14 January 2016

ByDanielGodsall

Our Views

How to Keep Growing After Kids

“It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.” JOYCE MAYNARD

Nice quotes and motivational ditties are two a penny these days. But the first time I read this one from Joyce Maynard it literally stopped me in my tracks. And, it’s something I continue to come back to time and time again.

The day we give birth it also feels as if we enter PROPER adulthood. We may have had jobs, or owned homes and got married. But the moment you are handed another human to be responsible for, is the moment you feel fully grow-up.

For a while being a grown-up meant I lost my way. I started dividing life into : ‘BC’ or ‘AC’ – Before Children or After Children.

‘Before’ nippers I went to music festivals, travelled the world, tried to improve at various hobbies, experimented with craft, and was career-driven. ‘After’ my focus was my off-spring. What would the kids enjoy? How do we make them into interesting, well-adjusted people? Their needs and development became my everything. Me? Well I was Bertie and Woody’s Mum.

Then something changed. In the words of Maynard I realised my boys “were watching to see what I was doing with my life too.” Which meant it was ok to do stuff for ‘me’. In fact it wasn’t just alright to have other interests apart from parenting, it was a good thing.

That 45 minutes spent exercising? Kept me sane and taught my boys how important it is to stay fit. An afternoon at a gallery? Dinner out? Cinema trip? A chance to give me and my husband actual conversation, rather than ‘who’s turn is it to pick up the nappies’.

Same applies with work. A trip for a shoot/meeting/event. An hour spent on the laptop at the weekend. A late night in the office when you should be doing bath and bed. They aren’t things I want to make a habit of doing, but neither are they a sign you are a bad parent.

Dedication and ambition are good things for your kids to observe. If I set aside time to learn and improve myself, it doesn’t mean I am neglecting my children – it’s my way of showing them how to reach for the sun.

Now there is less ‘Before Kids’ ‘After Kids’ – more doing the things I always loved, and also finding new loves and goals, thanks to them….

Clemmie Telford is, in no particular order, a senior creative from Grey London, she writes a Mummy Blog called Mother of All Lists, lives in Peckham South East London and is Mamma to 2 boys under the age of 3 and a wire-haired sausage-dog called Derek.