It was a regular Wednesday afternoon, and my two boys, then four and five, were jumping on opposite sides of the couch. I was standing at the sink, about to warn them about jumping into each other and getting hurt, when my oldest stopped and hollered over to me.
“Hey Mommy! What are you going to do all day when Henry starts Kindergarten?” William said, as if the thought had just occurred to him.
Before I could answer, before my mouth even opened, he continued:
“I bet you’re going to read your book all day long!” He said it in a teasing manner, and I laughed.
The truth is, I’m deeply relieved that that’s what he thought I would do with my free time. I’m so thankful he didn’t say “scroll on your phone” or “post stuff to Instagram” which, if I’m being honest, may have been just as likely of an answer.
A year or two prior to this, I had made a conscious effort to let my kids see me enjoying my own hobbies. I started leaving my piles of books around the living room, and I picked them up in five or ten minute increments instead of saving them for after the kids went to bed. When they got a bit older and could understand boundaries, I started leaving some of my scrapbook stuff out, piles of pictures around the dining room table. Sometimes I got out my adult coloring book and the colored pencils I reserve just for myself, and got to work in the living room, in the midst of their play.
It’s harder to pursue hobbies in this way, with little hands grabbing and curious preschoolers asking questions, but here’s why it’s important:
Your children will begin to see you as a person other than “Mommy.”
By actively engaging in your hobbies in their presence, you are showing them that you have needs and interests apart from them. In our culture of parenting, it’s assumed you will drop everything to serve the needs of your child. And while self-sacrifice is an important and necessary part of mothering, we are doing our children a disservice when we communicate that our world revolves only around them.
Pursuing your own hobbies is an act of self-care.
When I started reading and scrapbooking in front of my kids, I felt happier and healthier. And when Mommy is happy, everyone wins!
Your children won’t be with you forever.
This may seem like an impossible truth, but one day those chubby cheeked toddlers are going to grow up and leave your household. They will live somewhere else. They won’t depend on you to meet their daily needs. And when that time comes, I want to have cultivated a life outside of my responsibilities as a mother. Yes, I want to pour into my children. Yes, I want to invest in my kids’ lives. But not at the expense of my own identity, and my own interests. I don’t want to disappear into my role as a mother.
That’s why it’s so important to make room and time for your hobbies now. Yes, even when your young children are underfoot.
So dust off that sewing machine, go for a run, join that over-30 basketball league, break out those watercolors. You’ll be glad you did.
Tell me in the comments below, what do you like to do for fun? How can you pursue your own hobbies even while in the throes of motherhood?
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