ART & MOTHERHOOD: Part 1 - How I Started a Daily Creative Practice as a Stay at Home Mom
After my last post, I received a whole bunch of follow up questions - thanks so much for all the feedback! Specifically, I heard that you’re wondering how I was able to carve out creative time while being home with two young kids. So this will be Part 1 in a series where I talk about how to start a creative practice as a mom / parent / caregiver and share my personal experiences with you.
So grab a cup of coffee, here we go:
Let me start by saying; it definitely wasn’t easy to start making time for creativity on a daily basis, especially after ten years away. And I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say it’s gotten much easier over the past few years - the reality is that the challenges just shift as the kids get older.
But the alternative - NOT doing anything creative that’s just for me, would be much harder to bear.
So back to the beginning. To give you an idea of my life at the time, I was a stay at home mom to my 4 year old daughter, and was also pregnant with my son. This was a happy but tough time, because I was very sick during this pregnancy and had several health complications that made it difficult to do much but rest. Not easy with a 4 year old!
Obviously, this meant I wasn’t able to be super active with my daughter, and I needed to figure out an activity or project that we could do together that would entertain us both for big stretches of time. So we started drawing together on the couch while I rested. ( Sidenote: I realize that I am very lucky that she is the type of kid who would sit and draw for long periods of time. It never would have worked with my very active, very rascally son!)
It was during this time that I started to learn hand lettering, (partially because I had been dreaming about it for a long time) but also because it was something that could be practiced every day using portable supplies while laying on the couch. I bought a little caddy that I could carry around with me, filled it with tons of pens and sketchbooks (thank you Amazon!), and practiced every day with my daughter.
For years, I had felt the urge to draw, paint, (anything!) but felt guilty because it would be time away from my family. After being forced to slow down, I could see the spaces in my day that could be devoted to practicing. And starting a daily practice allowed me to see how much happiness art brought into my life, instead of only seeing the time it was taking away from other things.
After my son was born, I was able to continue drawing and lettering because I had already established this strong daily habit, and had already seen firsthand that even 5 minutes a day is worthwhile. And even though it was definitely in shorter bursts, this same idea of using portable supplies that could be easily accessed and quickly put away allowed me to draw daily.
To be completely honest, most days it was only five minutes here and there, but it still felt great to be doing something that was just for my own creative (and mental/emotional) well being. I would draw while he napped on me, or sitting next to him while he played. Any little bits of time I could fit in.
And some days it just didn’t happen. I’m still learning to cut myself some slack about that, because motherhood/parenthood/caregiver-hood is unpredictable, and so are babies! The important thing is just that you don’t quit.
Once my little guy started napping for longer and longer periods of time, I moved to painting with acrylics at my kitchen table, where a box of supplies was kept at all times so that they could quickly be brought out, and put away just as easily. That first time I put paint to paper was like coming back to myself after a very long time away. Something clicked, and I haven’t been able to stop painting since.
Those first few stolen moments of creativity really set a foundation for the strong creative practice I have today. And although I am still fitting my studio time in between mom-duties, it’s part of the fabric of my life now in a way I could only dream of a few years ago. And I want that for you too!
My next post will be a list - sort of a cheat sheet - of things I’ve learned from starting a daily practice with kids. This will by no means be an exhaustive list, and that’s ok. These are just a few things that worked for me, and it might spark a few ideas to help you in your daily practice as well. So stay tuned!
If you know of anyone who might enjoy or benefit from this post, I would LOVE it if you would share!