From the time we become moms we are told of the importance of maintaining our identities. It sounds good in theory but the realities of motherhood, especially in the early years, make it tough to break away from child rearing to seek out enjoyment alone. After giving birth to a high-needs baby about one year after getting married and becoming a stepmom, I realized I needed a hobby – and badly. I had always enjoyed group singing when I was in high school and college but it had been several years since I’d been part of a choir. So in January I set out to fill my hobby void in a way that would not cause too much turmoil in my family.
Here are a few tips for other moms who want to do the same:
- Start small. When I did an online search for local choirs, I got a lot of results. I went to each website and looked at rehearsal and performance schedules. I only contacted the groups that had one rehearsal per week and concerts every few months. I was able to audition for two that fit the bill and was asked to join them both. Since joining, my eyes have been opened to the many performance opportunities in our community but I’ve restrained myself from raising my hand for anything else at this point. Down the road that might change. But for now my hobby hours are limited.
- Scale back. If you find yourself getting in to your hobby too deep, and that your family life is suffering as a result, pull back. I stuck with both choirs last spring, which meant being away from my family two evenings every week, plus several concerts. I’m glad that I did it because it gave me perspective on which group I preferred but I have decided to just sing with one moving forward. While I think it is awesome for moms to carve out a little time for their own interests, when it puts too much stress on your spouse or kids, something has to give.
- Enjoy the time. Once you have arranged time for your hobby, try to let go of any domestic worries. If you are going through all the trouble of setting aside “me time,” you really should enjoy it to the fullest. I avoid looking at my cell phone while at rehearsal (okay, I take a quick glance at break time) and interact with my fellow singers instead of texting my husband. I’ve also politely asked him not to send me negative messages while I’m away that refer to the kids misbehaving or the baby refusing to go to sleep. There is nothing that I can do to improve those things while I’m at my rehearsal and reading about them just makes me feel guilty. To really feel refreshed and recharged, and better interact with your family, immerse yourself in your hobby time and shut off your mom-brain for a while.
I’m thankful that I’ve found a good fit for my own hobby. Reconnecting with my musical roots has proven an uplifting experience and has shown my spouse and kids a side of me that they never knew existed. It’s been an opportunity for growth for all of us but has also shown me that my own wants have limitations in the context of my family life.
What hobbies keep you feeling like yourself in the midst of motherhood?
Katie Parsons is a freelance writer who lives with her four children, husband and the sound of the ocean nearby. Before she was a freelance writer, she worked in news media in Chicago, Orlando and Shelbyville, Indiana. Before that, she earned a Creative Writing degree from Ball State University. Katie is writing a memoir about the time when she was single and pregnant. She hosts Mumbling Mommy, a community blog for parents, and owns a content creation company. You can contact her by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.