Many new moms take advantage of the time their children are small to do amazing work of their own. Ya know, work that doesn’t involve pushing an 8 pound infant out of your nether regions and then nursing its every need for 3 years.
But many other moms look at the task of nurturing engaged, adjusted children as overwhelming enough without adding the stress and expectations of personal concerns like crafting, writing, or starting a business.
Trust me, I understand both sides. Both kinds of moms are heroines in my book.
Though, if you’re here – and you’re a newish mom, I’m willing to bet you’d like to start introducing some self-love, in the form of creative work, into your life.
So, instead of giving you any more crazy advice of my own, I asked two of the most productive moms I know to give me the low down on how they create for themselves while creating with their kids.
Rachel Denbow is the sassy vintage momma behind Smile & Wave and Amanda Oaks is the warmhearted advocate behind Kind Over Matter. Both have a baby and a bigger kid home with them full-time. Both do extraordinary work. What’s their secret?
I asked Rachel:
It’s obvious that you adore your kids and put them at the center of your world. But with all the creative goodness you produce, I’m thinking they play a part in it! How do you play with your kids in a way that builds your creative momentum?
I think a lot of my project ideas come from imagining ways to make their lives more fun or their environments more conducive to creative play.
One wall of their new shared room was born out of my desire to bring home vintage chalkboards for them to draw on. What was a fun purchase for my kids on a few random occasions has now become a grand focal point in their room that not only looks interesting but is interactive.
My kids have given me the opportunity to work with materials and ideas I would have never had a reason to work with otherwise and in return, I hope I’m teaching them to think outside the box.
A ha! You don’t have to separate your making from your kids’ making. Making something beautiful, engaging, and full of expression is a family affair.
What works for you as a mom might just work for your kids too. No need to detach your creating from theirs.
Might Amanda say something similar?
I knew she had a penchant for take camera phone pics – just like I do – so I thought perhaps she’d know of other fun ways to create when you can’t concentrate.
What are some other easy things you do to kind of stretch your creativity when you can’t focus on a big task?
Amanda said, “I play.”
My kids are great facilitators to my creativity.
Watching them live and go like they do, how they play and playing with them daily, it totally stretches my imagination. Over the years I’ve unlocked different levels of my creativity by playing, by teaching myself things.
By playing with paint or paper, creating poetry, entertaining myself with graphics and web designs, they are all hobbies for me. I really think that most creative people are kids at heart.
I think that it’s my kids’ creativity that stretches mine in a way nothing else really can. Not only does it energize my creativity but it also keeps our lives joyful.
So when you’re stuck just walk away, give yourself time to play to rediscover the magic and what your passionate about and also the magic in your everyday. Because ultimately what we want to get to is our work becoming our play, right?
Right, Amanda. Sounds good to me!
Playing is part of the creative process. You can’t take yourself – or your art – too seriously when creating is a game.
So not only can we include our own creative time in our kids’ creative time but we can use their creativity to stretch our own. Beautiful!
This is very similar to my own experience. While my work is generally done in the times I’m not actively parenting, I do find other ways of being creative and modeling a creative life when I am momming it up.
I’ve acquired 3 progressively more sophisticated cameras and numerous camera phone apps since Lola was born. My interest and skill (whatever is there…) definitely arises from the creative spark she has awakened in me. I have nearly 5,000 photos on my computer, most taken after her birth, almost all taken by me, the vast majority of which are pictures of her and our mutual environment.
It’s my work, it’s my play, it’s my creative outlet. Without her, it likely wouldn’t exist.
Our children and the amount of time we devote to them don’t need to be obstacles to our creating. They can be – and are – assets.
The child you created may just be the greatest asset to your own creativity.
The full interviews with Rachel & Amanda are part of The Art of Action, a digital program for finding your initiative & making big stuff happen. Click here to find out how to join this community.