Why Parents NEED a Hobby
What is one of the first things to go when a baby arrives on the scene? Taking time for yourself! With the joy of parenting comes the sudden realization that your life is not just about you anymore. Time that seemed endless now disappears more quickly than you ever imagined. Even after the sleepless newborn nights have passed, many parents continue to sacrifice, leaving behind hobbies they once enjoyed regularly. However, having a hobby isn’t just a good idea, it is actually incredibly beneficial and can improve your life! Here are 4 areas of your life that will improve just by you enjoying a hobby.
What Kind of Hobby is Helpful?
Merriam-Webster defines a hobby as:
“a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.”
In other words, a hobby is something you do, that you don’t get paid to do and it is relaxing. This definition is broad, as it should be. Psychologist and aging expert Dr. Michael Brickey found that an ideal hobby has three characteristics. To impact your life in a positive way, a hobby should be:
- a diversion,
- a passion and
- give you a sense of purpose.
So pick something that you love to do that takes you out of your daily routine and gives you something to work towards. If you want to get moving, start training for a race or triathalon. Do you want to nurture your creative side? Start writing, painting, sculpting or designing. Giving yourself a goal outside of your mandatory daily tasks gives you a reason to keep on keeping on with your hobby. So train for that race or paint all your friends a painting for their birthday. That is how you effectively engage in a hobby in a way that will truly benefit your entire life. Here are four key areas of your life that will benefit from you having a hobby again:
1. Health Benefits
You may be skipping out on what you love to do for fun because you think it is better for your kids to have you with them as much as possible. While it is true that kids benefit so much from quality time with their parents, kids also benefit from having parents who are healthy. If you knew that regularly engaging in a hobby would lead to better health, would you dust off the paint brushes or tennis racket? Having a hobby has been shown to lower blood pressure, increase physical function, and reduce memory loss. Those who regularly engage in a hobby have lower incidences of depression and dementia. It is a fact that hobbies lead to overall better health. Of course your children need one on one time with you, but they also need parents who are as healthy as possible. Adding a hobby back into your life will make you a healthier parent.
2. Improved Work Performance
If you work outside the home, a hobby might seem like the last thing you need to add to your life. However, having a hobby can improve your performance at work. Career coaches recommend that their clients, including top executives with little to no free time, find a way to engage in some sort of hobby regularly. One study found that employees who engaged in creative hobbies were also better at coming up with creative solutions to problems at work. Employees who spent time on a creative activity were rated 15 to 30 percent higher on their performance than those who did not have a creative outlet. While this study focused on employees outside the home, we think this theory applies beautifully to parenting as well. What parent doesn’t need to come up with creative solutions to problems more easily?
3. Feel More Relaxed
Do you ever feel stressed or overwhelmed? Yeah, us too! Want to feel more relaxed? So do we! You know where this one is going. Less stress and more relaxation is another benefit of having a hobby. Many people who regularly engage in a hobby find themselves in a better frame of mind, able to manage anger and frustration more effectively. We might not want to admit it, but our kids don’t always leaving us feeling our most relaxed. Who are we kidding? Our kids can stress us out to the max. When patience wears thin after a long day of being ignored and cleaning up messes, we could all use a better way to manage anger and frustration. Having a hobby is not only enjoyable but will leave you feeling more relaxed and patient.
Finding time for yourself is part of living a balanced life. The lives of parents inherently lack balance. We give all we have to our kids and our careers. One would think that adding a hobby into an already jam packed schedule would be impossible. However, if you can commit to your hobby, you will actually find more balance in your life. Your life lacks balance because you don’t have time for yourself. A hobby or time for yourself is what is missing. You feel out of whack because you lack balance. The balance comes when you schedule time for your hobby just like you schedule meetings or set a reminder to pick up the dry cleaning. Engaging in a hobby forces you to step away from the stress you face everyday. Balance will bring peace to your life, so make it a priority.
Investing in yourself by engaging in a hobby will not only add a little fun to your life, it will improve your health, bring you balance, improve your performance at work and help you relax. In other words, you will live longer, prioritizing your time better while you get a promotion at work and feel less stressed! While it might not be that simple or miraculous, you can admit that even a few of the benefits of a hobby would be nice.
If you still feel guilty about being away from your kids, remember that your kids are learning from the example you lead. By showing them that you can live a balanced and healthy life while doing a good job and feeling less stressed, you teach them the importance of taking care of themselves. Yes, your kids need you but they will still have you if you take tennis lessons for an hour one night a week and we bet they will love to come cheer you on at your first match. So decide what you love to do, set some definite time aside for that activity every week and make your hobby a priority. With all the stress and pressure we face as parents, we can’t afford to skip out on something so simple that can improve our lives so drastically.
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