It finally happened. You settled down and started a family, have a career and are no longer financially dependent to the bank of Mom and Dad. Congratulations, you’re an adult! Your life will change in many ways but none more dramatically than the frequency and quality of your free time.
At one time in my life, I considered myself a “Pro Yo-Yoer.” I ran a yo-yo shop, did tours with Team High Performance at schools in the SoCal area, directed a weekly yoyo club, and every free minute I wasn’t pouring into video games was dedicated to yo-yoing. I didn’t have any dependents and the “Just over minimum wage” job I had kept my head above water and cheap cup-o-noodles in my belly.
Everything changed in a few years when I started a family, and as my family and career has increased, my free time has decreased. Some of my single friends complain that I have given up my yo-yo hobby, but really the spectrum has changed. 12 years and three kids later, I have learned how to balance my love for yo-yo, with the love and responsibility I need to provide for my family.
1: Invest resources equally in your spouse’s hobbies as you spend in your own
My wife knits. She knits like mad. If you are a close friend to us or you are a teacher for our kids, you are going to get a baby sweater if you get pregnant. It relaxes her the same way that yo-yoing relaxes me, so when it comes time for her to place an order at Ralvery.com for those special bamboo core weighted nickel tipped needles that cost way more than I would have ever imagined, I had to remind myself of the 100 string bundle of Jake Elliot hand wound ultra-whites I spent $50 on. If she needs a kid free day to go to a knitting group, I remind myself of when I go to club or a contest. In our marriage and household, my wife’s knitting is equal to my yo-yoing. At one point, we even considered having her start a KnitSkills.com website.
2: Give your free time and attention to your family before your yo-yoing
You would be surprised how intentional this statement needs to be, but think about how annoying it is for families of Football, or even Golf obsessed fans. “Timmy has a game today? Sorry, can’t make it. The “insert local team here” is playing “insert hated rival team” and if I am not watching then we will lose and never make the section division bowl!” I used to carry a yo-yo with me everywhere, but when I thought about it I realized how bad that really is. What does that say? It either says that you would rather focus on your hobby than what is happening around you, or you need the attention of others instead of giving your attention to others. I am not saying don’t carry a throw for downtimes, but if you are throwing at your daughters dance recital then you have your priorities mixed up. If I’m with my family and we aren’t headed to a yoyo event or somewhere that I know comes with tons of free time, I leave the wheels in the car. My kids probably need the attention more than my yoyo.
3: Keep your yo-yo hobby contained
No single member of the household should allow their hobby to take over the home. You and your family are comprised of different people with different interests, and the general living area should not be overwhelmed with just one person’s interests. Chances are your loved ones already know how much yo-yoing means to you and support your hobby, but if you are decorating every room with life size Jensen Kimmet vinyl stickers, or YoYoJam etched wine glasses, you’re going to get some resistance. I managed to keep my collection (which was enormous not too long ago) to a single room in my house and a few boxes in the Garage. I could have peppered every room in the house with yo-yo merch and throws, but I knew that would never fly. At the same time, my wife has her space for her knitting, my daughter has her My Little Pony contained in her room, and my boys mostly collect bruises from rough housing. The bottom line here is the house is a reflection of your family, not just your hobby.
4: Don’t force it on your kids / spouse
I know that you think yo-yoing is awesome and you are awesome at it, but don’t force it on your kids and spouse. Nothing can push away someone from a hobby like a forceful indoctrination. If your spouse and kids want to yo-yo, they will yo-yo. My wife has no interest in yo-yoing. She sees what it does for me and what I get from it and loves that, but she has zero interest in throwing herself. My kids are the same way. I can’t expect my 9, 5, and 4 year olds to drop the Crayons and Lego’s to yo-yo on my command. If you want your family to get involved in yo-yoing, you need to let it happen organically.
5: Remind yourself why you started yo-yoing in the first place
I love this line, because it is not only important, it is solid enough to end on. Think back to when you first got started. For me, my Step Grandfather had a yo-yo in his garage and I thought it was the coolest thing. I had never seen a yo-yo work the right way, and he had that $1.99 Duncan Imperial doing things that broke my 9 year old brain. Even thought it was a cheap plastic, he made me earn the time to play with it and treat the toy correctly. As I grew, so did my passion for the hobby. I started yo-yoing because it intrigued me. I found it to be challenging and addictive. The personal satisfaction of setting a goal and then achieving it through time and practice not only makes you a better yoyoer, it makes you a better person. Don’t lose sight and let becoming a better yoyoer outpace becoming a better person.
- Chris “Dr. Yo-Yo” Allen
Chris “Dr. Yo-Yo” Allen is the founder of YoyoSkills.com and committed father and yo-yo enthusiast. He can be reached at Dr.Yoyo@yoyoskills.com