Our hobbies seem to have a way of falling by the wayside when we’re raising children. Before I had kids, I had a ton of hobbies I enjoyed: cross-stitching, running, entering contests (yes, really), and seeing every movie that came out.
All that went out the window when my kids were born. I had very little time for hobbies once they came along, but, also, things that used to make me happy no longer interested me. All I wanted to do was spend time with my kids.
But as my kids got older and had their own activities, I found that I had lost myself somewhere along the way. I needed something just for me to fill my time.
I spent some time thinking about who I really am and what I like to do. I tried a few different things and rediscovered some old hobbies (I took up running again) and found some new ones (photography).
If you’re feeling at loose ends now that your kids are growing older, a new hobby might be just the way to get involved in something that’s just for you. Hobbies are a great way to learn new things, meet new people, and have fun. Here’s how to find the perfect hobby for you!
What are Hobbies?
A hobby is simply something you do for pleasure. It can be anything from a sport or activity to a creative endeavor like painting or writing. Almost anything you do can become a hobby.
The perfect hobby is one that provides an outlet that lets you relax, unwind, and have fun. Your hobby doesn’t have to be a stress-free environment; I felt plenty of stress when I was training for a marathon. I even get stressed out doing jigsaw puzzles that challenge me. But when I spend time on my hobbies, I always feel energized and refreshed for the rest of my life.
Why You Need a Hobby
There are lots of reasons why you might want to find a new hobby:
- Your kids are grown and gone, and you’re feeling at loose ends.
- You’ve retired and need something to fill your time.
- You’ve been laid off from your job and don’t know what to do next.
- You just want some “me” time where you can relax and enjoy yourself without having to worry about anyone else.
A new hobby can be just the thing you need to break out of rut and find some new joy and purpose in your life.
Why Hobbies are Important
Having a hobby you enjoy has so many benefits.
Your hobby can improve your mental health. People with hobbies tend to have lower stress and less depression. Having a hobby you enjoy can help get you up and about when you’re suffering from a low mood.
Your hobby can even improve your physical health. And I don’t mean the obvious case where you take up a physical activity and then get more fit. An Australian study found that women in their eighties who had creative hobbies also tended to have better physical health.
Your hobby can help you find new friends by putting you in touch with people with similar interests. And, I know from my own personal experience that you don’t need to be part of a group activity to make friends with people with the same hobby. Blogging is one of the most solitary activities around, but I’ve still made friends with several other bloggers. We enjoy talking to each other when we’re avoiding deadlines.
Hobbie provide a creative outlet. Creative outlets relieve stress and improve happiness by giving us a way to break away from our normal, hectic lives. You’re often more creative and productive after taking some time to engage in a calm activity that has nothing to do with your daily life.
Hobbies keep you busy. That seems like such an obvious point, but many women in midlife have too much time on their hands. This can lead to isolation and depression. You’re just happier when you have something fun to do.
Hobbies can be a terrific way to learn new things. If you’re interested in learning how to knit, for example, joining a knitting club is a great way to learn from others who are more experienced than you.
Your hobby can make you more productive at work. I hesitate to mention this as a benefit because the whole point of a hobby is to give you a break from your normal work-day life. However, creative hobbies enhance productivity and problem-solving abilities.
Your hobby can even lead to a career change. I started Midlife Rambler as a hobby to fill my time when my kids got older and now running this blog is my full-time job.
How to Find Time for Your Hobby
If you’re working, taking care of your home, and handling your many responsibilities, how do you find time for a new hobby?
Look at How You’re Spending Your Free Time
You may have more free time than you think. If you come home every night and sit down in front of the TV or your computer, you could carve out an hour or so to spend time on your hobby.
Or you could carve out a few hours a week for your new hobby. I used to take photography classes on Saturday afternoons and I still use that time most weeks to explore my own interests.
Schedule Your Hobby Time
Once you identify when you can devote time to your new hobby, start scheduling that into your weekly calendar. If it helps, schedule an appointment with yourself every week at the same time so that this hobby becomes part of your routine each week.
Sign Up for a Class
Signing up for a class is a wonderful way to start a new hobby. If you’ve spent money or made a commitment to attend a class, you’re more likely to take the time for your hobby. Plus, you can meet other beginners like yourself.
Don’t Put Pressure On Yourself
Any hobby you pick should be something that you enjoy doing. If the thought of adding one more activity to your already over-scheduled life stresses you out, then maybe you don’t need a hobby at all! Some of the things that make up your busy life right now—whether that’s work, volunteering, friends, family—bring you as much joy as a new hobby would.
How to Find A Hobby You Enjoy
Here are a few tips for finding a hobby you enjoy.
What Did You Love to Do as a Child?
What did you like to do when you were younger? Did you like to paint and draw? Were you always outside playing sports or riding your bike? You could try picking up these activities again or finding a similar hobby that involves your childhood interests.
What Excites You in Your Day-to-Day Life?
I’m a big fan of periodically tracking my day to see how I spend my time. This can be a great way to figure out how to find more free time, but it’s also a good way to see how you’re spending your time and what activities bring you the most joy.
Spend a week keeping a time diary, where you track everything you do each day and what your mood is all you go about your day. At the end of the week, look back at your time diary and highlight the activities where you felt the most engaged, the happiest, or where time seemed to just fly by. You might find some surprising connections that can lead to a new hobby.
For example, if you noticed you’re always happy after walking the dog, you could look for a hobby that gets you outdoors or one where you work with animals.
What are Your Interests?
Is there a topic that’s always interested you or a subject you’re passionate about? My friend Melissa, for example, loves everything to do with France: French culture, French wardrobes, French attitudes. And now she’s spending her time, you guessed it, learning French.
Retro foods have always fascinated me. You know, the jello salads and other dishes that use a strange amount of mayonnaise? That fascination led to a robust vintage cookbook collection and then I started recreating my favorite recipes and now that’s one of my favorite hobbies. I don’t do it as often as I would like, but I really enjoy making the occasional salmon mousse (in a fish-shaped mold, of course).
What Do You Daydream About?
I think we all have a secret fantasy life where we are the masters of some skill we don’t possess in real life. If you’ve always wanted to be a musician, you could try taking piano lessons. If you daydream about being a famous actress, you could look into community theater. If you fantasize about being a multi-millionaire, why not learn about investing and find some low-stakes ways to enter the stock market?
What TV Shows Do You Like?
You could even look at your TV watching habits to find a new hobby. If you enjoy watching home renovation shows, you might be interested in woodworking or learning how to make over furniture. True Crime lovers can start a podcast or a blog. Love cooking competitions? You could look into learning to bake.
What are Your Goals?
Your hobby can support some of the other goals you have in your life. If you would like to make some new friends, a social hobby like a gaming club or bowling team could be fun. If you want to get in better shape, an active hobby like jogging can help.
Just be careful you don’t fall victim to the American desire to make every single minute productive. If you look at your hobby only to achieve a goal, you can start resenting it. Hobbies should restore and refresh your happiness, not be a tiresome drudge.
Do You Want a Social Hobby or an Individual One?
Hobbies come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s important to think about what kind of activity would fit best with your personality type and interests. If you’re an extrovert who thrives on human interaction, a social hobby like a book club or sports team may be right for you.
I’m a classic introvert so, while I enjoy clubs and social activities, most of my most enjoyable hobbies are solitary pursuits like doing crossword puzzles or hiking around my neighborhood.
Think about Activities, not Things
When coming up with ideas for potential hobbies, don’t think about things you like; instead focus on activities you enjoy. For example, I wouldn’t consider my collection of vintage cookbooks to be a hobby. Sure, I enjoy looking at them and reading them, but it’s a rather passive experience.
I feel much more engaged when I actually make some recipes in my cookbooks or even when I go to a flea market looking for my next find. Your hobby needs to be an activity that interests you, rather than simply a collection of things you enjoy.
Talk to Your Friends
Your friends can also be a great resource for finding new hobbies. Ask them about their hobbies and how they got started. They might have some great ideas for how to get started with your own hobby or invite you to try their hobby with them.
How to Know if a Hobby is Right for You
Here are some factors to consider as you look at hobbies:
Does This Hobby Require Expensive Equipment or Materials?
Some hobbies are extremely expensive. For example, if you’ve decided you want to race yachts, you’ll need a yacht which will run you at least $2 million. If that’s not in your budget, maybe Autocross is a better fit. You’ll need a vehicle of some kinds, but the barriers to entry are much cheaper.
For many hobbies, though, you don’t need the fanciest and most expensive equipment to get started. Pro-level DSLR cameras can cost $2,500, but you can get started learning photography with just your smartphone.
Do I Have Enough Time for This Hobby?
Some hobbies take more time than others. When I trained for my marathon, I ran at least 4 times a week during the weekdays and then had a long run of up to 20 miles on the weekend. By the end of my training, I was spending basically all of time either working, taking care of my kids, or running. I didn’t have time for anything else.
Again, though, I didn’t start my running hobby by training for a marathon. My first race was a 5K and training for that was a modest time investment.
Do I Have Enough Space For This Hobby?
Some hobbies require a lot of space to store supplies, etc. If you decide to take up camping, storing a tent, sleeping bag, outdoor stove and other supplies can take up quite a bit of room. If there isn’t enough room in your house, you may need to invest in a storage space to keep your hobby supplies.
Is This a Good Hobby for a Beginner?
Try to find hobbies that are good for beginners. Something that’s a little challenging can be exciting to learn, but you can get frustrated and discouraged by a hobby with a steep learning curve.
Only you can decide what hobbies are too hard. I tried a Paint-by-Numbers set once and wanted to kill myself halfway through because I found it so difficult. Meanwhile, my friend Lisa relaxes with the most difficult paint-by-numbers sets on the market and would rather die than do a jigsaw puzzle because she finds them so frustrating.
Don’t Think You Have to Be Skilled at a Hobby to Enjoy It!
We seem to have moved into this Outliers culture where it’s expected that everyone should be a high achiever. We’ve forgotten what it’s like to pursue a hobby just because we enjoy it. Instead, we work toward mastery in everything we try.
As Tim Wu said in In Praise of Mediocrity,
“In a way that we rarely appreciate, the demands of excellence are at war with what we call freedom. For to permit yourself to do only that which you are good at is to be trapped in a cage whose bars are not steel but self-judgment.”
I’ve mentioned my hobby of running a few times in this article, but here’s what I haven’t told you. If I ever broke an 11-minute mile, I would be ecstatic. I am painfully slow (and I do mean painfully). And yet, I enjoy the races I’ve run even though I have no expectation of glory.
I finished my marathon in 6 and 1/2 hours. Everyone had gone home by the time I crossed the finish line. And I still cried with pride at my accomplishment when I crossed that line. Don’t deny yourself the joy of accomplishing something you’ll remember forever just because you know you won’t be the best.
How to Start a New Hobby
Once you’ve come up with a list of hobbies that look interesting and practical for you, it’s time to take action! Here are some ways to get started with your new hobby.
Take a Class
Taking a class in person or online is a wonderful way to evaluate a potential hobby. I’m a class junkie. In fact, I guess you could say that one of my hobbies is taking classes.
An online class can be a wonderful introduction to your new hobby. Some of my favorite online class resources are:
- Skillshare. Great resource if you’re interested in a technical hobby, like photography, graphic design or animation.
- Masterclass. Learn about literally anything from world-renowned experts.
- The Great Courses. Classes in almost any hobby you want to explore or any subject you want to learn more about.
- Craftsy. Classes in all kinds of crafts like sewing, knitting, cake decorating. My library offers a free craftsy membership so check your library to save money.
An in-person class is an even better way to get started with a new hobby because you’ll be able to get personalized help from your instructor and meet other students with similar interests. You probably have more resources for classes in your area than you realize. Just look at the all the options available here in Nashville!
Some places to look for in-person classes in your area:
- Your local art supply store for art classes.
- Your local craft store (like Joanne’s or Hobby Lobby) to learn sewing and other crafts.
- Local colleges and universities for classes in a variety of subjects. They often offer creative writing classes, if you’re interested in exploring writing as a hobby.
- Kitchen Supply Stores or Catering Companies for cooking classes.
If you live in one of 12 major cities in the U.S., Coursehorse can show you courses available to you in your city.
Check Out YouTube
You don’t need to pay money to learn about a new hobby. YouTube has more resources than you can ever imagine. Bon Appétit’s YouTube Channel has great videos on learning how to bake and learning more about wine, for example.
Recruit a Friend
Starting a new hobby with a friend has so many benefits.
- You can help each other understand new concepts
- So much less awkwardness when you learn new skills with a friend
- Being accountable to someone else can stop you from quitting
If you’re interested in getting into weight-lifting, for example, you could ask a friend to be your gym buddy. Or if you enjoy writing and want to get better, you can find a writing partner to read and critique each other’s work.
Join a Group
Another social way to start a new hobby is to join a group. I started running again after a long hiatus when I joined a running group that met on Saturday mornings.
There are groups for many hobbies and activities. If you’re not sure where to start, search Google for “your hobby + meetup.”
Here are just a few examples of hobby groups you can join:
- Running Groups
- Photography Clubs
- Board Game Nights
- Knitting Circles (lots of local yarn shops have regular knitting sessions.
- Book Clubs (check your local library to see if they have one.)
Try a Craft Kit
If you’re interested in something like knitting, needlepoint, or even gardening, a craft kit can help you get started. Adults & Crafts has a variety of craft kids you can try (I especially like this Weaving Look Kit wall hanging.)
Now that you have some ideas about how to find a new hobby, it’s time to take action! My list of hobbies can help you find a hobby that interests you. Pick a hobby and see how you like it after a week or two.
If you want to keep going with it, great! If not, no big deal, just cross that off your list and try another activity until you find something that really sticks.
125 Hobbies For Any Interest
Here’s a list of hobbies you can consider for almost any interest you might have. Each hobby also a link to resources to help you learn more and get started with your hobby.
Creative & Crafting Hobbies
- Blogging – You Need to Start a Blog. Here’s How.
- Calligraphy – Tips for Starting Calligraphy
- Candle Making – How to Make Homemade Candles for Beginners
- Collage Making – The Beginner’s Complete Guide to Collage Art
- Community Theatre – A Beginners Guide To Community Theatre
- Cosplay – Cosplay 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Cosplaying
- Drawing – Part 1: Learn to Draw | Getting Started
- Flower Arranging – Flower Arrangements 101: A Crash Course for Easy and Elegant Florals
- Jewelry Making – The Ultimate Guide to Jewelry Making for Beginners
- Journaling – Learn how to start journaling
- Memoir Writing – Write Your Memoir: The Soul Work of Telling Your Story
- Mosaic Art – Mosaic Tile Project – Fast Tutorial for Beginners
- Nail Art – 10 Easy Nail Art Designs for Beginners: The Ultimate Guide
- Origami – Origami Basics
- Paint by Numbers – “Rocky Mountain Sunset” Paint by Numbers Kit
- Painting – Bob Ross: The Joy of Painting Full Episodes
- Perfume Making – How to Make Perfume: A Beginner’s Guide
- Photography – Smartphone Photography 101
- Pottery – How To Make Pottery: A Beginner’s Guide
- Scrapbooking – The Ultimate Guide to Scrapbooking for Beginners
- Sculpting – Learn Sculpting Lesson 1 Clay Modeling
- Soap Making – How to Make Soap: Soap Making for Beginners
- Tie-Dying – How to Tie Dye tips and tricks for beginners
- Watercolors – Paint with Me: Watercolor Basics for Beginners
- Wreath Making – How to Make a Wreath (It’s Easier Than You Think)
- Writing – Creative Writing 101
- Restoring Furniture – How to Refinish Furniture
- Upcycling – Upcycle That
- Woodworking – A Total Beginner’s Guide to Woodworking
Fabric & Textile Hobbies
- Crocheting – How to Crochet for Absolute Beginners
- Cross Stitching – Learn How: Cross Stitching 101
- Embroidery – Embroidery 101: How to Embroider
- Knitting – How to Knit for Beginners
- Needlepoint – Intro to Needlepoint
- Quilting – Learn to Quilt
- Sewing – Easy Sewing Class for Beginners
Food & Drink Hobbies
- Baking – Baking School
- Beer Brewing – Learn to Brew Beer
- Bread Making – No-Knead Crusty White Bread
- Cake Decorating – Cake Decorating for Beginners | How to Frost a Cake
- Charcuterie Boards – How to Make a Simple Charcuterie Board
- International Cuisines – World Cuisine Guides
- Learn to Cook – Cooking Basics The FIRST thing you need to learn
- Wine Making – How to Make Wine
- Wine Tasting – World of Wine
Hobbies for Animal Lovers
- Beekeeping – Beekeeping for Beginners
- Dog Agility Competitions – How to get started in Dog Agility
- Fostering Animals – How to Foster a Dog 101: Everything You Need to Know
- Raising Chickens – Raising Chickens 101: How to Get Started
- Saltwater Aquarium – How To Set Up A Saltwater Aquarium For Beginners
- Taxidermy – Getting Started in Taxidermy
- Training Service Dogs – How to Become a Service Dog Trainer
Hobbies for Music Lovers
- Learn an Instrument – Never Too Late To Learn An Instrument
- Learn to Sing – Teach Yourself to Sing in 10 Easy Steps
- Make Your Own Music – How To Make Your 1st Song In GarageBand
- Sacred Harp Singing – Shape Note Singing Introduction
- Songwriting – How to Write a Song (Even If You’ve Never Written One Before and You Think You Suck)
Hobbies for Relaxation and Stress Relief
- Adult Coloring – The 11 Best Adult Coloring Books, According to an Expert
- Jigsaw Puzzles – 300-Piece Calm Jigsaw Puzzle for Relaxation, Stress Relief, and Mood Elevation
- Legos – LEGO Architecture Skyline Collection
- Meditation – Guided Morning Meditation
- Model Building – Modelmaking: How This Hobby Makes You Smarter
- Tai Chi – How to Get Started with Tai Chi
- Zentangles – Getting Starting with Zentangles
Hobbies that Help Others
- Mentoring – Become a Mentor
- Read Books for the Visually Impaired – Access News – Remote
- Tutoring – Top 5 Reasons to Be a Volunteer Tutor
- Volunteering – Volunteer Match
- Wikipedia Editor – How to Become a Wikipedia Editor
Hobbies to Learn New Things
- Astronomy – Astronomy for Beginners: How to Get Started in Backyard Astronomy
- Brain Training – 9 Great Brain Games and Brain Training Websites
- Chess – How to Get Started Playing Chess
- Crossword Puzzles – How to Solve The New York Times Crossword
- Fantasy Football – Fantasy Football 101: A Complete Beginner’s Guide
- Genealogy – Beginning Genealogy: How to Get Started the Right Way
- Improv – Everything You Need To Know About Improv
- Investing – How to Start Investing in Stocks: A Beginner’s Guide
- Learn Sign Language – Sign Language 101: Learn Sign Language Online
- Learning a New Language – How to Learn a New Language Easily
- Learning Magic Tricks – How to Be a Magician Kit
- Sudoku – How to Play Sudoku?
- Tarot Reading – How to Read Tarot Cards
- Wordle – How to get started with Wordle: From beginner to expert in an afternoon
- Bird Watching – Birdwatching for Beginners: How to Start Birding
- Camping – Camping for Beginners: Everything First-Timers Need to Know
- Fishing – Fishing 101: A guide for beginners
- Foraging – Foraging 101: How to Get Started
- Gardening – How to Start a Garden
- Geocaching – Geocaching 101
- Golf – How to Play Golf – A Coach’s Guide for Beginners
- Hiking – Hiking for Beginners: The Ultimate 101 Guide for New Hikers
- Metal Detecting – Your Complete Beginner’s Guide to Metal Detecting
- Scuba Diving – Learn to Dive – 3 Ways to Get Started Scuba Diving
- Urban Exploration – How To Urban Explore: The Ultimate Guide To Urban Exploration
Physically Active Hobbies
- Ballroom Dancing – How to Ballroom Dance – The Basic Steps
- Clogging – Introduction to Clog Dancing
- Contra Dancing – Contra Dancing Basics
- Cycling – A Beginner’s Guide to Cycling
- Hip-Hop Dancing – 20-Minute Hip-Hop Dance Class
- Horseback Riding – It’s Never Too Late to Learn How to Ride a Horse
- Ice Skating – How to Ice Skate for Beginners
- Irish Dancing – Learn Your First Irish Dancing Steps
- Juggling – How to Juggle
- Pole Dancing – Learning to Pole Dance In 30 Days
- Race Walking – How to Start Racewalk Training
- Rock Climbing – The Noob’s Guide to Rock Climbing
- Roller Blading – How to Rollerblading for Beginners
- Running – Couch to 5K: Starting Running for the First Time
- Salsa Dancing – Beginner’s Guide: How To Salsa Dance (No Experience Needed)
- Swimming – 7 Quick Tips To Learn Swimming As An Adult
- Tennis – 5 Tips on Learning to Play Tennis Later in Life
- Yoga – Yoga For Complete Beginners
- Zumba – Zumba® For Beginners: A Basic Steps Tutorial
- Board Games – 13 Places, Apps & Sites to Find Local Board Gamers Near You
- Book Club – Find a Book Club
- Bowling – How to Find (and Join) a Bowling League
- Card Playing – Meetup Card Games Groups List
- Line Dancing – Line Dancing Groups on Meetup
- Mahjong – Where is My Mahjong Community?
- Restaurant Club – Social Dining Apps That Set Up You To Eat With Strangers
- Role Playing Games – How can I find other RPG players?
- Sports Leagues – Adult Sports Leagues on Meetup
- Square Dancing – Square Dancing on Meetup
- Trivia – Trivia Teams on Meetup
- Volleyball – Google Volleyball League Near Me