By Anja van den Berg
As a working parent, you’re familiar with putting the needs of others before your own. Airlines have it right when they advise you to first put on your oxygen mask before assisting others. You can’t spend energy on loved ones or work if your inner resources are depleted.
However, building your reserves is an especially tough challenge during this time of social isolation and work from home. The COVID-19 crisis has eroded barriers between work and family time.
One way we can better take care of ourselves — and by extension, others — is by spending some time tending to our own needs. Scott Behson, author of The Working Dad’s Survival Guide: How to Succeed at Work and at home, says a hobby might be just what the doctor ordered.
“Many parents probably feel they don’t have time for a hobby right now, but broadly considered, a hobby is simply the intentional, purposeful use of the time you do have for yourself, however short that window period may be.”
Hobbies don’t just take our mind off our stressors; they can help us meet our work and life challenges. Among other benefits, hobbies can assist us to relax and recharge, hone new skills, become better problem-solvers and connect with others.
Most of all, hobbies involve the study and practise of things we find enjoyable. Behson explains, “If we pluck away at a guitar for an hour every other day, we can learn new songs, develop our skills, and get the intrinsic satisfaction of improving, even if no one else hears us play.”
You can also intentionally choose new hobbies to learn different skills, such as photography, brushing up on your isiZulu, or starting a blog.
Behson says that these new skills can even enhance your skillset and that you can apply it more broadly in your life and job – or can even start you on a new career!
Hobbies can also provide more opportunities to spend time with family. If you and your significant other want to time together that doesn’t involve chores or taking care of the kids, find a hobby which you enjoy sharing. Shared hobbies like reading the same book, trying new recipes or figuring out how to roast, grind, and brew the perfect cup of coffee together can be an investment in your relationship.
Many working parents also want the time they’re spending with their kids to be more meaningful. Developing a shared hobby with them is a great way to carve out quality time and to make memories. Why not try art projects, a new LEGO set, or researching family history? Fun activities with your kids also provide unexpected opportunities for honest conversations, laying the groundwork for more adult relationships with them later.
Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2020/05/working-parents-save-time-for-hobbies