Once upon a time, we both had hobbies that we spent a lot of time on. Things that filled our souls, gave us creative outlets, brought us peace and calm. We both competed in Ultimate Frisbee, B often traveling with competitive teams. D was a fiddler with a bluegrass band, played classical chamber music, and jammed with other musicians. B frequently rearranged household furniture, played piano, and taught herself random crafts, like sewing. D played golf.
In our with-kids lives, we’ve spent less and less time on our individual hobbies. While we’ve gotten pretty good at separating out regular time for after-hours work activities (professional), weekly date nights and occasional adults-only trips (partner), and special kids’ activities (parenting), we’ve fallen way short at carving out consistent time for ourselves (person). As a result, we (and especially B because her workdays and personal passions operate on far less flexible schedules than D’s at the moment), are feeling like we’re too often subordinating what makes each of us “us” to everything else. We’ve made this choice for so long because we believe so deeply in the importance and value of family time. We also know our kids won’t be little for long, and that this precious time we have with them – where they want nothing more than to be with us – will be gone in the blink of an eye. Framing it that way, sacrificing a few Ultimate Frisbee seasons or golf games seems like a small price to pay for the privilege of parenting. And it absolutely is. And yet….
We’ve both realized the hard way that, in order to bring our best selves to our kids, we need to be “whole” people (i.e., balancing our professional, person, partner, and parent elements). We need to continue engaging in our own creative and physical outlets even if not at the pre-kids level of intensity. D needs to be able to perform violin gigs, to regularly hit the gym. B needs to be able to compete in Ultimate, to write, to scrapbook our lives. We’re simply happier, calmer, more pleasant people, parents, partners, and professionals to be around when we make time for the non-kid, non-work, non-spouse activities we enjoy.
When we are trying to be together all the time, there simply isn’t enough room for those things. Our individual efforts to carve out time ad hoc often create friction. Friction spawned by guilt (at taking time away from the family), resentment (at feeling crunched for time or at the other’s taking time), frustration (at not being able to participate in an activity because of each other’s schedule), or all of the above. Friction we don’t want and don’t need.
We don’t want to give up all of our all-together time. We just want to intentionally make a little more room for each of us to regularly have personal time without feeling rushed or guilty. So we’re starting to experiment with calendaring to figure out how to make it work. We’ve been taking notes from friends who regularly split up time on weekends (early vs. late shifts, Saturday vs. Sunday mornings) and friends who split up evenings (alternating who has parent duty and who is allowed to schedule whatever they want). We haven’t yet figured out the optimal arrangement for us, but we’re beginning to experiment. And that feels great!
Do you carve out time for your hobbies? Do you and your partner have a regular schedule for “me time”? How do you fit it all in?