Before having two children I honestly don’t know how I spent my time. Thinking back, I can vaguely remember long lazy evenings on the sofa reading or enjoying a box set, plenty of weekend lie ins, painting my nails and leisurely baking a cake for a special occasion.
Enter Child 1, and all hobbies and me-time were replaced with nappies, bottle prep, studying puree recipe books and obsessing about sleep. I told myself and others that the only hobby in my life was my daughter, and I had no time or energy for anything more. Working full time with a baby was even more time consuming than maternity leave, so I didn’t endeavour to ring-fence ‘me-time’ to enjoy my old hobbies of baking and photography. The only focus in my life was keeping myself and my baby alive, reasonably healthy and grabbing as much sleep as humanly possible.
Enter Child 2, and I began to despair of ever having anything for myself again! I still had not learnt that I needed to make time not only for ‘self care’ but also for my own hobbies, interests and friendships. I developed PND and struggled for about 18 months before seeking counselling and help from the GP (that’s another story!) Gradually the haze cleared, and I felt a new zeal for pursuing my own hobbies.
A journey of rediscovering Me and Who I Am
So the last few months I have been on a journey of re-discovery – of Me and Who I Am. I’ve dug out all my make up, statement jewellery, bought pretty new clothes, made time for long girly chats, chose new books and tried new baking techniques. And the big one – my husband bought me a sewing machine for my birthday. He knew I was struggling to have anything to think about other than babies and toddlers, so he encouraged me to pursue a completely new hobby.
I was reinvigorated overnight – buying fabric, watching YouTube videos of how to thread my sewing machine, remembering my Year 9 Textiles lessons at school and proudly showing family my first ever drawstring bag that I sewed (spoiler alert – it was fairly dreadful but I got a universal thumbs up for effort!) Since then I’ve grown in confidence and skill. The weeks leading up to Christmas were a frenzy of sewing handmade decorations and gifts for family. And I’ve started my first ever quilt which has been bloody hard but really enjoyable (thank goodness for Youtube!)
The challenge is part of the joy of a hobby
There are definitely ups and downs, but the challenge is all part of the joy of a hobby. Last night I had a disaster – I managed to sew my kitchen tablecloth to the quilt. Big time. In an amused panic, I confessed to my husband what had happened. He laughed his head off but then unpicked all the stitches for me because, and I quote, ‘I know you love this quilt and I don’t want you upset.’ He’s a keeper.
Anyway this isn’t a blog about the joy of sewing! My point is this – find a hobby. Embrace yourself and your own needs. Stop making excuses for never finding time for what you WANT to do, and instead only finding time for what you HAVE to do. It’s a lesson I spent 4 years learning.
That extra ten minutes is important for ME
Now I spend an extra ten minutes choosing earrings and applying a dash of make up in the mornings – no more racing downstairs because the girls can’t wait a second longer for breakfast. I find time to watch a YouTube video of a new sewing project. I allow myself a few sneaky minutes online buying fabric. I add new make-up to my Asda order, along with the nappies and bananas. I buy myself a new book as well as the children’s new stories. I plan to try a new cake recipe for my sister’s birthday. And it’s important to realise this doesn’t have to involve spending money or buying new things. If you’re interested in sewing, why not save old clothes and baby cardigans to recycle into fabric for new projects? Or let yourself have time for a long phone call with a friend. Or read your favourite beauty or fashion website for a while with a cup of tea. Or just take time to sit on the sofa scrolling on your phone, clicking on things that interest you – and IGNORE the pile of laundry or kid’s lunchboxes.
Finally, I repeat this mantra to myself regularly: ‘I’m not just a Mummy of two little girls. I’m ME. I’m Alice.‘