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I am a creative person. But when I first began this lifestyle of a stay at home mom, I put that very fun side of myself on the back burner. After a while, I felt like I couldn’t sustain the passion and upbeat attitude that I was known for before kids. Why? It could have been the sleep deprivation, it could have been the on-call 24/7 thing. Or, it could have been that I didn’t intentionally include my natural talents into my new life.
Once I figured out that I was hindering some really great aspects of myself in the name of being a great mom, I woke up. Because holding back the best parts of me was making me bitter and resentful - the opposite of a great mom. So, I put on my thinking cap to figure out ways I could be creative and be home. Before I share those tidbits with you, let's make sure you're going to get something useful from reading this blog post.
How you’ll know you got something out of this post:
1. You realize one reason you feel in a rut is because you’re not using your creative muscles.
2. You see that if you tweak a few things consistently, you can squeeze time into your days at home to be creative.
3. Once you are regularly being creative, you notice that you have more energy and patience to handle the not-so-pretty aspects of being a SAHM.
I started asking myself good questions about me, creativity, and being a SAHM:
1. Are there certain things I do (or don’t do) that lead to more time for being creative?
Answer: Yes. Being up before the kids, having had enough sleep the night before, having a healthy breakfast (green smoothies, eggs and beans, or fruit salad), and giving the kids undivided attention in the mornings (in the form of play, doing chores together, or reading to them) works every time. If I put these things first, I tend to be more clear-minded, the morning goes smoothly, and I actually feel like being creative when the time comes. The #1 thing I do that drains my energy and momentum for the day: If I get on the Internet first thing in the morning.
2. What time of day is the best for being creative?
Answer: Quiet/Nap time and after the kids go to bed. Mornings don’t work well for me because I need that time to pray and prepare mentally for the day. If my husband is going to be late getting home from work, or he’s travelling, I’ll usually default to evening creative time because it gives me something to look forward to and forces me to finish up my chores during Quiet/Nap Time.
Alternatively, I can plan on doing a creative activity with the kids, if it's something that's within their skill level and doesn't require close supervision - because I want to get my art on, ya'll!
3. How often can I realistically expect to get time to myself to be creative?
Answer: Once a week is definitely doable to start. Creative Tuesday, perhaps? My grandma would hustle to get her chores done in the mornings, and then have every afternoon to sew doll outfits for my mom. With my kids all being so little, though, it wouldn’t be feasible (or fair) to devote chunks of creative time daily - but it’s something I can build towards once they get older.
4. What forms of creativity can I nourish at home, when the kids are sleeping?
Answer: Painting. Writing/Journaling. Pinterest pinning. Collage. Making funny videos, like Katie Bower and Sherry Petersik. Learning to sew. Draw Craftsman style house plans. Pretend to plan my Dream Craftsman style house. Reading. (I LOVE to read.)
5. What can I do to be creative with my kids are up and at ‘em?
Answer: Telling “Collin Stories” to my kids. Make posters/signs. Gardening. Drive around and look at Craftsman style homes. Play dough. Painting with their paints and paper. If I can’t seem to squeeze time to myself, I try to include the kids. They like it.
So, once I did this homework, I felt much more positive about being able to re-incorporate creativity back into my life. (Are you feeling the love, too?) Maybe most of my problem was not thinking that it was possible.
Here's How to Do It
1. Start small. I repeat. Start small. Do not decide you’ll begin by writing the novel you’ve had in your head since high school. Instead, gather some 3x5 index cards, set up a little spot in the kitchen (out of kid’s reach) with fun pens, and start jotting your ideas down whenever they come to you. Or read the sewing machine manual or watch 3 how-to sewing videos on YouTube. Or only plant 5 flowers in the backyard while the kids play in the sandbox.
2. Schedule a Quiet/Nap time or evening (or whenever is good for you) to try it. Pick an activity that will take no more than 15 minutes. Remember to start small. This way, you won’t be disappointed or frustrated if a little one wakes up and wants you. The best way to ruin this exercise is to go all out (being unrealistic) and then having real life happen, and throw in the towel and decide that you’ll never be creative again and should resign to a mediocre life full of meaningless tasks (having a fit, choosing to be miserable, and being stubborn).
I know what life is like with children, so I have a Plan A, B, and C for when I can do my Creative Time if my original session was "interrupted." It’s hard to accept, but being a SAHM sometimes means working around other people. Because if you don’t, you pay for it in people having fits, being naughty, and generally ruining a good time. (Oh, your kids don't do that? Sorry.) As our friend Johann Wolfgang van Goethe said, "Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must."
Bonus Tip: If you're anything like me, you might dig your heels in the sand when it's time to stop your creative session. I actually have been known to get a little grumpy about it, because I LOVE it so much. However, it's just an ugly scene and no one ends up happy. So, give yourself a time limit. And stick to it.
3. Do it. Follow through on this kind thing for yourself. Don't just blow it off. Think of it as something super nice that you are gifting yourself with. I like when I do nice things for myself, don't you? I don't know, you might like yourself better for it. Oh, and remember that this is preventative to SAHM-overload! (Your husband might thank you for it, too.)
Try to keep yourself from thinking that being creative is a waste of time. Because it's not. Remember when John Lennon said that "Time you enjoyed wasting was not wasted time." I really don't, because I wasn't born yet, but he was right. It's what gives us hope and inspiration and reconnects our minds to our souls. It's good, deep, necessary time well spent.
If I start feeling in a rut, it's usually partly because I haven’t done anything creative lately. So, I plan something small to start up again. It really helps me. Then once I get going, I seem to have more energy, am more patient, and seem to come up with really great jokes for my husband. (Inside joke: I think I’m hilarious, and my very analytical and engineering-minded husband has yet to be convinced.) In all, that good ‘ol Shannon re-emerges and life seems better to me.
Using my creativity regularily has changed my life. I don’t feel like I’m losing myself or wasting my potential at home anymore. I see that I have more time to express myself and I have a LOT of influence over my environment, the amount of time I can devote to my creative pursuits, and that I do have a lot in me that wants to get out into the world. (Besides the four children I carried in my belly.) I am not forced to be creative in any single way, as I might be in a job. And there is no pressure on me to create if I am having a bad day or just don’t feel like it. This lifestyle as a stay at home mom offers quite a bit of flexibility. I appreciate that!
Let’s review. Did you get anything useful out of this post?
1. Did you realize one reason you might feel in a rut is because you’re not using your creative muscles?
2. Did you see that if you tweak a few things consistently, you can squeeze time into your days at home to be creative?
3. Once you are regularly being creative, have you noticed that you have more energy and patience to handle the not-so-pretty aspects of being a SAHM?
I hope you say yes to every one of those!! If you did get inspired to be creative again as a result of this post, share it with a friend that is super creative, like you. Maybe being a SAHM has muffled her creative voice, but that can be changed, as you just learned. She’ll thank you for it!
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What gets your creative juices going? What could you do all day and not get tired of? I want to hear about it! Comment below and share the creative love.
7/5/2012 08:24:47 am
The Nate Burkus show inspires me to repurpose and reuse old things in a new way. I enjoy his ideas about what is art. Your grandkids finger paintings or photos from your garden can be framed and has special meaning.
7/5/2012 09:11:15 am
Thanks for commenting, Joann (okay, this is really my Mom)! I like the Nate Berkus show, too. Great inspiration!
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