Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Published 8:16 AM by

7 Ways for Mamas to Find Time to Be Creative

Sometimes I have so many creative ideas running through my head that I think I'll explode if I don't get some of them out! As a mother of a toddler, and a music teacher, my time is fairly well booked, and then when I do have some freedom I have to decide whether I should play one of my musical instruments or write. Or knit. Or edit my book. Or make some postcards.

Here are the seven ways I've found work best for a busy mama to get in some creative time!

~ Get up early!

By early, I mean as early as you need to get done what you want. If your family wakes up around 7:00, get up at 6:00. Last year I woke up at 5 a.m. every day so that I could have an hour and a half to write my book for NaNoWriMo before my one year old would get out of bed to ask for breakfast. It worked well! And I'm pleased to say that I did it mostly without any kind of caffeine, just copious amounts of herbal tea.

The downside: You have to go to bed early, too, or risk being a sleep-walking zombie all day long, or have an i.v. drip of coffee constantly running through your veins. Anyone can adjust their sleep schedule to make this work, even if you don't consider yourself to be a "morning" person, but it does take effort and adjustment. 

~ Stay up late!

Your usual bedtime is 10:00? Try staying up an extra hour just to work on a creative project. Or stay up until midnight, if you're really gung-ho. The house is peaceful and quiet! That's what I've been doing lately.

The downside: You have to sleep in late, or risk being a sleep-walking zombie all day long, or have an i.v. drip of coffee constantly running through your veins. Also, you have to be super quiet because everyone else is trying to sleep, so that pretty much rules out any project involving music, unless you have a sound-proof room (I don't). 

~ Schedule half hour quiet times for everybody!

Either in the morning or the early afternoon, have everyone in the house take a mandatory "quiet time". You go to your own room (or a designated space) and each person, no matter what age, gets to entertain themselves quietly for half an hour. Even toddlers can learn to do this! Have a special box of games, or special books, or special toys or puzzles, available just for these times. Then you can have that half hour to get out some creative ideas.

The downside: It's not a long time, even if you extend it to forty minutes or an hour (most kids won't last longer than that on their own) so you have to do things in little bits and can't get into a groove. Just when your fingers are warmed up to your instrument or you're feeling like the words are starting to flow onto paper or your painting is going somewhere, the timer goes off and the quiet is gone.

~ Have "Creative Family Time" as part of your weekly or daily routine!

If you home-school, this can be part of your regular day! For a designated period of time (forty-five minutes, an hour, etc.) everyone works on a creative project of their own choosing, together or separately. Toddlers can be glueing or cutting paper to make artwork while older children sew or craft or build something while mama gets to work on something creative too. It's encouraging for everyone to participate in this kind of thing, because you ALL get to benefit from exploring what it means to create! If your kids are in school, maybe you can have Creative Family Time on a Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon together.

The downside: Mama doesn't have a lot of attention for her own project because she is constantly assisting or helping with everyone else's projects. This may or may not be an issue for you, depending on what you're trying to accomplish and the age of your children, but you definitely can't get into a groove very easily this way

~ Just DO it!

In the midst of the chaos around you, children playing, housework calling, phone ringing, just sit down at whatever crafty/artistic project you're on and do it! Five minutes, ten minutes, however long you can, keep at it. Those moments at your work will build up if you have a few of them every day.

The downside: It's unpredictable, messy, and frantic. No groove, probably a lot of interruptions.

~ Schedule an "Artist's Date" with yourself!

Weekly or monthly (I'm more a fan of weekly, because monthly doesn't give much consistency) you schedule a deliberate time to work on your creative ideas, by yourself. Try to go somewhere where you can have the freedom to do your stuff, but won't get too distracted by what's going on around you. Some people love coffee shops, others don't like the loud environment. The library, an outdoor area, or a local hang-out like a bookstore would be a good place to start. Many libraries often have rooms that you can rent or reserve for cheap or free, if you'd like extra privacy! 

The downside: You have to go out of your way to lug all your stuff to wherever you want to go. And find a babysitter. And find a good time for yourself to get away for a few hours. There's a lot of coordination that needs to happen. And if you play something like the drums, or want to work on your gigantic quilt, then it may not even be feasible to go out of your home to do these things. Hence the next option...

~ Exchange "Artist's Dates" with a friend!

Bi-weekly or monthly, you and a fellow mama exchange times where one of you watches all the kids while the other goes on an Artist's Date by themselves. Better yet, your kids all play at one house while the creative mama gets her time at her own house! The kids have fun, you have hours of uninhibited time to create, your friend knows that her time to create is coming soon, and everyone's happy.

The downside: You're at your own house, where the stacks of bills, unanswered emails, piles of laundry, dirty floors, and unmade beds can silently taunt you. The temptation to just get your house clean while the kids are gone may be too strong to ignore. But don't give in!!!! 

There you have it! All of these ways require some kind of sacrifice on your part, and most need the cooperation of others as well, usually your family. It all boils down to how much you truly feel that your creative endeavors are worthwhile, and if you're questioning that, I can tell you right now, "YES, YOUR CREATIVITY IS WORTH IT"!

Yes, mamas can be very busy. Yes, your family and home and friends and job have needs to be met. But as I wrote before, it's very important that you care for yourself so that you can properly care for the other priorities in your life, and if one of your deepest loves and desires is to CREATE, then surely you can find a way to make it happen!