Being well rounded. We all know that it’s important. Having multiple interests beyond our families helps us build a network, grow our businesses and be interesting to others. But, being a busy mom makes it hard for some of us to be well rounded as well.
I realized recently that I’ve abandoned many of the things that I enjoyed doing before having kids. In my pre-kiddo days, I used to participate in a culinary club, travel on the weekends, read for book club, attend yoga classes and sip gallons of coffee on Saturday afternoons. (I think it’s the coffee thing that I miss the most.)
These multiple hobbies naturally made me an interesting person. I could go to business conferences and have conversations about lots of different topics. Building my network came easily.
But if you’re anything like me, even though you tried to keep up these interests up after becoming a mom, they’ve slowly disappeared over time. Your ability to continue developing skills and experiences in them has dwindled. There just never seems to be enough time in the day. Ever.
As much as we love our kids, being a well rounded mom is really important. Not only does it help us grow our businesses, but it also gives us some sanity.
And that sanity is key to our success in motherhood. It gives us the clarity to make good decisions and the energy to be a better mom.
Being well rounded also provides us with more to talk about beyond just our kids. Not that being a mom isn’t interesting in itself. It’s just that not everyone wants to listen to stories about your kids all the time.
You want to be able to add more to the conversation. Remember, helpers are the ones who succeed.
But how do you become more well rounded when one’s so busy all of the time taking care of everyone else’s needs? Here are some ideas to becoming a more well rounded mom when you’re busy. And don’t worry, they’re not that time consuming.
Read the newspaper
The fastest way to have an idea of what’s going on in the world is by reading the newspaper. Not scrolling a news feed, but an actual paper newspaper.
I gave up newspaper reading when I had kids. It was a lot faster to sit with my phone and quickly scroll the headlines to know what was going on in the world. And the kids were always crushing the paper and getting newsprint on themselves.
The thing about headline scrolling, though, is that they miss the human piece of the story. Actually, in many instances, they just plain miss stories.
A newspaper has no sensor. It’s filled with wonderful stories written by real journalists that cover an assortment of topics. Find the section that interests you and read that.
I usually stick with the New York Times Sunday edition. The Arts section is my favorite. I can catch up on the latest trends, exhibitions, Broadway shows and movies. It gives me plenty to discuss with others beyond parenting woes. And I can read the stories or at least peruse them in a very short amount of time.
If you don’t want to pick up a newspaper, at least get an online subscription. These tend to be cheaper and you can take it on the road. Spend some time in school pick up lines or sports practices catching up on the world’s news. You immediately will become more well rounded.
Rent the latest films
As a film major in college, I miss this part of my life a lot. I found watching classics and new films a hobby of mine until little people prevented me from going to the theater in peace (and without a hefty babysitting bill on the other side). I thought I would just rent them, but I don’t seem to have time for that either.
Luckily, the moms I talk to don’t have time to watch movies either. The problem is once I leave the mom circle. Everyone else in the world seems to have their movie literature up to speed. And I don’t even know what’s up for an Oscar or even just debuted beyond the latest Frozen flick.
Knowing the latest films is a great way to feel more in touch with the world beyond mommyhood. It makes you look like you have time to spend on something other than taking care of the kids (whether this is true or not).
When it comes to films, I peruse the Red Box kiosk on my way out of the supermarket to figure out what’s new. You can also check out a recent title from your local library. It’s amazing all of the films they carry these days and it’s worth a little wait since checking it out for a week is free.
If you like movies enough, keep a film journal to remember your favorite parts. You can review these things before jumping into networking conversations. Yes, this recommendation comes from years of film watching in college. Don’t worry – that was only one of my majors.
Take up an old hobby
Do you have a hobby that you loved to do before having kids that you’ve had to put aside? This might be the perfect time to start it again.
My recent one has been scrapbooking and photography. I am on a quest to get our family archives in order since the last few years have been a whirlwind.
You might have an even more interesting hobby such as cycling, horseback riding or extreme forms of yoga. Whatever your interests are remember that they help make you who you are. By cultivating them you can spend some quiet time and it gives you interesting tidbits of conversation outside of parenting.
Sign up for a local class
If you don’t have anything that you’re really interested in going back to do, then consider finding a local class to take. Learning a new skill is a great way to become more well rounded and meet others. You could even pick something completely out of the ordinary – such as goat yoga.
If you don’t have time to take a local class – getting out of the house can be hard with littles – try an online class. My Bluprint is a wonderful online library of interesting classes to take in your “spare” time. From drawing to knitting to cooking, you can learn new skills and develop a talent without leaving home. They’ll also give you another conversation topic in your pocket.
Catch up on the latest business books
Just like we should be reading the newest parenting books as moms, we should be reading the latest business books as entrepreneurs. Boosting your business skills through reading can make you better at running your business and making conversation.
According to Michael Ellsburg, sales, marketing, business and money are four of the most desirable areas to gain skills. These are the knowledge areas where you can become a resource for others and help them also be successful – aka networking. But you probably already knew this because you want to learn those skills yourself.
If you spend time reading some of the best business books out there, you will learn these skills faster. You can also watch podcasts, TED talks and take online courses. The more time you spend learning, the more you will have to share with others. You’ll no longer be the one trying to find the next person to talk to at a networking event, people will be trying to find you instead.
Make it your goal to read a certain book or watch a video by your favorite business guru each week. (Naptimes are perfect for this.) If you’re looking for book ideas, be sure to check out our monthly reflections. There I share some of the books that I’ve been reading lately.
Keep your ideas and thoughts together in your business journal. If you’re already running a business, you can also apply these ideas to your current business project. Start to see what works and doesn’t. This will give you plenty to share at your next event and make you awfully interesting.
This is not only good for our health, but also can make us more interesting. Most of society seems to spend their time in one of three places each day – their office, their car or their house. Rarely do I meet people who take the time to go outside.
If you’re a person that enjoys the outdoors, start spending more time there. Look around you and make note of trees, birds, wildlife and trail names. Go on outdoor adventures with your family with a bit more purpose. You could even try camping.
These outdoor experiences are things many of us only dream of having. By getting outside and enjoying nature, you’ll gather stories to share that will make you seem well rounded and possibly even exotic. Get to know your local trails, but also travel to some further away outdoor adventures.
Try outdoor sports such as zip lining through a rain forest or crossing a mountain glacier. Bring all of these outdoor adventures to your next networking meeting. People will be clamoring to discover where you’ve been and how you did it. You’ll be surprised.
Learn something new every day
In addition to reading business books, you should also make it a goal to learn something new every day. Whatever you choose to learn – it can be a funny fact from one of your children’s books – try and remember it.
Some of the crazy things that I’ve learned from reading with my kids have come particularly handy at networking events. Doesn’t everyone want to know the fastest swimming shark in the world or how long it would take us to fly to Neptune?
If you’re on the more serious side, try to pick up something new daily and write it down. I know I keep saying to write the things that you’re finding down. That’s because our brains are not as smart as we think. We forget a lot of stuff.
The key to being well rounded is having a great memory so you can recall the information when you need it. By writing interesting things you learn down, it will help you remember them later on when you’re ready to share.
Stay off social media
Contrary to popular belief, our time spent scrolling social media does not make us more well rounded. Nosy maybe and aware of all of the wonderful things happening in our friends lives, but not exactly more well rounded.
That being said, I have used the information gleaned from social media in networking and party conversations. I am not sure that it helped grow my network, but the people I was meeting sure found me interesting.
The reason I’m suggesting to stay off of social media is because it is such as time waster. By spending time on social media, you’re taking away time from developing some of the skills and hobbies that will make you a more well rounded mom.
If you do find that you can discover interesting stories on social media, set a time limit for scrolling. Maybe find fifteen minutes a day you can run through your feed and see what others are up to. Just make sure you get something of interest out of it.
Write your stories down
If you have heartfelt memories of the time before kids (many of us do) and all of your adventures, start writing them down. These memories are important for talking about your experiences and who you are.
I might have been a Cherry Blossom Princess over fifteen years ago now, but it feels like yesterday. I love talking about my experiences during that unforgettable week.
Take some time to write down your stories – funny things, scary things, the things that you’ve done. This will help you reference these adventures and remind you about how well rounded you are. Just because they happened a decade ago doesn’t mean that they didn’t make you interesting. These are great events to reference at your networking events.
Part of being a well rounded mom is having an interest in the things around you. One way of doing this is developing insider knowledge of your local community. Take the time to get to know other small businesses around you. Check out local dining options, best small shops and your area’s community events.
By knowing your community well, you can make recommendations to others and suggest a visit. It’s amazing how many people don’t know their local treasures.
When we recently moved, the first thing I did was get to know the local restaurants, coffee houses and children’s spots. It helped when speaking with other local moms who’ve lived here their entire lives. Most of them had never been to the places I was describing and we’re excited to check them out. My visits gave me a great conversation starter.
If you can help someone navigate during a visit, find the best type of food or a place to rest with a cup of coffee, you’re on your way to connecting and building your network naturally.
Take some time each week to go local and visit the places around you. This will also help you build relationships with the local small businesses in your area – another great way to network.
Become interested in your kids pursuits
If time is your issue and you can’t seem to squeeze minutes from the day to work on becoming more well rounded, maybe finding your own interests won’t help you. As much as I want to encourage moms to be their own person, it isn’t possible for everyone.
If you’re having trouble finding time to develop your own hobbies and knowledge base, remember it will come. In the meantime, maybe start learning more about the things that your kids are interested in.
My little loves tennis. I have been beefing up my knowledge about the sport through reading her sports biographies and even started playing again so I can keep up with her on the courts. Tennis isn’t my most favorite game in the world, but it has given us more of a connection.
When time is an issue, learn more about the interests of your kids. They might not give you your own identity, but they will provide you with something to talk about. Most kids have pretty unique interests these days.
As wonderful and fulfilling as motherhood is, we tend to lose a bit of ourselves in it. The problem when it comes to networking and building our community is that others need more than just stories about our kids to listen to.
I have found most people are more interested in talking about advice, ideas and current events, not just my kids. These things make us more well rounded and able to connect with others more easily.
Even as a busy mom, we need to find ways to explore the world around us. Take a class, develop a hobby or just read a book. Make notes of your learning and start sharing it with others.
If you become a good source of information, you’ll be surprised how much others try to seek you out and your network will start growing. You’ll also find more happiness in the world around you.