If you’re anything like me, then you are the sort of artist that works on a whim. You wake up to a sunny day, not too hot not too cold, and you think to yourself ‘I’m gonna paint outside today.’ Or perhaps it is rainy and you decide that you want to sit next to a window and write.
You’re a parent now, though … so, how do you continue to fulfill all your crazy, spontaneous, whimsical notions? Seems impossible, right? The thing is, it’s not impossible, but you will need to change a few things.
I remember when my second child came into the world. He was needy, not as needy as my first, but he was definitely still needy. He constantly wanted to be fed and so I was attached to him permanently for the first 6 months. I still got writing done, though. I have a distinct memory of having him breastfeeding and kind of balancing my notebook on the side of the armchair (and partly on his feet) so I could write. It is doable but you have to be savvy and take opportunities where you can. And if you can’t find opportunities, make them.
If your little ones are at an age where craft time is exciting for them. Take these moments to work on your own thing as a group. Grab that canvas that has been calling to you and pull out the paints. Make sure to get them their own brushes and paper or canvas (if you’re so lucky to have more than one spare) otherwise your masterpiece will become theirs. Not that doing art together is a bad thing, but sometimes it is nice to have something for yourself and there is no shame in indulging in this.
Learning to regain your creativity after becoming a mom is just as much an art form as it is to write a poem. It takes time and patience to find your stride again but just take baby steps. Even things as simple as finding the time to read a book (without pictures) is something that becomes difficult.
A friend and I had the brilliant idea to start a mom’s creative club. We would meet once a week and hang out in her caravan while her husband looked after the kids (and likewise my hubby was at home with the boys playing video games before bedtime.) It was a great way to spend time with other moms and relax and get some of our creativity out. We would write or draw or anything we felt like doing (my BFF recently bought some embroidery thread for something else to purge our creative juices on) the point was that we would do something other than parenting for a couple of hours a week.
Unfortunately, due to our respective shitty health situations, we have missed about 7 weeks of our little get-togethers but the point is that it was still done and we have plans to start again in the near future.
I feel that there is a lot of guilt that us mothers/parents feel about regaining some of the life we once had before becoming a parent. As if once our little bundle of joy and poopy nappies came into our lives that we are now a parent – we are a vessel for nurturing and feeding schedules – and we must not give in to the temptations of enjoying the things we once used to.
I am not suggesting that we abandon our children and go live some bohemian lifestyle, doing yoga and drugs to find our true artist within… but taking some time to yourself and not abandoning the person you are just because you are a mother now, is not the end of the world, in fact I believe it to be necessary for our sanity. And perhaps, if we feel more fulfilled within ourselves, it will leave more room for successful parenting.
So, go make good art and try not to feel guilty for doing so.