Balancing Your Life by Finding the Right Hobby
My life is typical of many working mothers in that it is unreasonably full. My daily list of tasks usually exceeds the amount of daylight hours, and I often fall into bed at the end of the day frustrated because of things undone.
I used to think that if I were able to meet all of my responsibilities as a mother, wife and freelance writer, I was leading a balanced life. As with most women my age, I have found through a little education and a little more experience that I have responsibilities to myself as well, and I neglect these at my own peril.
Taking Both Hobbies and Health Seriously
According to a Chinese proverb; “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” I realized that I was accomplishing a lot during the average day, but I wasn’t relaxing much. Something had to change.
At first, the idea of a hobby seemed counter-intuitive. Why should I add one more item to my daily list? The connection between hobbies and health, however, is well documented and very hard to ignore. More to the point, I needed a way to relax that didn’t involve empty calories or reality TV.
Hobby Hunting 101
While I had dabbled in a few pastimes in the distant past, I had no childhood hobby to fall back on, nor did I have a friend who was involved in anything I found interesting. It appeared that I needed to find a hobby by the same means that I did everything else; research, discern, and decide.
When researching hobbies, I found many that seemed interesting on the surface, but soon proved to be too expensive, too time consuming, or simply unreasonable. Having ruled out the problematic activities like paragliding, collecting Chinese porcelain and being a historical re-enactor, I settled on three very promising hobby ideas; gardening, scrapbooking, and playing the piano.
Gardening; A Natural Choice for Stress-Relief
Stressed-out individuals have found solace in the garden for hundreds of years, and while some techniques have changed, the advantages of gardening haven’t.
- Gardening allow us to spend time in the sunshine and fresh air
- Gardening helps us to learn patience and persistence
- Gardening teaches us to appreciate transient beauty and a good weed killer
The only possible drawback of gardening as a hobby is that it can’t be done effectively in midwinter.
Scrapbooking; Making Substantial Memories
I’ve done some scrapbooking in the past, and have even completed a few books. Consequently, I am reasonably sure that I’ll enjoy this hobby, and I also know about it’s obvious benefits;
- Scrapbooking doesn’t take up much space if the supplies are properly organized.
- Scrapbooks are a better option than storing the photos in a box in my closet.
- Scrapbooking isn’t dependent on the weather.
It is possible to spend a bit too much on scrapbooking materials, but if I plan accordingly, I can make up for a lack of funds with a wealth of creativity.
Making Music; Soothing with Sound
Taking into account what a typical piano student must go through in order to learn the piano, it seems less like a hobby and more like a discipline. Piano lessons are usually scheduled at the convenience of the instructor, not the student, and they can be remarkably expensive.
Unfortunately, when I had the opportunity to learn piano in high school, it seemed too much like a discipline to me, and for the exact reasons I just mentioned. I quit soon after starting, and have regretted that decision in the years since.
Fortunately, there have been a few changes since I was in high school. Chief among these changes is the availability of the internet and the consequent opportunity for me to learn the piano online. This substantial difference naturally leads to several advantages that weren’t present a decade ago;
- I can now schedule my lessons and practice times more conveniently.
- I can take as long as I please to learn to play well.
- I won’t have scheduled piano recitals looming over me; I can play for whoever I want whenever I please.
Most importantly, I’ll be able to choose the method by which I learn to play. If I want to stick to the traditional routine of practicing and drills, I have that option – without the deadlines.
On the other hand, I could choose to learn the piano chords and then play songs by ear – I wouldn’t even need to learn how to read sheet music for the piano.
Somehow all of these changes make the piano seem like a much friendlier instrument.
Decision Making 101
Having pondered the relative merits of each of these pastimes, I then had to make a decision about which one seemed best suited for me. It soon became apparent, though, that this was the wrong question.
When I think about the connection between hobbies and health, it often makes me think of hobbies as a sort of medicine. I know, though, that one medicine isn’t likely to meet all of my health needs. That’s alright, though, because my medicine cabinet contains several different medicines for different maladies.
Not one of these hobbies would meet all of my needs, every day, but perhaps a combination of them might. Maybe I could garden in the spring and scrapbook in the winter. Maybe I can spend one afternoon weeding the flower bed and enjoying the solitude, then two nights later I can play the piano and sing along with my family and some friends.
I guess that the right hobby, in my case, is the particular hobby I feel like doing that day.
I’d love to hear some ideas about your hobbies. Is there a hobby you feel that is particularly suited to working moms? Is there one that you would not recommend? Why?
Feel free to share your comments!
About the Author
Melissa Cameron is a freelance writer who specializes in providing informative articles about practical matters like how to save money, stay in shape, and keep a home humming. She writes from her home in Austin, Texas where she shares a busy life with her husband and two daughters.