Ironic, isn’t it?
Raising kids is the hardest and most fulfilling thing most of us will ever do. Yet at times it can be head-bangingly dull.
I used to neglect my intellectual needs. I could see that good mothers needed to take care of themselves physically and emotionally. But spending time doing something just because I enjoyed the mental challenge felt self-indulgent.
Then I read these words at a PowerWood workshop about overexcitabilities:
Get your intellectual, practical and emotional needs clear and find practical solutions for meeting your own needs.
For the first time since I’d become a mother, I felt validated for even having intellectual needs!
We’re better parents – and happier people – when all our needs are met. So let’s make time to nourish our intellectual selves.
34 Ways To Nourish Your Intellectual Overexcitability
Hit the books
1. Audiobooks used to be a luxury, but with a family Audible subscription, they can cost just a few pounds each – much less than the print or kindle edition. If you’re a fast reader you may need to train yourself to listen, but it’s worth the investment. I love listening to books while walking the dogs and folding laundry.
2. Start a book group. When a friend suggested we set up a group, I didn’t think I’d have time to read a fiction book each month as well as the piles of non-fiction I love. But I’ve managed somehow, and life has been richer for it.
3. School squeezed the joy out of the classics for many of us, but you can enjoy the great works of literature much more when you read them on your own terms and after some life experience. For tips on where to start, check out The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had.
4. If your reading time is very scarce, take a look at James Clear’s excellent reading lists for people who don’t have time for unimportant books.
Tell your own story
7. If you don’t feel up to writing a whole novel, how about a short story? Find inspiration here.
8. Maybe poetry’s more your thing? There’s a place for you too.
9. Find readers, feedback and encouragement by joining a writing community.
10. Share your passion and connect with kindred spirits by starting a blog. You needn’t spend a penny and can have your blog up and running within minutes by creating a WordPress hosted site. Find dead easy instructions here.
If you’re more serious, invest in ProBlogger’s Guide To Your First Week Of Blogging, which I read before starting this blog.
Make a game of it
Whether you’re hanging around outside your child’s dance class for a few minutes, or you have an hour to enjoy with your kids, there’s a game for you.
11. Words With Friends (Scrabble-type game). Let the app match you with an opponent, or play a friend. My mum lives three hours away but that doesn’t stop us playing WWF every day.
13. Grid logic puzzles – remember when they used to sell books of these? I loved them when I was growing up. You can now find them online, together with a handy tutorial. My son and I love working these puzzles together.
14. Download a cryptic crossword app or grab a pen and try a few clues in your favourite newspaper. Most are available online if you prefer not to stress yourself out reading the news – see the Guardian, for instance.
15. Depending on how old and how competitive your kids are, board games may – or may not! – improve your wellbeing. If my baseline is high I love playing chess, Ticket to Ride, Mastermind or Carcassone with my family.
16. Board game apps – Did you know you can play board games like Ticket to Ride, Carcassone and Splendor on your phone? (I’m totally addicted to Ticket to Ride.) The tutorials are great if like me you love complex games but hate reading instructions. And we introverts can enjoy a fun mental workout without the drain of interacting with another person. 😉
Study at Yale while nursing your baby
A generation ago, taking a course meant showing up (child-free) at a regular place for at least an hour every week. Not something busy mums can easily commit to.
MOOCs (massive open online courses) have changed all that. There’s never been an easier time to learn something new, on a schedule to suit you. Here are a few of the many MOOCs on offer:
17. Coursera has a huge selection of courses from the best institutions around the world. Fancy learning about Magic in the Middle Ages? Taking Yale’s Introduction to classical music? Or perhaps you’d prefer Animal behaviour and welfare, or Photography basics: From smartphone to DSLR?
18. Here are some FutureLearn courses that caught my eye on a brief scan: The politics and diplomacy of cooking and hospitality, Myths and realities of personalised medicine: the Genetic revolution, The Earth in my pocket: An introduction to geology, Elements of renewable energy, and Antiquities trafficking and art crime.
20. Not all Udemy‘s courses are free but their regular sales mean you never need pay more than £15 for dozens of hours of training. (Bonus: paying incentivises us to complete a course.) Here’s a small sample of what you can learn at Udemy: How to be a yoga laughter facilitator, How to teach your children to be financially wise, and The part-time entrepreneur complete course.
Wrap your tongue around a new language
Not only does learning another language improve your communication skills, it also boosts memory, problem-solving and decision-making capabilities, and makes you less susceptible to dementia. A second (or third) language will also increase your options after your kids have grown.
21. Duolingo I started learning German from absolute beginner level four years ago. As an experiment, I’ve done nothing but one five minute Duolingo lesson a day on my phone. Apparently I’m now 37% fluent! More importantly, I can find the chocolate cake on an Austrian menu, and impress my husband by not needing the subtitles when we’re watching The Man In The High Castle.
22. Fluent Forever – I highly recommend this book if you’re serious about quickly becoming fluent in another language and enjoy using memory systems. The author is passionate about languages and his website is filled with tools to support you learning 32 different language options from Arabic to Cantonese. I’m learning Italian and brushing up my Spanish with the Fluent Forever system.
23. Listen to an audio language course in the car or while you’re cooking dinner.
Become a master crafter
Would you like to try a new craft but you’re not sure what? Think back on how you liked to play when you were growing up. I used to take photos with a pinhole camera and make my own magazines. These days I still love photography and writing.
Or try one of these:
25. Crochet or knitting. Once you’ve mastered the basics, try inventing your own patterns or even new stitches.
26. Research your family history or the history of your local area.
27. Grow your own food. You could even follow the example of one of my friends in the PowerWood Facebook Group who studies permaculture and is creating an edible forest!
28. Nourish your family as well as your intellect by learning to cook a new dish or even a whole a new style of cuisine.
29. Make your own organic cosmetics and sun screens.
Get smarter together
Nourish your intellectual overexcitability alongside your kids:
30. Watch a BBC documentary like Orbit Earth or anything with David Attenborough.
31. Teach them to play chess.
32. Tune into a TED Ed talk together.
33. Make music. When we started homeschooling, I had very little time for myself. For two years my daughter took group guitar lessons then came home and taught me what she’d learned. I’m taking my grade 7 exam soon.
34. Watch an It’s Okay To Be Smart video on YouTube.
Why learn a foreign language? Benefits of bilingualism, The Telegraph
10 Hobbies worth pursuing for your curious mind, Shout Me Loud
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How do you nourish your intellectual OE?
I’d love to hear from you!
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This post is part of a series on using our overexcitabilities to nourish our souls. See also:
If you’d like to receive the final part of the series – how to use your psychomotor overexcitability to nourish your soul – direct to your inbox, just leave your email address in the ‘Follow by Email’ box below. You can also like Laugh, Love, Learn on Facebook.