For many women, the dawn of motherhood signals a pause in their pursuit of personal development. They become nurturers, caregivers, selfless beings who when faced with a moment to themselves wonder how best to spend this time for the good of the family, rather than on themselves.
Dreams are put on hold and plans for growing the self are held off until children are older, perhaps even flown the nest... Unfortunately these women fail to understand that personal development is not a selfish treat enjoyed only by themselves, it is an important investment in family life.
The purely selfless mum is not a happy one!
When a mum selflessly serves everyone else while placing no importance on her own needs, she will develop a growing sense of disappointment and unhappiness which ultimately may lead to resentment.
Everyone functions at their peak when they feel good in their own skin: when our personal and emotional needs are fulfilled we look outwards and better instil that sense of contentment in others, and mothers are no exception.
A mother's happiness is like a beacon, lighting up the future but reflected also on the past in the guise of fond memories. ~Honoré de BalzacA happy mum is in a far better position to attend the needs of her family, and her positivity filters through to ensure the rest of the household shares her contentment.
Placing value on yourself earns the respect of your familyA very dear friend of mine places the needs of her children so far above her own that she considers herself a slave to their every whim, and in return is often treat like one. Without a shadow of a doubt, she adores her children, but since she regards her needs as unimportant (or at least, less important), she is not rightfully respected by her family.
By taking care of her own needs, a mum shows her family that she is not only worthy but commanding of respect. Children and partners express their support by making minor sacrifices enabling mum to take care of herself; this in turn promotes well-being for the whole family to enjoy.
Becoming a better role model
All mothers hope for their children to be happy and fulfilled in adulthood. We encourage them to be good students at school to open avenues of opportunity for their chosen career, but often forget that as parents we are their primary role models.
How can we instil a zest for education and personal development if we do not nurture these values in our own lives?
By demonstrating that we actively pursue developmental interests which in turn make us happy and contented as mothers, we encourage our children to do the same through to adulthood and beyond. There is no greater gift we can offer our children than a love of life and a quest for lifelong learning!
But I don't have the time...
Whether employed full time, or a stay-at-home mum of six, all mothers need a little time to themselves - if only for a few minutes a day.
With a little creativity, even the busiest mum can find a little time for personal development and you needn't spend a penny in the process.
For example, if you've always wanted to learn a foreign language, why not try learning French, German or Spanish during your coffee break? If you want to shed your baby weight, try the Couch to 5k programme in 20 minute slots - you could even bring baby along for your runs to enjoy the fresh air!
You could brush up on your maths skills to better help with homework (and track your progress) with Khan Academy, or invest time over a number of weeks to become certified in any number of interests with Alison Courses.
Remember that your personal development is not limited by the time you have available but by your willingness to engage. As a mum, you've likely encountered countless situations where creativity has helped you overcome obstacles. It's time to use those skills to bring value to yourself!
More help on the journey to personal development!
For a more structured approach to self development, I strongly recommend subscribing to Erica Douglas' free 12 step program for life improvement. This course is delivered by email over the course of eight weeks and help you "discover how to create your plan, gain the skills you need and conquer the fears that hold you back". Erica is a mum herself and really knows what she's talking about!
What are your thoughts on personal development as a mum?
Has a choice to engage in self-development provided you and your family with an increased sense of contentment? Perhaps you'd like to make small changes in your life in order to make you feel fulfilled?
I value your opinions and comments, so please feel free to leave your responses by using the form below.
Image credit: Per Ola Wiberg, via Flickr