As I take a mini maternity leave after having my baby boy on September 18th, I have a series of talented friends/guest posters who agreed to fill in here throughout part of this month. I will try to pop in with random posts here and there, but we are just trying to squeeze out every bit of goodness of family time right now. Enjoy!
Like anyone else out there, life gets busy at our house. Things are imperfect and unpredictable. We run around a lot and everywhere I go, I have the children in tow. Everywhere! And while I love doing fun things with the kids, sometimes just meeting their basic needs takes up a good chunk of the day. It can be easy to get caught up in the hustle, but every mom needs some balance. And creativity provides balance for me. (I'm sure it does the same for you!)
But how do you find time to be creative when you barely have time to eat your own lunch? Creative life/free time with children changes as they grow, naturally. Here are a few ways that I roll with it. Maybe not every day, but whenever I can! Unplug. It's far too easy to fall into the endless cycle of checking on all of your favorite social media sites as soon as you have a little bit of downtime. But sitting around checking Facebook for too long doesn't really make me feel fulfilled. Lightening up on your digital life feels good. I'm a happier person if I can accomplish one real-life thing during that downtime, whether it's printing out a few photos for a memory project or knitting a couple of rows on a sweater. Maybe you have a child who naps for an hour or your kids are busy playing a game. Sometimes the laundry and dishes can wait! Do something that you want to do. (Unless you really need to do the laundry.) Make the most of the wait. My typical day includes periods of time where I have to sit and wait. This mostly occurs in the elementary school pick up/drop off line for me. But maybe you take public transit every day or maybe you sit for an hour during your child's dance class/sports practice after school. I love taking a portable project with me when I know I'm going to have to wait somewhere for 10 minutes or more. If you're a Project Lifer, keep a pack of journaling cards in your bag with a pen. Embroidery or knitting projects are super portable. Use a photo app to send a few of your favorite pics to print from your phone. No more wasted wait-time! Get crafty with the kids. This one can get tricky depending on how old your kids are, but with a tiny bit of prep and planning you'll be good to go. Find a project that will be time-consuming for them. Maybe they can paint on a huge piece of paper or on blocks of wood. Or ask them to cut out pictures from magazines or draw pictures to make their own book. Bust out a Play-Doh set, your big box of craft supplies or beads and string … anything they haven't played with in awhile, and then set them loose. While they work, pick a creative project for yourself to work on. You can all work side-by-side in relative harmony. You may have to stop to assist here and there or clean up a spill, but that's all part of the fun, right? Utilize your tiny breaks. If you have just a small bit of free time available, it's easy to say 'There's nothing I can accomplish in 15 minutes.' But that's not true! What can you do in 15 minutes? Tons of things. Reorganize the stuff sitting in your craft space/desk. Crop a couple of photos down and write a little something about them for your memory keeping. Organize supplies for your next sewing, knitting or crafting project. Throw them into a tote bag so they stay organized and ready to go. Find creative outlets in every-day things. A good example of this right now (for me) is bento. My daughter is an extremely picky eater and when she was three years old, I began making bento on a plate for her. I collected the supplies and started making shapes with her food and voila! What used to be a semi-boring part of my day turned out to be fun. See if there's something in your day that you can re-work into a more enjoyable experience. Maybe you make dinner prep more fun by trying out all of those new recipes you've pinned on Pinterest. Maybe you can change a long, boring car ride with your kids into a fun one by learning a song that you can sing together while you drive. Stay up late. (Or if you're not a night owl, get up earlier than everyone else in your house.) Sometimes on a weekend, I pretend I'm in college and pull an (almost) all-nighter. Find something good on Netflix and take advantage of that oh-so-quiet time when everyone is sleeping. Then go to town on that project you've been dying to work on. Catch up on crafting or memory keeping/scrapbooking. Finish knitting that sweater. Cut all of the blocks for that new quilt. And then make a deal with your spouse that allows you to sleep in a little bit longer the next day. ;) But remember, there's no winning in crafting or motherhood. No one can do it all and no one can be productive all of the time. Sometimes it's perfectly okay to go through a period of time where life itself is enough. Giving yourself a chance to relax and refresh could be the biggest kickstart to jumping back into your creative life. Take a nap if you can. Have a dance party with your children, or without. Take a break, hit up a favorite coffee shop … get out of the house. Take a breather. Make a lunch date with friends. Talk and laugh. Smile and enjoy. (That's how you do it.)Jen is a crafty mom of two; she has a six-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son. Jen is a graphic designer, knitting instructor, scrapbooker, metal-head and stay-at-home mom.