Balancing self improvement with family improvement

Commit to improving for your family, as a family

One of the most relaxing things I can do is to watch my daughter sleep.  Seeing her at such peace takes me on an instant journey of all the stages of her life and reminds me of what defines me the most in life – I am a mom.  While being a mom is by far at the top of my totem pole, there are a lot of other things that define me as a person that act as the support for my crowning achievement.  Being a daughter, friend, entrepreneur, lover, fighter and a million things in between have each instilled important qualities on my quest to be the mother I think my daughter deserves.  So how do I hold on to some of the attributes that have made me the woman I am while also striving to be the mother I want to be?

For a lot of us parents the balance to be ourselves but a parent first can present some real challenges.  Some get lost in their children and the person they were before children is enveloped by play dates and SpongeBob.  For others the desire to hold on to our pre-parental selves or to develop where we want to be professionally or personally results in losing the priority our children should have in our lives.  No matter where most parents are personally in this challenge they likely feel like they are losing at some time or another.

As in most things balance can really be the path to success as there are positive qualities in both our focus on our own development and the focus on our children’s development.  In really taking time to focus on ourselves we ensure that we are working towards being the best parent we can be by being the best person we can be.  In taking a step back from our kids we can remind ourselves of what it was like to be in their shoes and to see them for the person they are, not who we want them to be.  Short term distance gives a different perspective to the same old challenges and keeps us from repeating the sometimes painful patterns we learned in our own childhoods.  I believe the time we spend nurturing ourselves can pay back tenfold when it comes to our children.

Personal growth in this light can then be the fertilizer to raising happy and healthy children.  Parenting is not an exercise to produce a more perfect reflection on you but the best child that you can grow.  An essential part of that is being able to take the “you” out of your kid’s growth.  It is easy to try to overcompensate for the problems we as parents faced when we were kids, whether it was being poor or fat or unpopular.  A focus on our kids means we have to challenge ourselves to not make our problems, their problems.  An important step to that is communication.  Asking our kids what they need and want from us and how we can help with the challenges they face make their development about them.  In the end our development as parents is about supporting our children to becoming the adults we would like to see in the world.

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