Last week I held a focus group for the child-friendly professional development pilot program I'm working on. It's designed for primary caregivers of pre-school age children who want to gather with their kiddos, get inspired by business experts and share their progress, while grabbing a hot coffee, a bite to eat and connecting with others who are in a similar stage of their lives - in real life!
I've been bringing both my toddler and my newborn to traditionally professional and adult-only events since they were weeks old, as I was living overseas when my first son was born and had been remote working for a few years. Networking with strangers and dining solo to break the sense of isolation you often feel while freelancing and working from home became a new normal for me. I wasn't about to let my laptop lifestyle restrict me from seeking out humans in person!
When I became a parent, I felt it was essential for me to leave the house every day, get a dose of fresh air and try to have a conversation with a person other than my baby. Call it maternal mental health, postpartum priorities or recognizing how my extroverted self ticks but I felt strongly that just because I now had a tiny person to bring along with me on life's adventures, it didn't mean I had to completely alter who I was. And still am. Parenthood changes you, adjusts your priorities and amplifies the parts of your life which may no longer be serving you. It became easier for me to strip away the unnecessary in order to make room for the essential.
When you live abroad and away from family and friends, or when your family and friends are in different life stages, it can be hard to adjust to these new changes without the traditional 'village' of previous generations. It's on you to recreate those ties and connections wherever you are and on terms which work for yourself and your family. But I believe if you lack personal resources, it shouldn't prevent you from accessing professional ones and parenthood and career development don't have to be mutually exclusive. (Continued in comments)