I am part of an online group where I hang out with some of my girl friends. We revive old friendships, have fun chit-chatting and engage in soulful (read as ‘girly’ :)) conversations. One of the topics that gets discussed, especially in the context of stay-at-home mothers, is how to manage kids and something for yourself – may it be a hobby or an activity.
This post is a starting point to gather my thoughts and tips on this topic. I recognize that it is difficult for a new mother to find the time to do something for herself, but I also believe that if a mother is doing fine and feeling good about herself then the baby will do more than fine. The tips below focus on aspects that will provide that small trigger while still keeping the activity light and enjoyable.
- Revive old hobbies: Think of hobbies that interested you in your pre-baby days or even in your childhood. The advantage is that it will be relatively easy (compared to trying something completely new) and satisfying. Make arrangements with your partner or family members so that you can step out of the house once a week for an hour to work on your hobby. While you are away, try to fully engage in the hobby and have a fun, guilt-free session. If you cannot or do not need to step out then try to move into a separate area in the house.
- Try different activities: When you dabble in multiple activities, sometimes you hit that one activity that keeps knocking on your door. That one has the potential to become your passion. The passion takes care of itself. It keeps you going and makes you feel energized enough to keep up with the rest of the daily routine.
- Team up with other moms: Find other moms who are in a similar phase and/or have similar interests (leverage local mom groups or communities). Make a pact with them that you would send each other reminders. You can even collaborate in-person or virtually (e.g. via a Facebook group).
- Mix two things that you like: If you want to engage in an activity but but are not able to get started, combine it with another activity you like. Adding two things together makes for an irresistible combination. For example, if you like writing and cooking, then think of a “Fun Recipes I never thought I’d make” blog and write stories about your kitchen experiments.
- Healthy body, happy mind: Let exercise be a part of activities you would do for yourself. You can make that fun by trying a dance workout session. If you like to hang out with friends, then go biking or sign up for a walk/race together. Workouts release a ton of good chemicals — they are bound to make you feel happy-happy!
- Grab a small piece of your long-term vision: Decide on a small manageable piece and actually finish it. That way, you will feel good about your accomplishment and look forward to grabbing the next small piece.
- Leverage daycare / school’s support: If you have an older child that goes to a daycare or school, then identify volunteering opportunities to develop your hobby there. If you don’t find an ongoing activity of your liking then you can try proposing workshops in your area of interest.
- Do it for profit: As your child grows older and you get little bit more time to spare, your hobby or activity could become the beginning of a small business. Doing something for profit and seeing it bring in some cash can make wonders for your emotional well-being and give you the trigger to keep going with it. You can always donate the money that you generate to a charity if that’s what you would like to do. But while growing your activity, it might help to think ‘for profit’.
- Do the opposite: When a baby enters your life, the life that you have known until then turns upside down. Many new mothers go through a phase where they struggle to discover their new self and be comfortable with their new role. While there is this bit of an identity crisis going on anyway, why not make things fun by trying something that you have never tried before? Get out of the comfort zone a bit? For example – if you thought you were not very social earlier, then try the opposite by being more expressive in a moms’ group.
- Utilize technology: There are many good (and mostly free) tools out there that allow you to collaborate with others and reach to your audience. Think of a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, a WordPress blog or a portfolio, Etsy for your artwork, Pinterest/Twitter to connect with others and so on.
- Network: Spending time with other mom friends helps but if possible, also catch up with your non-mom friends, family members, and if applicable, network professionally. That will give you some non-baby topics to talk about and some much needed interaction with adults.
- Continued education: You may not necessarily feel like continuing education in this phase of your life, but irrespective of whether you are thinking of taking up a job / going back to work, taking a new course can be an energizing experience. My favorite in this arena is Coursera that provides free online courses in a variety of disciplines (see my total love for Coursera expressed here). Hint: you do not have to do the homework if you cannot find the time, you can just browse the video lectures online.
I can keep writing more tips, but here is the thing: your child is a huge part of your new world. It dictates a lot of what you do and when you do it. It takes a lot of energy for you to be there for your child day after day. The time that you invest in yourself will only have good returns in terms of providing that energy to you. So try it out and hope you have fun!
How was your experience as a new mother? What else can be included on this list? All ideas are welcome, so do let me know.