Article by Anna Letitia Cook
Do you have that empty feeling? Does it seem that there isn’t any real purpose behind what you do? I still have that and my children are now 25 and 26 years old.
I would never class myself as the maternal type, I definitely don’t do the goo-goo gaa-gaa bit with babies, and to this day if you get someone who starts talking about starting a family, nappies, how cutie-pie did their first whatever, you will either see me glazing over to zombiehood or, much more likely, beating Usain Bolt in the race to get out the door…
Having said that, my children are the most fabulous children that ever walked this earth and I would do anything, anytime, anywhere for them, and to help them. I love them to the moon and back… and more! I was a single mum and living in a different country so we were always incredibly close and did a lot of things together. (By the way, their father was great, and top marks to him as an ex). Sorry, I digress as usual ;-). What I am trying to say is, against all expectation, my world just caved in when I didn’t have the kids to do things for, and be with, on a daily basis…
So what can you do to get over that empty feeling? Several options:
- Think of what you used to do with the kids and adapt… Did you take them skating when they were little? Do it again with your girlfriends (or husband even – who knows, he might turn out to be Prince Charming on ice!) What about swimming, tennis, dancing? Get some of the old mums group together and go with them – you do the activity instead of the kids! Not only will you feel better for being active, it will bring back some great memories and you will be doing your friends a favour as they are bound to be feeling as lost as you.
- Were your kids on school teams or involved in activities? Keep going to support them, offer your services to help out. Whether it is driving people to matches, participating in organising events, doing the admin side, making the teas and sandwiches, whatever it is you can be sure you will be invaluable. You already know how it is done because you were there regularly with your children. The teachers will think you are a godsend; the new mums will jump on you with open arms as you can explain everything to them, even the kids will love you because you won’t make silly ‘parent’ comments.
- Remember all those years ago before you had kids, what were your hobbies and interests? What did you push to one side because you didn’t have time? Start doing it again… Maybe it was sport, painting, theatre, travelling, lunch with friends at the latest trendy bistro, dancing the night away in a sultry salsa bar. Don’t be a wimp – it is still great fun, get back into your own head instead of your ‘mum’ head.
- On the professional level – if you didn’t work while the kids were at home think about getting a job. Doesn’t matter what type as long as you feel ok about doing it. It will get you out and about, you will meet new people and it will improve your self-confidence and positivity levels. Skills need an update? Go to the local adult education centre and sign up. Or, do a job that doesn’t need specific skills. One of my best friends set up a cleaning business. She loves it! In the couple of years since she started she has built an excellent reputation, charges top whack, has a permanent waiting list of new clients and all without even having to advertise.
- Another alternative – go to college, do a degree, do a full training course to create a new career. There is a lot of support for ‘mature’ applications. I have two other friends going down this route. One is studying law, the other psychology…
- Boost your existing career – take on a more dynamic role at work. You have the experience and the ability, you can promote yourself to your boss explaining all the advantages of your skillset and the timing being perfect for you to take on more responsibility and step into that bigger and better position.
So there you are, several options to fill your day and improve your outlook both personally and professionally. “I’m too old for that” is NOT an acceptable excuse. Square your shoulders, big smile and continue to show your kids a good example by getting out there and doing it!
“Anna Cook is particularly passionate about mentoring women executives, and the 50+ sector, in finding clarity in their career choices to achieve freedom, fulfilment and leadership success. She created and became CEO of her first company in the entertainment industry at age 32. Midlife approaching, hungry for a dynamic change, she refocused her experience, founding WomenUP Ltd, focusing on the challenges of corporate gender balance strategy”. Creator of the process SCOPE for career fulfilment. She is currently working on her first book ‘Liberate Your Career: The Women’s Guide to Freedom and Fulfilment’, with plans for a second, ‘Glass Ceiling Grans’, early next year.
On the personal front, she is a committed dog lover and accomplished horsewoman, passionately interested in ballet, and a devotee of adventurous hiking and trekking.