Hobbies Outside Parenthood

Monday, November 21, 2016

In college, I was "unofficially engaged" to a good guy, but something was always "off" between us.  Once, we had one of those conversations that for me spelled out, "RED FLAG!" I was telling him, "When I am a mom, I still want to learn things.  Maybe take a Spanish class, or learn about photography, or even how to paint!"  To this I was met with a pained face and no response.  I asked what was wrong and he replied, "Well . . . isn't that selfish?"

Uh, yeah.

You know what?  Parents--whether they stay at home, work full time, or part time--need breaks from their kids.  They need their own identities, passions, and hobbies that fill them up so they are able to more fully give to their children.  I think the trap we as parents--mothers, especially--fall into is that in order to be a good parent, we are 100% devoted to our kids 100% of the time. In my experience though, giving your kids your everything all around the clock leads to exhaustion, lack of fulfillment, and an increase to resentment.

If you're feeling any of those latter emotions, get yourself a hobby!

My mother is incredibly devoted to her seven children, and I saw her be a great example of this.  Yes, she was to almost every game, practice, performance, and helped with countless homework assignments.  Yes, her life revolved around her children and she sacrificed a great deal (as did my dad, obviously!).  But she was also a runner, a swimmer, a hiker, a seamstress, a decorator, party-thrower, reader, and an amazing friend.  My mom loves people; she needed running buddies and book club ladies.  She regularly filled up her well so that she could better give to us children.

Back when we only had one chid--I can't even remember what this was like! 
I think that motherhood was a difficult transition for me because of my perfectionist nature.  I still had that old boyfriend's voice in my head a lot, thinking that in order to be a good mother, my children had to have 100% of me, 100% of the time.  I have always had my go-to outlets, but they have mostly involved my children still being with me.

However, the past year I have learned that an hour or two away from my kids here and there really fills up that well I need in order to be a loving, fully-present mother.  I can't really afford a babysitter often, but I would encourage you parents out there to find your own hobbies--ones that your kids can be present for AND ones that involve some time away.   You can trade off with a spouse or a friend, if you're babysitter-averse.  But just know, a little babysitting goes a long way!

Here are my go-to hobbies:

1) Exercise: I'm usually working out before my kids get up or with them, because I'm too cheap to pay for the gym daycare.  I relish outdoor time, so I used to run pushing my kids in the stroller; however, a more gentle walk is just as restorative.   I am also a big fan of barre3 online workouts!  I pay for a monthly subscription and I can do them at home during nap time/quiet time on days when I can't get up to the gym early or go on a walk with the kids.  (That is not sponsored, but if you use this link we'll both get $10 off!)

2) Read/Listen: I was an English major and an English teacher after all, so of course reading was high, high, high on my list for hobbies.  Can I be honest, though?  I used to read around the clock, but since I had my second kid and ESPECIALLY after my third, my reading habit fell the near-bottom of the to-do list.  I have found as a stay-at-home mom that I can "read" best by listening to audiobooks.  If I try to actually read, I usually fall asleep . . .  I also LOVE podcasts though, so I almost always listen to something while exercising or doing my household chores, including making dinner.  That's why I started one...

3) Write: This blog is all over the place, I am well aware.  But you are looking at a huge outlet for me.
4) Passion-Hobbies: This past year, I have allowed myself to explore all these long-suprresed passions I've had.  Writing, interior design, and podcasting.  I am telling you, I barely have a minute to spare thanks to these new aspirations of mine.  There is a lot of work and doubt thrown into those pursuits each day; but ultimately, I am feeling more like ME because I'm allowing myself to build those passion-hobbies up.  If you need a little boost in this regard, may I recommend listening to my last two podcasts?  (Here and here.)  Those two ladies are women who dream.  Let yourself do it, too!  I'm talking to you too, dads!!

5) Get out of the house: whether this is going on a date with my husband (you can exchange with a friend, if you can't afford a babysitter!), having a girls' night, or even sneaking away at night to roam target by myself, I NEED time away from the house.  Lately, I've enjoyed window shopping at antique stores or HomeGoods, and pretending that I'm buying furniture for a client.  I can even do that one on Saturday afternoons while 2/3 kids sleep.  So zero mom-guilt involved!

Listen, your hobbies don't need to mean you're dishing out money, paying a babysitter, or forcing your children to constantly entertain themselves.  (But they also can involve any or all of those aspects!)  Just find some hobbies.  I know you'll be a better parent for it!

Some other moms are sharing their favorite hobbies today, so please check them out below!  And if you'd like to participate in a Mommy Monday series, sign up at Kiana or Madeline's blogs.

Kiana at Glitter & Donuts // Madeline at CaseyLand // Sue at Sue's News
Chelsea at Tessa Marie


  1. SO true! Always enjoy your posts!

  2. I'm struggling with this so bad right now! I need something for me, but feel so bad leaving B since I already leave her part time to work. Trying to find time for just hubby and me is so hard too because she is at a tricky stage around bedtime. I love to sew and am trying to learn a few new things, but have zero space to do it unless it''s on the kitchen table which stresses me out. I just have to figure out how to let go and do something I love. Ahhhhh! You are awesome for trying new things! So impressed by your dedication.

  3. Yes! Not selfish at all to have hobbies for yourself. More often than not it makes you better at the whole mothering/wife gig because you are more fulfilled! I'm loving your podcast, I'm so glad you started one! Funny story, I used to do a podcast too, a few years ago with my friend. We talked about dating! Ha ha, it was so fun, even though I don't think we had too many listeners. We did one about the Singles Ward which was pretty epic. Anywayyyyy You are awesome.

  4. Yeah your ex sounds like a douche �� I can't imagine not following up with things I love doing. I completely agree on needing time away from the kids. I have 3 and at least twice a week I feel suffocated which tells me I need to go for a run or a trip to the store alone. This was a great read. Love popping into your blog!

  5. I love this. I felt selfish at first when I would scrapbook or read during a nap instead of cleaning. But I realized, I can't have it all together all the time. I need my me time!

  6. I love these! I think that you (a collective you) definitely need to be "selfish" in order to be a good mom. That's what I think, at least :) Plus, it's not selfishness --- it's self-care :)

  7. I think it is SO AWESOME that you have your own podcast! I'm excited to listen!
    And I'm with you, 100%! I do think that for some moms, mothering is their hobby and that's what they love to do, but I'm more like you. I need an hour or two every now and then to re-fill my well. Then I can come back to my home and family knowing that I'm taking care of myself, too!



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