As a mom of young kids, I have struggled to find time, consistently, to be creative. When I started this blog a little over six months ago, the burning question for me was, how can I find time to write consistently with two kids underfoot at home? (I did hire a babysitter for a while, which is the most obvious solution, but the money adds up and it’s not sustainable for us. I know many of you creative, stay-at-home moms are in the same boat).
Since then, I’ve scoured mom sites and pestered other creative moms, wondering how they find time to write, or paint furniture, or decorate with kids at home.
Most of the answers run along the same thing: work when they sleep. It’s not what I wanted to hear, and for a while I made excuses:
- My oldest doesn’t nap anymore.
- The time in the evenings is for my husband and I.
- Saturdays are my down day.
- I just can’t get up early while I’m still getting up at night with my youngest.
I think what I really wanted was some magic toy to entertain my kids without a screen attached so I could write guilt-free on my terms. But the truth is, in order to be a creative, stay at home mom, most of us have to make sacrifices.
Still, bent as I am to keep as much of my leisure time and sleep time, I have found a few mom hacks that enable me to make the most of my creative time, whether it’s decorating a part of my home, or writing a blog.
Here are 5 ways I find time to be creative:
1. Prep your canvas while the kids are awake.
If you are decorating, quiet the space (i.e. clean up the area, clear the clutter). If you are painting, prep your materials so you are ready to jump in as soon as the kids are away. When I created this entry space in our home, I had the kids help me clean up the living room and surrounding areas so I would be ready to start decorating as soon as they went to bed.
If writing is your creative medium, dream and take notes while your kids are playing at the park or while you are folding the laundry. Keep a note pad or voice recording app nearby so you can capture the ideas as they come. Then, when you sit down to write, you have a starting point.
The ideas for this post actually came to me at 3 in the morning when I couldn’t fall back asleep after helping my two-year-old use the toilet. I typed out my ideas on the Voxer app and the next day when I sat down to write, I opened my phone, and remembered the ideas that were ripe at 3 am.
2. Learn how to rest while your kids are up.
Don’t wait for your kids to sleep so you can rest. Learn how to rest while they are awake. Then you will have energy when they finally head off to sleep and you can begin your creative project.
I used to wear myself out while the kids were awake and would collapse on the couch at bedtime. But then I realized that if I wanted to do some creative projects on the side, I would need to learn to conserve my energy while they are awake.
So read while they watch a show. Relax at the park, as much as possible. Stop trying to initiate so many activities and outings (unless that’s your creative outlet) and let them use some of their own creativity to occupy themselves.
3. Lower your expectations on timing and results.
The kids will get sick. Someone will skip their nap. You might just have an unavoidably exhausting day. Interruptions are common in motherhood and they will cause projects to take longer. Accept your stage of life and have patience with the process.
4. Work while the kids sleep.
Get up early. Stay up late. Work through naps. Find which time slot works best for you. Experiment with it.
Before kids, I was a morning lark. But remarkably, I’m finding that most of my inspiration and energy come to me now after 8 pm. If I hadn’t experimented with that time of day, I never would have known. A word of caution: this habit may keep you up late into the night which can be less than ideal for a mom who is already short on sleep.
5. Make peace with allowing the TV to babysit your kids every once in a while.
Figure out the time limits you are comfortable with and use the allotted time to work on your projects. They are probably going to want to watch TV anyway, so you might as well plan ahead and put that time to good use.
What about you?
I’ve shared 5 hacks for getting more creative time in, young mama. How do you make time to be creative? Share your tips with me in the comments.