There is a transition that doesn't happen overnight, from the woman you once were to motherhood; from those last moments you spend free to think mostly of yourself to those first moments of realizing your life will never be the same again... an abrupt transition from all the time in the world to do as you please to 'when was the last time I finished a chapter of a book uninterrupted?'. It's a big transition, and sometimes through the haze of sleepless nights and endless piles of laundry, it's hard to see how to make the best of this beautifully difficult situation you find yourself in. If you want time to create, you've got to create it. Yes, I know it seems like I'm asking you to conjure up something out of thin air and you might feel defeated; you may be thinking to yourself that it's a shame you didn't come into this lifetime with superpowers. This motherhood alongside personhood thing isn't an exclusive club that a privileged few are born into; it's a skill that, like any other skill, improves with practice and dedication.
If you're waiting for the perfect conditions, you aren't going to find yourself creating much. If you wait until you have that perfect 4 hour block of time... where your partner takes the kiddos to the beach for an afternoon and leaves you with a candlelit bubble bath, a glass of wine, your favorite pandora station and the promise of uninterrupted creative time... well, basically... if you sit around waiting for this you might get to create a couple of times a year. If you've got some super amazing, romantic, extra supportive partner...you might get to create once a month. I don't know about you, but once a month just ain't gonna cut it for this creative! I've got to make things daily, not only because there's an ache deep in my bones that draws me to creative pursuits, but also as a form of exercise. I consider my creativity to be a muscle; if I'm not busy using it, I'm busy losing it, so I make art a habit.
There are tiny chunks of time scattered all throughout your day; make the most of them. Ten minutes of quiet after a game of CandyLand, but just before you need to start lunch. Twenty minutes after the baby goes down for a nap and the bigger littles are busily engaged in a quiet afternoon activity. For me, learning to work in short bursts and pick up where I left off was difficult, but with enough practice it's become precisely how I manage to get anything done. But sometimes I like to do something special just for me, to feed and sustain my creativity, and usually that looks like a bubble bath, with a craft beer and my favorite playlist.
Set yourself up for success. If you're a painter and you keep your canvas and paints in a closet upstairs buried behind the christmas decorations, you're probably not going to do much painting. If you plan to make use of those tiny, scattered blocks of time, you'll want your supplies accessible. If you need to spend 5 minutes digging and another 5 minutes setting up, and then take down and clean up?... what?. Nope. It's not likely you'll find the time to get any creative work done. Suddenly you need at least an extra 20 minutes padding on each chunk of time you find throughout the day. You'll talk yourself out of it... "man, I would take this time while my partner is bathing the baby to paint something, but then I'd have to go all the way upstairs and dig out my paints and I'd only get to actually work for a few minutes....so... maybe I should just sit here and check my phone for anything important that could be happening on the inter webs...". Not only does a dedicated work space keep all of your supplies out and on hand, ready for you to make use of every moment that comes your way, it also sends a direct message to your inner procrastinator that you are taking yourself and your need to create seriously; it sends a message of intent out into the universe. Set yourself up a workspace, if you're working with limited space take a look at Pinterest or take a trip to the nearest Ikea for ideas and inspiration.
Someone else can do laundry. No need to be a martyr... don't be afraid to ask for help with household tasks. That old saying "a mother's work is never finished" is true. Totally, 100% correct. There's always a sink full of dishes and a pile of laundry and, while we might be able to muscle through periods where we neglect self care, there is only so much a human spirit can give without being replenished. A mom needs to give a lot, so it's important that we nurture our inner selves. If your creative pursuits are also a source of income for your family, bonus! But money does not equal validity. If your soul calls to you to express yourself creatively, that is the only requirement.
You've got children. Your life is completely different than the child-free life you lead before. Doubtful it was filled with as much love or infused with as much wonderment... but you had more free time, that's for sure! You can figure out a way to balance selfhood and parenthood; you can still be a rockin' mom and get some serious soul work done... if you've got a burning desire to express yourself through art or craft, quit making excuses and start doing it! There is time, but it doesn't look like it once did. With a little practice you'll get much better at recognizing the moments when they come. With a little practice you will become more and more mindful of the ever present *now*.
If I sound like a self-help book, good! Go help yourself! Help yourself become the artist you dream of being. The world is in dire need of souls that shine brightly; no need to hide beneath layers of excuses and distractions... start creating the life you want today! It's good for you, it's good for your kidlets, it's good for the world.
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