How To Pursue Your Dreams With Kids + Keep Your Sanity
Do you feel like pursuing your dreams and maintaining a family is a struggle? Well it is. And it is full of challenges. But by figuring out how to balance motherhood, and work from home or for yourself, you can make living your dreams possible. And not lose your mind doing it.
When I got pregnant with my first-born I left behind any semblance of a typical job. In fact, I knew it probably would never be in the cards for me again. I would have to find another way.
Good thing for me, there about a million ways to make money from home. If you put in the research and time you will find your opportunity to raise your children and be with them at the same time.
Doesn’t that sound like a dream?
I thought so too. When I found my passion in photography and started doing sessions I was over-the-moon with my new job. I could bring the kids most of the time to my session, or only need a babysitter for 2 hours, maybe 3 max. Since I don’t trust anyone outside of my immediate family, babysitter means my mom or husband.
Little did I know that Photography is much more than taking pretty pictures. I was soon spending a good majority of my home time on my computer. Learning Website building, SEO, blogging, marketing, networking, editing, workflows, and the list goes on and on and on.
With all that new knowledge I started developing a new, much larger plan of action for my home-based business.
My love of photography has grown into multiple fields including Fashion, Lifestyle, and most of all Travel. Travel is the biggest on that list because my family spends most of our time together adventuring and exploring all that we can of this world.
Because of that, I started a blog and vlog about our explorations, my lifestyle, and our unschooling adventures, all while maintaining a career as a professional Photographer. To say it is a lot to keep up with is an understatement.
So How Do I Balance My Children, Marriage, Career and Sanity?…
Scheduling, and waking up at ungodly times of day (technically night). Okay that sounds awful, but it’s not all that bad. Let me share with you how I keep sane and what I do when I start feeling overwhelmed.
Seriously, for me this is key. Without a decent schedule my wild mind takes over and I end up seeing the list of 500 things I want to do. Not to mention what has to be done, what would be best for the kids, what my husband would enjoy, and what I need to do for my “jobs”. With that many options usually nothing gets done. At least nothing successful or worthwhile.
I know it may seem boring to have your life on schedule, but keeping blocks of time set up makes a big difference. Now you have a little leeway to fill in the blocks with what fits into your life at that time. I typically have my morning blocks set up the exact same every day.
Waking up at 4am is one of the hardest life changes I have implemented. But giving myself this time in the morning, I am able to get a good bit of my work done before the family gets up. This is nearly 3 invaluable hours to get in some me time, write, and edit photos.
This routine is crucial for me as I build out of my “I am not a morning person” roadblock. Benjamin Hardy explains best why productive early mornings are so important in his article This Morning Routine Will Make You Unstoppable. His articles are a constant inspiration for me and keep me on my path of working towards my best life.
Consistency is key to developing momentum. You get it by putting intentional effort toward a singular goal or vision, and eventually the compound effect takes over. It’s as though several outside sources are working for your good. Because, they are.
It might seem ridiculous to schedule time for your marriage or kids, but it is a game changer. Putting in “time for husband” gives us a set time where nothing else matters but us. It is absolutely amazing knowing that no matter how much we need to work, or how dirty the house is, that doesn’t matter. We can let all that fall away for another time.
We fill in that time however we want. Restaurant, movie, late night walk on the beach, back rubs, and/or….other *fun* things. Sometimes its 3 hours sometimes only an hour but that block is crucial, and it is there Every Night.
Time for the kids gets treated as learning time. Good for us we like our education to be had in fun, hands-on ways. This may be going to a museum, swimming, exploring, reading, trips to the library, or a multitude of other adventures spent dedicated to them away from screens and worries.
Family time is where the Gold is at. These are hikes, exploring hidden gems, snorkeling, learning new adventurous activities, lots of laughs, temper tantrums, and other fun typical emotions that comes with young’ns. In short, taking on the world together.
One of my favorite IOS apps for time blocking is BlockyTime. It lets you schedule your time in an easy layout with a few simple taps. You can see your whole day in a glance and simply scroll to see future and past dates.
Minimize Your Distractions
Okay, so I may have a slight problem. I want to do and be Everything.
I want to be a writer, a great photographer for fashion, photojournalism, and families, a badass mom + teacher, a traveler, mountain climber, a Nikon Ambassador (thats right Nikon I’m looking at you), a mentor, a freaking yogi, an environmentalist, run a well-known and useful blog, be insta famous, and the list goes on and on. Like, seriously!!! I just can’t handle all of this. (okay I only knocked off yogi from this dream list, but you get it)
For a long time, and it still happens, I couldn’t nail down a life plan or pursue a dream because I was pursuing a hundred dreams. I would see someone doing something I knew I would like and could be good at, and instantly think… I can do that…
…No!! Stop That.
Since finally nailing down a course of actions I am set on, I have grown in numerous ways. One of the best parts of narrowing down my choices is realizing how much momentum I have gained with all my Time and well put Focus.
I have become far more sensitive about spending time on non-essential activities. Time is one thing you don’t get back. You can’t blame anyone but yourself for what you you do with it, and the consequences of those actions.
Getting rid of the time you waste is a daunting task, but one that must be tackled for you to move forward with pursuing your dreams.
Ways I have Minimized Distractions
I figured out I didn’t need 90% of the things I owned and adopted a minimalist lifestyle. I also knew going to the grocery store, and doing laundry were about my least favorite things in life. So naturally, I started my intentional living journey here.
Capsule wardrobe was the first on my list as overwhelming laundry needed to be a thing of the past. Then I focused on a set way to achieve an easy hassle free way to keep dirty clothes from taking up too much of my time. Timeblocks for the win.
Once I got that in order, I figured out I didn’t want to be a gourmet chef who was cooking a different fine cuisine dinner every night. So, I started meal planning by making a weekly meal theme and sticking to it. I know what I am going to eat each night, and depending on what I find at the market that week, I can make a simple (and still delicious) meal.
Minimalist Meal Plan.. who knew?!
With a minimalist meal plan I spend half an hour in the grocery store, and aside from the produce isle, I don’t look around wondering what I want to buy. I stick to my essentials and if I didn’t think about it before, than I didn’t need it. True Freedom.
I stopped getting on Facebook. About the only time I use FB now is when I reach out to a group I am apart of. I seriously want to fore-go it all together. It has a way of sucking you into other peoples distractions and killing all productivity. Not to mention it is a mostly negative space that kills your mindset.
Speaking of mindset, lets talk about..
Mindset For Motherhood
No matter how well I have everything planned, sometimes it all just falls apart.
With kids that is a certainty. Some days even the simplest things are tough. And in the right mindset, that is okay. For in life, you will always have to endure low points. Being able to handle the chaotic parts of my life in a patient and calm way has taken a lot of work, and has been very worthwhile.
It benefits my motherhood the most.
I never understood the term work-a-holic before. Like, how could that ever be a thing. I would roll my eyes when I read the quote ” when you love what you do it’s not work”. And then it happened to me. One day I realized I had made it into this elusive club.
Because of this, I try my best to stay out of the house during the day. Otherwise, I will end up on my computer.I am obsessed. I want to edit, I want to write, I want to share, and mostly I want to connect with others on this dream path I have taken. Unfortunately, this obsession takes it toll on my children.
By recognizing that, I can Change it
When my children start to throw temper tantrums or get wild I take a deep breathe and ask myself a few questions. What are they needing right now that they are trying to show me? What can I do to give it to them?
The answer to this is almost always, me. They need me. My time, my attention, my guidance, and my love. And the next part of that, comes with me setting aside my work, or my phone, or whatever was receiving what they were craving.
Instead of yelling and snapping, or telling them how much I dislike what they are doing, I now take a much different approach.
First, I force a smile. That instantly calms my brain and sends a signal that everything is fine. Seriously, try this. It will ease some tension and keep you from snappy remarks you will regret. Plus, if it comes out a super crazy smile, it will throw your kids for a loop, and they may settle right away just to see what the hell is going on with mom.
Second, I either tell them something I would like for them to do, “it would make me so happy if you guys helped me clean up this wreck you have made” or I just sit and be with them.. “hey guys, whats going on? Want to read a book with me?”
After giving them some time, connection and communication, I then come back to what the problem was. I try to mention it in a way that makes them apart of the problem solving. “Your sister yelled really loud when you grabbed that toy didn’t she? Why do you think she did that?”
Giving them prompts to get them to explain the problem will be surprisingly helpful on your end. Having them open up to you lets you figure out how they think in certain situations and they get to feel understood. My kids usually come up with the answer to the problem, and will tell me how they could do it next time, without me even asking, “what do you think would be a better way”.
Taking this route may feel like a lot of struggle and time to put into your kids throwing a temper tantrum. But what is 15 or 20 minutes of your time to ease the entire situation, make a learning scenario out of it, and connect with your children. VS. You spending the next 30 minutes to an hour, barely being able to focus on what you are doing through screaming or disciplining your kids.
Besides, they learn what we do, not what we tell them to do, right?
After spending time talking to them and connecting with them, even if only for 20 or 30 minutes, you will see a huge difference in how they behave and treat each other when left to their own devices.
Surround Yourself With People Who Are On Your Dream Path
Reaching for the stars is tiring and can be lonely. Most of the people who are already in your life typically won’t believe in your dream. That includes most friends and family. It’s the cold hard truth. No one will believe in your dream the way that you do.
Stop trying to convince them. Show them.
Their are plenty of other people rocking their dreams, traveling the world, and working their tushes off who have kids. Find them and see how they do it.
Finding other families who are working to the same goals you are will give you the inspiration to keep going in the hard times. Sometimes “believing in yourself” just won’t seem to cut it.
Better yet, find other mommas who have gone through the point your at and succeeded. Mommas who are farther along than you or at the point you dream of being. Challenging yourself with these people by your side or in your focus point will push you much farther, much faster.
Mastermind groups, accountability partners, and challenges are also all great ways to get competitive and stay inspired in a healthy collaborative way. They will boost your confidence, your knowledge, and give you the drive you need to succeed.
Social media is a great way to find these kind of groups. Start by searching for your niche or keywords and then follow the people who inspire you. Make sure to keep it in the line of your dreams so you don’t get overwhelmed with options, and don’t hesitate to unfollow negative people who waste your time.
Keep Trying + Keep Believing
You’ve got this. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
Start priding yourself in not letting others tell you what is possible or logical. My husband often tells me that I don’t understand reality. I have come to really enjoy that statement.
Reality is what you make it. So go make a reality you believe in and want to be apart of.
Be patient. Be kind. Involve your kids whenever possible. Unite with other moms and families who are pushing and succeeding.
I believe in you, as much I believe in myself. And thats a lot.
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