Hobbies are important.
Hobbies make us dynamic people with interests and passions. They are creative outlets and a way to unwind.
But hobbies can also drain us.
Projects left uncompleted guilt us every time we see them piled in the corner, calling out to us to complete that half-finished quilt, hat, mod podge picture craft, or broken up pallet in the back yard.
Hobbies can make us feel spent when we have so many things that need to be done.
With Pinterest taunting/inspiring us to do more, it is so easy to want to create all the amazing things that we see. I LOVE handmade items, clothes, toys, kitchen and home decor. If it is handmade I most certainly want it.
I cannot buy all the handmade things. So I try to make them.
When my oldest daughter was six months I taught myself to crochet via youtube tutorials and the guidance of my best friend. I love to crochet. Or rather, I love that I know how to crochet. I can make a new hat when I need to. I can fill a need in my home with a handmade item that I personally made.
When I first started crocheting
…I wanted to “crochet all the things.” I made hats, blankets, sweaters, blankets, a shrug, blankets, scarves. Did I mention blankets? At one point I thought I would try my hand at a rug. I saw this adorable, bright colored rug made from nylon rope on Pinterest. The tutorial seemed straight forward; pink nylon rope from Lowe’s, a huge crochet hook, and crocheting in the round.
I gathered my supplies and went to work. I couldn’t even make a chain with that damn pink rope. How the heck am I supposed to crochet in the round with this thing?
I put down the rope and walked away. But every time I went to get some yarn to make a hat or blanket that pink rope stared at me. “You really bought three bunches of bright pink rope to make a rug and now you’re not even going to try. Good going,” it taunted me.
I felt frustrated with myself and with Pinterest for thinking I could “do all the things.” I held onto that rope for a long time. I let it taunt me and make me feel like I could never finish what I started.
And then came knitting.
Years later, when my youngest was only a few weeks old, I decided I would learn to knit. I love the look of knit items. They seem so much softer and more flexible than crochet, and I wanted to try something new. I started with some dish cloths, which was easy enough, and then moved on a toddler ski mask.
It took me weeks to make a ribbed neck 6” in diameter and 4” high. WEEKS. I could have made a crocheted ski mask in two days in my free time.
Eventually, when I was ready to start the actual hat portion of the mask, I missed a stitch. In my haste and inexperience I tried to fix it but ended up ruining it. Rows and rows of stitches, weeks of work gone in two minutes.
My daughter needed a new hat for winter, which would be here in a matter of days, and all my effort was gone. I could crochet a similar hat in two days in my spare time. Needless to say I was frustrated. I wasn’t ready to give up knitting just yet, but I didn’t go back to the hat, which was poisoned with too many emotions.
I tried a simpler hat for myself. Three rows in and again it fell apart in my hands. I tried again. Six rows before my inability to fix a missed stitch ruined another attempt.
Finally I asked myself, “Why am I doing this? Is this making me happy?”
My eyes hurt from trying to focus on my work. My hands hurt from the needles. I wasn’t having fun and I could easily make a hat with a different method. So why was I trying to persevere with knitting?
I still love knit items. I would still love to learn to knit. But right now there are so many other things that need my attention and I don’t have the time or patience to give to knitting.
I put my needles away. I stared at my craft supplies and the damn pink rope looked up at me. “Why are you holding onto me!!” it seemed to yell.
Instead of putting my needles into my craft box I put them into the donate box.
I put scraps of fabric into garbage bags. Pink rope, acrylic yarn, sheets of felt meant for a quiet book that was never made, half-made sewing patterns that would need to be made again from scratch if ever to be used, all found its way into either the garbage or donate box. The only hobby supplies that remained were a few skeins of quality wool yarns, crochet hooks, and my favorite fabrics for making clothes.
I took Pinterest off my phone
…and determined that I would not start a new project until I finished the current one. I started thinking about what hobbies I get excited about. What hobbies bring me the most joy and don’t feel like a chore?
I stopped thinking of crochet as a hobby. It is something I can do to fill a need instead of make an excess of blankets. Since it isn’t a hobby any more I no longer feel the need to “make all the things.” I still crochet when we need a hat or a new sweater for the girls. I still enjoy it. But I’m not making blankets or hats or tea cozies just for the sake of making them.
It’s something I can do. It isn’t something I do.
By decluttering my hobbies I have been able to focus on what really brings me joy. I have started writing again. I have been able to read 2-3 books a month (and if you have small children you know how hard that can be). I can take my children outdoors and am able to be present in the moment.
There is no project waiting for me to get home or waiting for me to pick up another supply item at the store. I don’t have a mess of yarn or fabric waiting for me to clean it up when I get home. I can be present with my children without guilt of something else that needs to be done. And I come home renewed.
I’ve been able to focus more on my garden and read different gardening books. And because I’ve focused on my garden I’ve found a new interest that truly excites me, herbalism. Had I been too distracted with hobbies that don’t excite me, I would never have focused on gardening as I did. I would never have thought about herbalism before. And now it is all I read about. I am so eager to start my own herb garden next spring.
I’ve found new interests and passions that truly bring me joy by letting go of the ones that made me feel pressured.
What hobbies do you feel are pulling at you but not giving you the same return? What hobbies are starting to feel like a chore and not a joy? Are you ready to cut back? It’s time to focus on hobbies that make you feel alive, motivated.
Get rid of the supplies that yell at you, the supplies that make you feel guilty every time you pass them by. Let those projects go and take back your joy in hobbies. If you love to craft, than craft. But don’t feel pressured to do all the different types of crafts. If you love to make tea cozies, than make tea cozies till your counters are covered in brightly colored tea pots. But don’t feel pressured to make sweaters.
Follow your interests, ignore Pinterest, and take back your free time.
From Heather: I’m a Holistic Nurturer. I do my best to create a healthy environment for all to grow and thrive in using sustainable means. I garden and home-educate. I aim to consume less and grow more as a woman. I dabble in herbalism and minimalism. I write for Holistic Nurturhood. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram!