There is a special flavor of internal tension that arises when you want to bring a creative dream forth and your life circumstances just don’t allow it.
For me, sometimes it’s this blog. Given the time, space and bubble water, I could happily spend 98% of my waking hours creating new projects, photographing them and writing about them.
(No, I hate to admit it, the other 2% of the time would definitely not be spent cleaning up said projects.)
But my current life reality involves a lot more than creative blog projects. I don’t even have to tell you what all that real life stuff is. You get it. The specific menu of mundane tasks we each order from daily might differ, but they all demand our attention.
The truth is that the DIY projects you see on this blog come together in dozens and dozens of two minute increments. A row of crocheting here. A layer of paint there. Little bites of creativity that are wedged in the cracks of real life.
And gosh, some days I find it so stifling. So slow. So limiting. The artist in me wants to have all day to gather inspiration, make a spontaneous trip to Michael’s and craft into the wee hours of the night on the living room floor while watching reruns of “Fixer Upper.”
That is not the chapter of life I am in. This chapter of life involves nap routines and potty chairs and nursing and constant vigilance to choking hazards like stray sequins. Perhaps one day, I’ll have the runway to spend entire days losing myself in the creative process. (I hope my kids will still call me from college and interrupt my creative fury periodically.)
But I’m not willing to wait that long to fill myself up creatively. I want to make things NOW. I want to give you, my readers, cool free patterns that inspire you NOW. I want to continue to grow and challenge myself NOW.
And perhaps, most importantly, I want my kids to grow up seeing, smelling and tasting the palpable joy I find in the creative process.
Because someday, hopefully they will too.
So this is how I do it. And I think you can too. It’s not perfect. It’s always messy. It’s sometimes frustrating. It’s often fun.
Keep creative projects accessible
Let’s be honest, my DIY projects are littered across every foot of our house. If you asked my husband, he would tell you I don’t struggle with keeping my projects “accessible.” But if you’re the kind of crafter who’s got a stash of yarn buried away under your guest towels waiting for the perfect pause in life to start a project, you’ll never get it. Drag that yarn out!
I have a basket in the living room for my in-progress projects. Then, if I have a few seconds while the kids are otherwise occupied, I can do the next necessary step to move them forward. At the end of a long day, I’m guessing that going to unearth a jar of jingle bells from your craft closet feels harder than summiting Everest barefoot. Start a project and keep it somewhere where you can get to it easily. It’s like sleeping in your running clothes. It removes the resistance.
If you work in an office, keep your crocheting, calligraphy pens or sketchbook at your desk for when you’re on a conference call or your lunch break. Sometimes just that microburst of doing something rewarding with your hands is enough to renew and refresh you for another few hours of work.
Involve the kids
Some aspects of this blog require kid-free time. (Toddler Questions + Writing Coherent Sentences = Impossible) Many creative projects can be done alongside children though. I often give Mo her own popsicle sticks to paint, yarn to practice cutting or buttons to sort while I work a bit.
Trust me, I understand that painting alongside a kid is not the same as getting into the flow on your own. But if your goal is to get a paintbrush in your hand once a week and you have small kids around, you might choose to involve them sometimes. Plus, making things together can be so fun if you allow yourself enough time to do it leisurely. (Check out some kid-friendly projects to make together.)
This is a trick I’ve recently stumbled upon. If I take whatever project I’m working on outside, Mo is often much happier to play alongside me by herself for a while. Luckily, I make a lot of things that need to be painted, sanded or stained, and she will often play in the yard while I do so. Even if you’d like to spend some time knitting or working on embroidery, take it into the fresh air.
If nothing else, your lungs will thank you.
Get ‘Er Done When Your kids are around
Listen, sometimes it just has to happen. I look at it this way, if you were a homemaker 60 years ago, your kids would have spent plenty of time watching you cook, clean, sew (and let’s be honest probably smoke. :)) Despite every attempt to make nap times and evenings productive and efficient, sometimes, I need to photograph something when the natural light is pouring into our dining room. Sometimes I need to send an email when everyone else in the world is doing business. Sometimes the kids just have to watch me do it.
Take care of business, do it well and then let go of the guilt and go build the most epic blanket fort ever with your family.
I remember hearing Oprah say something once about how your days may never feel balanced, but if you’re lucky, your years might. I have found this to be very true. Some days we might work more. Some days we might play more. When we look at the broad strokes of our years though, hopefully we can each feel like we satisfied our main personal values.
And made some cool art projects in the process.
If you’re looking for a creative outlet and think you might enjoy blogging, check out my guide to starting a blog. It’s a lot easier than you might think!
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