Making time for your hobbies

A friend, suggested I share how I make time for my hobbies and I couldn’t think of a better time than now to write this post as I hosted a few people recently for my husband’s birthday and baked his birthday cake for the first time yay!

Just so we are on the same page, I will start by giving the definition provided in the Oxford dictionary for a hobby:

An activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.

Everything I say below is intended for activities done in your free time for pleasure and not as a business. A completely different mindset is required when you decide to turn your hobby into a source of income. The tips I will share below will not be fully relevant in such cases.

So here we go. I enjoy cooking, baking, hosting guests, organising parties, knitting, crocheting, sewing, reading and watching tv. To be honest, the list goes on, but these are the top of my list at the moment. 

Prior to getting married and having a child, I was able to do all of this relatively easily, without even thinking about it or having to compromise. However, with marriage comes responsibilities and even more so with a child. This meant I had to make time to do the things I enjoy outside of my normal day to day life. 

My husband’s birthday cake

It was hard at first, and even nearly upsetting when I realised I couldn’t do it all. However, I studied economics at A levels *geek alert* and I think it helped me come to terms with this. Basically, there are limited resources in the world and to focus on developing a product requires an opportunity cost, i.e. a forefeited alternative. This is a very hurried way to explain it but I hope I haven’t lost you yet. Applying this to my situation, I realised that to bake or knit or whatever it was I wanted to do, there was a forfeited alternative which came in various forms, from lack of sleep, not reading a novel, not cooking,to not spending quality time with my son and husband, and so on. Once I appreciated this, it was easier for me not to feel guilty when I decide to spend time on my hobby as I have already weighed the cost of forfeiting the alternative.

I hope that once you realise that spending time on your hobby means you are forefeiting spending time on something else you have to do, or you equally enjoy, you will find the tips below useful.

5 tips on how to make time for your hobbies. 

1. Maximise your commuting time

If you are fortunate enough to be  driven to work (either by train, bus, car share etc), count yourself lucky as you have precious time in your hands that those who drive themselves do not.

You can maximise this time by reading a book, knitting or crocheting a few lines of your project, draft your next article or blog, you can spend this time to do some general research for hobbies that are not portable. For example. As I have never decorated a birthday cake before, I spent the week before my husband’s birthday scrolling through pintrest and YouTube, doing some research on how to decorate the cake I wanted to bake and also buying the ingredients online. This meant I didn’t have to spend as much time worrying about this when I got home in the evenings.

It is very tempting to spend this time sleeping or browsing social media. It is okay to do this, but like I said above, there has got to be a forefeited alternative. If you are struggling to find time for your hobbies, you may have to forfeit sleep or browsing social media for this. 

Finally, as a Londoner, I am fully aware that you do not always be a sea on the train and so it may not be convenient to do anything. I find that it is usually busier in the mornings for me and so in most cases I can find a seat in the evenings. This is when, if I want to, I usually knit. If however you are struggling to find space to do something substantial on your commute, you can  read a novel or do some research. You can do things like that standing and a cramped train should not always hinder you.

2. It is okay to have WIPs

I used to beat myself up for starting knitting projects and not finishing them. I felt like I was in a competition with myself.  However, I recently came to the realisation that this was putting undue pressure on myself and stopping me from enjoying my hobby. Once you stop enjoying it, it stops being a hobby and becomes a responsibility. So now, when I start a project, I allow myself to take as long as it takes to complete. However, if I am knitting towards a particular deadline (e.g. a gift for a new born baby) then my attitude towards it is different. 

I also get bored easily by what I am doing, especially if it is not turning out as nice as I expected 😜. I love to see results quickly. This means that I keep researching new patterns and start working on another project before I even complete the first project. It is also important to acknowledge that some hobbies take longer to complete than others. If you are an artist for example, working on a portrait will usually take a lot longer than baking a cake or reading a book. So make sure you allow a reasonable amount of time for you complete your project so that you do not get unduly frustrated . 

I have shared two pictures below of my complete and incomplete project.

Incomplete: a quilt for my son
 
 
Complete: a mug cosy
 
3. Schedule your hobbies

Yes, you heard that right, schedule your hobbies. It sounds very obvious doesn’t it? However, if like me you have a lot of hobbies, I recommend that you firstly prioritise your hobbies otherwise your diary will fill up quickly. Firstly decide  which one, or two do you enjoy the most, and then which of them will be the most convenient and realistic to pursue. This makes it easier and more achievable for you to continue to enjoy this hobby. This is not to say that you have to dump the other hobbies, it just gives you the permission to focus on the few that is sure to give you more satisfaction.

Scheduling hobbies is particularly useful if you are into a particular sport, or a popular hobby. It is possible to join your local team, book club, knit and stitch group, toastmasters, crafts club, fitness class, whatever it may be, especially when you live in the Western world. You find that such groups meet regularly, it could be weekly, twice a month or monthly. If you do not have a group you can join locally and you are feeling brave enough, you could start your own, but may require more of a commitment from you than joining an already existing club.

Joining local groups does not mean you have to attend every meeting, because let’s face it, life happens. However, it gives you a structure to follow and accountability. Once you discuss this with your other half, I am nearly certain he will not be too hung up about babysitting for an hour or two every other week so that mummy gets to have some mummy time. 

4. Include the family

Get your husband or children involved in your hobby. If you love to bake, bake together. It may be more messy than doing it alone but you will get the satisfaction of bonding with your family and also accomplishing spending time on your hobby. The more you do it together, they better they themselves become at it and before you know it, you have a shared bond.

Investing the initial time at the beginning to wet your family’s appetite for your hobby could help you in the future. See it as a long term investment. As they begin to enjoy it, it becomes easier for you all to do it together. It is also a way to teach them new skills. For me, my son is still too young to cook with me, but I get him involved with baking when I can. He is my chief taster! Also, like I said above, I enjoy watching tv so I watch his shows with him and he watches mine with me (obviously age appropriate). Finally, reading books, his attention span is still very short, but we are slowly but surely getting there with him reading books. In the future, I hope he too will enjoy reading books as much as his mum does!

5. Budget for your hobbies

Ah! I didn’t realise knitting and sewing was an expensive hobby until got into it! Needless to say, my husband asked me to start budgeting for it! I don’t blame him though, I would have done the same. It is easy for the cost of your hobby to creep up on you without you realising. When you are doing your monthly budget, include some allowance for your hobby. This way, you won’t feel guilty when you are buying the things you need and at the same time, you will not buy more than you need, at least until the next budget round. 

If your hobbies are expensive, save towards it and always look out for deals! I know from living in the UK that websites like wowcher, groupon, Amazon local and so on, always have deals, especially theatre deals. For those who like to travel, websites like iPods and Expedia are great for comparing flight and hotel costs. For those who like to dine in restaurants,  if you are in the UK buy a tastecard, which gives you two for one on meals provided the restaurant is on the tastecard scheme and you book a table in advance letting them know you will be using a tastecard. I have done this before and we saved a whole load of cash! Make sure you make use of such deals. For me, attending the knit and stitch show meant I could buy a lot of knitting products, from wool, to pins to buttons at a reasonable price. Do your research on how to save money on your hobby, you won’t be sorry. Saving money is the new black! Spending money you don’t have or more than you should is so yesterday! Lol 

I hope the above tips will help you make time for and save money on your hobbies! Feedback is always welcome and please do share your own tips on how you make time for your hobbies in your comments below!

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