Today, I’m thinking about how important it is to invest in oneself. Tomorrow, I will be traveling to Long Beach, CA for my dear friend, Dr. Shefali’s Evolve summit. I have been helping her run this summit since she first envisioned it over four years ago. I get the honor of not only helping her to create and put on a fabulous event, but I get to continue learning from her as well.
As I am finishing last-minute things before my trip, I’m thinking about investing in ourselves and how important that is. Last night, I helped a mom who was struggling because her daughter didn’t want her to leave home to attend Evolve this weekend.
I shared with this mom that my daughter is the same way, and we have worked on this for years. Now at 13, she understands the situation much more, but she still doesn’t really like when I travel.
What I have said to my daughter for years when she would ask me not to go and to instead stay home with her is that I must go to Evolve. I need to be there for my friend Shefali (who my daughter has met and also loves), and I need to be there for me. Learning from my friend helps me to be a better mom to her, and it helps me to help other moms have better relationships with their children. (She likes that part.)
As much as she didn’t like my leaving, this is the message that has always helped her to feel at peace with my trips. She understands that I am continually learning and growing as a person and sometimes to invest in myself requires me to leave home.
My daughter feels the same way when I leave for a work trip. She doesn’t like my leaving, but she understands how important it is to me to help other parents develop relationships with their children as deep and healthy as I have developed with her. She admires me for the work I do with parents and when she is able to see it from that perspective, it helps her to feel better about me leaving.
I believe every person should continually seek to grow and change. That’s one reason we are on this earth – to continually evolve. If we aren’t growing, we just stay stagnate, and what good is that?
For you, to invest in yourself might not mean hopping on a plane like it does for me sometimes. It might be something smaller like taking that yoga class on Tuesday evenings. Or meeting your dear friend for dinner. It might mean taking a few minutes to yourself to read that book you’ve been meaning to finish. Or having 10 minutes alone to meditate. There are many different ways that we can invest in ourselves and our well-being. But whatever it is you choose to do, it is important that YOU DO IT.
The thing I am realizing now that my children are a bit older (16, 13 and 11) is that as hard as those early years are, it does get easier. When they become older and more capable of doing things for themselves, they don’t NEED me 24/7 anymore like they used to. As they get older, they don’t need a lot of physical help and support. They now need more mental and emotional help and support.
The other thing is that as they get older, they don’t necessarily even want to be around you that often. But when they do want, need or seek your attention, it is vital that you drop everything and give it to them. For if you don’t, they will eventually stop seeking you out, and that is not helpful for either of you. But as they get older, your time does free up, whether you can believe it or not.
When our children are younger, there just isn’t a lot of time to invest in ourselves without sacrificing something, namely time with them. But it is vital to do. I have talked to many women who are in their forties and their children are in stages like mine are. The women who invested in themselves all along are in a good flow in their forties. They are growing, striving, achieving and deeply satisfied with their lives, no matter what that looks like for them.
The women who put themselves on the back burner to be 100% Mom, 100% of the time are now suddenly finding that they are at a crossroads, and it is frightening and unsettling. They are finding themselves with more time on their hands as their children grow. But they don’t know what to do with it all. They sacrificed what they wanted to do and what they were interested in for so many years raising their children that they forgot who they are outside of moms.
I find that these moms really struggle with their identities through their forties. How can you avoid the struggle?
That’s right. Invest in yourself. All along the way. If you haven’t been up until now, find a way to start. You have no idea the benefits you and your children will reap from making this a priority in your life.
Take that class, get that massage, go to that conference, get that new job. Whatever it is that draws you and ignites you, go after it. Your life may be a bit “fuller” for fitting it in. But your life will also be that much richer for having done so.
I want to share some ideas here with you that I shared with that mom last night whose daughter didn’t want her to go. Hopefully they help you too.
I actually asked my daughter what advice she would give to this mom for her daughter and she said that when I travel, it makes her feel better when she can contact me. She likes to get texts back when she sends them, and she likes to FaceTime me. If I am in the middle of a meeting or something, as long as I text her and say we will have to FaceTime later, that makes her feel better. She has a real fear of me being injured or dying when I travel, so knowing that I am fine eases that fear for her.
If you have to travel, plan in extra time for snuggles and hugs with your children. This can help to fill their buckets before you leave. And before you leave, write little surprise notes on post-its and place them where your children will find them. Under their pillow, in their lunch box, on the bathroom mirror, in their pj drawer. This will keep them connected to your love while you are away.
One thing I used to do when my kids were younger is I would take a few bedtime stories with ME where I was going. At bedtime, I would FaceTime them and read the story to them. This was the closest thing to being together that we could get. They enjoyed and looked forward to it every night while I was away. And when I return, my kids love to hear any interesting stories I bring back with me from my travels.
Hopefully by now you can really see why it is so important as a mom to invest in yourself. It benefits both you and your children.
Originally published at erin-taylor.com