Why Mama Needs a Hobby

As a homeschooling mom to three, I see that title and look a little askance, just like I expect you’re doing.

I have three children to educate who are in approximately 8,253 activities. Each. They need to eat seven times a day. I have this thing about clean underwear; my husband, sadly, has this thing about unwrinkled work shirts.  The house should be a whole lot cleaner than it is.

Why Mama Needs a Hobby

I *get* it.  Frankly, in this post, I’m talking to myself as much as to you.

Mama, you need a hobby and let me tell you why. 

You are a person created in the image of God.

I don’t think we can discount this one. God, complete in himself, created everything out of nothing.  Simply for His pleasure.

If He created us in His image, after his likeness, we too will create.

A hobby helps you maintain your identity

How many of us were told that “only” being a wife and mother was not sufficient? That we would “lose” our identity if we didn’t strive for work or seek for that career to be our own person?

While I deny that I “lose my identity” by being a wife and mother, I do affirm that another part of who I am and how I fulfill that role is in the creative endeavors I may enjoy.

Expertise or mastery of some craft can become a part of your identity; a part of what you’re known for.  I’ve been a little too scattered to stick to one thing for very long and strive for mastery, but I can assent to the importance of expertise.  

Skill or mastery in a knowledge base can become a part of your identity, too.  I think of something like bird-watching and the joy that many find in knowing a lot about birds and their habits. Their ability to teach or instruct others.  A hobby doesn’t have to be something you make but can be something you do.

A hobby can be a way that you expand your mind by doing something out of the ordinary. My husband loves geocaching.  It gets him out into nature – out of the office, house, everyday worries – and is a place to calm his soul.  Doing something different is often a way to nurture creativity and ease the mental strain.  

So many people are tied to the one thing they do.  He’s a programmer. She’s an executive. He’s in construction. She’s a homeschool mom.  Let’s get out of the rut of defining people solely on what they do and seeing many facets of their lives including what they love.

You won’t always be a homeschooler; it only feels like it

Someday your children will leave home. Whether to college or a home of their own, the goal is to raise adults. Cindy Rollins, in Mere Motherhood, really brought this home to me:

I am a mother at heart. I build a home, which seems like a place to stay, but really, it is a place to leave. That is the way of it. Children are meant to grow up. I understand that now. Maybe you have yet to come face-to-face with what that means. I hope you will take courage and allow your children to walk away with grace.

A hobby, an interest now may open doors or create opportunities in the future. If nothing else, getting started in small amounts now, will build a foundation for that empty nest time.  And, perhaps, a hobby will be an aid to you in being graceful as you let go.

Hobby with hubby is part of marriage maintenance

Choosing a hobby with your spouse can help knit your hearts together through a common interest, vocabulary, and culture.  As I mentioned above, some day it’s going to be the two of you rattling around in the house again.  Finding ways to spend time together now making or learning together, sharing time and ideas together, sharpening intellects together is an excellent way of keeping strong bonds with your spouse.  

Hobbies exercise your brain and keep the mind and body active

There seems to be some evidence that keeping an active mind is a defense against dementia as we age. While this isn’t foolproof – of course – and isn’t a first reason to engage in a hobby of some kind, it is encouraging to think that continuing to learn is a defense for your mind and your future.

Learning a hobby can inspire your children

A few years ago, I purchased a calligraphy set for my daughter for her birthday in October at the Homeschool Convention in the spring. While I was at it, I bought one for myself.  I started using mine when I got home, practicing occasionally.

She was so intrigued. Within weeks she was asking for her own Calligraphy set. She still practices often with it during Morning Time. A perfect way to keep her hands busy while participating.

I never once asked, “Would you like to try this?” I never once instructed, “Try this.” She was inspired to try herself – and ecstatic when she opened her present.

Learning a hobby can give you compassion for your children’s struggles with learning

That calligraphy set I got for myself? Man, there are so many little details to calligraphy. So many nuances. It takes so much patience to set it up and to take my time to do it properly. I get ink all over my hands. I get interrupted. I misspell things and have to start over again.  

How much more are my children struggling with the educational tasks I have set for them? They’re learning too – all the time and in more variety.  Instead of frustration with their efforts and “why can’t you get this?” after the 98th explanation of fractions, my own habit of study and practice toward mastery helps me to extend grace to them and try to come up with yet another explanation.

A hobby can fulfill lifelong dreams

Have you always wanted to learn to play an instrument? Paint a picture? Write a poem? What dreams do you have? Have you always had? We are so very blessed in this day and age to have so many avenues of learning open to us on the internet. YouTube, online classes, blogs, etc. The sky’s the limit for learning that which you’ve always desired to know.

Hobbies can help you learn how to practice scholé

It’s become a bit cliche to talk about scholé, but restful learning toward mastery is an important piece of the homeschool puzzle. We want to learn in leisure, to feast in joy.  Scholé isn’t just about books. It isn’t specifically about the Liberal Arts or about learning how to homeschool classically.

Scholé is about learning to be who God created you to be – it’s about aligning ourselves with God in joy.  A hobby helps you learn about yourself, learn about your capabilities, dig deep wells into creation.  It’s about bringing God glory through your work.  

Learning, Knowing, Creating: A hobby is its own end

It’s such a cliche to say we want to teach our children to be “lifelong learners.” Why?

We say it because learning, in and of itself, is worth our time.  A hobby – even if you only spend 10-30 minutes a week – is a way you can continue being a lifelong learner yourself. Whether you take a class (online or in person); or read a book; or practice on your own, your mind and/or your hands and/or your heart spend time learning. You are that lifelong learner you hope your children will be.

If it’s important for them, isn’t it important for you?

In the next few weeks, I will talk about what kind of hobby, then logistics of when Mama can have a hobby. Finally, I’d love to open the floor to brainstorm what hobbies to do – and I’m going to rely on comments and suggestions because the array of options is inexhaustible.

Do you have a hobby? What’s your reason?

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  • This really speaks to me. I am a creative person and I can really feel it when I don’t have a “project” or hobby going at the moment. Making things and learning things (like blogging) make me a happier mama.

    • Dawn Garrett says:

      That hobbies make us feel better is a good reason, too! Thanks for sharing it 🙂

  • Becca says:

    I love to scrapbook and keep our memories. I also love the idea of photography but I haven’t managed to find time for that. Scrapbooking I’ve learned to do on my phone is 5-10 minute increments.

    • Dawn Garrett says:

      I’ve had a lot of fun and generally improved my photography skills just through using Instagram. Some of the early pictures on my account are *rough* but I think they’re better now! If you’re doing digital scrapbooking, I bet your pictures are pretty good, already!

  • Mother of 3 says:

    So very true! I find my hobbies change from time to time but I do find I need a creative outlet that’s just for me!

    • Dawn Garrett says:

      Oh! I like that … sometimes hobbies are needed for the day and we grow out of them and into something new.

  • Melanie says:

    Just thinking about taking up a hobby makes me cringe. I can’t think of anything that wouldn’t be classified as just more work to do, when I already have more than can keep up with!

    I’ve had 2 people tell me recently that I need hobbies. But the thought does no agree with me.

    A hobby should be enjoyable. I’m not a crafty or artistic person. Couldn’t studying the Rainbow Resource catalog be a good enough hobby?

    • Pam says:

      Melanie — I don’t think a hobby has to be crafty or artistic. It can be hiking, or horseback riding, or reading. I used to figure skate before we moved and wish I still could. A hobby is something you DO, but I do think it needs to not be related to homeschooling your kids (says the woman whose current hobby is running homeschool podcasts :eyeroll:)

      • Dawn Garrett says:

        Agreeing with Pam. I think we need something that takes us -somewhat- outside our regular vocation or calling to give our minds and bodies rest. I’m not trying to give you a heavier burden, but I do hope you can find a few minutes a day – or a week – to spend some mental energy and time outside of the grind.

        [hugs]

  • Laura says:

    As a new mother I didn’t see the point of having a hobby, but the need manifested itself after a few years and a second baby. My first efforts were to be more focussed and intentional about things I was doing anyway. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, so I decided to learn how to make sourdough bread. When another baby was born, I spent all my nursing time reading about World War I. Neither of these hobbies was especially time consuming, but they gave me more to think about.

    My most recent hobby has been designing small board games for online design contests that are more about learning than competition. This takes a little more time away from kids, so it is a little more challenging. I have other things I’d like to do that I figure I will graduate into as my youngest child gets older, like learning math and learning how to quilt. They are seasons that will come.

    I think it is important to start with something small and accessible, and to be flexible about scaling back when you have a new baby (I.e. reading Newbery Award winners because they are literary and easy, learning cribbage on an app, etc.)

  • Leisa says:

    I have always considered reading to be a hobby. I’ve had to learn to be selective about the books I choose simply because my time is more limited since having children. I also choose books about different things I’m learning about. So just with reading, I can have 4 or 5 hobbies/different subject matters, such as nutrition, autism, holistic stuff, homeschooling, Charlotte Mason, etc.
    I have also been reading C. S. Lewis’s space trilogy and I consider that it’s own category. Now that I’ve learned more about him and understand his books better, certain parts of those books make my head hurt with all that is being said.

    • Dawn Garrett says:

      Lewis is definitely speaking at multiple levels. I read Abolition of Man alongside That Hideous Strength a few years ago and my mind was blown – it was like he was giving a picture in THS of what he was propounding in Abolition.

      I agree, sort of, that reading can be a hobby. But, I really hope to encourage moms to choose hobbies that aren’t centered primarily on their vocations/callings as homeschool mom. What stands in stead to last after that work is done? Throwing a classic in the midst – and for my money the Space Trilogy is such – and you’re on the right track.

  • Heather says:

    Love this, Dawn! You know me & know my passion for photography- it’s mainly to help preserve our family history but I occasionally shoot for others too because I love the creative challenge!

    I’m not sure I’ll EVER finish homeschooling. Seriously. But my hobby helps me breathe a bit (& gives me treasures for others!). 🙂

    • Dawn Garrett says:

      I actually use you as an example in my coming post about the kind of hobby. Don’t give the ship away 😉 <3 Love ya!

  • Sandy says:

    Thanks for this Dawn! I have convinced myself that this (the little kids) phase isn’t the time for a hobby. But you are making me think it is exactly the time for a hobby!

  • I agree that having a hobby is vital to a person’s well-being. My mother installed riding horses into my life when I was growing up, and as you mentioned, we got known as the “horse ladies” throughout our small town. Now I’m known as the homeschool mom AND a “blogger”. Blogging started out as a hobby, but it grew into so much more with my old blog. Slowly, I’m getting my new blog off the ground. It does help me to fulfill the dream of writing for a living while still being the type of mother and wife I’ve longed to be.

    This is a great post and one that I hope many moms read! I found it on #FamilyFriday.

  • Amy says:

    Dawn, you provide us with such wonderful reminders of why we NEED hobbies! I was chuckling as I read the part of calligraphy. That hobby is a recent one that I am learning with my boys and I can relate to the part of gaining compassion for my child’s struggles! Oy! You have inspired me to go out and hobby!

  • Hey, I recognized you! 🙂 Thanks so much for linking up at #familyfriday we appreciate it! We hope you come back next week.

  • Dannielle says:

    I discovered last summer while doing wall art for a children’s ministry, that drawing/coloring/chalk art energized and relaxed me. I think a hobby should do that for you. My problem is making a hobby a priority.

  • Emily says:

    Thank you for this. I needed this. Last fall I had decided to abandon my only hobby, the only this that identified me outside of wife and mother, the only thing I enjoyed outside of being a wife and mother!!!! I almost gave up gardening because I, at times, feel like I’m drowning in homeschool and housework- and gardening kept getting the short end of the stick. I came across this post a few weeks ago and let it marinate. After time to think about it- I’m not giving up gardening. I enjoy it! Thank you thank you thank you!!!

    • Dawn Garrett says:

      Yay! I’m so glad it was an encouragement to you. The trick will be planning time for it.

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