How to pursue your dreams while raising kids
Updated: Mar 2, 2022
My mom gave up a law career to stay home and raise five kids.
My whole life I thought she regretted this decision, even though she tells me repeatedly her path, and her dreams, shifted when she started having kids and being a mom is what truly made her the happiest. It took me a long time, but I finally understood that it was her passion and that's great. For me, though, I've always had dreams outside of parenting. And here's how I'm pursuing them:
Getting rid of guilt
I used to think pursuing my dreams was selfish. That any money I put toward my dreams would be taking away money from the family. Or any time I spent pursuing my dreams would be time I would take away from them. Essentially I thought the equation was a net negative for my family, draining them of necessary resources and love and attention. But then I realized something. I can spend 100-percent of my time with my kids, morning to night, but if I am unfulfilled or unhappy, they will not be getting the best me. So I started changing my thinking. Pursuing my dreams was self care and my family is not losing, but gaining several things: joy, energy, an example of fulfillment and the pursuit of happiness, a lesson in grit, determination and a strong work ethic, and not to mention the actual financial resources I could bring in if I actually started getting work.
Realize kids are NOT an obstacle to your dreams
So my life long dream was to be an actor. After a brief career as an on-air News Anchor and Reporter, I moved to Los Angeles and started pursuing my dream. But shortly before we got to LA, I got pregnant. I thought my hopes were dashed. But as it turns out, I could not have been farther from the truth. L.A. is teeming with young parents in the industry. I constantly met filmmakers, actors, producers, writers through their kids. I remember literally having a production meeting with a successful producer, while we were both nursing our babies. I mean come on.
My mindset also started to change. I met countless younger actors who were extremely lethargic about their careers. “I’ll get to it eventually,” one girl actually said to me. I couldn't believe it! But then, before I had kids, I also thought time was unlimited. Having kids made me much more efficient. Because I only have small pockets of time throughout my day (during nap time or after bedtime) to work, write, film self tape auditions, etc., my work is focused, streamlined. I am getting more done in less time because I understand the importance and urgency of time.
The last obstacle to pursuing my dream was childcare. I couldn’t afford childcare while we were in L.A. Another roadblock right? Wrong. Mom friends are golden when it comes to pursuing your dreams, because we’re all here to support each other! I linked up with a couple of great moms and started a babysitting swap. On days I had an audition they would watch the kids, and on days they needed to get stuff done, I would watch the kids. Babysitting swaps are pure gold. Also, it proves that old saying, “it takes a village.”
Finding a rhythm
So I tackled my guilt, got rid of limiting beliefs, found a way to get to auditions… but what about the chaos of motherhood? The lack of sleep? This is where consistency and finding a rhythm come into play.
You can’t do everything everyday, and you need to be OK with that. At first, it frustrated me that there was “so much to do, so little time.” But then I found my rhythm, made peace with it, and got to work. What do I mean by rhythm? I mean discipline, routines, habits. Your wants will be outsmarted by your habits every time.
Create the space wherever you can (after bedtime, during nap time, early morning) to get your work done and stick to it. That way, when craziness happens, you will already have a prioritized and set-aside time scheduled for your dreams. And remember that everything in your life is important, so making sure everything is in balance will feel like a win. You won’t feel like you’re neglecting one thing for another, or at least not as much. For me, I prioritize dreams three nights a week, after bedtime and chores two nights a week and date night one night a week. I reserve one night a week for rest.
The biggest thing, I’ve found, is just being consistent. Even if you can’t set huge goals right away, set small ones. For instance, I could say, “I’m going to do an on-camera audition practice once a week for 15 minutes.” I would schedule that small goal on my calendar, say on a Thursday night after bedtime, and I would prioritize it. If dad needs something, sorry. I’ll do it tomorrow. If friends want to hang on Thursday? Sorry, not available. I’ve learned to honor my dreams because if I don’t, who will?
After all is said and done, I just have to have grace with myself. I know my limits, I do my best and that's it. There was a point when I couldn't make time for my dreams at all, and that's OK. Now I can make a little time and that's OK too. I know that there will be a time when time is more open for me, but I will never get these toddler years back. So, prioritizing my kids right now keeps me in balance and that's a good thing.
If you're in a stage of life where there simply isn't any time to devote to your dreams, that's OK. Remember this saying from Author and Speaker Andy Stanley and repeat it often, “No for now, not forever.” It has become my mantra. In most cases, there is no time limit on your dreams. There will be a time when the kids are in school, or heck, out of the house, when you have plenty of time to get after it. Don’t stress. Your dreams are still possible. But there is still one thing you can do while you wait - daydream. Daydream about your dream everyday - what it would feel like, what it would look like. Keep your dream alive so when the time is right, you’ll hit the ground running. And the world won’t know what hit it.