I was a middle school teacher for over a decade before becoming a stay-at-home mom. As a teacher, you attend professional development–to stay up to date on best practices, but as a mom, there isn’t a formal scheduled list of learning and much of what is out there seems to be conflicting or demeaning. Ideally, we’d learn from the women in our lives who have gone on this journey before us, but that’s not always our reality. I love to learn and I think without realizing it, I had created my own “mom personal development plan” toolbox. And I think it has to be an individualized thing–all of our lives look so different even if we’re on a similar motherhood journey.
I don’t even think social media existed when I started teaching. I mean, we had the internet and we definitely had clever AOL away messages, but there was no learning and teaching on social media like there is today. In the beginning, I had great books on adolescent development, classroom management, and pedagogy. And I’ve had some really great mentor teachers throughout my career. I’d sign up for professional development during the summer if I felt that it would benefit me and my students. As technology advanced, I found myself following teachers on Instagram who had some great ideas and who shared their struggles and successes in the classroom.
When I stopped teaching middle school and became a stay-at-home mom to a little baby, I was back at the beginning of something new again. I was learning a whole new skill set, all while learning and taking care of a whole new person. While pregnant and in those early months, I read lots of books and listened to a variety of podcasts on pregnancy and parenting, baby sleep, and early childhood development. I don’t think I realized it then, but I slowly started to create my own mom personal development plan on how I wanted to be as a mom. A little toolbox of resources. And just as I had as a teacher, I kept what I found value in and what worked for me and ditched what didn’t. And I started following accounts on social media that I found helpful for where I’m at in my life right now with three little kids at home and where I’ll be in the future when we’ll have three teenagers at home!
Friends who already had kids have been a great resource but almost half of my life of being a mom has been during a pandemic and that’s stopped a lot of the more natural conversations and relationship building with mom friends. Groups like MOPS and baby and toddler storytimes stopped for much of that time, so those natural connections became harder to create. So it’s easy to text a few friends for advice, but I also utilize books, blogs, podcasts, and social media to answer mom questions.
Some of my mom personal development plan for my stay-at-home-mom life came out of necessity, like baby sleep and potty training. Local public libraries are great for book resources and they often have the audiobook as well. I’ve read and re-read Oh! Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki and I also checked out sleep training books just to never open them before returning them because I was too tired to actually read them. There have been a few books that I liked so much that I ended up purchasing so I’d have them at home:
The Whole Brain Child
How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen
The Montessori Toddler
The Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook
But other areas of my mom personal development plan have come out figuring out what kind of home environment or feeling I want to create for our family, food accounts, toddler activities, and postpartum health. So, I’ve turned to podcasts and social media for much of this. There are so many resources out there from meal planning to budgeting to kids’ schedules, it is easy to find a handful of accounts as resources. Here are a few Instagram and TikTok accounts I’ve personally found helpful while having three kids four and under:
What’s amazing about social media is that there is so much good information out there. And what’s terrible about social media is that there is so much terrible information out there. It’s definitely easy and okay to unfollow accounts that do not serve me–I get to curate my social media feed. When you find an account that helps you or gives you inspiration, it’s like gold! I’m always amazed at how we have so much information at our fingertips!
While I love learning and I love hearing the research behind certain parenting philosophies and developmental stages, it is important to study my kids first and allow them to guide me. As my kids grow and change, my needs for learning best practices for my current mom life will change, but my kids will always be my kids, and learning who they are will continue to be the best adventure.