Carolyn Hax: Time for activities depends on family

September 28, 2013 

Carolyn: Are kids just an uberhobby?

OK, that line was intentionally provocative, but it’s a crude way of asking my real question. Which is: Can you have a serious hobby that you’re passionate about while also raising children? Are children, in terms of time management, the One Hobby to Rule Them All?

I’m about to turn 30 and newly married. In my free time I’ve been pursuing dance, an interest I came to in my 20s but am just now able, physically, to really explore. It’s honestly the first time I’ve been truly passionate about something besides my friends, family or city.

It doesn’t seem possible to have a serious artistic pursuit while being a (present, not selfish) mother, at least for the first five (10?) years. If I’m going to have kids, which would need to be before my gonads get all dusty, do I need to be prepared to say goodbye to what has become an important, fulfilling part of my life?

ANONYMOUS

I’m answering this despite what “dusty gonads” will do to various breakfasts.

The superficial answer is that kids don’t wipe everything off your calendar and priority lists and replace it with kids, kids, kids.

The more practical answer is that it depends on how many hours per week your dance habit needs to remain viable and fulfilling, and on the other variables in your life, such as how time-consuming and stressful your and your spouse’s jobs are; how close you live to family and/or how able you are financially to pay for help; how many children you plan to have; how high- or low-need those kids turn out to be, etc.

Someone with a houseful of high-need kids and tight budgets and few local relatives and a high value on being available to your kids during scarce nonwork hours — one extreme scenario — won’t be popping out to the dance studio much. It’s not the most politic answer but it’s an honest one based on possible variables. If instead you have a small family and/or an easygoing one, and access to affordable child care, and one or both parents can be flexible with work, then you can have kids and barely dent your dedication to your hobby.

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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