When your kids are not in school but learning at home and in the world, it’s easy to focus your day around what the kids are discovering. They’re learning so many interesting and unusual things that it’s exciting to learn, play and create right along with them.
Now, that’s definitely an important part of your day. But, I’ve found the more I spend time learning new things my kids are interested in, the more I discover many things I’m interested in and want to learn more. Sometimes those things interest the kids as well, sometimes not. But at times I feel guilty about spending time pursuing my own passions. It seems like all my time should be devoted towards helping the kids learn and grow.
But I’ve discovered something important: the more I pursue my passions and dreams, the more energy and excitement to help the kids learn and reach for their own dreams, too.
I’ve always loved writing. I’ve written screenplays, short stories and essays. I worked as a freelance reporter for a while, along with crafting resumes and designing brochures. Like many people, I also dream of writing a novel one day.
But after having the twins, I gave up writing for a while, which is understandable. They needed 100% of my attention then and for quite a few years after that, too. They still need me most of the time, but I’m finding it easier and easier to write again. And I’ve accomplished one dream of starting a website to share the joys and benefits of interest-led learning.
Still, that nagging feeling that I’m being selfish when I take a half hour here and there to write or set up the website eats away at me. The kids want me to do things with them all the time. And saying no sometimes makes me feel like a horrible mother. Gradually, though, I’ve learned some tricks and discovered some truths that have made it easier to joyfully pursue the things I love.
Many of my passions have been things the kids are interested in, too. I enjoy photography and want to grow in that area. My daughter, Alexa, also loves photography, too. Ever since she was two, she’s been taking my camera and snapping away. In fact, when I received a new camera for Christmas, I gave her my old digital one. On my family blog where I record our learning adventures, www.aneclecticodyssey.blogspot.com , I have a separate section for Alexa’s photography.
She may have grown up loving photography anyway, but the fact she sees me taking lots of pictures and learning more about at art and craft of photography surely had some influence on her. My son has loved puzzles from an early age. He might have loved puzzles regardless, but seeing his father doing his own puzzles must have sparked some of that interest.
Even if it’s only a passing interest, my two kids have always been curious about things I’m doing. Whether it’s cooking, gardening, looking at art, or hiking, they always want to be involved somehow. I know that might change as they get older, but when children are young they WANT to do the things their parents are doing. Maybe they’ll only be interested for a few minutes, but they like to feel included in your activities.
Your children have their own unique gifts and talents. They love to express themselves and show their individuality. Sure, they need their physical needs met and you to introduce them to the world, but they also need to see you express your own uniqueness, too. They need to see you living a rich and exciting life to know that it’s possible for them, too.
So many people have dreams and goals, but they lack the perseverance and drive to go after them. One of the biggest gifts we can give our children is showing them that it’s possible to dream big dreams and walk a path different from everyone else. We need to show this not just by talking about it but by living it as an example.
Don’t encourage your children to pursue their passions and dreams while sitting on the sidelines yourself.
In addition to seeing you as their caretaker and guide, your children also need to see you as a unique and talented individual. My children won’t be needing most of my attention forever. As they branch out to explore the world on their own, I want and need to be on my own journey, too.
What interests do you have that you’re letting collect dust? Is there anything you’d like to do that would give your life more richness and fullness?
Photo credit: JuanedcShare on Facebook