Do you long for time to be creative? Maybe even dream of supplementing your family’s income using your creative gifts? I often feel that my relationship with deep, uninterrupted creative work is elusive. So close – yet so far away! It’s like we are at the same party but on opposite sides of the room. Close enough to make eyes at each other, but all I can do is smile and wave. And if I do finally make it through the maze of needs and distractions, creativity is long gone. All I have the energy for is a nap!
So, I’ve spent the last three years, in the midst of raising four little people, nurturing my marriage and overall barely keeping all. of. the. balls. in the air, trying to figure out how to carve out time for focused creativity. I’ve found a few things that help!
Here’s what is working for me:
Make a creative space
We have dedicated a section off of our kitchen area that acts as a central area for all of our creative supplies. I also have a small desk in our homeschool room set aside for my art making and supplies. I’ve tried to make it easy to access supplies and just as easy to put things back when we are done. I have found that you can really make any space work. Whether it is atop a cupboard in the kitchen or a small desk in a bedroom.
Include the kids (or not)
When my kids were younger (ages 4,4,3 and 1), including them in my focused painting or drawing time was pretty stressful for me. For me, it was impossible to focus in the midst of the never-ending busy-ness and lack of attention span. I finally decided to hire a neighbor (a former kindergarten teacher) to give us all a much-needed break. The kids played and did crafts at her house for a couple of hours a week while I enjoyed calm, uninterrupted time to myself to focus and create.
It was completely worth it to me to tweak our grocery budget a bit to pay for that extra expense. Once I started making money from my Etsy shop, I used some of the funds to pay for this. I also traded regular play date times with friends and had a young girl in our neighborhood come and play with the kids while I worked. I just figured out how to make it work for everyone.
Now that they are a bit older (ages 9-6 at this writing), I am learning that while yes, it may get messy and there are still a few interruptions, the effort in working alongside them pays in big dividends. I have also found that the practice principle works here. The more often I do this, the easier it gets.
At this point, my kids can usually be really engaged in what they are working on. And, I get to watch with wonder at what they do while I feel motivated to keep going on my own projects. It has been pretty cool to see our relationships naturally deepen and grow as we create together.
Make Time to Create
I struggle to do this when my house isn’t clean. Will my house ever be clean? Or, if I have a long list of to-dos. Will I ever have a short list of to-dos? But, I’m always amazed at what I can do when I give myself an hour (or two, depending on everyone’s mood) and permission to stop. sit. and create. I rarely regret it.
Another practice we’ve started that has given me and the kids immense pleasure and lots of focused creative time is a regular date with Nature. We venture out into our backyard and the fields that surround us and draw or write about what we see. There are so many benefits. I’d recommend Nature Study to anyone!
Get supplies that make the experience better
Invest in your passion by buying the best supplies you can afford! I try to let good supplies be my motivation. When I started running on a regular basis, years ago, I had horrible shoes for running. Trying to form a habit, I told myself that if I could stick with running for a month, I had permission to purchase a new pair of running shoes. I’m probably lucky I didn’t get injured! But, it was just the motivation I needed to make a good habit. And oh! how good those new shoes felt!
I apply the same principle to art supplies. If I can use up what I have, I get to buy something else!
Set creative goals for yourself
Last year I did a “drawing a day” month long challenge on Instagram. It forced me to make time to draw every day. It was so fun to challenge myself. Some days I could dedicate a whole hour, other days just a few minutes while I waited for kids in the car. The point is that it happened.
This year, my goal is to get better at nature illustration and painting. I’ve signed up for a class (which I paid good money for) that will give me monthly assignments-basically forcing me to actually create something.
The saying, “The difference between a dream and a goal is often nothing more than a piece of paper.” rings true here. I try to remember to WRITE IT DOWN and tell other’s about it so that I feel motivated and compelled to actually make it a priority in my life. Putting inspiring images up or even a vision board of things I’d like to get better at is powerful!
Find or Create a Community
A great way to actually do what you want to do is to find a community or class. We are so lucky to have so many resources at our fingertips. Finding an online community or class is easy and so motivating. Finding a local community/class can be even better. Not only to get you motivated to actually sit down and do something, but to meet others with the same goals to make friends and learn from.
There are so many online communities that make it possible to learn from the comfort of your own home. Here’s a great list of some of my favorite online classes/communities.
This is what works for me. I’d love to hear what helps you carve out time to create. Please share!