How Do You Uncube? A Philosophy of Hobbies

Bees are abuzz in the back corner of our yard. Chickens roam, nestling among plants in the garden. Peas are making their way up their trellis. It’s spring time on the burbstead.

Do we want to “live off the land”? Not exactly. We just want to “un-cube.” You know, decompress from the daily grind. And we want to do so in ways that are low-cost, productive, and family-friendly. We also prefer hobbies that are flexible and can involve other people, rather than taking us away from time with friends and family.

In a parenting podcast the speaker said something that really resonated with me. He was talking about the transition people experience if they become a one-income family. “Maybe you can’t afford golf anymore,” he said. “You might need to find some different hobbies. Like running and reading library books.” I hate running, but I get his point.

Poor golf. It gets such a bad name. I’ve never golfed in my life so I can’t comment. All I know is, we’ve made it a point to choose hobbies we can do at home, with the kids, in the margins of life rather than demanding huge chunks of time, and that generally produce rather than consume. We also prefer hobbies that get us outside, moving around, naturally incorporating exercise into our lives.

While Neil loves raising food, building and fixing things, and playing sports with friends, I like blogging (obviously) and dancing. I play more of supportive role in the burbstead activities—feeding the chickens rather than slaughtering them; harvesting, cooking, and cleaning produce rather than planting; cleaning up tools rather than building bee hives. I’m just not very good at keeping things alive, except children.

Family, friends, and ministry come first and we fit our outlets in between these, rather than placing them at the top of the priority list. For the most part, our hobbies don’t have to be scheduled ahead of time on a calendar.

Our hobbies have changed or evolved over the years. I used to take Zumba classes at the fancy-schmancy gym. Then I had kids and going there got too expensive. Neil used to do photography as a hobby-come-side-hustle until that became a bit too time-consuming. Now instead of traveling overseas, traveling looks like camping, road trips, or scoring free flights. I’m sure as our kids age what types of recreation we choose will continue to change. But we never want hobbies to become all-consuming money-pits. That hardly fits the purpose of un-cubing, relaxing, and decompressing after work.

Integrating hobbies into your life, rather than needing to dedicate tons of time, energy, and money to them, is another great suggestion for those with kids. We can feed the chickens together. Neil took a beekeeping class with a friend, and brought our son with him and his friend to pick up the bees. The kids and I have dance parties while I work out the choreo for my next pseudo-flash mob. We read them chapter or nonfiction books that are interesting to us as well (in addition to lots of picture books of their choosing). We ride bikes to the playground together. Neil works in the yard while they play on the swing set.

When it comes to hobbies, sharing is caring. Whether that’s gifting pickled peppers to friends, having people over for meals featuring our homegrown veggies, chickens, or syrup; inviting our playgroup to interact with baby chicks; teaching a dance class, or hanging out with the other softball families at the games.

Some people get into similar hobbies with the dream of self-sufficiency. We don’t believe we’re made to be self-sufficient. We need God. We need people. We need ALDI. And sometimes even Target. We’re not about to make our hobbies our life’s purpose. They’re just there for a fun outlet. We all need a way to un-cube, and we’ve found some interests that fit the bill for us.

Have you ever thought about your philosophy of hobbies? Do your hobbies fit your lifestyle, or do you struggle to fit life around your hobbies?

What are your hobbies? How do they fit in with your bigger picture?

16 Responses to “How Do You Uncube? A Philosophy of Hobbies”

  1. Brian says :

    Is mowing the lawn a hobby? 🙂 It certainly helps me un-cube. Recently a lot of my free time as been spent volunteering and helping others. It can be easy to control these opportunities, if they don’t match my lifestyle I just simply say no.

    • Kalie says :

      I think yard work is a hobby. Some people pay others to do it and some people enjoy it, or at least learn to tolerate it. That’s awesome that you’re spending free time volunteering and helping others! I think that’s a great way to spend your time and find fulfillment. Volunteer ministry is really our main “hobby” in terms of time, but it’s such a serious commitment to us that I hesitate to call it a hobby.

  2. Amanda says :

    Our hobbies are very similar to yours. We do a ton of outdoor activities (fishing, gardening, hiking) and building (we just built our niece a headboard for graduation). While we love DIY, we’ve never had a goal of self-sufficiency either. We both enjoy adding to our skill sets.

    Funny you mention how the kids can learn and participate along side you. Both of our kids started fishing when they were 3. Well, my almost 17 year old spent a good part of his weekend fishing – with his friends, alone and with us too. I think it’s great that he’s developed a fondness for this hobby, particularly as a teen.

    • Kalie says :

      That’s wonderful your kids love to fish! That’s something we’d like to get more into. And I agree that it’s nice to learn more skills and DIY, without making it an all-consuming goal. What a cool gift that was for your niece!

  3. DC YAM says :

    Oh I definitely quit golf and snowboarding a few years ago due to the time and money commitment they required. At first is was purely due to the financial cost as they are both easy things to cut out for quick gains, but now it’s much more about the time commitment it would take to have them as hobbies. My hobbies have unfortunately morphed solely into side hustles. Even working on our house is a side hustle of sorts! My wife and I do both like watching TV shows, so that’s been a good hobby that isn’t a side hustle.

    • Kalie says :

      Neil has also given up snowboarding. I think he has gone on 2 snowboarding trips since I met him almost 15 years ago! That’s interesting that you made a financial decision that turned into more of a choice about how you’ll spend your time. I wonder how many other things that might apply to.

      I think it’s pretty cool if your hobbies are now making you money, so long as you enjoy them!

  4. Fruclassity (Ruth) says :

    You’ve expressed a great philosophy about hobbies here, and it is making me think about ours. My husband was a karate black belt when I met him, and when we married and had kids, he was so determined to stick with his 4 work-outs per week (far from home & that left him completely drained). It was miserable. I remember the day he gave it up – but it was like a defeat rather than a decision. For one period of time, we managed to stay fit without a gym membership. We were taking part in 10 km road races that we’d train for. That was great – but it lasted only a few years. Anyway, we have struggled to find hobbies that blend in with our family & financial reality. Lots of food for thought here.

    • Kalie says :

      Wow, that’s impressive that your husband was a black belt, but it sounds like a very intensive hobby. It can be hard to stay motivated to exercise without a gym membership, in my opinion. I hope you can find hobbies that fit in better with your life!

  5. Mustard Seed Money says :

    My biggest hobby is my blog at this point. I love sharing personal finance information with others and it’s the one area of my life that I feel like an extrovert about 🙂

    I also enjoy following sports and can’t wait for my kiddos to grow up so we can play as well!!!

    • Kalie says :

      I think blogging is a great hobby, and yours seems to be doing very well. That’s great you’ve found an outlet and a way to help and connect to people.

      That’ll be fun when you can play sports with your kids. My son just started soccer and he doesn’t entirely understand the game yet, but he loves kicking the ball around with us.

  6. Cheryl says :

    This is so true! It’s hard to be frugal when you don’t have frugal hobbies. My husband and I enjoy reading, which can either be expensive (buying books at the bookstore, even used) or frugal (going to the library and being mindful of returning on time). I prefer the frugality and community of the library. We take our little one to the library a couple times a week to enjoy the babytime activities and check out board books.

    • Kalie says :

      Yes, we love the library a lot! Our state has a great inter-library loan system so we don’t have to buy many books anymore.

  7. David says :

    I used to play a lot of golf. But it started to get too expensive. I also stopped the gym membership and workout at home now and take long walks. I hope to buy a bike and use that for exercise while also hopefully decreasing use of the car ( recently bought a used 2009 pontiac vibe at a car auction for $3800 replacing my 1994 civic that I bought new)

    • Kalie says :

      That’s great that you’ve been able to adapt your hobbies to your budget and/or goals. We also enjoy biking. It’s a great pastime with the kids, is good exercise, and like you said, can save on vehicle expenses like gas. Sounds like you got a good deal on the car, too!

  8. Julie says :

    When we decided that organized sports took too much time away from the family (2 games and 2 practices a week times 4 kids) we looked into hobbies and came up with stamp collecting. We round a group that met once a month and these people were in their 70s and 80s and accepted my children into their group. I don’t remember spending any money on this. The Post Office gave us a free starter kit. We saved stamps from incoming mail and people at stamp club unloaded their unwanted stamps on us. Family gave us their hand me downs of stamp collecting. We learned all about first additions and how many Love stamps existed. It was really fun for that period in our lives. We weren’t in it for the money, we just collected ones we liked. Another thing we did was talk teenagers at church into giving free group guitar lessons and my son and I learned how to play the guitar that way.

    • Kalie says :

      That’s great that you found a free alternative hobby. I can’t imagine running that many kids to sports practices!

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