You know the moms – the ones who knit gorgeous scarves for entire villages while they simultaneously cheer at all of the appropriate times during their kids’ soccer games, decorate birthday cakes that rival those on Cake Boss, or decoupage their way into the Guggenheim. These are the moms who have hobbies that make them look like superstar moms and women. Their talents and efforts go far beyond ironing the Sunday clothes, making the best PB & J in the house, or chaperoning the field trips every month. But do these superstar hobbies make for better moms – better than those of us who get tired thinking about taking on “hobbies”? Or do we as parents just need a broadened view of hobby?
The Pressure for Moms to Have Legitimate Hobbies
I was recently filling out a questionnaire with my children that required us to describe each family member (personalities, hobbies, etc.). This group discussion was quite enthusiastic and loud, that is, until it came time for the row by my name. My kids sat silently. Pondering – just what does Mom actually like to do for a hobby?
“You like to write, but that’s your job…”
“I think maybe I’ve seen you…”
All of these sentences trailed off as they began to realize they didn’t think those things sitting on the edges of their tongues qualified as hobbies. One child did finally offer up gardening, which I readily agreed is turning into a hobby I thoroughly enjoy. And then another child summed it up – your family.
Before you think to yourself – family is not a legitimate hobby – think about these definitions of hobby.
- “a diversion that occupies one’s time and thoughts”
- “an auxiliary activity”
Or perhaps we should take a look at these synonyms for hobby.
- Labor of love
I read these definitions and I get visions of me playing kickball in the backyard, cheering at a football game, going to a concert at the library, and attending a tour of a museum exhibit. They are diversions, auxiliary activities, fun & games, and sometimes – labors of love – and I am almost always accompanied by at least one child during these times.
5 Hobbies for Busy Moms to Try
Busy moms do need respite, relaxation, and a bit of escape every once in a while. However, if the thought of taking up a “legitimate hobby” is tiring and you’re just not sure you want knitting needles lying around for the boys to turn into weapons, change your definition of hobby and try one of these ideas that might give you food for the soul, a new perspective, or at least something to write down on the form under hobby.
1. Become an amateur photographer. You’re already toting around the camera to capture every moment of your kids’ lives. Take your interest in snapping shots of the kids and go a step further. Order some photography magazines to flip through while you’re waiting for the school bus, and see if your community education program offers beginning photography classes. Take the kids to exhibits by other photographers, and keep snapping away on your own time. Today it might not be a glamorous hobby that yields much more than dirt-smeared grins of toddlers, but you could be sowing your own seeds for a future behind the lens.
2. Scrapbook – even without the fancy supplies. Just being with a few photo storage boxes to sort the prints you already have floating through the drawers, and a flash drive to collect the images you want to print someday. Slowly increase your pace until you buy a pack of glue sticks and an album – and let yourself get excited over a few sheets of funky scrapbook paper. Before you know it you have completed your first page of the scrapbook that will be sitting out for your child’s graduation party someday – and maybe you can carve out time each week to do one more page while the kids read the Sunday comics with Dad.
3. Get into church. Sing in the church choir, work in the church flower beds, or help decorate for the holidays or special occasions. I do various services at our church, including baking and decorating tables for gatherings – and I get to have my kids by my side as I do these things so that I don’t have added stress of trying to find a sitter while I explore my hobby. If your church doesn’t already have committees established, maybe your passion for paperwork could help get those going!
4. Take a hike. Exercise activities like hiking and biking are not only good for the body, but the soul. And they are usually very kid-friendly activities. Make a plan to visit a new trail each week, or combine two hobbies in one and take pictures along the way to mark the transitions of the seasons as you keep going back to hike the same trail repeatedly.
5. Get wrinkly. Actually, make your food wrinkly. One of the easiest hobbies I found when my kids were younger was dehydrating foods. The only major investment is a food dehydrator, but there are several major returns. I am able to use the food in my house that is closing in on shelf life – like those bananas and apples that are almost too ripe. Then I wash the items, slice them, and spread them on a tray to dry. The drying is what takes a long time, but in the process of the machine doing the drying I still strangely feel like I am accomplishing something. The end product is a healthy snack for the family and a silent-high-five to myself.
If other well intentioned people encourage you to explore your options, or build yourself beyond motherhood in the form of a new hobby, make sure you take stock of what you already do and what you actually want to do. Then ask yourself if you enjoy doing what it is you are doing. Maybe it will turn out that all you really need is a little rest. Take a bath, take a nap, take 10 minutes to use the foot massager while you read a book (my favorite), but don’t feel like you need to take on a hobby you really aren’t enthused about just because the life you are leading as Mom doesn’t look neat and nice on the questionnaire line. Our lives as moms are legitimate – even if our hobbies don’t always make us look like it!
- Thanks, Theresa, for the great conversations about moms and hobbies. Put down the knitting needles. Slowly. And no one will get hurt!