Some days the washing machine of cycling thoughts can be suffocating. Schedules, chores, clothes, playdates, sleeping, eating; ending just to start over again. It’s hard to find time to tap into your heart song. We are all creative people, and getting in touch with your creative medium is soul satisfying for you and beneficial for your children. Creative projects give you ambition, pride and allow your mind and heart to spin together. A creative mama gives her children inspiration and genuine joy. If you are reading this and thinking you’re not a creative person, I call bullshit. Elizabeth Gilbert wrote a book called Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear and she writes that everyone has a gift hidden within them and our purpose is to find it. She writes: “Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.” Could we search for this hidden creativity amidst the piles of laundry and dirty diapers? I believe if we refuse to unearth our creativity it could waste away. What a scary thought. Here are some ways we can integrate more creativity whilst serving our motherly duties.
1. Empty Mind Time
We live in a world of information gluttony. In most conversations we can’t help but to reach for our phone to answer a hypothetical question, and for many, our phone’s information is the first thing we see when we wake and the last thing before we close our eyes. With the influx of information, it’s impossible to allow your mind’s creativity to churn. I propose to find a block of time where you do something semi-monotonous and let your mind run wild. Since being at home with my second child, I go for a jog most days after I take my first to school. She takes a nap in the stroller and I run up and down the same street every day. I allow myself to ask questions, think of ideas and play with their possibilities. It is sacred. I achieve more creativity in 30 minutes than the rest of my entire day. You may find that activities such as folding laundry, gardening, washing dishes or cooking serve as your “empty mind time.” Reflect on your day and question if there is any activity that you do every day which requires little conscious effort to enable your subconscious to thrive.
2. Creative Accountability Partner
My junior year in high school I joined weight watchers. I was about 15 pounds over my ideal weight and overheard my mom talking about it so I decided to join a meeting at a local community center. I was by far the youngest and thinnest person there. As I sat through the meeting, when my initial embarrassment and insecurities melted away, I noticed the community and accountability surrounding me. Each person hopped on the scale and was greeted with applause at the descent of the scale. I believe accountability is essential in success; cultivating more creativity is no exception. Ask a friend to join you and hold you accountable for your creativity. You don’t necessarily have to embark on an identical creative journey, just connect and talk about it. For example, you might share with a friend that you want to do one creative project per month, then make a date to have coffee and talk about the project. If you’re not feeling ready to embark on a project you could just ask a friend to accompany you to an art museum, craft fair, book signing or yoga class. The most essential part is to add another person to you journey.
3. Write Down your Ideas and Act on Them
To piggy back on my first idea I shall add a caveat. Another theme within Big Magic is movement of ideas. Basically, if we don’t do anything with our creative ideas, they will leave us and find another person who will act on it. This may be an abstract idea and I’m not suggesting that you must buy in to this theory in order to become a creative mama; what I am saying is that you should write down your ideas. I believe once an idea is on paper, tablet, phone or diaper it becomes tangible with potential to grow.
4. Look out for Inspiration
As a mother you are surrounded by the most beautiful creatures, your children; however, it is helpful to widen your scope. It is easy to get wrapped up in the distribution of snacks and the order of a household, but it can totally shift your perspective to stop and absorb your surroundings. Don’t do this in the middle of your play room while shit has hit the fan–that is not inspiration! I mean when you’re at the park and your child is playing take a deep breath and notice the movement of the trees and the scent of the sand. These inspirations may lead you to painting, drawing, music or fashion design. Inspiration speaks to the creativity resting inside and can empower it to rise to your consciousness.
5. Sit With your Kids
Anyone who has ever worked with kids in some capacity knows that you are not the teacher, children teach you. Kids are creative geniuses. They think about things through a raw lens. Asking your children questions, laughing at their antics and soaking up there energy will make you a more creative person. You may allow your children to influence your chosen creative medium. If you find that you feel alive while coloring, ask your kids to color with you outside, maybe even throw down several different kinds of paper, pastels and color pencils allow your creativity to roll together. Or if you find yourself connecting with acro yoga, move around with your children, lift them up and notice how they move and move together. Your creativity can be amplified by opening up to your children and receiving their influence.
When I get together with my mamma-friend Allison, we talk about our mamma-friend Naomi. Not the gossipy kind, we discuss a problem we're having then use one of Naomi's prolific anecdotes to resolve the silly little issue we are babbling about. A few weeks ago, Allison and I talked about working and not working. We've talked about this quite a bit because Allison was a bomb ass saleswoman who stepped away to have a family. She struggled and we have that in common.
We have had several conversations about our feelings of resentment, guilt, self doubt and worry when it comes to staying at home with our children. This time Allison wasn't discussing her experience as a stay-at-home-mom drenched in heavy feelings, rather she was confident and light. She told me that Naomi had mentioned a fleeting phrase that had shifted her perspective on work and being a mom. It was simple: "It's just not my time."
Allison shared this statement with me and I began to see the potential in my future. It was a if I had been standing in a confined cave and this phrase chiseled a long, deep path, well-lit and inviting. I realized that my thoughts had been so close minded that I hadn't allowed myself to think about my capabilities a few years from now. I had been stuck in NOW. My goals had to be accomplished NOW. I had to be the person I dreamed of being NOW. But that isn't true, we have time and growth and development. To be honest, I'm not ready to be everything I want to be right now. I hadn't allowed myself to think of that until I stepped back and saw that I have a long, beautiful journey toward fulfillment.
I believe many mammas get stuck in this pattern. Thoughts like: "If I don't go back to work right now, I'll become irrelevant." "I'll always be a stay-at-home-mom." "I have to choose between work and family and that decision will define me forever." These thoughts are daunting and simply incorrect. The only certainty we have in life is change. As mothers, we know that all to well. Try to put your child on a schedule and they will quickly begin a growth spurt hyjacking the schedule you established (yep, go ahead and take that hand written schedule off the side of the fridge and reorganize your mommy and me calendar). Mamas, we change too.
Yes, we all have big, beautiful dreams. We don't have to throw them away, maybe their just not going to happen right now. We can work toward them, plan, dream and make our dream a part of our current identity. So maybe a PhD program or executive role isn't going to fit your life right now, ok-it's just right now. Let's live right now and continue to dream about what's next.