It’s easy to lose yourself as a mother. It is especially easy to lose yourself as a stay at home mother. So much of my life and who I was before kids revolved around my career. Before kids, for all of my adult life, I had worked long hours, traveled, my Blackberry an extension of myself, mentally engaged and challenged from sunup to sundown. As a SAHM, I’m certainly physically and emotionally engaged to the point of exhaustion daily, but my mental faculties – such a huge part of who I was before children – were languishing. Participating in hobbies that I can fulfill alongside raising my children engage me mentally and socially in ways that changing diapers, nursing babies and playing princesses just can’t.
Hobbies for Your Mental, Social Enjoyment
Who has time for hobbies? Before kids, with my work schedule, I barely had time for them… but there were certain things I made time for because I was passionate and committed to them. Monthly book clubs with my girlfriends, for the social aspect and to read literature other than finance periodicals and Annual Reports. Yoga 2-3 nights a week to help me mentally and emotionally decompress from a high stress job and too little sleep.
As a SAHM, the reality is I still need to do things for my own personal enjoyment, but I also need hobbies for mental, and even social, fulfillment. And I need them to fit in with my lifestyle, which, with 3 small children and a husband who works long hours, means limited free time outside of the home. Over the last 5 years, these activities have helped me find time for me, and remember who I am outside of just a wife and mother… and they fit into my crazy family calendar too!
A Virtual Book Club
I love to read. For pleasure. For learning. For research. I always have a book underway, and usually more than one. Before kids, some girlfriends and I had a regular monthly book club, involving fabulous book recommendations among each other, some book discussion, and a lot of cheese and wine on a Sunday afternoon. Sadly, it was sacrificed as all of us had kids and crowded out of our schedules.
But I still love to read. And I knew I wasn’t alone in that passion. So I started Mom’s Book Nook last year to foster a community of fellow book lovers, like myself, who might not be able to make it out for a Sunday Funday for book club, but could certainly join in post kids’ bedtimes from their smartphone or laptop once a month.
It is open to anyone. To join, all you have to do is read our monthly book selection and join our Facebook group for the monthly discussion.
Yoga from Home
I never ‘got’ yoga, until I went to my first class. I’ve always run around with 100 balls in the air, even pre-family, and at night, struggled to fall asleep because my mind just wouldn’t turn off. Yoga, aside from physically challenging me, helped me learn to quiet my mind. It tones my body physically, and gives me greater control mentally as well.
Post-kids, making it to 7PM classes anywhere on a consistent basis is pretty much impossible. Fortunately, I can do yoga in my family room anytime I have a spare 30 minutes. With Amazon Instant Video I can do any number of yoga routines, any time that is convenient for me. My personal favorite lately is Jillian Michael’s Yoga Meltdown. I can even do it in the middle of the day and set the girls up with their own mats too.
Many people get a sup’ed up camera when they have kids. Not many people figure out how to really use it. A DSLR is a powerful camera with huge functionality, and can be super intimidating. Set on Auto it takes high quality photos, maybe slightly better than your smartphone. Learning how to use your cameras full functionality, how to shoot manually, will allow you to take professional photographer-quality photos.
Blogging has motivated me to pick up my camera if not every day, at least 3-5 times a week. It also motivated me to figure out how to use my camera better. All the photos I share now are taken with my Canon T3i Rebel (the current version is a Canon T5i Rebel) with a fixed length 50mm/1.8 f lens, often referred to as the ‘Thrifty Fifty’, for its relative affordability as far as lenses go.
The i version of the Rebel includes video capability. You can save $50-100 by opting for the non-video version. The Thrifty Fifty gives you a low aperture, allowing you to get more detailed shots, with tight focus and creates the bokah, or blurred background, that you commonly see in professional photography.
Everything I’ve learned beyond my camera manual to up my photography game, I learned from Click It Up a Notch. She offers awesome tutorials to teach you how to shoot in Manual mode, and better understand the photography trio of aperture, ISO and shutter speed. If you are going to be capturing your children’s childhood, you might as well do it well!
I started blogging when my oldest was born as a means to keep my long-distance family updated on her growing up, to share an obnoxious amount of photos that no one other than grandparents and aunties would want to see. At the encouragement of friends and family, I have since taken my blog hobby to a small, but growing, work at home business.
It doesn’t make me rich, but it more than pays for the cost of running it, and has provided fun opportunities, which are increasing monthly. Most importantly, it keeps me mentally challenged. It has provided me with a network of virtual colleauges who are truly like co-workers. It is my outlet, while also challenging me daily to come up with fun, creative and engaging educational activities for my kids.
What hobbies do you miss as a mom? What hobbies do you strive to maintain to fulfill you? If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out Making Time for Me, Part 1: Safe Skincare and enter for a chance to win our Beautycounter giveaway! Follow the series over the coming weeks each Tuesday, and find them all on our Mommy Sanity Saver board on Pinterest.
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