If you are a creative, and don’t have children yet, realize this is when you’ll have the most time to do anything, ever. Kids are amazing, awesome, creative, free-spirited and we are better for having them in our lives, even if they’re not your own (nieces, nephews, friends’ kids) they all bring new things to our lives. But they’re not without challenges and juggling their needs and wants with a client’s can have you pulling your hair out.
I’m a mom, and an illustrator. In the past six months I’ve heard from a lot of newer parents that it’s such a challenge being creative and taking care of children. Here are five ways to help stay emotionally healthier and more sane as a creative solopreneur…and caregiver! These work for me, they may help you too, or you may need to modify some for your particular situation, or they can be a springboard for completely different ideas, so please share what you come up with! These aren’t in any particular order of importance:
Make a short list of what you need to do that is not part of creating (laundry, make dr. appt, breakfast etc), the evening before you need to do it. Do three of those things as soon as you get up (or as soon as you can). That’s three things off your list, and if you get nothing else around the house done all day, at least you got those things done. If you can do more, great, but you need a limit if you have an assignment or commission. Yes, breakfasts and lunches count, they take time and effort too. Now you could bundle-task here, if you have magazines or books that you need to go through for reference, you can do that now, and sit and chat with your kids while you all eat, and talk about what you’re looking at and researching. These’s types of ‘meetings’ help me a ton, many ideas have come out of them, just from listening to how my kids react. Of course you can sketch during meal times too, at the table : )
Stay organized, and do your best not to procrastinate. This will be different every day, and that’s okay. I have a magnetic dry erase week by week calendar, I bought three actually through Amazon, so I can see up to twelve weeks at one time. They are hard to find, but there are new ones that usually come out each year. Each family member is represented with a different color marker, and I’ve got activies, games, picture day, parties whatever, up to three months out at a glance where we all can see them. I also make school lunches for the next day while my boys are doing homework. I’ve also taking to freezing their boxed drinks or filling a Camelback full of ice to pack in the lunch in the am, instead of a separate ice pack. This year I’ve taken to looking at the school hot lunch menu, and using that help with ideas, you can also look here.
Delegate to the kids. Seriously. You can read the guide here that give tasks that are age appropriate for kids. And no, they shouldn’t get paid for all of them. You’ll need this especially in the summer, because when kids are bored, they argue and bicker. I don’t have to tell you that dims the creative spark and frustrates everyone. If the money you make from your work goes to pay for any of their recreation, then they have a vested interest in making it possible for you to do more creating and less with the chores. These are also teaching moments, they’ll be adults too, and they need to know how to do these things. My husband will take our boys grocery shopping, which is showing them that there aren’t gender roles, or that they’re doing ‘my’ job. We all help each other when something needs to get done.
Stay in the moment you’re in and enjoy it. I used to spend so much time thinking about what I could be drawing when I was out with my family or friends, and then thinking about what I should be doing with them while I was creating, I couldn’t enjoy anything and I felt guilty all the time anyway! That added to my creative block. So, now when I’m out, I’m enjoying my time out, wherever I am and whomever I’m with. When I’m creating, the boys know (but we’re still working on this) not to interrupt me. Interruption is a creativity killer. We should talk about that at great length another day.
Say NO… a lot…Saying Yes is not equated with being nice, and saying no does not mean you’re a bad person. No people can’t just come over. No they can’t just call and chat. No you don’t have to answer the door when you’re working. You have work hours, and especially with little ones, those work hours can change from one day to the next. If we were at an office, that’s easier to understand as a workplace than our home, even for ourselves, but an at-home studio is no less important. It took me a long time to realize it, but people (including my family) will take my work as seriously as I do. If I constantly put it on the back burner, why would they think it was important?
These are just a few strategies that I use, and they’ve developed over time, and still are developing, as my boys are 10 and 8, I haven’t hit the teens yet! Please don’t hesitate to share your ideas too! I’m always looking for new strategies : )
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