ART & MOTHERHOOD: PART 2 - 6 Steps to Starting a Daily Creative Practice as a Parent
Hello again! As promised, in this post I plan to outline some basic steps that really helped me when I was starting a daily creative habit while home with my kids. (If you missed the first post in this series, find it HERE)
This is based on my own personal experience, and although I realize every step might not work for everyone, I’m hoping it will at least spark some ideas or starting points for you. If you have additional tips, please leave them in the comments so others can benefit from your experiences too!
1. PICK SUPPLIES THAT ARE PORTABLE / EASY TO CLEAN UP
Think about it this way - if you don’t have to face the task of setting up / cleaning up, you will be much more likely to utilize your supplies. This could be anything - pencils, pens, pastels, markers, etc. And get creative - if you want to use watercolors but can’t break out the paints, think about watercolor pencils with an Aquash brush, or watercolor markers. Pssst, this is your excuse to go browsing through those art supply catalogs or Amazon to find something that will work with your life and schedule.
2. KEEP THESE SUPPLIES EASILY ACCESSIBLE
If you don’t have to go searching for them, you can use those entire ten minutes that your little one is occupied! This might look like a box of supplies on your kitchen table, or a drawer that you cleared out in your kitchen, or even a tote bag that you can grab to bring with you to sketch during soccer practice.
When I started, I bought THIS makeup caddy on Amazon, filled it with pens, pencils, and a few small sketchbooks. That way I could have everything I needed within arms reach if I had a napping baby on me.
3. MAKE REALISTIC GOALS FOR YOURSELF
I can’t tell you how many times I started the day with lofty goals for the masterpieces I would paint while my kids napped. Inevitably, these were the days they wouldn’t sleep, or someone would come down with a fever.
It’s not always realistic to think you’re going to have two uninterrupted hours to work. Think about the tasks you want to accomplish in terms of bursts - what can you accomplish in ten to fifteen minute bursts? Once I started using this approach, I was able to start thinking in terms of how much I had accomplished (instead of how much was left undone).
4. FIND A WAY TO KEEP YOURSELF MOTIVATED & ACCOUNTABLE
This one is key, and really comes down to what will keep YOU motivated. It could be committing to post something new once a week to your Instagram. (or daily, if you can do it!). You could challenge yourself to draw for five minutes every day. You could sketch during your daughter’s dance practice instead of scrolling Facebook. Think outside the box a little bit here, because those little moments of creativity that you sneak in here and there really add up.
5. FIND A WAY TO TRACK YOUR PROGRESS
For me, this was posting my work on Instagram so that I could look back at my older work and see the progress I’ve made in the past months/years. If you aren’t comfortable sharing your work, then you could keep your old sketchbooks to look back on, or file your older work so that you can reflect anytime.
Progress can seem very slow when you’re trying to fit creativity into your life in bits and bursts. But I promise you that you will make progress, and you wont believe how far you’ve come a year from now.
Don’t believe me? Scroll waaaaaay back on my Instagram feed and look where I started. I leave those older posts up on purpose, to remind myself (and you!) how much changes in a year or two.
6. CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK!
This is probably the most important point. Parenthood is so unpredictable! You can start the day with the best of intentions, and then you get that dreaded phone call from the school nurse. Or napping just won’t happen. Or you’re just so damn tired at the end of the day that painting after bedtime is too much. THIS IS ALL OK. Be gentle with yourself. Take time to rest, to take care of what you and your family need. The important thing is just that you don’t quit.
I hope that this list has sparked some ideas about how to fit art into your everyday life in a sustainable, healthy, and realistic way. And if you have ideas or experiences that have helped you, please share them in the comments so that we can all benefit!