How To Balance Multipotentiality and Parenthood
Photo courtesy of Sam Howzit.

How To Balance Multipotentiality and Parenthood

Written by Emilie

Topics: Parents

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Catherine Chisnall.

I am a multipotentialite and a parent. I rejoiced when I found out about what a multipotentialite was and read everything I could about it, making big plans to fit my many interests into my life.

However, as a parent, I can’t suddenly change my routine to accommodate my interests. I can’t move to another town, change my daily timetable of looking after little children, or ask my daughter to “hang on for a few hours while I finish this project.” Life as the parent of young children is often boring and repetitive – the exact things guaranteed to drive a multipotentialite crazy.

Here are some tips for those of you who are both parents and multipotentialites and would like to have more time in your life for your various interests.

1) Schedule ‘Me Time’

You can involve your children in your interests by taking them out with you or pursuing your interests at home but children, especially the small ones, get bored easily. They have their own interests and needs and you often feel like a servant, helping them with their interests but never getting time for your own.

I’m sorry if that sounds Scrooge-like but many parents will identify with this situation.

It’s important for parents to have time to themselves. Happy parents = happy children. I firmly believe that. So schedule in some precious ‘me time’ each week. Get your partner, mother, or anyone reliable to look after the children for an hour or two. Take a breather, use your adult brain, and take a break from children’s interests.

If during your time off you need to sleep, keep a notepad and pen next to your bed to write down any dreams and ideas you have while sleeping.

2) Nourish Your Mind

There are lots of great resources out there for entertaining and nourishing your mind during your free time.

  • Iversity — Free education. This organisation teaches non-standard courses via video and MP3, so you can dip in and out whenever you like. They’re provided by a German university, in English, and are open to anyone who wishes to enrol. Did I mention this is free? Examples of courses are: ‘The Future of Storytelling’, ‘Designing Resilient Schools’, ‘Dark Matter in Galaxies’, ‘The Fascination of Crystals and Symmetry’, and ‘The European Union in Global Governance’.
  • The Setup (from Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher) – Set up your interest in the corner of the living room or wherever you spend most time with your children. You can do anything that fits the time and place, for example blogging, researching vintage cars online, scrapbooking, or calligraphy.
  • Facebook groups— Facebook is a great place to get inspiration, meet others in your situation, or just talk about multipotentiality. There are some scanner groups out there.

3) Get a Multipod-Friendly Job

There are loads of jobs that suit scanners. Training courses also provide another a great way to learn and stretch yourself.

Try working as a teaching assistant in a school or college. I recommend working in college with students over sixteen years old because the subjects they take are more interesting and they can hold more adult conversations. Alternatively, for variety, work with children of a different age to your own children. You could also be a library assistant. The hours are flexible, you’re surrounded by information, and you’ll need to research a variety of subjects for your customers.

The multipotentialite parent’s life will go much more slowly than that of a multipotentialite who is single or retired with time on their hands. Every little thing you achieve will seem huge. But keep going because one day your children will grow up and you’ll have the time to finish the projects you started. Plus your children will have enjoyed living with a happy, more relaxed parent.

Your Turn

Are you a parent? If so, how do you find time for your multiple passions?

em_authorbioCatherine Chisnall is the mum of a delicate but very lively eight year old. She has worked in a variety of sectors including banking, education, charity, libraries, and most recently, writing and editing. She lives in southern England with her family, which consists of little daughter, busy husband, dotty mother, cuddly cat and an increasing number of goldfish..


  1. Katja says:

    Hi Catherine ,
    I can absolutely relate to your statement “Life as the parent of young children is often boring and repetitive – the exact things guaranteed to drive a multipotentialite crazy”.

    I’m probably lucky in that regard because my 6 yo daughter is a) an obvious multipod herself and b)is interested a lot of things I like to do. So when she wants to spend time with me I suggest drawing or crafting and we do our projects alongside each other. When she needs help or encouragement I give it to her (naturally!), but other than that we work next to each other but individually. Since I consciously trained her from infancy to work/play independently she is by now very good at it.

    Sounds a little bit cold, typed like this, but after a harrowing first year with a newborn I mad a deliberate decision to put myself first (as much as possible without neglecting my kid of course!) and raise my kid in a way that would not make me resent her in the future. Happy Mom = happy Kid. Absolutely. And time has shown that this was a good decision, my girl is a delight to me and we have a very strong & healthy bond – while it is still possible for me to be a farmer/harpist/singer/seamstress/artist/language&literature-nerd/ect….. :)

    My husband is also a huge help, because he takes her with him as much as possible to give me alone-time (we have a horse farm, so there is a lot to do outside.) I couldn’t do it without him and I’m grateful every single day to have found such a great guy who is so supportive of my mulitpod nature.

    I also have to give credit for a lot of this “wisdom” to Tom Hodgkinsons Book “The idle Parent” – a must read for anti-helicopter-parents and or mulitpod-parents. Very funny, sometimes a little disturbing, but spot on! :)

  2. Hi Katja

    I can relate to all that you say here! My daughter is similar to yours, lots of interests and I too have encouraged her to be independent. I also have an understanding husband who knows I need quiet time to do my own projects.

    Perhaps that is the start of a method to help multipod parents: train your kids from being young to be independent and do their own projects. And find a partner/ supporter who appreciates the need for alone time.

    I suppose that would (hopefully) be what attracts the partner though- us being the multipods that we are. It underlines the fact that we must be ourselves and not fall into the trap of trying to specialise.

    I will have a read of Tom Hodgkinsons book, thanks :)

  3. Love this. Not a parent yet but aspire to be one day when the time is right. I think your suggestions are useful in a general sense too – our lives can become busy, and scheduling “me time”, nourishing your mind, and structuring your life in such a way as to allow you to meet your scanner/multipotentialite needs are important things that we can neglect when caught up in busyness. That said, I’m not a parent as I said and I can only imagine how the responsibilities of parenting would add to the challenges of busyness and life in general! I’m sure it must be pretty rewarding too tho. Cheers, Rich :-)

    • Hi Richard

      Thanks for your comments. Life is so very busy these days, it seems to be getting more and more full and we need to carve out some time for us.

      Hopefully my thoughts will help you and others be well prepared for parenthood when it happens :)

  4. Kate says:

    I just saw this and I am so glad that I did! My son is almost 2 and basically did not sleep for the first year of his life. Once he did, though, I struggled to figure out why I was still so tired even though I was getting plenty of sleep. It has taken me almost another year to realize that I am not physically tired but emotionally tired from not ever getting to do what I want to do. My husband travels extensively for work, gone for 8-10 days and then home for 4-6 days, so weeks go by when I have to carefully plan my “me time” during naps or after bedtime, along with all of the other household stuff. I will admit that I started teaching my son to play independently when he was about 9 months old, just so I could get a shower every day! Hopefully as he gets older we will be able to work together like Katja and her daughter do! He is showing interest in watering our plants, so maybe a vegetable garden next year! Thanks again!!

    • Hi Kate

      I know how you feel with the emotional tiredness from not ever getting to do what you want. It seems to be inevitable when children are little- always thinking about them and their needs and just going through the motions of living.

      I’m sure you will be able to work together as your son gets older- hang on in there, it does get easier. My daughter is 8 and she is used to mummy saying ‘I’m tired, I need some peace now’ and she goes and plays by herself, she likes it and often says the same to me- ‘I need some quiet time alone now mummy.’

      Glad my article helped a little :)

  5. Tessa says:

    Fancy meeting you here, Catherine. Great post. I really appreciate the idea of a specific “just for me” corner where I can focus on my interests. I spend a lot of time reading, whtger it be paperback books, ebooks, or websites, while I nurse my 6 month old or while he naps in my arms. I purposely don’t usually lay him down for naps so I can have a bit of time to sit and read. I, too, have encouraged my older boys (ages 6 and 3) to play independently and they will play together or separately for hours at a time. It is great! The biggest hinderence to my ibterests right now is that I feel I have no formal plan or direction in how to pursue them. I’ll have to check out those sites you mentioned to see if they can provide some guidance.

    • Hi Tessa, what a small world! I’m glad my article helped you, I feel like parents are somehow overlooked when it comes to having a life of their own and we’re expected to be some kind of robot entirely focused on caring for our children. I can’t do that, I need some interests of my own and I wanted to let other parents know they are not alone if they feel frustrated. I’m glad to see all the research popping up saying ‘happy parent= happy child’ and encouraging us to take care of ourselves too.

  6. Jackie says:

    Thank you very much for this article! It is exactly what I needed right now! I feel sometimes that all the advice for multipotentialites is for the single, not-parent-yet ones, and I am having a very difficult time figuring out how to pursue all my interests (well, even just one, right now, will feel good) now that I have a 7-months-old baby. I can relate too to being tired all the time; it is physical, but mainly emotional tiredness, as some of the comments said, for not having time to do what you want, especially when you feel that you could be doing soooo much more than just staying at home… Thank you again and please keep posting more ideas for parents like us.

    • Hi Jackie

      I felt exactly the same- that all the advice for multipotentialites is for single, non parents- and wanted to help parents, as I am one.
      I remember what it was like having a little baby, don’t worry, it does get easier as they get more independent. Hope you can get someone to look after the baby for a while so you can take a break.
      I’ll see what I can think of in the way of further advice, keep an eye on my blog in the meantime :)

  7. Katja says:

    I totally love the comments on this post. Having children is really a blessing but it can be harrowing as well. There is no shame in admitting that.

    As for more advice for soon-to-be multipod parents, I would offer the following:

    If I had another child (which I probably wont, I’m happy the way it is) I would make a conscious decision to throw myself into the first year with as much abandon as I would do with any new interest. Newborns need all the care and love they can get, and getting all their needs met is a sound foundation for independence when they are older, I’m absolutely sure about that.

    Carry the baby in a sling, have her sleep in your bed, breast-feed her as long as you can stand it. Always knowing that this intense time is limited to one year. That makes it manageable and will save you from insanity and feelings of guilt later on, when you are taking time for yourself.

    After your baby’s first birthday start to train her to play independently and set up a network of help which grows with her. Now that my daughter is six I have a couple of trusted friends, neighbors and relatives who are always happy to have her over, because she is such an independent, polite and well-balanced child.

    It really takes a village to raise a child, so don’t feel bad about getting help. As long as your kid is nice and well behaved, most people love to babysit.

    • I totally agree about building a network of help, Katja! That is exactly the advice I would give.

      I didn’t really know anyone in my village when I was pregnant and my little girl was a baby and toddler. I was soooo lonely and bored for those 2 or 3 years, partly due to ill health making it almost impossible to go out however.

      And the advice about throwing yourself into the first year of your baby’s life, I would keep an eye on the calendar days and months ticking by rather than thinking ‘I’m trapped forever.’

      But we don’t know which way is up when we have our first baby, do we, new parents? We get on with it as best we can, and get through it :)

  8. Jeannette Morris says:

    Oh wow!!!

    I feel at home here!!! Only today I found out that I am a multipod and I also have three children and exactly what every multipod parent said I feel.. I love my angels but at times it feels like I am trapped in a cage and it frightens me that this is what I am and nothing more!!!

    I so appreciate the validation that I am ok and being a multipod is alright!!

    • Welcome Jeanette, to the world of the multipod parent.

      You are not alone.

      We hate to feel we are in a cage and trapped, don’t we? Just try and remember that it is just a phase, a season where we are looking after small children, and it will pass. Do your best and keep on keeping on, and one day you’ll be rewarded by being able to pursue your interests again.

      It annoys me when people say ‘why did you have children then, if you feel trapped and not fulfilled?’ We didn’t know what parenthood would be like, did we? And we are continuing the human race and carefully raising new people to be productive members of the population, so we are doing a fantastic job.

      You are alright, normal and so are the rest of us *waves the multipod flag*

  9. Kim says:

    So this post is rather old, but I just found it today and now I just have to respond… It was so good to read it, and also all the helpful comments!
    I’m only 25 and my husband is 27, and he wants to have children soon. I also like the idea of having them and raising them, and frankly, rather sooner than later, but lately I’m really afraid of not being able to purse all my interest in (astro)physics/dancing/choreographing/drawing/sewing/photography/music/languages/medieval stuff/social psychology etc. anymore… I was also very confused about myself and already talked to him about it, but although we share a few important interests, he really can’t understand how one can be interested in SO many things at once.
    I will show him this website and especially this post first thing tomorrow, looking forward to a productive talk. Thanks a lot again! :)

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