“Hobbies? I’m a MOM… my hobbies include going to the bathroom alone and scraping crayons off the walls.” You’ve probably heard some version of this joke and laughed wryly.
New mothers often put aside hobbies and activities that bring them joy to focus solely on the needs of their children. This is absolutely normal (it’s called maternal preoccupation). But today’s culture can lead us to believe it’s the only way and we should be at the bottom of the household totem pole. I did this for five years until I finally realized that a calling to motherhood doesn’t equate a calling to be a martyr.
Can’t pour from an empty cup
Mom guilt can fool us into believing that anything meant for our pleasure is selfish. Many mothers can’t escape the nagging feeling that if we are doing something for ourselves then it’s taking away from our children and family in some capacity.
What often happens is that we become exhausted shells of our former selves.
Prior to motherhood, I was a vibrant woman with varied interests and exuberant zest for life. After each of my pregnancies, I experienced increasing postpartum depression. It took me a few years to understand that the problem wasn’t that I was doing too much; the problem was that I wasn’t doing enough of what gave me life.
Since I’ve spent the last couple years prioritizing my interests, pursuing hobbies that I enjoy (just for the sake of enjoying them), and setting challenging goals, I’ve been a much happier mom and likely a more interesting person overall. I’ve learned that even my own children are more interested in me when I’m not making them the singular focus of my attention! #winwin 🙂
Think back to B.C. (Before Children)
The changes of motherhood experienced in motherhood can cause us to feel unbalanced and a little lost. When at one time you had the freedom to spend your time however you wished, you now find yourself balancing time with your kids, time with your partner, work, finances; your personal desires may get pushed to the bottom of the list or knocked out entirely.
Consider whether any of your previous hobbies and interests would still feel life-giving to you. Perhaps you no longer desire to do the same things but feel inspired to try something else. Before I had children I enjoyed endurance sports and competed in long races, including a couple half Ironman races; I no longer have an interest in spending so much time training but recently purchased a ukulele (it’s ok to laugh…). Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone if you feel inspired!
It’s not easy to make the shift from complete immersion in motherhood but it helps if you’re excited about what you’re doing. And believe me, it’s worth it!
You’ll be glad you did
- Positive Distraction
It’s easy to get caught up in the daily routine. This isn’t too inspiring and, frankly, a bit boring. When you’ve had a tough day or need to break the monotony, having a hobby to fall back on can lift your mood.
The difference between a hobby/activity and just binging on Netflix is that we rarely feel energized and more fulfilled after we zone out on the TV for a few hours.
- Tap into your creativity
I rarely feel more connected to my Creator than when I’m using the gifts, talents, creativity, and physical body that was given to me.
- Regain your identity
Being a mother is a wonderful gift! But when we’re only focused on caring for other people, we neglect to care for ourselves. Consider that “self-care” is always “soul care” and will only make you feel better, never worse (so that third glass of wine may not be the best idea). When we are mastering something new or returning to a lifelong hobby, we are taking control of our identity in a positive way.
Some ideas to try
If you’ve gone too long without considering what you really want to do (not ‘you the mom’ or ‘you the wife’ or ‘you the employee’… but YOU), it can be tough to settle on something. Here are a few ideas to get the wheels turning:
- Take up hand lettering. You can doodle on the iPad or practice with a simple pen and paper. Or take an online course!
- Music lessons! Guitar, piano, voice, violin… whatever makes you happy.
- Photography on a “real camera”
- Gardening… getting your hands dirty will literally ground you. If you don’t have space for a big bed of vegetables or roses then consider an indoor herb garden.
- Coach a little league team for a sport you love
- Make a list of books you want to read and READ THEM!
- Join a gym with childcare (home workouts are wonderful and offer flexibility but an hour sweat sesh sans kids can be extra invigorating)
- Sign up for a race (running, biking, swimming, or all three!) and start training for it. Recruit friends to join!
- Take an art class. Even if you don’t have local options, there are any online classes for painting, pottery, mixed media… whatever your heart desires!
- Master 1-2 new, challenging recipes each month. Keep a book handy of all the recipes you’ve mastered and maybe include photos of the process… a treasure for your family to keep!
If Mama ain’t happy…
Remember, when you feeling your best, you can BE your best. So if at first it’s hard for you to justify pursuing a “selfish” hobby, remember that you will be a better mom, partner, friend, etc when you’re pouring from a full cup.
Make a decision to dedicate time and energy to doing something life-giving for yourself (it doesn’t have to be away from your family if that isn’t possible in your house… many things can be done alongside your children). Ultimately, it’s better for everyone if you are living life to the fullest in each season of your life.
If you already have a hobby you enjoy, share it in a comment below! Or if you’re inspired to try something new, we’d love to hear about that also.