Photo by Nicole Quiroz Photography
I never thought of myself as a creative person until I had no outlets left to express that creativity. Being a stay at home mom isn’t necessarily an inspiring task. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how monotonous, isolating and physically, mentally and emotionally draining it can be to care for small humans day in and day out.
In my life B.K. (Before Kids), I was a teacher. I never considered that a creative outlet when I was doing it, or realized how much satisfaction it gave me. At least the part where I was creating lesson plans, not necessarily the teaching and administrative part, but that’s another post for another day. I realized I was missing creativity in my life and that yearning for it was coming out as anger, frustration and sadness. Maybe I found it in my job, or maybe it was in the free time I no longer had. Either way, it became obvious that making and being creative was so much apart of me that it was crucial I find a way to make it happen more often.
I believe that you meet people at the right time. About this time that I was realizing something was missing, I met Brittany. I was so inspired by her creative business and that there was someone else that understood this need for creativity, even if I didn’t fully at the time. Eventually, we started this blog which became the main outlet for my creativity. Side note: I really hate that term- “outlet for creativity”. It feels so cliche and misunderstood, but what can I say? I am what I am, stereotypes and all.
I’ve never been very good at understanding my emotions. I rarely can identify them or control them and they often just come out as unexplainable tears. But what I do understand is words, and being able to write helps me sort out my emotions to get to the bottom of how I really feel. Writing gives me a chance to edit what is pouring out of my mouth, which prevents me from saying things I don’t truly mean and making bigger problems. I can take words away, add words in and change them until I’m left with precisely what I’m feeling. It’s a form of self care that I never knew existed or even knew I needed. Writing was especially therapeutic for me when Isla was diagnosed with autism. That was my first big parenting hurdle because I had to know how to work through my emotions while also looking out for hers and writing helped me sort through everything.
Lately I’ve been feeling less creative and more uninspired. I thought it was just summer and the change in routine and being with the kids more often. Whatever the reason, something turned up the volume on that voice in my head about not being good enough and what’s the point. I think that’s an especially easy rabbit hole to fall into on The Internet. You may have the most original, inspired idea, but if you Google it, you are bound to find five identical things.
That voice also says that if I don’t have anything profound and groundbreaking to say, that I should just keep quiet. Talking about things like autism acceptance is more important and transformative than sharing cute boots. The voice says that those things are materialistic and vapid and the Internet is already full of them.
But lately I feel like I’ve been finding my way back and all it took was a small shift in my thinking. I got back to just being creative for the sake of being creative. No more parameters on creativity or expectations of the product. Am I going to write something brand new that no one has ever thought of? Definitely not. But I can write it from my perspective and that’s enough. Even this topic of creativity in motherhood has been covered in so many ways by so many different people. But, I’m learning about myself as I do it, therefore, it’s important and worth doing. And I like boots and I like sharing what I like with my friends, so that makes it worth the time to write about.
The small shift came by being creative in other ways. Writing is my “thing”, but I also like crafting, baking and cooking. What I’m learning about myself is that I like to make, whether that be in the form of a cookie, a photograph, a DIY succulent pumpkin, or a gigantic, delicious meatball (Seriously, you guys have to try this recipe. It is amazing.). I like to use my hands to create a product and it doesn’t matter if that product is only ever seen by my family or by myself. The point is the process and the joy and peace it brings me.
The struggle will always be in fitting creativity into the juggling act. It brings me a great amount of joy and peace, but so does spending intentional time with my family and friends. I also need time to run or workout and eat healthy (which involves being in the kitchen prepping, cooking and cleaning a lot). Then, of course, there is also the pressure to try and monetize the creativity because if it takes up time, it should at least be profitable (or so that voice in my head says). Working all of these things into a very small amount of kid free time is nearly impossible.
The other small shift in my thinking means that being creative doesn’t always look the way that I would choose for it to look. There is creativity for me in cooking because there is a product. There is creativity for me in picking up the toys so that I have a uncluttered space to create in. There is creativity in working out because it frees my mind to get to the creativity. When I look at it from the perspective of everything I’m doing is to propel and foster creativity (even indirectly like cleaning), then it’s harder to think of it as being in the way of my creativity. It’s definitely not the same as sitting down to create, but at this season of my life, some days all I’ve got is the creativity in the margins.
It’s become easier now to prioritize that time because the difference in myself as drastic. When I get the chance to be alone and make or write something I am more myself after and less anxious, more patient and ready to deal with the daily demands of my children. It lessens my anxiety because all of these things are out of my brain, so I feel more in control. This is huge because there’s so little you can control with small kids, but when I’m in charge of making and creating I have all the control.
So my challenge to you is to find a creative outlet that frees your mind and allows you to be more present. Doing just that has allowed me to connect with likeminded people and build this little community which has shown me that it’s not a waste of time and I’m not the only one who values these things.
Do you already have yours? Tell us what it is in the comments! You may be giving someone else an idea!