Remember that dream?
You know, the one you had before kids? Maybe even before marriage?
YOU would do things differently from how you had been raised. YOU would raise your kids with a global perspective. They would become global savvy, and this would be what would mark your family as unique, rising above the pack of mediocrity?
Stop. If you can’t relate, take just a moment to skim below. But, if you can, forge ahead.
How Did Life Take Over?
Moments ago I made a new friend in a Starbucks. Yes, I can see we’re going to be friends. While I am an extrovert myself, when I go to my “third space” to work, I usually just zone into my own world. There’s lots to do, after all.
But Kris was friendly and we sparked a conversation. Before long, I could see we were in a similar place in life. Early 50’s. (Well, I’m more like ‘mid-’ now!) She’s got a preteen & new teen. My youngest is 17, with the other two at almost 21 and 23.
So, I’m a bit ahead. But she’s just rejoined the workforce after 15 years out, raising her kids & homeschooling for two years of that.
As I shared my story and told her about my first book, she exclaimed, “Wow, I have to read that! I feel as if I missed the boat! We always wanted to go live somewhere with the kids – but I think it’s too late. I really regret it.”
Life took over.
Still in the “Zone”
Kris is still in the “zone.” I told her not to sabotage what might be. Of course, it’s not easy. But the possibility of breaking out of her comfort zone and taking an extended time abroad with her family remains a real possibility, even now.
And, it may be for you, too.
Even if you’re where Kris is in the parenting journey, it’s not too late! There are steps you can take to conquer that goliath and make a move to give your children this incredible gift – a global perspective that’ll impact them for the rest of their lives. We will explore this in future articles, so stay tuned.
If you are a newly married couple, brimming with ideas about your future, you’ve got time. Setting goals is always worthwhile, even if the goals change and/or you don’t even meet half of them.
Thinking ahead – individually and together – and discussing your expectations is key. So is meeting up with others who are further along the couple / family journey, especially whose lives you truly admire. These are two ways to jump start your globally focused family.
Overwhelmed in the Earliest Stages of Parenting
But if you’re in the trenches with young kids – especially if you can barely distinguish night from day – I feel you. Really. I’ve been there, and I currently work with dozens of women who are right there. I get your struggle.
One of the first things you need to do is get some time away from your children. Preferably with your spouse or partner.
How on earth do you do that, especially when you have no idea of who you could get to watch your child(ren)? If you are just gasping for air, even reading this article feels like a struggle, right?
Stop and Take a Breath
Work it out with your significant other to have just two–three hours away. Once you’ve hit eight weeks post-partum, you should be able to arrange this. Make it a priority.
When you’re away, take the first hour to simply decompress at a coffee shop, in a park, on a walk, anywhere. Don’t pressure yourself to think big thoughts. Just chill. Relax your mind and observe. Be still, quiet and open to your thoughts.
Take that second hour to think hard. Get focused. Set a timer on your phone. (And, whatever you do, make sure ALL notifications are OFF on your phone except text – in the event of an emergency. Do not let the pull of social media or anything else get you.)
Use this time to journal, whether by hand or on your laptop.
Here are five questions to ask yourself:
- What do I like about my life right now?
- How do I want things to be different one year from now?
- What must I do to make that happen?
- Where do I envision for our family in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?
- Project yourself with grown kids, out of the house. (I know, this is hard. But try it.) What would your future self want to be able to say about your parenting / family? Does it involve time spent overseas? How and why?
Okay, I cheated. There are actually 8 questions embedded there. But they are related. Seek flow as you write your answers. You are not looking for a literary masterpiece; just getting the thoughts out there is your goal.
Now, Go Let Your Spouse / Partner do the Same
Often, one member of the couple is more goal-oriented and the other is more present-oriented. This is fine for both have something to contribute to the other.
If your spouse is not into doing this exercise him/herself, then plan a time when you can do it with him/her together. If you must, use technology (this time) to calm junior and give yourself space. Strategic use of technology in parenting is the best way to use it.
Go over the same questions by interviewing your spouse / partner. Do not put words in his / her mouth. Just listen & record.
Now, a Time Away
However you can finagle it, make it happen. Hire a professional babysitter. Get a friend. Do an exchange. There must be some way.
This is the time to compare notes. And really go deep. Using what you learn, work out a plan. It may be rough, but know – this exercise will prove invaluable over the long run.
So often, in the midst of the busiest parenting years, we can run on autopilot. Days run into weeks which run into months and years. My favorite quote from when I had little ones still rings true now: “Motherhood – The days are long, but the years are short.”
It may seem quaint, even superficial. “My days are soooo long!” you may be thinking. “It seems like they will never end.”
Yes, I felt that way at times.
But, I assure you, those little people will become big people. And they may just leave you in the dust. Capture what you can now. Savor it. Love and hate it (that’s okay, too). Feel it.
True, sometimes autopilot is a must – just don’t make it your default. You will have to work so hard to not fall into it. But it is worth it!
Getting outside of that comfort zone – however that may look for you – is a critical component to parenting success. You cannot regain your children’s earlier years. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.
Don’t self-sabotage. Take stock now so you won’t miss the unique parenting opportunity you have to imprint a global vision on the heart(s) of your child(ren). You will not regret it!
What's your takeaway here? What concrete steps forward can you take today?
Image credit: depositphotos
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