Your kids’ hobbies are yours, too

Katja Fischer
Translation: Eva Francis

As a mum or dad, you have hundreds of part-time jobs. One of them is managing your kids’ hobbies. The qualifications you need for this position are flexibility and organisational skills. After all, you need to be able to deal with unexpected changes of plans, as I experienced recently.

My daughter’s in the first year of Swiss primary school and has three hobbies. Only a year ago, she had just one. If this trend continues, we’ll be up to 27 hobbies by the time she reaches the third year of school. That’s obviously out of the question. But if it were up to her, she’d probably add gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, piano lessons and painting classes to her weekly schedule. She has so many ideas and interests – and even more energy.

As much as I’d like to cater to all her wants, this would blow up her schedule. Besides, my husband and I have a life, too. And hobbies of our own. And so does her younger sister, by the way, even if it’s just children’s dancing for now.

The point I’m trying to make is that your kids’ hobbies are yours, too.

When planning efforts falter

Strictly speaking, kids’ hobbies are even more than just hobbies for parents – they’re part-time jobs. Except you don’t get paid. In fact, you’re the one paying. Quite a lot, actually.

In return, you enjoy an extremely versatile job profile: as a hobby manager, organising, juggling and coaching is your daily business – even on weekends, if needed. You wait outside school with a filled snack box and your kid’s packed sports bag or musical instrument case. You drive from A to B and from B to C. You buy all the necessary equipment – ballet shoes or football boots in the right size, new tennis balls or guitar strings.

Changes of plan? This is your chance to show off your flair for organising and improvising. You’ll need to plan family life all over again and make it work with your kids’ hobbies. This includes coordinating school timetables, jobs and hobbies, finding childcare options and carpooling solutions as well as planning when and in which order to get things done.

That’s exactly what my family and I just experienced. We had to throw over our family’s weekly schedule, which had been in place since the summer holidays and was supposed to last an entire year. Why? Right in the middle of the school year, our daughter’s gymnastics class wasn’t only moved to another gym in another town, but also to a new time slot and even a new day of the week. Not just any day, but the day both my husband and I are working and already struggle to get the day organised with after-school care and daycare drop-off and pick-up. You must be kidding me!

My reaction to this bad news could well be represented in a book for teachers or club leaders entitled «How Parents React to Unforeseen Changes in Plans».

  • Phase 1: total shock
  • Phase 2: sheer rage
  • Phase 3: futile resistance
  • Phase 4: creeping acceptance

What could we have done? Our daughter loves her hobby, so, of course, we did everything we could to make it work. We digested the news, tried and failed to swap her into a different group, looked for other solutions and, in the end, rescheduled our entire day and week.

Somewhere between overkill and no hobbies at all

While I was reorganising everything, I tried to think back to my own childhood and teenage years. Ballet, a girls’ sports group, the recorder, later hip-hop dancing, soccer, the clarinet and saxophone – I was amazed at the long list of my hobbies throughout the years. And my brother’s list wasn’t any shorter. I had no clue and wasn’t bothered about what that meant for my parents at the time. But it made me seriously question how I’ll find time to be both of my daughters’ hobby manager once my younger one starts school.

«How nice,» a friend said to me, «You’re hobby people. I haven’t yet found my ideal pastime.» She's right, really. So many people wander through their free time without any interest – trying out hundreds of things just to abandon them after a few months. Parents drag their children from one taster session to the next in the hope of getting them interested in something. In our case, hobbies and passions have always fallen into our laps.

I’ll even have to slow my kids down to make sure there’s a bit of family life left and they don’t overdo it. After all, besides kids with no hobbies, there are also those with so many hobbies they miss their friends’ birthday parties because they’re always busy. Those who rush from their cello lesson to their piano lesson; from ballet class to figure skating and from early French to their singing lesson. I don’t want that for my children either.

Finding the sweet spot

I’m looking for the golden mean – which is a vague measure because it means something different to each child. Therefore, like so many things, it’s easier said than done. How many hobbies are good and enough? We’ll have to reevaluate this question again and again. The same goes for our work as hobby managers. Our daughter’s change of gymnastics class day, time and location has given us a foretaste of what’s to come.

Will our new weekly family schedule work out? We’ll see. If not, we’ll have to adjust it again – or our daughter will have to give up a hobby. After the summer holidays, everything will change again anyway, as both kids will get a new school timetable. As I mentioned recently in a different context, as a parent, you’re constantly living by the trial-and-error principle.

*What does hobby management look like for you? And how many hobbies does your child have? Vote and/or leave a comment below.

Survey on children's hobbies

How many (scheduled) hobbies does your child have?

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Header image: Katja Fischer

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Mom of Anna and Elsa, aperitif expert, group fitness fanatic, aspiring dancer and gossip lover. Often a multitasker and a person who wants it all, sometimes a chocolate chef and queen of the couch.

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