It was a public holiday here in WA recently, and our family were enjoying the sunshine at the front of our house. My husband was doing some work on our new family car, I was doing some writing, and our girls were watching their Daddy in awe.
Our kids know that their Mum and Dad met in a car club many years ago. They know that we are both car enthusiasts. They love helping their Daddy by handing him spanners and asking him if he needs anything. My husband and I love sharing our interest in cars with our children, and they love sharing it with us too.
Being a parent isn’t about sacrificing everything
As a mum of three, I know what it means to be selfless. Making sure the kids are fed before you make something for yourself. Leaving your hot cup of coffee sitting on the kitchen bench while you clean your child’s vomit up from the floor. Putting your dreams on hold to focus on your children’s future first.
But I’ve learnt that being a ‘good’ parent isn’t about sacrificing everything. It’s not about sacrificing who you are, what you want, what you enjoy doing. There is definitely a way to find some middle ground.
Having children should bring more meaning to life, not shape you into someone that you’re not. You don’t have to give up your hobbies and interests completely.
My husband may not spend money on modifying cars like he used to before we became parents. He may not spend hours every week tinkering around with his cars. But he’ll still frequent online car forums, he’ll read car magazines, he’ll spot cars driving past with our girls. He’s still the same car enthusiast he’s always been, even if his priorities have changed.
Enjoying the hobbies together
My husband and I love feeling connected with our three kids. We like our children to feel that they’ve completed our life not ‘taken over’ it. That they are an important part of our family.
Our lives may have changed since having children, but only for the better. We now have three more people loving the same things that we do. Three people who remind us how important it still is to care about your individual needs.
Hobbies are also learning experiences
I think it’s important to raise kids who are passionate about life, passionate about their hobbies, passionate about the things that make them feel alive. And it’s when they’re passionate, they are much more likely to learn and expand their mind.
If you’re a parent who has a strong passion for cars, let them see the passion in your eyes as you point out your favourite car as it’s driving past.
If you’re a parent who loves knitting, buy your child a knitting needle if they’re curious about learning.
If one of your hobbies means a lot to you, then let your kids share in the enthusiasm and excitement that you feel. Let them not only see you as a parent, but as a person who loves life.
Kids will develop their own personalities, their own hobbies and interests. But it’s also okay for them to enjoy ours as well.
I know that one of my favourite childhood memories was sitting down and watching my Dad’s favourite TV show with him. We’d agree to sit down together on that same day and same time every week. It was our special time together. It’s a time that I’ll never forget.
I want my kids not only to feel loved, but to understand how to make others feel loved. To understand that experiences can be made more meaningful when we are in the presence of others.
That life can be so much more meaningful when we are doing what we love – with the people whom we love.
This article was written by Thuy Yau, who is a freelance writer and mother of three. She loves helping other mothers grow from their own experiences. You can follow her on her personal development blog at Inside a Mother’s Mind.