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Dad activities: The hobby conundrum

Dad Activities: The Hobby Conundrum | Beers Babies Better Halves
3 min read

After a hard day digging holes and kicking goals there’s nothing I like more than coming home and jumping on my paintbrushes and painting miniatures. I have a keen interest in World II and as such I play a table top game called Bolt Action, for those in the know think 40k but WW2.

I started my hobby journey around 5-6 years ago and in that time I’ve painted around 20-30 armies which equates to hundreds, if not thousands of hours. I’ve also had my own little soldier, Lex, come into my life.

The first 6 months were a careful ruse on Lexy’s behalf, he lulled me into a false sense of security that I’d be able to maintain my pre-baby hobby output unhindered. After all he slept a lot and between myself and my wife we were able to snatch little chunks of free time here and there. I wondered what some of my friends were on about when they bemoaned that their own hobby output had dwindled to a trickle post baby.

The reality is, you can’t reorganise it all to get the time you want. You have to operate in the gaps

My perceptions were short lived.

Soon Lex began to crawl and then walk and then before I knew it he was everywhere. My cave of little metal soldiers became a sanctuary of alone time (much like the toilet) but even that faltered as Lex quickly worked out how to use door handles. I found that I was getting less and less time to pour into my creative outlet. My wife suffered a similar withdrawal, first from roller derby and then from her new found cross stitching past-time. I’m making sure to always encourage her to pursue her hobby and stay involved in her interests and social circles.

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Both of us would frequently complain that we had sizeable projects to be getting on with and no time to commit. Lex was/is a tornado of activity. He wants to spend every waking hour with us, playing and discovering and I’m 110% ok with this but like every parent, sometimes you need a break.

Now if you’re reading this article hoping I can offer some magical insights into how I managed to work full time, be a dad, a husband, a friend and still have hobby time you’re going to be disappointed. I’m still trying desperately to find a good balance. It’s really hard to justify spending a couple of hours sitting in a room alone focussed on the LRDG in North Africa circa 1942 when Lex needs a shower, a meal or just someone to play with.

Instead what I’m trying to develop (with varying results) is time management and compromise. Snatching a half hour here and there has made me a more efficient painter. I’ve had to adapt my skills so I can maintain a good output and also be present and engaged for my wife and little man.

The reality is, you can’t reorganise it all to get the time you want. You have to operate in the gaps

The days of spending an entire weekend painting are gone for the time being, but ahead of me are years of enjoyment as my little man develops his own interests (hopefully in painting paratroopers) and we can most definitely develop and encourage an interest in gaming that’d hopefully burgeon into epic online battles between us. After all, sharing your hobby with someone special is in itself some truly special!

Tristan James

Written by Tristan James

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