There I was, sitting in the backyard talking to the chickens, again. Sometimes they are the only ones who understand me, or listen. Their cooing can be very reassuring to me when I'm troubled. And sometimes I need a good talk, without any talk back. Gardening and chickens gives me time to have long conversations with myself or God.
Now, I know chickens didn't give me much advice, and that talking to a chicken can be perceived as partial madness. But working through problems, and contemplating blessings can be the very best part of hobbies like gardening and chicken keeping.
Shannon and I seem to get more answers when we are working it out with our hands. Hobbies can bring you not only the pleasure of learning something new or pleasure from an activity you enjoy, but it can also be mentally and spiritually uplifting.
Historically, families worked together on farms or small businesses. Children had time to watch their fathers milk cows or mow hay, and watch their mothers talk to the chickens. It also occasionally gave them time for deep and meaningful conversations. Although I am sure not every day on the farm was enlightening, the example of working on something meaningful and completing a project is a powerful one.
How families benefit from hobbies:
1. Bonding moments
Shannon remembers sitting around a quilt with her mother and grandmother having long talks about children, how to be a mother and everyday struggles. She remembers playing under the quilt listening to the quiet conversation. The quilt her grandmother made her is still a precious possession and a symbol of her love, just like the many crafts and hobbies her children have made for her.
2. Builds creators in a world of consumers
When I get my children involved in raising chickens, creating art work, and baking our gluten-free treats, I give them an opportunity to succeed. My example of having positive production hobbies in my life teaches them to be more than consumers. It teaches them to be creators in their world. Some of our silliest moments have revealed hidden talents. My son's hobby involves thousands of legos. A lego building contest brought out the creativity in my daughter we didn't know existed. And taught my husband how to lose.
3. Time to talk and listen
Hobbies can provide wonderful opportunities to teach concepts to your child while you work side by side. Or, like the chickens, you can turn into a wonderful listener and let your son or daughter just talk. Shannon sometimes waited to talk about emotionally-charged issues until we were quietly working, rather than in the heat of the moment. You'll be amazed at how much comes out when your children know you want to spend time with them, and you are listening.
. Shannon used her hobbies to pay for her children's activities and church mission. The family got involved in packaging and framing paintings for the galleries. It taught our family that when you need something there is always a way to use your talents to meet your needs.
5. Teach self-sufficiency
My father is talented at restoring classic cars, painting cars and all our cool bikes as well as welding art. His hobby has become a small business. When we want extra money, his response is always to invite us to work in his shop.
6. Teach thrift
My favorite aunt Linda set a great example to me when I was young by creating crafts in mass quantities and taking them to fairs. She sold them and bought the furniture of her dreams. She was an example of hard work. When Shannon wanted Christmas cards, but they weren't in her young family's budget, favorite aunt Linda came to the rescue, and we spent a wonderful day sitting around a table learning to emboss paper.
Having our own eggs and vegetables from our garden is a boon to our family income. We never go without fresh food because of our love of gardening. And our children eat more vegetables when they get to grow and harvest them.
7. Opportunities to shine
Teaching children to create art, or anything they are inspired to do gives them an opportunity to experience success and get positive feedback from family and friends. The key is to listen and find out your child's interests. Choose to support hobbies he or she is truly interested in, and not hobbies you want her to be interested in. If your child hates the violin, no matter how much you love it and think it's important, resentments will build and no one will benefit from the daily, "you have to practice" fight. However, if they have an inner rock and roll drummer — just watch them go.
Review your talents and your children's talents. Choose fun hobbies to do together. Find moments you can truly enjoy your hobbies and watch the stress roll off your shoulders. Bond, grow, listen and have fun. Enjoy hobbies and enjoy each other as you play.