having kids doesn’t mean you have to give up your dreams

It might be life’s single most important question, and it’s pondered by all of us at some point. Should we have kids?

The impulse to have a family can be huge — especially if your friends and family are popping sprogs left, right and centre. Kids are cute, can (hopefully) mean that you won’t spend your old age being bored, will (definitely) give your life a new set of meanings, and turn you and your loved one from a couple into a 100% legit family. But weighted against this are a number of questions — should you bring another child into an already heavily populated world? Can you afford to support them? Can you deal with near-constant sleep deprivation? Are you willing to make children your number one priority?

The stereotype of frazzled parents is everywhere. (I live up to them myself at times!) Especially if you’re a woman, you’re often told — directly or indirectly — that once you have children, your needs, wants and desires are left behind, beneath the all-consuming task of motherhood. Don’t get me wrong. Being a mum is hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There are sleepless nights… one after another. You have to give up so much of your free time and the things you used to take for granted… well… you’ll miss them more than you’ll know. Things are easier without kids, I’d be lying if I said otherwise. At the same time, people think you should be staying at home, wearing baggy clothes and grieving over your past life. Clearly, as I sit here writing this in a gorgeously bright floral swing dress from Lindy Bop that I wore today, that way of thinking is a load of rubbish. But it doesn’t have to to be all bad — in fact, it’s perfectly possible to continue working towards achieving your dreams even when you have kids. Here’s how.

Why having kids doesn’t mean you have to give up your dreams

What are your dreams?

Before you have children, try to consider what your dreams actually are, and think about how they might fit with parenting. If your dream is to be a top-flight lawyer, then there’s no way around it — you’re going to spend a lot of time in the office. You’re going to need either a stay-at-home partner or lots of childcare. If your dream is to travel the world, your easiest option is to homeschool your children (or ‘worldschool’, as the cool kids are calling it these days). If you don’t get a chance to consider your dreams before your little one arrives, make the most of maternity leave. It can be the life-changing bit of free time that you need.

You’re going to need patience in buckets, and be ready to take whatever life throws at you. But all it means is that if you can, a little planning is all it takes. You’ll need help if you have it. In every sense of the word. So when people offer to babysit or let you have a nap, take them up on the offer! This is no time to be shy.

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Kids can actually help your career

For some people, having children is a boost to their professional life; the knowledge that you have small mouths depending on you can be a powerful motivator. You have another reason, other than yourself, to really push forward with your dreams. It doesn’t necessarily have to be financial. It could be recognition or target based. Whatever it is, you’ll have another reason to open your laptop at 4 am when you’ve finished a feed. Trust me, it happens.

An example for me is how efficient I have to be with my time now. How multitasking isn’t a fun skill, it’s a must. Something so minor but makes a massive difference is feeling good in what I wear and knowing that I can take a few outfit pictures while I’m out and about with the little ones. They get to have some fresh air and we all have a bit of family time. I get my shots done and dusted at the same time.

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It’s 2018, people

If you’re a woman, this is important; just because you have kids doesn’t mean that you have to slow down in your career. If you need to work late nights, skip a few end-of-term shows, or miss out on tiny tots football tournaments, don’t beat yourself up — you’re role modelling female empowerment, putting food on the table, and achieving your dreams. There’s no reason why your partner can’t step up to take on equal (or greater) caregiving responsibilities. As long as you’re still managing to balance a bit of both work and play, then mama you’ve totally got this.

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You’ll need to be realistic

Think about your dreams carefully, and think about how you’ll put achieving them into action. Even if you want to be an ultra-hands-on parent, it’s still important to think about yourself and your own well-being, and achieving your goals is part of that. You’ll need to prioritise — what things are most important to do now? What can you do now? And what can wait until your little one had got his first teeth? You’ll need to realise you can’t do everything; don’t set yourself unachievable targets, as it will just demotivate you and make you less likely to stick the course. Set yourself small, achievable micro-goals and celebrate your successes. You’ll find the small things stack up over time, setting you well on your way to achieving your dreams.

 

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