I knew before my kid was born that I would get less sleep and have less free time after having a baby. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to lose my creativity for a while. It felt like losing a piece of my soul. During what we’ve since dubbed the Era of No Sleep, I was exhausted. What energy I had went almost entirely towards caring for my family. I connected with friends and took breaks, but I did not drum, dance, or engage in any of the myriad of crafts I’ve always loved dabbling in.
At some point, things began to get a wee bit easier. I realized that while I wasn’t “ready,” I still had to find a way to show up again for my creative self to stay sane. So when the kiddo was about six months old, I finally started going to drum circles again and playing my drum at home.
Returning to my beloved drum felt like a huge effort at first, but overall the effort gave me more energy than it consumed. And the more I got used to doing it, the less energy it took to get started. Is it easy to make a little time for my drumming? Nope. But is it worthwhile? For me, absolutely. Do you know in your heart that it’s time (or past time) to start reclaiming the hobby that lights up your heart the way drumming lights up mine? Here are the lessons I’ve learned on how to mix hobbies and busy lives sustainably.
Start with just one activity
Adding even a little more time for hobbies might mean a lot of changes to your life. Start those changes gently with just one activity at a time so that you can learn how to best shift other things to make space as you go.
Making time for hobbies is toughest when you are at home where distractions abound, so create a regular time to enjoy your hobby elsewhere. Stepping away for a while will free you to fully focus on what you are doing, and you will be able to draw upon that feeling of focus when you are doing your hobby at home. Planning time away, preferably at the same time every week or month, also makes it easier to stick to your intention and not put off your hobby time.
Do it at home
Unless you get out of the house a lot more than I do, having a vibrant hobby means doing it at home as well. The key to success is to think small, stay flexible and keep showing up. Seek out small pieces of time. Practice dipping into your hobby for fifteen or even five minutes. Create routines that support hobby time. Spend less time on activities that numb you rather than fulfill you.
Needing to gather things up from all over the house or dig them out from a messy area can make you hesitate to get started and add unnecessary stress. Create and organize a small space just for storing your hobby supplies and projects, if your hobby includes tangible objects. It can be as small as a drawer or a shelf. Make it easy to get started.
Consider family-friendly adjustments
Does your hobby seem impossible right now? What part do you love most and how could you bring some of that into your life with ease? Think about what you can do and open your mind to adaptations and variations, rather than dismissing your hobby outright. Get specific, overcome obstacles and make plans.
Include your family
My son loves helping me get dressed up for drum circles. And when we are at home, we sometimes have “drum circles” of our own on kid instruments. Occasionally I’ve taken him to the more family-friendly drum events in town. Even if you are mostly doing your hobby away from your child, if you can find a way to include them a little bit as well, they might be engaged and inspired by it… and surprisingly supportive.
Engage with your spouse or partner (if you have one) about supporting one another in having time for hobbies or other individual pursuits. If you make the conversation about both of you getting your needs met, rather than your needs alone, you can work together to both be happier.
It’s okay if you’re not ready
It took me a few tries to get into the groove again. I had to wait until the time was right and life had calmed down just a bit. Nudge yourself forward, but don’t push yourself too hard if you are not ready. Your hobbies will be there. Your creative work and play should nurture you, not become another obligation.
Nurturing a hobby while also being a busy person — be it with children, work, whatever — is tough but it can be done, and it’s worthwhile. Do you make time for a hobby? How do you make your hobby happen for yourself?