The first decision I made as a mother was to drop out of college and get a job so that I could offer my child a better financial future. Not only was that decision short-sighted (and financially unwise), but it set me on a path that I see many working parents walking: our primary purpose when we’re outside of the home is to improve life in the home.
When we read about work-life balance, we discover tips for how to be good parents and wives while also managing a work schedule. Our days and our Pinterest boards are divided between home and work – be crafty, organized, and nurturing or productive and successful. What’s missing from these pictures is a frivolous pursuit that has nothing to do with home or money making: a hobby.
You’re probably groaning, I know. You’re thinking that there is not time, energy, nor money leftover for you to fritter about with selfish pastimes. Maybe when the kids are older.
But I propose that it is when our kids are young and we are busting our butts balancing school activities with work deadlines that having a hobby of our own is most important.
Personal passions give us energy to take care of other people. No matter how much we love it, there’s no denying that child rearing is exhausting. And the rewards – the sweet kisses and late night snuggles – don’t always balance out the sacrifice, at least not in the short-term. Add a demanding job to the mix and it can leave a woman feeling like she is always pouring herself out for someone.
Having a hobby of your own, something that you dedicate time and energy to, replenishes what work and family drains. It makes you better able to go back into the trenches and give some more. It’s like saying thank you to yourself for all you do until your kids are old enough to say it.
Hobbies make us more interesting people. There are only so many times you can tell the same story of the exploding diaper. And your spouse probably doesn’t want to hear about your boss every single night at dinner. But if you’re spending all of your time taking care of kids or work, that doesn’t leave much else for you to chat about, does it?
The reality is that people with hobbies are more interesting because they have passion and knowledge to share. I know I’d much rather listen to my husband talk about cycling or his obsession with organic food than his work schedule. Sure, we also discuss interesting clients and we absolutely talk about our kids, but it’s nice to have something completely new to share with each other once in a while.
I think that our kids appreciate having something to talk to us about as well, and I’m certain it makes us a little more interesting at networking events.
A hobby can be great motivation for working harder. In a ideal world, we all do what we love . But in the real world, many people show up to a job because they get paid to; they work to live . That’s a heck of a lot easier to do if you like the life you’re living.
Going to work because you have to keep the lights on is responsible and practical, but it can also be soul sucking day after day. Going to work because you’re saving up for a new camera lens, gardening equipment, yarn, or plane ticket is a heck of a lot easier. If the work itself isn’t satisfying, at least you can have a fun goal. (And no, paying for braces is not fun.)
Having a hobby adds to the work-life balance. It helps round out your life, which makes you better able to thrive at work and at home.
Do you have a hobby?