When kids enter the picture, it’s easy to let go of things that you hold dear to accommodate the new changes in your life. But that could be a huge mistake. Updating your lifestyle is inevitable, but letting go of the things you love and make you happy is not. These are six things that you should keep doing, even after you have children.

1. Travel

One of the most common regrets I hear among parents of teenagers is “I wish I hadn’t stopped traveling.” Many of us relish the opportunity to country hop, see new places, and experience new cultures. And you don’t have to stop just because you’ve started a family. Albeit, the way you travel, where you travel, and what you do may be different – but this isn’t a reason to stop completely. The best vacation I’ve ever been on was to Banff and Jasper National Parks in Canada. We trekked, drove, and rafted – all with a three-year old and a three-month old!

2. Exercise

It’s easy to let go of yourself when you’re chasing after two (or more kids) and holding down a full-time job, but make sure you make time to exercise. Exercising is good for your body and for your mind. It gives so some much needed alone time several days a week and the endorphin rush makes you feel better. With so many things you have to do every day, do this one for yourself. Pick activities you enjoy – sign up for a barre class, or go for a forty-five minute run before or after work. Something that keeps you excited and motivated is key. You’ll be happy you kept it up when your kids are older. When you’re telling them about the importance of exercise, it’s easier to deliver the message when you are modeling the activity.

3. Adult’s Only Vacations

It’s great to travel with kids, but it’s important to take time out for yourself too. Go away (even if just for a day) on your own or with your significant other once a year. Everyone needs a mental break from the daily grind, and that includes the caregiver grind, so do yourself a favor and take a solo or couple’s vacation before you burn out.

4. Date Nights

It’s easy to fall into the trap of neglecting your relationship (or the attempt to find one) once there are children in the picture, but don’t. Your significant other needs to see you as their husband or wife, not just as a parent or career person. And if you aren’t coupled up, you can’t meet someone or start a meaningful relationship if every date involves a high chair. So, for your own sake and long-term happiness, keep working on your relationship and don’t cancel those date nights.

5. Hobbies and Personal Interests

Are you a musician? Photographer? Biking enthusiast? Kids or not, don’t let go of the things that make you happy and keep you interesting. It’s easy to let hobbies fall to the wayside once you become a parent, but it’s harder to restart a hobby than to find ways to keep it going – even through paternal leaves or busy times at work. An added bonus? When your kids are older, they may take an interest in your hobby as well and then it will morph from a solitary to a family activity.

6. Learning

You may be a parent now, but you still don’t know everything. We spend our lives learning new things. And best of all, you have a new teacher – your little one. It’s fascinating to discover the world through the eyes of a child and it’s not an experience you’ll want to miss.

Featured photo credit: Gulliver’s Travels / Mini-DV via flickr.com

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