“I don’t know how you do it,” she said as I walked my friend towards the door. “Homeschooling, four kids, writing…” her voice trailed away.
I didn’t know what to say. Instead I felt uncomfortable and said lamely, “Well, it keeps me busy!”
But that was the third time someone had said something similar to me in a month. I’m not wonder woman. I don’t have amazing multitasking skills. I don’t want people to think I do. I don’t do more or better than any other woman who juggles children, work, home, and extra-curricular activities.
But I have made creativity a priority, even after I became a mother. I don’t want to look back over my life and say, “I wish I made more time for _______ instead of washing dishes and doing laundry.”
Whether you identify yourself as a “creative type” or not, everyone is creative in some aspect of their life. As a Christian I believe God made us in His image. He is the ultimate Creator. When we use our creative talents for expression and problem solving we are imaging God, and so it is little wonder we find the act of creating so satisfying. When we create, we image God by crafting beauty, displaying truth, fulfilling a service, or doing good in the world on behalf of others.
But not everyone feels the need to be creative. I’m not writing this article to make you feel guilty if you aren’t a person who desires to have a creative outlet. I’m not advocating adding one more thing to your to-do list or for you to get less sleep than you already do. But if you identify yourself as someone yearns to express yourself creatively but struggle to find time or make time for it in your life, I’m writing this to encourage you.
Make it a Priority
Creativity looks different for different people. For some it may be a source of income — a full-time job. For others it may simply be a way to unwind. It could be graphic design or knitting, or baking. It could be gardening or playing music in a community orchestra. It could be something you do for just your family, like scrapbooking memories. It could be something you create for a client, like presenting a gallery of images from a photography session or running an Etsy shop.
Whatever “it” is, if we don’t make such endeavors a priority, they could very well simply remain a desire, not a reality.
The first step in making time for a creative project is acknowledging mentally that’s a priority. That it is important to you.
Once I became a work-at-home-mom, this has looked different for me over the years. First, it was doing graphic design and creating logos for small businesses. Then it morphed into portrait photography for about five years. And through all of those artistically visual pursuits, I was always writing.
I’m a naturally creative person but also a very organized one. In one sense, creating is like breathing to me. As a kid I carried sketchbooks around with me to draw and write in any spare moment I had. I’m also naturally good at time management. This is not always true for creative folks. Sometimes we can be a very disorganized lot. Once I acknowledge I want to make a creative endeavor a priority, the next step is organizing my time in such a way that it can actually happen.
Set Aside Time
If our creative pursuits also coincide with our career, then making time to complete them may happen naturally. If not, it may be harder to find time for creativity. But whether this is time set aside daily or weekly or monthly, if we believe it’s important, we need to find time to cultivate that interest.
For me this has meant setting aside a few hours during most weekday afternoons. These hours have been the times I’ve worked on client logos, photos, or written articles for publication. But a commitment to these jobs has also meant less play dates when my kids were little. It has meant less extra curricular activities for the kids if they fall into that time slot. It means not spending that time cleaning or doing laundry. Generally speaking, I’ve kept that work time as a sacred space because I’m not super woman. I can only do so much each day. My husband supports my work and we work together to make dinner and do other household chores.
There will be times that certain pursuits do go by the wayside. Our abilities and the time we have will fluctuate with the seasons of life we are in. Sometimes we can do more, sometimes less. For instance, with my commitment to homeschooling and the fact that I have a three-month-old baby, I am not doing photography for clients at the moment. And if I am not finding my value in what I do but instead who I am, I will be less likely to struggle with guilt and comparison. When I seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in how I spend my time I have peace — even if my days look different than other mothers I know.
Creativity can also be something I use to build memories and relationship with my children. I involve them in my interests. And in turn, I just might ignite their own creative passions.
Granted, when I’ve been on deadline to have pictures processed for a client, I can’t involve my kids. But we can learn about nature by drawing leaves gathered on a walk. We can bake together to take cookies to our neighbors. I can teach my daughter how to knit when she sits beside me and asks me to teach her. I can talk to my kids about how plants grow as we get seeds in the ground for a summer garden. I can introduce them to different musical styles if I play an instrument.
As a creative mother who in turns wants to nurture creative children, I want to cultivate a home that allows time for creativity. Not just for my kids, but for myself.
The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections by Amanda Blake Soule
Soule’s book is brimming with inspiration about how to involve the whole family in living a creative life.
The Hidden Art of Homemaking: Creative Ideas for Enriching Everyday Life by Edith Schaeffer
Schaeffer demonstrates how to infuse creativity into every aspect of life. This books is less about homemaking in the way you might assume but more about creativity.