Happy Mom Series: What Did You Like to Do?

I have this theory.  Okay, so I have lots of theories, but this particular one involves you, me, and the women of Jane Austen’s novels.  Have you ever felt as though you were raised to be a society wife in Edwardian England and then dropped off in World War II era America?  Stay with me…I promise this is going somewhere sane.

I began taking piano lessons when I was three years old.  My older brother had just begun playing and apparently I insisted on joining him.  Add to that the flute in fourth grade, my short stint as a vocal student, a rarely completed cross-stitching hobby, late nights sketching portraits, the occasional poetry writing contest…you get the idea.  Then there were the summers water skiing, the winters snow skiing, the tennis racket, the baseball glove.  While I certainly didn’t grow up playing croquet on the lawn in my long dress and sun bonnet, in many ways I was raised to be an interesting young lady, prepared to capture the heart of a gentleman and live a life of leisure.

The reality, of course, is that I grew up to go to college, find employment, and cook, clean, and fend for myself…in an apartment with no piano or tennis courts. I got married, worked for a few years, then saved enough money to be able to stay home with my children.  What I discovered as a stay-at-home mom was that playing the piano and cross-stitching pictures of cats is not incredibly useful if you don’t also have a nanny and a maid.  I also discovered that the passions which had previously come together to create the whole me were now cast aside as the mundane tasks of real life took their place. Perhaps cooking lessons and instruction in how to press dress shirts would have been more useful?

The truth is that happy moms are often better moms.

What if finding the woman we used to be is the key to better parenting?  What if becoming a whole person again creates a happier family?  I’m going to be writing a blog series with this exact thought in mind.  And my first question is this…

When you had time for you, what is it that you loved to do in your free time?

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  • I have to say this is something that I have been very lucky with. I am still very much doing what I love. I loved being out and about sports concerts ect and now I just do it wth the kids. I also love organizing stuff so while i’d be focusing on causes that are my passion (teen pregnancy and cancer ed) more if I didn’t have kids I am very happy being team parent at soccer and the popcorn mom at scouts. I wish I could be home full time to do it all better. But I don’t feel I’ve lost myself at all

    • Amy

      If you love organization, then you’ve got it made as a mom!

      • ok maybe i should have said PLANNING stuff instead of organizing, because I am an organizational nightmare in MANY ways. but I love planning and lists etc, I just can’t always remember where I put my lists LOL
        but I <3 spreadsheets and budgets etc

  • Music. I played violin and piano. I hoarded CDs, listening to them over and over again, memorizing lyrics, analyzing angst, and enjoying it. I often think about taking lessons in something again…

    • Amy

      Alli, I’ve always wanted to learn to play the trap set. Maybe we could all vow to sign up for lessons!

  • What a timely post! I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I’ve always loved languages and travel and different cultures. Not so easy to just drop everything and go now that our family is larger. I try to watch foreign films/shows when I can and teach the boys other languages, but I had been missing the interactions with other people. Last week, I started volunteering with a local ESL program. It’s only two hours a week, but I’m having a blast! I’ve already noticed a change in my own attitude and I’m anxious to see how that will affect things going forward.

    • Amy

      I think that for many of us, volunteering locally is the only option. I wanted to sign up for a mission trip with my church, but how can I leave my kids for two weeks to go take care of someone else’s? Who would make the PBJ and drive to pre-school drop off?

  • I’m not sure that I remember free time! But I’ll give it a shot….

    Before kids I used to be single, free, and living with my friends. There were late night movies, shopping trips, and weekends spent out and about.

    Now that I have kids free time is such a rare and incredible thing that when I get it I’m so giddy that I don’t know what to do! Scrapbook, sit and watch a movie, get a pedicure/manicure, actually go out with adults, surf the internet, clean…. the options are endless.

    I think that we as moms need to make time for ourselves. Time where we can do whatever we want. Time to relax. Time to be us. Time to become a happy mom.

    • Amy

      I love that you put “clean” in your list of fun things 🙂

      • LOL! Well, it’s not actually fun but it is something that needs to get done! And it’s easier when the kids aren’t around!
        Now that I think about it…. I should just hire a maid and then I can actually get to the fun stuff when I do have free time!!!

  • Kathleen Marler

    I liked being able to go to the bathroom alone…but aside from that, I miss just time
    to think!

    • Amy

      Silence. Remember silence?

    • OH! That is amazing! Even to be able to go without someone yelling. MOM!!

  • Travel. Before I had kids, I went to Europe, Japan, Canada, Jamaica… I love to explore foreign countries. I wish I could travel again (and not for business)! I really miss it.

    • Amy

      We’ve decided to just travel with the kids and not sweat it, but of course this means to visit Grandma in Texas and Mickey in Florida, not Big Ben in London. 😉 Hopefully some day!

  • Trisha

    When I heard the “put the oxygen mask on you first so that you can save your kids” example from more than one friend I finally got the hint. Not taking care of myself was affecting them. So lately I’ve been trying to fit more time in for things I used to do. Working out, riding my horse, seeing live bands with friends, reading something other than parenting info, connecting with friends, and sending actual letters and cards to friends. All of these are things I did more before becoming a mom.

    Reminding myself that it doesn’t have to be “all or nothing” has helped. Working out just one day a week is still better than none. Getting just a couple pages of a good book read before helping with kids homework is still something personally satisfying.

    Above all, even though my oldest is already 10, I sometimes still yearn to be unaccountable. The days when I didn’t have time limits on every activity of my day. When no one cared if I didn’t come straight home after work. It obviously comes with the territory of being a responsible adult but some days the urge is there to just go AWOL. 🙂

    • Amy

      The other Saturday I took off in my car to run two short errands leaving the kids and the hubby behind with the laundry. When I was done I decided to just drive around for 15 minutes. Just as I was pulling back into the driveway, my Blackberry began to ring. So apparently 15 minutes is the amount of time you can go AWOL before they notice. 😉

  • I have been thinking about this lately too. What happened to time to knit, read, play the piano, got to movies? I do still do some of these things sometimes, but not very often. Since I work I feel like my time with the kids need to be focused with them. I can’t just say, hey kids I am going to knit right now! And if I try to play the piano my three year old wants to come bang on it too. I think as they kids get older and are involved in activities these things will get easier to fit in.

    • Amy

      Kristie, I have the same experience with the piano. I feel like the witch who killed the joy of music when I tell my four year old to stop pounding on the piano in the middle of Claire de Lune, but for once I’d love to get the chance to just play!

      • I have just stopped playing to avoid the whole conflict. I need to try again. I have often wondered if I could play after they go to sleep, but haven’t wanted to test it out!

  • Before I had my daughter, I would spend at least one weekend day at the beach reading a book from start to finish with my Sony Walkman. Now I just can’t get away like that and I worry about melanoma.

  • Oh man, I love this post. My favorite hobbies – pre-kid – were pottery (which I was getting pretty good at) and chocolate making. After five years, I’m finally getting back into the studio in January. I’m now hoping that it’s as good as I remember, and that I get the same pleasure from it as I used to.

    After I finished nursing my second, a few months ago, I went back to yoga and it was the best thing I could have done for my parenting. I was calmer, I was happier, I found whole new reserves of energy and patience.