Being a Grown-Up

What Kind of Hobbies Do You Wish You Had Time For?

At the end of the year, I read I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time by Laura Vanderkam, which I thought was excellent.

One of the things she talks about is that many women (and probably men too, but her book is focused on women) feel like they don’t have time for hobbies or leisure activities in their lives, but when she looked at the time logs of hundreds and hundreds of women, people tend to spend a lot of time frittering away hours on the Internet or in front of the television (guilty!).

She also commented that as she looked at the time logs of many high-powered career women (her book looked specifically at women with children at home who made at least $100,000 a year), she was amazed by how many of them made time for all sorts of hobbies, whether it was cake decorating or singing in a choir or knitting or something else entirely.

As I was giving Bart the play-by-play of this book over the course of a week or two, we got talking about how we spend our evenings and weekends and what hobbies we’d like to pursue.

I definitely fall into the trap of feeling like “I don’t have enough time” for the things I want to do or pretending that the reason I don’t ever get around to learning new skills or relaxing is because I’m just so dang busy.

I’m not that busy.

I mean, sure, I’m not drowning in leisure time, but I’ve certainly got SOME and one of the things I really took away from Vanderkam’s book was making the most of pockets of time, whether they’re large or small.

I’ve done a lot better this year about keeping a book on hand so that if my children are playing happily for ten minutes before lunch, I can read a few pages instead of scrolling through my phone (again!) and as Bart and I plan on Sunday nights for the upcoming week, I try to think through what things I want to do on our free evenings, otherwise I know what will happen (a whole lot of nothing).

And I’ve tried to think through, “What hobbies would I really enjoy making time for?”

Here are a few things that came to mind for me:

  • Learning to hand letter. This was one of my goals for last year that didn’t happen, but my amazing friend Lisa launched a hand lettering course in the fall and after taking one of her in-person classes and surprising myself by how much I loved it, I’m determined to keep practicing this year.
  • Doing jigsaw puzzles. Ella has gotten really into puzzles in the last year, and I’ve enjoyed having quiet time in the evening to work on them while listening to podcasts or audiobooks.
  • More reading. Since I’m really trying to do more reading this year, I’ve tried to spend more evenings going to my room with a book as soon as the girls are in bed instead of straight to my laptop and/or phone. If I can get 15-30 minutes of reading in, then even if I waste away the rest of the evening, at least I did something I wanted to.
  • Ironing. I know I’m a weirdo, but I actually quite like to iron. It’s kind of relaxing, doesn’t involve sitting (which basically all my favorite hobbies do), and there’s a lot of instant gratification. I enjoy watching television more if I can do it while I’m doing something with my hands, plus everything looks better ironed.
  • Coloring. You heard it here first, but adult coloring is a THING (oh, you already knew? Like two years ago?). I’ve gotten a few coloring books over the past year or so, but I didn’t have any markers until I attended Creativation in January. One of the sponsors was Leisure Arts and they were giving away packs of markers. Since then, I’ve really started getting into (if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen some of my coloring pop up in my stories).  My girls love to color along with me and it’s been the perfect way to spend some afternoons at home or burn through that 45 minutes before dinner and Bart getting home from work when I’m not at my parenting best. My current favorites are the Pattern Play coloring books from Rad & Happy (pictured in the photos here).
  • Exercising. Like everyone else in the universe, more exercise is high on my to-do list this year and Bart and I have made a big effort to do more circuit training and weight lifting a few nights a week after the girls are in bed. It’s a nice time to chat together and I’m always glad when we’ve spent forty minutes that way instead of watching a show (we’re also currently not watching any show together, so it’s been easier to spend our evenings more wisely).

I’ve actually been surprised by how hard it was to come up with hobbies or skills I really wanted to dedicate more time too – I have this grand vision of all the things I COULD do if I had more time, but then when I think, “How could I really be using this time every night?” it’s been harder than I expected to make a concrete list.

I’m so curious to know what hobbies or leisure time activities you wish you had more time for!

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  • Reply ccr in MA February 13, 2017 at 7:22 am

    One of the great things about my favorite hobby, knitting, is that once you have a project going, there’s no big set-up/put-away time, so it’s great for a few minutes here or there. I carry a small project in my purse, and after a few months of waiting for appointments and so on, I have a pair of socks to show for it! It really does illustrate how tiny pieces add up, which is a great life lesson.

  • Reply Kayla February 13, 2017 at 7:37 am

    I actually feel like I do pretty well at this! I really enjoy being physically active so I make time to lift four mornings a week and hike at least once a week plus take a hip hop dance class on Tuesday nights. I try to sit down and hand letter something at least once a month. I average reading just over a book a week. I still feel like I waste too much time on the internet but I’ve definitely found time for my hobbies. I’d like to take piano lessons as some point- that’s next on my list!

  • Reply April February 13, 2017 at 8:04 am

    I’ve made time for exercise in the last 6 weeks so it’s become a great habit, but I’d really like to learn to crochet and I have a puzzle I bought specifically to give myself some me-time and I never got very far. Unfortunately my exercise has come at the expense of my reading time, so I’m still not getting MORE time for myself, but hopefully I can find some balance.

  • Reply Ashley McNeese February 13, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Oh, I really want to try hand-lettering! My cursive is good (thanks to teaching penmanship to 3rd graders) but branching out in any way is… not pretty. I have kind of a running mental “30 by 30” list… as in things I want to do/learn before I’m 30, and one of them is braiding. I know, so embarrassing, but I am awful at it and I want to get better before Alice’s hair gets long enough to braid. Not to mention my own hair is so long and thick that braiding it would be a great option. At least practicing will strengthen my upper arms! 😂

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw February 17, 2017 at 3:36 pm

      Braiding AND good triceps? That’s a killer combo 😉

  • Reply Paige February 13, 2017 at 10:56 am

    I’ve been a pretty big failure at this lately, I guess if I had more time I would go running a lot more and knock off that bucket list marathon I’ve been wanting to do for ages… but alas… that takes A LOT of time.

  • Reply Camille Whiting February 13, 2017 at 11:07 am

    It never ceases to amaze me how much I can fit into my life when TV is not a part of it!

  • Reply Heather Hoyt February 13, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    I like to build and paint furniture, work on decorating my house, write, blog, take photographs, read, etc. I like to do a lot, and a lot of it gets done. But I think I would like to work on photography again, play the piano some more, and garden.

  • Reply Melanie February 13, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    I’m taking a ceramics class right now and it’s taken over my life, so I actually wish I were devoting less time to a hobby and more time to things like cooking dinner! I get kind of obsessive about my hobbies so I can only handle a couple things at a time. Next winter I’d like to get back into knitting. I was briefly into knitting years ago and found it very relaxing.

  • Reply Liz February 13, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    This is something I am good at. I really struggled in my transition to motherhood. I didn’t feel like I knew who I was anymore. I had just moved to a new place and was struggling to find friends (everyone I knew seemed to be busy with multiple kids). My hobbies help me have the energy to take care of my young kids and deal with the sometimes isolating day-to-day of being an at home mom. I am in a bell choir that rehearses weekly, I go running 6 days a week, and I am in a book club. I am able to do this because my husband is extremely supportive. But I also just do it because I want to. When he travels, I run at the gym and get a babysitter for my rehearsals. Honestly, taking the time to do these things give me the energy and excitement to be a better wife and mom.

  • Reply Diana February 13, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    I’ve been almost obsessive about making time for hobbies since I read some of Laura Vanderkam’s books! Definitely have cut down on my phone/social media time. I read a lot. I sew. I’ve started doing puzzles again recently after helping my son with his so many times! I’m with you, I have a hard time just sitting down to watch a movie or tv, especially without my husband. Doing puzzles has been a great way to get through some movies I’ve been meaning to see! And I run in the nice months but that’s more essential exercise than what I’d consider a hobby.

  • Reply Brianna February 13, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    I watch too much tv, but I also embroider and read voraciously. I subscribe to The Crafter’s Box and that’s gotten me to try my hand at some different crafts in the last few months. My grandma also got me hooked on jigsaw puzzles when I was visiting her last week, so that has been fun. I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to spend less time scrolling my phone.

  • Reply Britney February 13, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    I always loved to crochet but when I found out I was having a daughter I discovered amigurumi crochet for the first time while searching for homemade dolls and now I want to make every adorable stuffed toy there is! I also spent most of my twenties dancing and since getting married haven’t done it at all, so I’ve been looking for an adult tap class, but they aren’t cheap. Money, not time, seems to be the bigger issue with some of the hobbies I’d like to pursue.

  • Reply Cindy Alberts February 14, 2017 at 3:57 am

    My hobbies include knitting, crochet, embroidery and my favourite is scrapbooking. However I NEVER get tine to do anything. I have heaps and heaps of unfinished projects and never finish anything. Ok maybe I shouldn’t say I never have time, because I have some time in the evenings but then get so lazy that the best thing to do is scroll through instagram and find projects I’ll only do halfway through and never complete. How do you stay motivated?

  • Reply Maria February 14, 2017 at 4:11 am

    I wish I had pursued my hobbies more when my children were younger. I think it would have helped my stress level immensely. Now that they have all left the house, I have picked up my knitting hobby again pushing myself this year to learn new stitches and create a blanket for each of them. Books on CD have certainly made my horrible work commute much better. Like everyone else, exercise is so easy to push aside; but I just joined a gym and have decided to make time every week to attend classes and build my strength. It’s nice to hear my adult children tell me how proud they are that I am taking care of myself (for a change.)

  • Reply Maria February 14, 2017 at 4:36 am

    I love this blog post. So, it’s only recently that I’ve started focusing on hobbies of sorts again. My oldest will be six in a month and I’ve felt like the transition to motherhood and still doing things for me has been hard. When our second came along fifteen months ago, I felt like I found my motherhood/ work/ balance groove. So, this year, I’ve been making a conscious effort to open my home up to friends more (which means tidying up more!), reading more books, spending more time in prayer and keeping up with my work schedule. I also would like to play my violin more and write an book, but baby steps for now.

  • Reply kristin @ going country February 14, 2017 at 6:27 am

    I don’t actually have real hobbies. I read a lot, but don’t consider that a hobby, just a necessity. Food is my main interest and kind of a hobby–I really get into things like making pot pie from real sourdough biscuits and the snowshoe hare my husband got when he was hunting one day (for the record: snowshoe hare is really good), but since I also have to feed five people three meals daily, my “hobby” is also my chore. I love to go snowshoeing by myself when I can in the woods around our house, but I don’t consider that a hobby either, just exercise. I am far too impatient for knitting, sewing, coloring, or anything else I consider a “real” hobby. I do write, though, on my blog. I suppose that’s a hobby. And I also love gardening, but only for edible things. Like foraging, which I also enjoy, it’s an extension of my food obsession.

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw February 17, 2017 at 3:41 pm

      I’d say that’s a pretty impressive list of hobbies!

  • Reply Kathleen February 14, 2017 at 7:55 am

    I can make myself some leisure time most days, but I have a hard time deciding what to do with it because there are so many things I’m interested in. I think it would help me to prioritize, or to decide what activities are best for what kind of time. I’d like to walk or exercise more, read, watch a show (I *rarely* watch TV so this is a total splurge for me), do needle crafts, and puzzles. I usually end up doing chores instead, though (fail)!

  • Reply Lucy February 14, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Great post! Your timing is right on for me, as This year I’m being more intentional about pursuing my own hobbies. What’s your preferred way of listening/accessing podcasts?

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw February 17, 2017 at 4:05 pm

      I just use the podcast app that’s standard on the iPhone – I’ve never used anything else, so I have no idea if it’s a good one or not.

  • Reply Laura February 14, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    This is something I have worked really hard at trying to figure out: as a mom, what is the balance of me time verses kid time? And what about the in-between time? And how do you keep your sanity while doing hobbies that utilize your brain when three little ones are demanding it at the same time? In the last year I feel like with my kids being a little older, hobbies have become more of a frequent thing instead of a very sporadic thing- partly because I’m getting more sleep and have more brain power and less need to sleep when they are. I have thought a lot lately about how much pursuing my own goals models good things for my boys (who right now mill around with “nothing to do” all too often, so I’m trying to model doing things that fulfil you- or at least looking for them…). Just this week I set foot in a recording studio for the first time and recorded a song I wrote for piano and 2 women’s voices with a friend. I still can’t believe we actually did that! The balance is tricky to find (and I’m not anywhere close to perfect at it), but I think time for mom to recharge is so important!

  • Reply molly February 15, 2017 at 12:13 am

    This was the exact thought I had during our email conversation about quiet time…I realized that each day there are large chunks of time during which my kiddos play independently & quietly together (specifically when I’m nursing the baby before his nap, but also first thing in the morning before breakfast). But, while discussing with you, I realized that *I* don’t use that quiet time productively…rather than using it for my own little activities/hobbies, self-care, exercise, etc. I usually just spend that time tidying up or marking something rather insignificant off my to-do list. I was inspired to take action! I asked my husband for a beginner’s ukulele guide for Valentine’s Day (he bought it!), and I’m determined to learn a new skill. I also think it’d be fun to take up embroidery (I don’t think I’m patient enough for knitting or crochet!) 😉 Thanks for sharing your ideas! xo p.s. what circuit training / weight training program do you & Bart use? I’m always interested in trying new ones, esp one I could do with my husband!

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw February 17, 2017 at 4:07 pm

      We’re not using a particular program right now – he just comes up with a routine every time that rotates through various muscles. Very high-tech for sure 😉

  • Reply Samantha February 15, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    There is an image floating around the internet that says “Find three hobbies you love. One to make you money, one to keep you in shape and one to be creative.” I read and play the piano. In would definitely from more exercise and finding a hobby that made a little extra money would be nice too!

  • Reply Tasya February 16, 2017 at 5:31 am

    I really wish I have the time for writing, playing piano, and hand lettering. All of my hobbies seem to involve sitting, but I guess that’s because I feel calmer that way. Another thing is probably swimming, but it depends on the weather since my local sport club has this policy where we can swim when it’s raining, and it’s been raining a lot lately! 🙂

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