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One of the things I have been most often asked throughout my entire adult life, is, "How do you have time for all that sewing?" I usually kind of shrug and laugh it off, feeling a little bit like maybe a grown woman with kids who home schools ought to be too busy for hobbies, or worried that people think I neglect my home and family and sit in front of the TV with knitting needles all day (I was literally accused of that once), but I actually do strategically fit my hobbies into my life on purpose and I'm going to share some of the ways I do that here today.
First, though, let me just say that there is a season for everything and while I do have a busy life as a home school mom, I am home quite a bit and I do not work outside of my home. You may truly be in a season of life that is just too full to squeeze in one more thing, even if it's something you enjoy, so if that's you, please don't read this and find any guilt for not getting the watercolors out with your kids in the evenings or not reading more theology books, okay? No guilt! Second, we all must find a balance between using hobbies as self-care as we can fit them in and idolizing that "me-time" that hobbies can provide. If I'm yelling at my children to leave me alone because I'm immersed in a sewing project, my priorities are out of whack.
So now that we have those caveats out of the way, these are simply ways I have managed to squeeze in things I love to do and that keep me sane throughout various seasons and life changes.
1. Make your hobbies convenient.
I had a neighbor growing up who kept a sewing machine in her hall closet way up high and would get it out to fix a hem or something. Because my mom had a designated sewing space, I thought this was totally weird, ha! If your sewing machine is up in a closet somewhere and all your tools put away, you'll probably never get it out to sew. Making your hobbies easily accessible will go a long way in how much you get to enjoy them. At our house, I keep a pretty vintage magazine holder next to my favorite chair full of the books I'm currently reading, so they're easy to grab when I have a minute to sit. I have a mug of paint brushes on a shelf over my dining room table and the bin of watercolor supplies nearby so it's easy for us to get out and paint without searching for supplies. My sewing space has migrated as my seasons of childrearing have changed. When the kids were younger, I made space in our various living rooms, so I could sew while also being where the kids were. Right now I have a large space to sew in, but in Hawaii, I only had a hallway desk. When we go out and I take my big camera, I don't even bring it in a case, I just sling it over my shoulder so it's easily accessible to me, knowing that if I had it in a backpack with several choices of lenses, it would feel like a chore to even get it out.
2. Find small pockets of time to work on your hobbies
I sometimes sit down to play the piano while dinner is in the oven, or while waiting on friends to arrive. I read in between dance drop off/pick ups. I know many sewists who complete projects one seam at a time, in ten minute increments. This is another perk to having your hobbies out and accessible to you. Especially if you have small children at home, using those 10 or 20 minutes to enjoy your hobby is a good strategy.
3. Take your hobby with you
If you're anything like me, you have more than one thing you love to do and at least one of those things is portable. Hand sewing projects, crochet, knitting, photography, reading, embroidery; these are all things that I've brought along in the past. Use those hours sitting at basketball or dress rehearsals to your advantage!
4. Realize that hobbies can come and go
There were many years that I was a scrapbooker. I loved to do it, I loved to go to crop nights with friends and I found a lot of satisfaction in that. There came a time, though, when I just didn't have time to keep up with it and I did not need a hobby that made me feel behind in something! So I put it aside. When we were moving here to Utah from Hawaii, we didn't have our belongings for a few months and my hands were itching to create something, so I brought an Amigurumi crochet book, a hook and some yarn and it gave me something to put my hands to in that season, even though crochet isn't something I make time for ordinarily. Even in sewing, there were seasons I enjoyed quilting more and others when I preferred garment sewing. It's ok to pick up hobbies as you go and put others aside. There can be guilt in knowing how to do something or knowing you're good at something and not putting those skills to use, but that's just silly, isn't it?
5. Find buddies to enjoy your hobbies with you
I love talking books with my mom and show-and-telling sewing projects over FaceTime. I enjoy teaching my friends to sew. I love sharing and commenting on sewing projects through social media. My girls and I have a blast coming up with photo shoot ideas, they are definitely my best photography buddies! There are tons of ways to find people who love the same things you love and that kind of community makes hobbies so much more fun.
6. Think twice before offering up your skills to others
Just because you're good at something doesn't mean you should do it for money, or even as a favor, to others. There have been many times I have taken on sewing work that I did not want to do and that I did not need the money for, just because a friend asked and I knew I could do it, so I said yes. Find a way to say no that is gracious and then SAY IT! I usually say something like, "I don't take on custom work, I just don't have time". I should add that there are times I am asked that I actually do want to take on projects, such as costumes for the Narnia play our home school co op put on last year, but I weigh those decisions carefully before volunteering. That's sewing, though. Photography I actually LOVE to do for my friends, but I cannot do it for money, it's just too much pressure and I don't have time to deal with the administrative part of trying to make a go of photography as a business. So I usually say I work for coffee, ha! My point it, as with all things in life, you have to figure out what your boundaries are and stick to them. If you don't, before you know it, the precious time you have to work on your hobby will be eaten up by projects you really didn't want to do in the first place.
7. Last, but not least, stop wasting time
Dare I say it? Put down your phone!! While a few of us may really, truly not have moments to spare for enjoyment throughout the day, I'd be willing to bet the majority of people who say they don't have time to fit in hobbies are wasting large chunks of time on mindless activities that produce nothing. How do I have time for "all that sewing?" I do not watch TV in the middle of the day. It feels rude to say that to people when they ask me that questions, but it's what I really want to tell them! (When I do watch something in the evenings, I use that time for yet another hobby: I do the New York Times crossword every night, like a grandpa, ha!). Furthermore, around Christmastime last year, I decided I really wanted to read more. I have always loved to read and while I had a good excuse why I didn't get many books read in a year when my kids were little, I can't use that excuse now that they're preteens. I decided that if I had a few minutes, where I would almost always pick up my phone and fritter the time away, I'd pick up a book instead. You guys, I have read 32 books so far this year!! What!? Theology, history, biography, so many good books. That is a LOT of hours I was spending mindlessly on social media. Use your time wisely.
If you have anything to add to these ideas, I would love to hear them! Please share in the comments.