Have you ever noticed that Mother’s Day gifts are kind of … generic? Chocolate and flowers are nice, but they aren’t exactly personalized. Sometimes it’s easier to shop for dads because they are far more likely than moms to have — and pursue — interests outside of work and home.
Moms, on the other hand, often get stuck with the lion’s share of parenting and household duties and have a bigger challenge carving out time to do things purely for themselves. Sometimes we downgrade professional skills to hobbies. But if you were a pro skateboarder before you had kids, skateboarding is not a hobby, even if you aren’t competing right now. A hobby is something you do just for yourself, without the justification of potential income or other practical benefits. If it’s been so long since you had a spare minute to think about what you might enjoy doing for the sheer joy of doing it, we’ve got some ideas to help you find a thing of your own.
Use your power
Every mom has said it: Hands are not for hitting. But hitting your friends can be fun and healthy in the controlled environment of a supportive martial arts community. We sign our kids up for karate or kung fu to teach them mental discipline, get exercise and learn how to protect themselves if they are ever in physical danger. These are all benefits that we could use ourselves. Not to mention the satisfaction and stress release that comes from landing a solid punch. The Seattle area is home to myriad martial arts schools in nearly every style imaginable. The Pacific Association of Women Martial Artists member schools are explicitly supportive of women in martial arts.
“My son has a caregiver a couple nights a week. I’ve been using those nights for about seven years to practice martial arts. At first it was about connecting with my body and finding strength. I continued training because the community is so amazing and empowering. It’s so nice to train with the girls and as I’m getting older, I want something to keep me active and healthy. For me, martial arts makes me feel strong in my body. It gives me confidence, and as a single, older woman it’s good to feel strong.” — Kiymbah Tytania, martial artist (and mom of a developmentally disabled 19-year-old)
Alternative: If you’re looking for a hobby that doesn’t require years of committed training to get really good, you can still feel badass with the trendy new sport of axe-throwing. Blade and Timber is a dedicated axe alley and lots of bars around town have added their own axe lanes.
Take up a new sport
If standing on the sidelines as a soccer mom has made you an expert in calling offsides and you catch yourself wishing you could just take the shot on goal yourself, do it. Grown women can get all the same benefits from team sports that kids get. So find your own recreational soccer team — Seattle RATS is just one of several local leagues with women’s and co-ed teams. It doesn’t even have to be soccer. Try out pickleball, Ultimate Frisbee or even curling. Or go old-school and join a roller derby team; the Seattle area has several leagues to choose from. Not a team player? Take up ice skating.
“I got back into road biking about four years ago. My goal was to ride in the Fred Hutch Obliteride 20-mile bike ride. This required a lot of training, but I did it because I wanted to get in shape doing MY sport.” — Noni Roblin, cyclist (and mom of a 17-year-old)
Alternative: Got the rules but not the moves? Take the experience of years of observation and become a soccer referee. It’s almost as much exercise as playing the game, refs are always in demand, and it’s the one place where kids should never talk back when you call the shots.
Get back into music
Most of us can relate to the line in “Almost Famous” about loving a piece of music so much it hurts. But for those of us of a certain age, it was expected that dudes played the music and girls listened. Fortunately, it’s never too late to be a rock star. Rain City Rock Camp has camps for adults (next one starts May 27), and just like its kids’ camps, you don’t need to know how to play an instrument. In fact, this year the adult camps are all about DJ skills. If your vibe is more classical, there are several amateur orchestras in the region — start prepping for your audition now. You can also just take music lessons without aiming for the stage — your kids’ teacher would probably love to have an adult student for a change!
Alternative: Happiest as a fan girl? No problem. Sign up for that Ticketmaster newsletter and commit to catching shows when your favorite bands are in town. Or discover new local music at your favorite neighborhood venue.
Learn some new lingo
English is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, so it’s easy to forget that it’s not the only way to communicate, but speaking additional languages helps us view the world through multiple lenses. Maybe you’ve fallen in love with another culture, want to expand the number of people in the world with whom you can potentially converse, yearn to read the books that never get translated, or just enjoy stretching your brain. The DuoLingo app is great for the time crunched — you can practice in Candy Crush time-frames. For the more driven language learner, italki offers one-on-one virtual lessons with professional teachers in more than 100 languages. If you’re driven but broke, you can use your Seattle Public Library card to access free, one-on-one virtual tutoring through Tutor.com in English, Vietnamese and Spanish.
“I studied French as part of my degree, but I had forgotten so much. I lived in France for a year, and I hope to go back someday and spend more time there with my family. I also enjoy French culture and find it an enjoyable language to learn. Doing the classes online is easy as I can fit them into my schedule without leaving the house, and my French teacher has introduced me to lots of interesting French TV shows and books.” — Vicky McDonald, French student (and mom of kids ages 4 and 6)
Alternative: Take classes in anything else you’re interested in. Seattle Central Community College has a catalogue of hobby and interest classes from boating to woodworking. For online options, look into Coursera’s university-level academic classes or The Great Courses for just about anything under the sun.
Make time for writing and reading
We all know that if both parents look busy, kids prefer to interrupt whatever mom is doing. But you probably managed to carve out some time and space for uninterrupted work from home during the pandemic. Build on that win and use the habits developed for work to try creative writing. Give yourself a schedule, whether it’s 15 minutes in the morning before your real work begins or three hours at a coffee shop on Saturday to craft that gritty noir novel haunting the corners of your mind. If you prefer, write poems, build a blog, even journal. And if you never followed Virginia Woolf’s advice to claim a room of your own, take Hemingway’s advice instead: Write drunk, edit sober.
Alternative: Icelanders say everyone has a book in their belly, but maybe you disagree. In that case, make time for reading again. Join the monthly Silent Reading Party at the Sorrento Hotel to enjoy live music and snacks (that someone else prepped) while you read. Or, a quiet screen-free hour (or half-hour) with a book before bed is free and improves sleep.
Become a patron of the arts
Seattle Children’s Theatre is one of the best in the nation. But motherhood doesn’t have to limit you to all-ages fare. Seattle is a theater town on par with New York and Chicago, so take advantage of it. Subscribe to a season at Seattle Rep or one of the smaller, edgier theaters; try a season at the opera, pick a performance series at Meany or become a member at your favorite museum and commit to regular visits without the kids in tow. Season subscriptions guarantee an evening out almost every month. Use your subscription to revive date night, or even better, pick another mom as your arts buddy and stay connected with a friend.
Alternative: Become an artist yourself. Hit up the art supply store and see what you can make. Pratt and Seattle Artist League offer classes in painting and many other media. You can even take up ballet as an adult beginner through Pacific Northwest Ballet and many of the same studios where your kids take lessons.
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