Last week at our end-of-the-year faculty luncheon, I sat next to a male colleague and listened as he shared his summer plans which included scuba diving (and teaching lessons) and flying his private jet. I’m not joking.
In his free time, my husband bowls once a week with friends. He also golfs a couple of times a month and makes time throughout the year to play tennis, go hiking, fish, run, read financial reports (blah), trade stocks, keep up with the latest in technology, and cook.
I like to read, blog, and watch Gilmore Girls (only while also folding laundry, nursing, or doing something else productive).
Notice the discrepancy?
This isn’t a post about how unfair life is or that my husband is spoiled (he isn’t). We’re both actually quite good at giving the other one time “off” when we need it, Jeff has mostly equal responsibility for housework and taking care of the kids, and I feel like I am free to do or try really whatever I want. The problem, however, is that I don’t really know HOW to have hobbies.
When Jeff sees his friends they go bowling/hiking/fishing/golfing.
When I see my friends we are chasing kids around, breaking up arguments over toys, cleaning up messes, and trying to squeeze in a conversation and a few sips of wine (if we’re lucky) in the pauses.
We could go iceskating/dancing/canoeing/swimming… but we don’t.
Instead, we bring the kids along. We cancel our weekly date to watch The Bachelor in favor of an earlier bedtime for us and an easier morning. We spend another Saturday roaming the mall or sitting on the benches of the neighborhood playground because that’s easy and stroller-friendly, or – worse – we spend it cleaning, putting away laundry, and organizing closets because if it doesn’t get done then it will never get done and our week will run so much more smoothly if it does. (Remember that from my summer goals post?) We might even turn on an audio-book or podcast while we do it and call it “fun.”
Our hobbies tend to be things we can do by ourselves late at night or early in the morning – reading and writing (like me) or crafting, sewing, painting. OR, they serve a dual purpose that is good for our families/health/etc. like exercise, decorating, cooking. But is that enough?
I don’t think the problem is my husband, my schedule, or even society. I think it is ME. It’s guilt about leaving the kids or letting the laundry pile up. It’s convenience and the overwhelming feeling of all that “needs to be done” and how much better I feel when it is. It’s busyness. But, more than anything, it’s priorities… When I really think about it, I stopped having hobbies long before I had kids and a house to take care of. Somewhere between writing stories on the old desktop in elementary school, turning in my gymnastics leotards in ninth grade, and scrapbooking each year of college, I chose “shoulds” over “wants” and never looked back. (Full disclosure – It took me a long time to think of even one hobby from late high school or college to finish out that list. Beyond that, I’ve basically got nothing.)
I started this blog in 2009 out of a desire to have a hobby, and – now more than five years in – I often joke that it’s the longest I’ve stuck with anything. I still love it as much as I did back then, but I feel it getting pushed further and further on the To Do list with each new life stage and change. I’m not planning to stop entirely any time soon; but, I do worry that it isn’t really all I need anymore…
Lately, as I’ve watched my preschooler work puzzles, color, and create imaginary worlds with his toy dinosaurs and looked at my sweet baby girl and thought about what the future will hold for her, I’m craving a space to play in my own life. I’m convicted about the example I am setting for my kids by not making fun a priority in my own life. And, frankly, I worry that I will burn out much too early if I don’t start shifting soon.
The first step, though, is figuring out WHAT I like. To be honest, I’m so far removed that a lot of “hobbies” don’t even sound fun to me right now. Even last week when my best friend and I scheduled a night out just the two of us after the kids went to bed, I spent most of it yawning and worrying about the papers I hadn’t yet graded. What is wrong with me?!?
What would I do if it didn’t take tons of prep? If everything else was “done”? If time and money were no object? I’d write book. I’d learn yoga. I’d take a dance class. I’d become a runner. I’d teach myself graphic design. I’d learn photography. I’d have a garden. I’d travel.
Come to think of it… Maybe I’ll add one more goal to my summer plans: try at least ONE of these things. Find something I love to do just because. Invite a friend to do it with me.
What about you? What would you do with your time if you had more of it? Do you already make time for fun? If so, how?
P.S. We’re off to the beach for my sister’s wedding this weekend. I’ll be back with Midweek Confessions on Monday (and would love for you to join the fun), but the rest of the week (like this one) will likely be scarce. Slow summer on.