Photo: Hobbies Magazine February-March 1919 issue, cover by J.E. Standley
Several years ago a friend of mine started a Yahoo Group for local moms comprised of her friends, our friends and their friends as a way to share news quickly without having to call everyone. We post upcoming events, deals for the local restaurants, coupons for the grocery store, items we are looking to get rid of or looking for and parenting woes and advice, among other things. Occasionally my friend will pose a question to start a discussion. The first question asked us to list some of our hobbies and projects we are working on. Before children I had hobbies. I am sure of it. Sadly they were placed by the wayside and over time forgotten. This actually is not a bad thing. It is part of growing up. With each stage of life come new and exciting ideas that we can look forward to. Otherwise we would all be playing with barbies and GI-Joe figures at age 36. However if you have young children you are probably doing just that.
This month’s resolution is all about finding a hobby that is fun, yet challenging. My goal for this month was to finally sign up for fencing classes. For years I have had a secret desire to learn fencing. Just when I was about to sign up for classes we uprooted our family and moved to another city that does not offer any classes. Now I am left trying to figure out another alternative.
A hobby should be something you want to do. It should be relaxing never forced; although sometimes our children need a little push to motivate them in the right direction until they find something suitable. A hobby should be all about the passion. If you are doing it because everyone else is doing it or because you have to then it becomes a chore not a hobby. Here is the exception to the rule. I love to read. Recently I found a group of women in my area who share a passion for literature. Each month someone chooses a book from a long list of classic literature. The following month we meet for breakfast to discuss the novel and how it relates to us in our time. The experience has been exhilarating. Most of the books are not books I normally would have picked up to read. Yes at times, when I would rather be reading something else less complicated, it feels like a chore; however, the goal of enriching my life through beautiful literature and then connecting with other moms is the hobby. Studies have found that when we are genuinely engaged in an activity we find interesting we fuel our self-esteem and life becomes more exciting. After my first book club meeting I felt alive. Invigorated. I was inspired.
In a society such as we live in the term hobby is often viewed as juvenile. The truth is we all need enriching experiences to help us stay centered and live a more balanced life. We all want success in some form. We all want to give our best to our bosses, families and friends. However, it is impossible to maintain such high demands of ourselves without causing a negative impact on our health and well being. When we allow ourselves to become tired and drained from work or overloaded with obligations our ability to innovate drops significantly. Our failure pushes us to work even harder. We feel guilty. We feel frustrated. Ultimately we feel defeated. Hobbies help relieve the stress resulting in a happier you.
A hobby is a fantastic way to blow off steam from a stressful workweek. A friend of mine could not wait until Saturday morning to hop on his bike and ride for 3 hours to distress. Hobbies such as collecting books, stamps and maps have a historical educational value. Tinkering hobbies like building trains, models, rockets and cars can build career oriented talents. Active hobbies like hiking, running and sports invigorate us. Moreover, hobbies can enhance our creative minds and help us think more clearly. I always seem to find my best inspirations while I am running or working on a project.
Sometimes we may feel guilty selfishly setting alone time aside for our personal hobbies. The truth is our hobbies can have a lasting impact on the children who learn from watching us. When they see mom and dad happily working on a hobby they are more likely to engage in a hobby themselves. They may copy what their parents are doing or adopt something of their own. Learning to manage their free time at an early age will benefit them when they are older. As parents we can help them discover enjoyable activities together. I love camping and hiking. I am passionate about camping and hiking. However it is no longer the relaxing hobby I enjoyed when I was a single college student or newly married. With our three little ones it is no easy feat. Yet, we continue to put on a brave face and take our kids hiking to give them rich fulfilling experiences. Hobbies shared with parents create lasting bonds. These activities such as sports, running, music, camping, cooking, fishing among others continue to hold value after the children have grown and move off to college. Children are also less likely to turn to drugs or exhibit bad behaviors when they are older if they are pursuing fun interesting hobbies to keep them busy. Who knows maybe the little boy that was into building rockets will grow up to become a rock scientist.
Choose a hobby from the following list or log onto DiscoverAHobby.com for a more comprehensive list of ideas. Local colleges, home and garden depots and craft shops offer all sorts of classes for a minimal fee. Contact a small mom and pop shop or ranch to see if they would be interested in training an apprentice for free or ask a friend to teach you.
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