Mention the word “hobbies” around a mom, and you’re sure to get a laugh. Hobbies? Who has time for hobbies? In the fast-paced, and dare I say tumultuous, world in which we find ourselves, with increasing pressure on parents (mothers specifically) to be everything to everyone, who on earth has time for a hobby?!
One quick Google search on “self-care” will yield millions of results about bubble baths, time with friends, 10-step daily skincare regimens. But what if we looked at hobbies as a form of self-care? A way to express creativity, to do something for ourselves, to have fun, and to play.
Over the past three years of motherhood, hobbies have become my biggest avenue to take care of myself and find fulfillment outside of my family.
While societal pressure for parents seems to increase with each passing year — Be fun but firm! Set limits but allow freedom! — the pressure is that much more intense for mothers, who tend to shoulder most, if not all, the emotional labor of a household and children. We’re burning out at record rates. Bubble baths and skin care don’t seem to be making that much of a difference. But having a hobby can.
For me, outside of exercise, I love to read and sew. Reading can give you the same sense of escape that a movie can or scrolling social media. You can learn, be entertained, feel something. Reading can be productive and a way to bring people together.
On the other hand, I love to sew because it taps into that creative part of my brain I don’t get to use often these days. I get to dream up clothing I want to wear, spend the time to find the perfect fabric and pattern, spend the time sewing (which actually requires me to be present in what I’m doing so I don’t make mistakes!), and then finally, wear the garment. It’s something I’ll likely never do for pay so it is purely for me, to make clothes that feel good and look good.
But if neither reading nor sewing sound like something you’d be interested in, that’s okay! If you’re scratching your head at something you could classify as a hobby, here are a few things to consider:
How to Find a Hobby
The first place I would start is to look at what you enjoyed in your childhood, or what sorts of activities you look forward to doing most with your kids. Maybe you loved to color or paint (get an adult coloring book!), or maybe you loved being outside in the dirt (start a garden!), or maybe you loved to help your parent cook (cook!). A quick reflection on childhood can yield a lot of ideas.
If you need direction or inspiration, there are a lot of places to look. Pinterest, of course, is a wonderful visual search engine of all things creative. There are sites like Skillshare where you can find a course on pretty much anything under the sun, or sites like Meetup where you can find people with similar interests in your area.
Maybe you have an idea of something you’d like to do but now you’re wondering where on earth you’ll find the time. Personally, I am a huge advocate of getting off your phone. If you look at your daily screen time log in your phone, you can see when and how much time you’re logging looking at other peoples’ lives. Just putting your phone away for an hour after your kids go to bed (or whenever they’re not around or likely to bother you) can create more time than you’d imagine. You don’t need to dedicate five hours every weekend (although wouldn’t that be nice!) to make progress on creative projects. Even just 20 minutes of scrapbooking or knitting on a consistent basis can be therapeutic and productive.
Once you find that thing you love, don’t put it on the back burner. You deserve time for yourself, and hobbies can be the ultimate form of self care. You never know when it may turn into a career — or just inspire the heck out of your family members (who will, of course, dutifully leave you to your creative endeavors). And even if neither of those things come to fruition, you can rest knowing you did something for yourself — burnout avoided, one glue stick or knitting needle at a time.