Yesterday, my daughter asked me to paint with her.
My first inclination was to say, “No.” There are a lot of things I love to do with my children, but sitting down and painting ranks pretty low on the list. It’s down there next to playing dolls and building with LEGOs.
I looked around my house, and took it all in: The dishes piled high in the sink, bathrooms emanating an unidentifiable odor, piles of laundry that weren’t washing themselves, and a laptop open on the table, begging me to sit down and do some of the work that was waiting.
But her blue eyes were pleading, and so I caved. We pulled out the paper and the watercolors, and we set to work transforming the white space into something grand.
It was surprisingly relaxing.
It’s amazing the power that giving oneself over to creative play has on an overwhelmed brain. When we finished our painting, all the work was still waiting for me. The emails still had to be sent, the dishes washed, the laundry sorted, and the bathrooms scrubbed, but somehow I felt more up to the task, despite losing some precious time.
And the grin on my daughter’s face was better than any paycheck or shiny countertop.
As a writer, my creativity eeks its way out of me through the rhythmic tapping of my keyboard. I paint with words, not with a brush, and I love the art of writing. It’s what fuels me when life starts to feel overwhelming.
But I’m also a mother, and these two parts of me – the writer and the mom – don’t always fit together. Maybe you can identify.
Perhaps you, too, are a creative spirit, art fueling your days in ways that are different from mine. Maybe you feel most alive when you’re in the kitchen, whipping up meals that delight your family and friends.
Perhaps you find great delight in transforming a room, moving furniture around, or repainting walls to make a space feel more cozy and inviting.
Whatever your creative bent, the fact remains that none of these things are easy with children around, especially when those children are young. So what is a creative mom to do?
Here are a few simple steps you can take to help you blend your life and art:
1. Set Time Apart with Purpose
I am not a naturally organized person. I seem to operate best under a tiny amount of duress, which means I live slightly stressed out most days. Not ideal, but I’ve accepted this about myself. I’ve found, however, that even just a moderate amount of prep work can make this blending of family and art a lot more pleasant for all of us.
Some days have space in them for writing, and so I guard that time faithfully. Other days, however, don’t afford that extra space, so I let it go and focus fully on the needs of my family.
Setting time apart can be hard, and requires a bit of flexibility, but for the creative mom who is fueled by her art, knowing there are pockets of sanctified time for creating is fuel for the soul.
2. Accept Your Gift with Confidence
God knit you together purposefully, and endowed you with gifts that are unique and beautiful. He did that for a reason, so that He could work out His plans.
He also gave you the children you were meant to have.
He gave you both of these good gifts, and though it seems at times that these two parts of you rub against one another, accept confidently that they were meant for you.
You were meant to be creative, and you were meant to be a mother. And both of those are good. You can rest in that.
3. You Don’t Have To Do It All
We moms like to be all things to all people at all times. And it is exhausting.
Dear mom, you don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to have it all figured out. Some days you will rock motherhood, and your art will sit to the side, untouched. Other days, you’ll be fully immersed in your creative pursuits, and your children will eat dry cereal for dinner.
And some days, you’ll find a happy rhythm and the two pieces will blend together nicely. You won’t be all things to everyone all the time. But you will do good things – hard things – every day.
Discovering your rhythm as a creative mom isn’t always easy. It is a messy blending, and it’s a real struggle to find your footing. But in the end, take confidence in knowing that God had a unique purpose in mind when He created you creative, and then gave you children.
In a day and age when creativity is exploding with gospel potential through online social media, trust that your gift has a place.
You, creative mom, were created for such a time as this.
Are you a creative mom? How do you balance your mom life and creativity? What has been your greatest strategy or biggest challenge in blending the two?
Kelli Stuart is a wife, mother, writer, and driver of a smokin’ hot minivan. She is the co-author of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom, a book for creative moms who are trying to find the balance between life and art. She is also the author of the historical fiction novel, Like a River from Its Course. Kelli lives in Tampa with her husband and four children.