Let’s face it: life as a busy mum is full of mundane routines and seemingly endless tasks. It’s hard to feel fulfilled and passionate when you’re making the third ham sandwich of the day or scraping ground-in food off the carpet. You might find yourself wondering what happened to your interests and ability to be lost in the moment, doing something just for the fun of it and not because it just has to be done.
When I became a mother to my son Jude, nine long years ago, I wanted to be there for him – and I also wanted to keep connecting with the things I enjoy doing, like writing and dancing. Creativity is a place where we can just be ourselves, beyond our everyday roles as parents, workers, daughters, or partners. I spent a couple of years interviewing mothers on various creative paths – at many different stages of motherhood – about their struggles and triumphs, and my book, “Wild Motherhood: Tending the Fire of your Creative Spirit”, grew out of this exploration.
So what can help you find the time and head-space to engage with your passions and creative expression when you’re right in the middle of your busy mothering life?
When you do get a chance to paint, make, write or whatever your chosen creative form is, remember that it matters. Just doing it matters, whatever happens with the results. Even if no-one else (yet) sees your creative work or cares about it, the act of being creative will make you feel alive and get you in touch with who you are. And remember the creativity in everyday mothering life: dealing with a tricky dispute between siblings, understanding your baby’s signals and soothing her, and the amazingly creative act of growing a family. Allow yourself to truly appreciate how much you create in an ordinary day.
Fill your well regularly
To get the creative juices flowing, you need to fill your well. Connect with something that’s just for you and makes you feel good. You can journal, meditate, write a gratitude list (and really feel every item on that list as you write it), spend time in nature, or soak in a bath with your favourite oils. Fill your inspiration tank with regular Artist’s Dates, enlisting the help of your partner, a babysitter or kind friend: take yourself on a little trip to the beach, to a fabric store, to the cinema – whatever brings a fresh wave of sense impressions and inspires you. If you prioritise looking after yourself, it will spill over into your creative efforts. And sometimes filling your well means, well, doing nothing. Don’t expect yourself to be consistently productive, leave the dishes till later, and rest if you need to.
Transform Excuses Into Possibilities
With compassion and gentleness towards yourself, notice the reasons you’re using for not being creative. ‘I can only do that when I have a studio’, or ‘I’ll wait till the kids are in school’. These thoughts may seem compellingly true, but they’re stopping you seeing what can be done. The next right step in the direction of your passion need only be a tiny one. How can you create, even in your present situation? What can you change? What support do you need to ask for?
Tuck a sketchbook or journal into your bag wherever you go. Use those moments sitting on a park bench or waiting for a bus to wake up to what’s around you, recording what you see. Take little actions of five minutes or less to move your projects along, like brainstorming ideas on a piece of paper or googling materials for an art project while your toddler is having a nap. And trust that even while you’re washing the dishes, you can use that as dreaming time to keep the momentum going.
Remember to be kind to yourself, encourage your inner artist, and give more attention to what you are doing rather than what you aren’t yet able to do.
Morgan is a writer, coach and group facilitator who has been working with mothers since 2008 – find out more at www.wildmotherhood.com.