Thursday, December 29, 2005

Making Mommy Hobbies Baby Hobbies, Too

Becoming a parent does not have to mean that you give up on who you are in search of being the perfect mother. In fact, many moms do just that to their own detriment - and that of their children. Instead you should try to work your old thoughts, habits, and hobbies into your children's lives. That way, they know who mom is (a really important issue for me), and all of you can have fun together.

One way to teach your children about who you are is to integrate your own hobbies and interests into your children's lives. I try to do that regularly with my infant son though he is still too young to get the lesson. My family loves football. It is an important part of family bonding time for me and my husband, and we have added our son to the mix. We make baby-friendly snacks, such as Cheerios or small, chopped apples. He gets juice during the games, and he is learning to cheer. I had hoped his first word would be "touchdown," but alas it was "da-da." I played flute as a performance musician through my college years. My music is one love I thought I would give up when my son was born because I did not see how there would be time for me to even join a community orchestra. I have discovered, however, that my son loves to listen to Mommy play. He is fascinated by the music and even is able to bang out a note or two on the piano. We bought him some wooden instruments for Christmas, and voila, my hobby becomes his, too.

Another trick is to buy your baby some of the videos and books you used as a child. If you watched Mister Rogers, you can buy a collection. You probably watched Sesame Street, and it is still on. If you do not want to introduce your baby to television, then go for books. What did you read when you were little? For example, I distinctly remember being simultaneously terrified and amazed by Where The Wild Things Are, and I was so excited not only to see it on our local bookstore's shelf but for my 11-month-old son to squeal with delight at the monsters. These nostalgic moments can help you to remind yourself that you and your baby are bonding and are creating a lifetime of memories. It can also bring back the joys of childhood to your harried adult life.

Experience something new. I have recently started experimenting with making candles. I have always had an interest in alternative remedies for our problems, and my research on true aromatherapy candles has led me to develop an interest in this hobby. While baby cannot participate in the candle-making, he can be impressed with the glow when they are made. I am developing a new hobby, and baby can occupy himself with his interest in it.

I also love to experiment in the kitchen, and I thought that, too, would be over when baby got here. Chopping veggies and cutting fresh herbs is tough with a baby underfoot, but here is where I learned a trick of the mommy trade quickly. I just keep him busy in the same vicinity. Hand him a pot and wooden spoon, and he could care less if I left for a trip to the moon. You can change things around, and your baby will play quietly, which, by the way, encourages his intellectual growth, while you are enjoying yourself, too. The same concept applies to reading. You can get a stack of old magazines at a library book sale or stock up baby's room with plenty of books. Then the two of you can read together, and you will both have a grand time.

Having a baby does not mean losing yourself in your child - or at least it should not. You are a person, too. It is okay for moms to need down time or to want to spend time entertaining themselves and remembering who they were before children. You have desires, needs, and wants, and making sure that they are met helps keep you sane during the crazy baby days and helps you be the best you can be for everyone in your life.

By Julia Mercer

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