Raising kids and following your dreams

Having a kid will change everything. The older generation will always tell this to the younger ones. “So, you better do everything you’ve got to do before you have one” is a constant reminder that once you have a child, your time is no longer yours. Taking care of another human being completely dependent on you is a lot of work, but only when you have said offspring does it really sink in: caring for children is a full-time job.


According to research (pre-pandemic), it’s actually two-and-a-half jobs. It found that the average mom spends 98-hour work weeks on parent-related tasks. It didn’t improve during the pandemic, where surveys found that among employed parents who were working from home, mothers (more than fathers) said they had a lot of child-care responsibilities while working. 

With so much time allocated for parenting duties, it’s no wonder pursuing one’s dream—if you realized it post-baby or you’re still working towards it—can take a back seat. There doesn’t seem to be enough time. Sure, we’ve been told women can have it all, do it all (as parenting site Parents found, this is often told by celebrity moms and big-time business executives who can hire an army of helpers). However, the narrative of moms doing it all, as we’ve seen through the years, can set women up against some lofty expectations. And when you’re up to your elbows in diaper changes, making snacks in between Zoom meetings, playtime, and a hundred chores, it’s the last thing many moms need.

So what do you do when you’re still dreaming your dream and motherhood has completely taken over your life? We have a few suggestions. No pressure.  

1. Rally support for your dream.

We know it takes a village to raise a child, so why hold on to the belief that moms have to do it all? When we realize that “motherhood should never be done alone” and that it’s okay to ask for help, you get to make space for other things—like your dream. 

If you have a spouse or partner, it’s a good idea to also let him in on your plans, so he can help you carve time for it and do a fair share of the work with the kids and the house. In her Meet the Maker interview, Nike Nadal-Reyes of Nyuki & Co. admits she had to quit making her crochet jewelry pieces at one point as she was finding it difficult to balance motherhood and her growing business, and there was already friction at home. But she felt miserable after quitting and her husband noticed it too. “Before, it was a choice between kids and my business. Now, it’s not a choice anymore. We are more willing to compromise to make it work.”


2. Hang on to your dreams.

There’s this quote attributed to novelist George Eliot,, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” Maybe it took a little bit of time to go after what you want, but there’s nothing like having a child that makes you face mortality and realize this is it, this is the one life we have. 

Of course, with motherhood taking up most of our time, you can simply do it bit by bit. Listen to a podcast or watch videos of your favorite artists or entrepreneurs on how they did it. Take it from Nike who experienced having to give up her dream before. While she admits it can still get overwhelming, “what changed was my resolve, my stubbornness, because I experienced quitting and I know how it feels when it’s all gone.”

3. Have a plan.

If you’ve decided what you want to pursue—whether full time or as a side hustle—make a plan. Have Gantt-chart making skills from a past life in corporate? Make use of them now. Get some printable planners if that suits your style better. Even a rough timetable and what actual resources you will need will be helpful. 

Cat Limson of Bedazzled Accessories shares a step-by-step guide to start a profitable retail business. From finding a business idea you want to run with to deciding if you want to do it solo or with a partner, finding suppliers to product development, Cat brings her 15 years of experience to help anyone of us with dreams of having our own ventures. 

4. Have a routine.

When you’re a parent, routines are one of the things both your child and even yourself need. According to educators and child experts, routines and scheduled activities are important for children as it makes them feel more confident and secure when they are in familiar surroundings and predictable situations. It helps them to feel in control and safe. 

Routines are also beneficial for us grown ups. Aside from helping manage anxiety, stress and even insomnia, it also helps with creativity and productivity. In this Headspace piece, it presents that “the key benefit of routine for creative people is its regularity.” When you find a routine that works for you—when you do the chores, when you squeeze in time to work at a certain hour—it becomes a habit and it gets a bit easier to free your mind for other things that matter. 


5. Break the routine sometimes.

When you start to feel like you’re just on a loop (a familiar feeling particularly during the pandemic), Common Room’s Maan Agsalud shares in a previous interview about working from home, that you can always ask yourself, ‘how can I do things better today?’ While she appreciates having a routine each day, she finds that you can also “make tiny changes in your life, bit by bit on a day-to-day basis. It gives you the opportunity to try to do better.”

When it comes to pursuing your dreams, you can ask yourself each day, what can I do to get closer to my goal today? Maybe write a page or two of your future book before the kids wake up. Create adorable plushies with some yarn and knitting needles for your own brand of knitted goodies. 

6. Be present.

A favorite quote of mine about parenting that rings so true once you become a mom, “the days go slow, but the years go fast.” Your baby is the most wonderful human you’ll ever meet (yes, we’re biased), but if if you’re a new mom, stuck at home and caring for your child by yourself, you might find yourself wondering why the hours go so slow during the day when you have to feed him, change him, bathe him, play with him… and then nap time comes and he’s awake before you can even finish your work and take a proper bath. 

One of the things I wish I reminded myself more often during this time was to be present in the moment. When we’re present, we appreciate what’s right in front of us—from our baby’s every adorable expression and milestone to an hour of me time wherein you get to invest in yourself.  You’ll have fewer regrets this way, and hopefully, you’ll also have no regrets with the dreams you decide to pursue. 



Words by Mabel David-Pilar 
Mabel has been a writer and editor for many publications, including a teen fashion mag and a book on the most endangered Philippine trees. She spends most of her time writing, illustrating, stalking Common Room’s online shop, and making ferments. Together with her sisters, she co-created startersisters.com to celebrate fermenting in the Philippines.