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The hardest part about not outsourcing your childcare is that you feel cut off somehow from the outside world beyond blocks and play dough. To be accurate though, Out There, supposedly where the “real” work is getting done, is pretty much a farce anyway. Most people don’t get up in the morning, stoked to go to work. Even entrepreneurs, the golden children of the workforce, are overworked, and oftentimes underpaid…for years. Everyone has to stay in character, and it’s certainly not as exciting as your memory reminds you.
Taking care of your own kids is no less of a performance. Consistently maintaining a stable, conflict-free environment, responding thoughtfully to incessant questioning, and preventing meltdowns, all take an emotional toll. There are such extreme highs and lows, it can be difficult to rise above the circumstances and not get drawn into your children’s pettiness.
Here are a few strategies for maintaining a dynamic sense of self, while transforming the pre-school days into the best, most productive years of your life.
- Respect what you do. Good parenting is obviously important to you or you wouldn’t have made the choice to take it on. Pretend your kids are very important clients that you can’t afford to lose. At any rate, cultivating patience and assertiveness will enable you to handle difficult situations well.
- You’re not going to be a stay-at-home parent forever, so don’t neglect your personality. Cultivate that persona somewhat separately from your family and children. Although it’s easy and perfectly understandable to fall back on conversations about childcare, besides your family members and fellow parents, no one actually cares and wants to hear it. It also falsely represents you as one dimensional, which of course, you’re not. It’s difficult at first, but you have to push yourself to talk about what you’re working on, or what you’re interested in beyond your children and family.
- If you look like a bum, every single day, it will take a toll on your self confidence over time. It could cause you to morph into a hater of all things requiring a bit of maintenance and sex appeal…don’t let this happen to you. Look good for yourself, at least on Thursday and Friday.
- Get your kids in the habit of taking a nap everyday, even on the weekends. Those two hours of uninterrupted time are gold mines. Drop everything when they sleep, and focus on your self: work on your business, write, network online, but make those hours productive.
- Network outside mom/dad groups via LinkedIn to see how the business world is evolving, and what skills are important in the current job market…its startling to see how fast technology is developing, making it crucial to stay abreast of these changes.
- Maintain a Twitter account, and use it to market your brand, and connect with others who share your interests. Follow great science, tech, and business feeds like @WIRED, @Inc, @nature, to name a few, to get a feel for what’s important.