Being a parent is one of the most exhaustive journeys you could ever embark on. Newborns won’t stop waking up throughout the night. Toddlers have no sense of danger. Preschoolers keep repeating curse words in front of your in-laws. Elementary-aged kids are getting their first tastes of freedom and the weight of that responsibility. And it goes on and on and on forever. In all that chaos it’s hard to even remember who you used to be, much less make creative time for yourself.
If you’re a creative type turned tired parent, you mourn the days when you stayed up till the early morning hours writing or working on your newest art project. And those songs you used to play? Maybe you haven’t picked up your instrument in years.
Making creative time as a parent is more than just hard, it feels completely and utterly out of reach. You have your kids, work, home life, relationships, and a million other tiny little things all swirling around you at once. Creative time seems impossible to fit in, nothing more than a relic of the past. And sometimes it is, but that doesn’t mean it always has to be that way.
If you get creative enough (see what I did there) you can make that time for yourself. Creative types really need that separate head space to engage in their craft, so think of it as an extended form of self-care. And don’t you dare feel guilty about taking that time. Investing in yourself, even if it’s just a little, means that you have more to give to your kids and everything else you have going on.
Wake up Early
I know, gross. You’re already up early enough as it is and you dread the moment your alarm clock starts screeching. But set that coffee pot to brew an hour earlier than normal and get your butt up and in gear.
Waking up is hard when you immediately face the drudgery of getting ready for the day. But when you’re getting up to steal some time for yourself in the dark, early morning hours? I’m not promising it will be easy, but it will be worthwhile. Try setting out everything you need the night before to make it easier. Notebook, laptop, drawing pencils, coffee cup, or whatever else should be ready to go when you are.
Stay Up Late
Don’t lie, you already stay up late anyway. You’re browsing through a million options on Netflix only to land on The Office again. Or you’re thumb is scrolling through Facebook in act of rote memory while you watch, but don’t really take anything in. It’s the end of the day and you’re exhausted.
But what would your week look like if you took one of those nights and carved out some creative time? Just one night, which means you still have six more to stalk your ex-boyfriend on Instagram.
Designate Screen Time or Reading Time
I have a secret to tell you. Your kids are absolutely not going to be hurt by spending 30 minutes in front of the TV or playing a game. An hour won’t even hurt them. Feel bad about letting them spend some time in front of a screen so you can make time to exercise your creativity? Don’t. Your kids once made you watch them go pee and poop on the potty and they never felt bad about that. Jerks.
If your kids are a little older and you absolutely cannot get over the idea of letting your kids have that much screen time, toss a couple of books at them. Start quiet reading time, and have the kiddos sit quietly and read while you get back to your creative endeavors.
Get Out of the House
Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do, creative time ain’t happening. So pack your laptop, grab your journal, shove your scrapbooking supplies into your old diaper bag, and get going. Here are the best places to get your creativity on outside the house, and the best activities to do there..
Coffee shops: Writing, journaling, sketching, drawing, knitting/crocheting (small projects only).
Pros: Coffee, free wi-fi (usually).
Cons: Costs money, no guarantee for open tables.
Coworking spaces: Writing, journaling, sketching, drawing, painting scrapbooking, knitting/crocheting.
Pros: Free wi-fi, dedicated work space.
Cons: Costs money (search for spaces that rent hourly or daily).
Group Craft Stores: Painting, various crafts/
Pros: Guided craft workshops, opportunity to meet fellow creative types.
Cons: Costs money, cannot choose personal project.
Your Local Library: Writing, journaling, sketching, drawing, knitting/crocheting.
Pros: Free, quiet spaces.
Cons: None, it’s the library.
Making time for yourself is not easy when you’re a parent. Even when you have the opportunity to do so, you end up feeling guilty for taking the opportunity. Which is absurd! We’re all a bunch of crazy people running around trying to do what’s best for our kids, and then we forget that taking care of ourselves is sometimes the truly best thing to do. So make creative time for yourself, and maybe even throw in a crayon-colored picture for your kids. They’ll appreciate it.