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I am presently not working, and my job is just to look after my 15 months baby 24/7 which is making me frustrated, and I am staying with my in-laws with the constant whining of my mother-in-law.

I feel I am not able to find personal time to relax or do what I like to do. Even though I get time to relax when my baby is asleep, I don't feel the time is enough for me to relax. I want to start a hobby or read books but I am unable to find time or, even though I find it, I am not in a state to open a book. I am open for suggestions on what I should do.

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I think the critical part to finding more time is to let go of the need to "just to look after your child". As parents we might think that doing constant activities with and for the child is our job, when in fact:

The more we do (or toys do)…

  • the less our child does
  • the more our child thinks she needs us (or toys) to do for her
  • the less confident, capable, creative and fulfilled she feels1

Free yourself from the need to entertain your child 24/7 while he or she is awake. Make sure your child is learning how to play independently without constant interaction with you. Of course you'll still need to provide the loving support that the child needs, checking in on a regular basis, and encouraging them. There are several books and articles on how to do this, including "Stop Entertaining Your Toddler (In 3 Steps)", which is the source for the quote above.

Some ideas for hobbies to take up while your child plays independently:

  1. Cooking or baking: Pick up a few new cookbooks from the library and try new recipes. Get some plastic food and pots and pans to put on the floor for your child to play with nearby. Or have him or her sit in a high chair with crayons or sensory trays
  2. Photography: get outside with your camera and your kid and take some pictures; read books on photography and find exercises to try. Let your child play with grass, bugs, flowers, sand, dirt, rocks, or balls and bubbles.
  3. Learn how to play a musical instrument: get some toy musical instruments too, like maracas, xylophone, tambourine, etc. for your kid to play along
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I found that switching to e-Books (e.g. through the Kindle, iBooks, or Kobo apps on your phone, or tabled, or through dedicated readers) helps a situation such as you describe a bit, in that when you have a moment of time, you can immediately pick up your book at the exact spot you stopped before.

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  • Agreed! If you have a library card, most public libraries in the U.S. and the U.K. have e-books you can checkout with the Overdrive app, which you can install on most phones and tablets. I've actually gotten lots of reading done since having my kids! (mostly whilst nursing). – araneae Jun 29 '16 at 11:49
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Part of the challenge here is to not just use the baby's sleeping time. At 15 months old you should be able to get time for something like reading many times through the day, as they no longer need you 24/7.

Reading should be something you can pick up and do at any time - even if it's just a page - so make the most of when your baby is occupied with a toy or feeding, for example.

Various other hobbies are possible - but they need to be ones you can pick up for even a short space of time or ones you can do with your toddler. I have friends who took up running (with their baby in a buggy), gardening, knitting and even hiking (with the baby in a backpack) so there is a lot you can do.

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Your baby is a hobby!

Your beautiful child is a commitment. At 15 months, you've been through the infant stage, one of the tougher ones. Your child is around the point where he'll/she'll be walking.

This is the fun part!

You're almost at the point where you can take your baby to the park. He'll want to take little walks outside, or get pushed in a buggy. What on earth could be more exciting than having a little person who trusts you and wants to be with you and spend time with you?

Your child will grow. Pretty soon, he'll start finding his own hobbies. Then he'll decide what he wants to do when he grows up. Then he'll be gone. You will have, in theory, all the time in the world. And, unless I miss my guess, you'll hate it. You will miss this, believe it or not. This stage only comes once in your child's lifetime. Savor it. Make it a hobby.

Other hobbies...

As for other things that you can do when you have a spare minute ('cause yes, you still get to keep a little of your sovereignty ;P) I suggest getting a kindle. I love my kindle. You can take it with you to lunch and read while eating, between your and your child's bites. You can have it in your lap in a chair while watching your child play in the living room. It's a great tool.

While learning a musical instrument has been suggested, given your current situation and the neediness of the child, this seems like it could present a bit of a challenge. However, listening to music is an amazing thing. And by music, I don't mean just pop. Branch out! Try some classical music, or even some jazz! Do a little research and find out what to listen for in whatever category you decide you listen to. Become an expert! Your music player will be your best friend.

God bless you and your child!

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    I don't think this addresses the question at all. The OP is looking for away to relax from the burden of childcare, and this post just tells the poster she should not feel a burden at all. – Ida Jun 28 '16 at 20:56
  • @Ida Thank you for the feedback (pushback?). Perhaps I did not make my point clear. To say that having a child is no burden at all would be psychotic at the very least. All I am implying is that, yes, this stage is rough, and having a hobby is great, but don't get obsessed with the idea of having "a passion" when you have this beautiful child in your care, who won't be there forever! Please note also that I did provide a couple other ideas for past-times in my answer that I think go well with young children. – General Nuisance Jun 29 '16 at 4:20
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I 100% agree with all the posts above!

A couple of things to add. First, I'm not going to advise regarding your disatisfaction with your mother-in-law because that's, like, a whole different issue. Second, it sounds like there's some stuff going on under the surface. Like, the lack of a hobby is a symptom of a larger issue at play. I don't play a therapist on the internet, so for this I'll just say 1 thing: if you're at ALL resentful of your toddler for stealing away your freedom (this is something I'm 100% guilty of), your toddler will feel it. So point the flames of your resent somewhere else. Now, onto the hobby stuff.

OK, so you're stuck with this toddler and feel overwhelmed. Let's say the kid gets 12 hours of sleep/day and you get 8 hours. That leaves a good 4 hours of free time, obviously subtracting out chores. This is totally enough time for a new hobby, but I don't think that's the issue. The issue is the overwhelm, which leaves you sucked dry of energy. For me, dinner/bath/bed time leaves me like totally burned out sometimes, and I've got no energy left after the kid falls asleep to do anything productive. SO, two points here: (1) you're a parent, and being an awesome parent will usually come at the expense of your hobbies so get used to it! (And hey, take pride in that!); and (2) the big issue is personal energy--deal with the soul-sucking feeling of overwhelm and you'll probably have way more energy left to expend on hobbies at night. Not to mention a better overall parent during the day.

Some practical tips:

  1. For me, exercise helps with this exact issue. Oddly, 30 minutes of jogging somehow calms down my (unhealthy) ambitions to be a world-class hobbyist.
  2. Find a hobby that you can do w/ your kid. For me, I go on tree walks and identify all the trees I can find. My 2 year-old (usually) loves it.
  3. As you're doing hobbies w/ the kid, remember: slow down. Your toddler will rip up your newly-planted tomato plants, rip a page out of the book you're trying to read, and otherwise scream and fuss and intentionally make it so you can't do your hobby at all.

I love the Gabriel Garcia Marquez quote:

“Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”

NO matter what, you'll have to reinvent your hobbies in the slim margins of, or somewhere within, your new life as a parent.

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Based on my experience

Answering this as someone who decided to quit work and be a stay at home mum to raise my son. Leaving work can be frustrating especially when you know you're not used to being a stay at home mum.

At first I thought I couldn't make it but I gathered courage by simply looking for a hobby like you've asked. In my situation, I did mathematics in College and to higher level, so I decided to teach myself some programming, I bought a smart TV and decided to use youtube to teach myself programming since the resources are a lot. So whenever the baby would go to bed I'd switch youtube on and watch tutorials. So far, I learnt Java and C++, I had a previous knowledge of C language. So for the 17 month's I have learnt Java confidently and even decided to work on a free math android app for kid's which is on the app store already.

This made life easier for me because I was occupied. My baby now is 17 month's and I'm planning on going back to work when he's 24 month's.

My advice would be look around, you might get interested in many things, reading is a good suggestion, if you've worked before try advancing the skills by reading more on how to make yourself better on the field, so that when your baby is ready to go to school e.g you'll be good. Just from my experience.

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  • Kudos for Java and C++. :-) – user20585 Jun 25 '16 at 13:38
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    Thanks @Leo , it was worth it. I now have something to add on my CV when I got back to work. – Madona Syombua Jun 25 '16 at 20:31
  • The wonderful thing about programming is it's a great job to do in conjunction with being a SAHM! I've worked part time programming since having two kids and it's really wonderful. – araneae Jun 29 '16 at 11:51
  • Oh yeah, I was actually considering not going back to work as a Quant and concentrate on programming but problem is I love doing the math. Will surely look into this because I think with programming one can be flexible. – Madona Syombua Jun 29 '16 at 11:54
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Give the kid to the mother in law for a couple of hours per day, getting out of the house if necessary for some alone time. However, you will have to live with the mother in law taking care of the kid her way during those hours.

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Would part-time child care be an option? Even if its just a few hours a week, it would give you time to get away from the house, your baby and your mother-in-law.

Also, if you can find something that involves getting out of the house on a regular basis, like a class, then you could rope your MIL in as a baby-sitter.

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You need to not take care of the baby 24/7. That is NOT your job. If you spouse work, and you don't, it is your job to take care of the baby while he is not there (so maybe 10 hours a day?). When you both are home the baby is taken care of by both of you!

It also sounds like you are unable to relax with your in-laws around. I sounds like the best way to relax is to get out of the house, or have 'your own space'.

Here are some things I can think of:

  • Pick a crafty hobby like cardmaking, painting, candle making, soap making, even adult coloring. Set up a space for you to do this in the house, and do it while the baby naps or sleeps. Let in-laws and other know you are not available to talk when you do this.
  • Think of something you can do while the baby plays by himself that is easy to stop. Like playing little games on your phone, or reading 'light' books such as romance or comedy or spy novels.
  • If the baby naps in a stroller, bring a book while taking the baby on napping walk. Go to park bench or cafe where you can bring a stroller, and sit down and read while he sleeps and while you are not around your in-laws.
  • Find some activity like a sport or dance or evening class and sign up. Your husband should be able to take of the baby one evening a week so you can get out of the house without the baby.
  • You can also consider picking something with your husband like dancing or a co-ed sports team for one evening a week while your in-laws watches the baby.

I see a lot of people saying to find a hobby to do WITH your child, but it honestly doesn't sound like that is what you are looking for. I think it is great to do stuff like that with your kid, but it is not getting a break. I think the most telling stuff you said was that you feel it is your job to take care of the baby 24/7, and that is not healthy. You need to feel you can catch a breath.

In this regard, in addition to finding a hobby, maybe an idea would be to find some other moms to hang out with. Have the your baby interact with other kids and let them play together at a park or in someones house. The kids will entertain each other, and having several parents around makes you feel like you don't have to be at 100% vigilance all the time.

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You could spend a large part of each day with your infant strapped to your back while you pursue any one of hundreds of activities.

I have seen young women with a baby in a front or back sling happily throwing pots, pruning plants, baking bread, hiking, shopping, and so forth. You could hand out flyers at the mall. Sacagawea Charbonneau explored a quarter of North America with her newborn son on her back; he was 19 mos old by the time she finished.

Of course you can't do just any old thing. Discouraged activities would include bicycling, rafting, jogging, fencing. Attending a concert or the cinema would be problematical. Grouse shooting is right out.

The best thing about an active hobby is that your baby will have a great appetite and no trouble sleeping. Also you will be much too tired to give a fig about whatever your mother-in-law has to say about anything.

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