Lately there’s a saying that’s been doing the rounds on social media – that to help maintain overall health and wellbeing, you need not just one, but precisely three hobbies. One to keep you fit, one that exercises your creativity, one to make you money.
It’s a very neat and clever little idea, and I agree it sounds very sensible and that’s all well and good. But I want to know; did the person who came up this tidy little concept have kids? If any of you have a baby or little kids at home I’m sure you would agree how bloody hard it can be making time for even just one hobby at all, let alone three that fit into nice specific hobby genres!
Delightful as they can be, toddlers and babies are such a time and energy suck and it can be so easy to slip into the trap of not making any time for yourself to explore your own interests at all outside of having children. But parents put their kids first in so many ways, so I think actually making time for yourself and your own hobbies becomes more important than EVER when you become a mum or a dad.
I’m not super-mad on the currently very topical term ‘self-care’ because it just makes me think of bubble baths and mind-numbing meditations. I’m not trying to take away from those things – things like that ARE great and they can be very helpful. But the issue of self-care to me seems like it generally focuses more on mini-fixes or bandaid solutions, rather than focusing on finding long-term things or passions that really make you happy and that help you explore and develop your own interests as a person, not just a mother or a father. (But that’s a whole different conversation!)
Anyway. For my hubby, his hobby is food and cooking. Particularly meat – barbecuing, smoking, sous vide, making his own mince, using the Weber, the rotisserie etc… not long ago he made our own chilli jam from our chillies… and harvested honey from our bees! He loves to try new recipes – recently he made a biltong box in our pantry. Yuuuum. (It’s a built-in biltong box. I’m not kidding. It’s awesome).
For me, a hobby I have been really enjoying is making succulent bowls and planters. It’s a light, easy hobby I can enjoy WHILE watching the kids at home, when they’re awake and playing outside – even better! I love making succulent bowls because I can muck around with plants on our deck (our big Early Settler Marson outdoor dining table turns into the perfect potting table) while watching the kids play in the garden.
When I’m home with the kids, we tend to spend most of the day outside, rain, hail or shine. Miss Nerd (who is now a bit over one) is the kind of kid who isn’t in the least bothered by weather. Every morning after her breakfast, she rails on the back door with her fat little fists, begging to go outside like a dog, no matter if it’s blowing a gale or pouring with rain. She would happily be outside all day. But being so little and adventurous, you definitely still have to keep an eye on her, which is why mucking around with succulent bowls on the deck while she and her brother play in the garden works so well. They bring their toys out, they play in the sandpit and ride their bikes.
Little Nerd (who’s now four) loves to do the plants with me – he’s actually gotten pretty good at recognising succulents and he gets really excited about choosing different kinds and colours when we’re at nurseries and markets.
They’re fun things to make with a little kid – lately we’ve been making bowls which we’ll give to his four kindy teachers at the end of the year for Christmas, and he gets a real kick out of this. Although today he came home from kindy and announced we had to make succulent bowls for his relief teachers as well (there’s three of them, so far) and we had to tell him to calm his farm. Main teachers only, little dude, not every relief under the sun.
I have fond memories of being a kid and my parents letting us all run rampant in their beautiful big garden. Helping in the garden every weekend was how we earned our pocket money and we were allowed to do whatever we liked, plant, trim, chop, whatever. My youngest sister says she hated being made to work in the garden when we were kids, but now she loves plants, has an amazing green thumb and a house and garden full of thriving plants!
Little Nerd is getting to be a decent gardener, too. He’s learning how to cut the succulent plants to divide them, how to propagate leaves, and he loves to find baby succulents on the mama leaves that fall off in the garden beds. The other day his little sister (who is a destructive rather than creative force like her brother) savagely kicked a pot I’d just bought over and little leaves broke off this succulent. “It’s ok, Mama, because they will all be baby succulents now,” Little Nerd told me wisely. I even had a proud parent moment the other day when Little Nerd and I went to grab some croissants from La Patisserie and we walked past the outdoor area of Miss Chow’s. “Look Mummy! Look at all those suck-lents. Come on, let’s take some leaves.” (We didn’t. But I like that the thought crossed his mind).
I’ve joked around on social media before that Mr Nerd is always like, “No more plants!” but to be honest, he’s actually pretty good about my whole crazy plant lady thing, even when they’re taking over the house or the deck (the only thing that makes him irritated is when I water my pot plants in the kitchen sink so… I just do that while he’s at work).
We try to support each other’s interests. Without ever really having to spell it out for each other, we both get that having kids is hard and when you’re a parent you need to do things that make you feel good as an individual. Not just slump on the couch at the end of the day watching Netflix and drooling a little (which has its place) but something that’s a proper passion for you, too.
Planting and propagating succulents is out of Miss Nerd’s destructive reach, it’s something Little Nerd likes to do with me too, which is really nice. And it’s something slow to do with my hands that makes me happy, too – and all the while I can keep an eye on my spawn without losing my mind! They play, I potter with plants, everyone is happy.
Succulents are also super-forgiving and really easy-care, so even if you are a black thumb, I reckon you can grow succulents. Hunting for a hobby as a parent? Plants might not be your thing… think about what really lights you up and how you might be able to fit it into your life. I’m reminded of that scene in Julie and Julia where Julia where she’d bored and she’s going to her husband, “But what can I doooooo?” and then tells him she’s signed up for a hat-making course. “You like hats,” her husband says carefully. “I doooo,” she says and then it cuts to a scene of her looking bored out of her brain in a hat-making class, and she’s bored and restless until she discovers cooking. NOTHING wrong with trying different things until you find something you really enjoy, and on the same note there’s also nothing wrong with flitting from pasttime to pasttime. Workshops are actually pretty great for trying out different things and finding out what you love – Stackwood run some terrific ones on everything from floristry to plant know-how to shibori and ceramic-making.
So I meant to write this as a ‘little intro’ to a post on how to make succulent bowls but somehow I’ve gone a little crazy and it’s turned into a post of its own… so for that reason I’m putting my tips on how to make a succulent bowl in a separate post which you can read tomorrow! Maya x