When you become a parent, your priorities shift. You have a little human being to take care of now. They have so many needs and demands and are completely dependent on you for a long time. Those dreams, goals, and bucket lists you once planned out and wished for often get pushed to the side or changed completely. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I do think there’s something to be said for making things work, regardless of the situation. When we chase our dreams and use our kids as our “reason why” instead of our excuse, we’re teaching them a whole list of invaluable lessons.
1. Hard work pays off.
Maybe you dream of starting your own business, getting a higher education, running a half-marathon, being an influencer, learning a new language, or mastering your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. Whether your dream is big or small, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you work to achieve that goal and power through when the going gets tough. This shows your kids that working hard, even when you didn’t want to, even when it was easier to quit, matters. It matters so much! Not just to make that one dream a reality, but to make every dream a reality and to successfully make it through life.
2. You can do whatever you set your mind to.
This one might seem a little lofty or unrealistic, but I think it’s one of the most important things for kids to learn. Rachel Hollis mentions in her book, Girl Wash Your Face, that the reason she was able to succeed when others didn’t was because she didn’t take “no” for an answer. She changed her direction to get to her goal and kept pushing forward, instead of letting that “no” determine her success and cause her to call it quits. She believed in her dreams, and it mattered to her to make those dreams come true. Our kids need to know their dreams matter, too. They need to know they’re allowed and encouraged to dream big. The best way for them to learn that is to see you believing in your own dreams and goals.
3. Failing means learning.
Spoiler Alert: The road to achieving your goals is not paved in gold. It’s bumpy. There are dips and curves and barriers. However, that doesn’t mean you should avoid that road altogether. There will be times you will not succeed, but instead of letting yourself feel like a failure, you take those bumps and roadblocks and turn them into learning opportunities. When you “fail”, but keep going, you don’t really fail! You’re also teaching your kids what it means to persevere and learn from mistakes. You’re teaching them how to improvise and problem-solve.
4. Celebrate everything.
Let’s touch back to that road you take to achieve your goals. While some stretches may be rough, there are also beautiful views to enjoy along the way. You might have to look harder for some than others, but they’re still there. Small victories, big victories…they’re all victories! So you made some mistakes, but did you learn from them and find a new way to move forward? Celebrate it! Look for the good that’s mixed in with the bad and choose to put more focus on the good. Appreciate all the times your hard work paid off and made a positive difference (despite setbacks) in working towards that dream. This will teach your kids to be grateful for the small stuff. To focus first on happiness. To not take things for granted. To live a life full of joy and celebration, regardless of things that might go wrong.
It’s okay to be a parent pursuing your dreams. Sometimes it feels selfish (enter “mom guilt”). Sometimes it’s draining, especially when you have a million and one other responsibilities. Not everyone will always agree with you. But it’s all worth it. Trust me. When your kids see you pursuing your dreams, crushing your goals, and crossing things off your bucket list, they’re simultaneously (whether they realize it or not) being inspired to do the same with their life. They’ll learn the value of hard work. They’ll learn that it’s awesome to dream BIG. They’ll learn and grow from failures instead of using mistakes as a reason to give up. They’ll learn to choose joy. Remember: while you chase your dreams now, you teach your kids priceless lessons for their future.