The chaos is real. The other day I was trying to find some creative think time. My guess is I just chose the wrong time of day. My office/studio is located in an area that should be the living room. Right in the middle of family life. I purposely designed it this way. It makes it easier to solve problems and be a part of the family even when I have to get something done for work.
The issue with the location is that it is never quiet. Even when we have quiet time, the kids still love to talk to you because – well, they love you. They are kids. And they have LOTS to share.
Sometimes I long for an out of home studio. A place I arrive at in the morning and spend the day in creative quiet bliss. I create, design, market, host studio sessions – all of those important business tasks – in a kid free world.
Then, I stop and get sad. That new world will be upon me before I know it. There’s no stopping it. Instead, it’s better to enjoy the bliss of interrupted thoughts for now.
But finding creative think time is still important for the success of my business. Now that the kids are older, it’s even harder to grab those moments of quiet. Now they have thoughts – sometimes deep ones. And I need to be present for them.
Sometimes I surprise myself. There are moments I long for those baby days back. Long quiet days filled with cuddles, coos and staying put in one place (unless you had an early crawler). Remember when they said it was short – they were right.
Maybe my conflict between these two worlds is normal. I read about bloggers spending all day in the coffee shop writing blog posts. Or Zazzle designers loading 40 to 50 new designs a day to their shops to build them.
Pare of me feels a tad jealous sometimes. But then I remember all of the joys I get from motherhood. I wouldn’t trade those for any large chunk of time to work.
I have been reading a wonderful priority management book recently called Essentialism – the Disciplined Pursuit of Less. Greg McKeown goes into the importance of creating “Think Time” in your daily and yearly ventures. He even described how Bill Gates takes a week (twice a year if I may note) to go away and not be interrupted. He reads, thinks and relaxes.
A week to be unbusy. I usually just call this our annual vacation. But there is still laundry to do, food to make and kids to take care of. If I didn’t, we wouldn’t be able to go in the first place.
Imagine what it must be like to completely turn off for a week. A whole week where there isn’t a gigantic list of to dos or ten different directions to run in. If that doesn’t sound like luxury these days, I don’t know what is?
But, how is a busy mom with multiple kids, a business to build and family to take care (let me add you also may have another part time or full time job) supposed to replicate that? Where do you squeeze in a few extra minutes a day to let the creative thoughts flow?
Here are some ideas that might help you add creative think time in as a busy mom.
I remember those days fondly. It was one of our most blissful times. The house would be quiet and I could sit down to a steaming cup of coffee and my laptop.
Sometimes. On the days it works, naptime might be your best bet to build in some creative think time. If you still have the benefit of naptime, be ready to use it well. Have a stack of books and magazines you’d like to read and a pad of paper to brainstorm on. Try not to think about all of the tasks that you should be doing (more on that here). Prioritize you and your growing mind.
Feeling guilty? You don’t have to use the entire naptime for Think Time. 15 minutes will do. It just gives you a chance to explore some of the greater ideas that you might have had during the day when you were chasing your toddler.
Early Morning or Late at Night
I knew a blogger once (Ashlee, I’m thinking about you), who raised her beautiful family by day and worked most of the night away. I am a fan of a full night’s sleep, so I don’t know how she did it. But I would go to bed on East Coast time and when I would chat with her in the early morning (EST), she still hadn’t slept.
Although I am not a night owl quite the same way, I love waking up early. That’s when I’m at my brightest and the house is quietest. And it turns out I’m not the only one.
I recently read about this new trend of waking up early to work before the kids get up. Like really early. 2 or 3 am early. This is how Erin Loechner gets her writing done while home schooling her two kids. That may sound crazy to some, but if it works, helps you get stuff done and makes you feel fulfilled – why not?
Sadly, I don’t use enough of these early morning hours for just quiet thinking. I need to start, though. These early mornings are blissful – especially in the summer with the cooler air and birds chirping. Depending on your child’s sleep schedule, pick one – early in the morning or after bedtime. It is worth the commitment.
In the Car
Some moms of multiples will think I’m crazy to even write this one down – driving kids around is some of the loudest times of the day. But as the kids have gotten older, the car also lets them day dream more. They look out the window, bop around to the music and overall gather their own thoughts for the day.
Sometimes, depending on my mood, I will steer the car down a particularly pretty path to get the most out of these drives. Although I can’t read or write down ideas while driving, I can let my mind wander as well and steal a few minutes of thinking time. I also find I’m more refreshed when we arrive at our destination
If you are a mom of a baby, this might be the only quiet time you get of your day. When I was nursing, the pediatrician recommended spending time talking and cuddling the baby – which I did for a lot of it.
Then, she would fall asleep and if I moved her, crazy screaming would ensue. Instead, I hunkered down for the long haul. Looking back on these days actually makes me long for the calm of nursing one child. Sitting back and thinking while she ate or snoozed.
If you are a breastfeeding mom, this might be the perfect time to grab some creative think time. Before you settle down to feed, grab a pad of paper or book to read. Once you have the cuddle time with baby and they have settled down, use the few quiet minutes to think.
These times are a little less predictable. I am referring to those moments when your kids have successfully occupied themselves in the next room and are playing nicely. It usually lasts about 15 minutes or so. And if I wander into the room, I ruin the magic.
I find that these are perfect times that I can sit down and think. You might be drawn to completing household chores. This is only natural and, as I recently learned, a habit to get out of.
Quiet times are rare with children. If they are playing nicely with each other, savor the moment for yourself. You will have plenty of time during the rest of the day to get the chores done.
One trick about these times is to not expect them to be overly often or last too long. The other thing to remember is to make sure you’re prepared. Keep out a pad of paper, notebook and your current reading materials. That way you are ready when play time happens.
I have had a few unexpected think time moments and spent the entire time trying to find the materials to write on instead of brainstorming. The unexpected think time is much better spent when you are ready to just sit down and let your brain rest.
If you are currently running a business or planning on starting one, creative think time can be crucial to your success. It can give you the room for crafting your ideas and figuring out your business plan.
But even if a new business is not on your horizon right now, think time can give any mom a much needed mental break to continue with their day.
Try to find some time to add think time to your schedule – no matter how busy you are. You might be surprised how much lighter and more creative you feel. And that will make you a better mom and business owner.
These are all great suggestions! I find myself working during all of these times throughout the day, but I get my most productive work done during nap time and in the evening after the kids have gone to bed.
Naptime was always my most productive time during the day… until my kids gave it up. I miss that time the most. Middle of the day thinking time was great. Thanks so much for stopping by!
I stay up wayyyyyyy too late on most nights just so I have that quiet and alone time. My husband works from home so that’s the only time I get it.
I completely understand. Take that time when you can get it – even if it’s late at night. As an introvert, my mind only works well when it’s quiet. I would stay up late too.
I love all of your suggestions! I didn’t realize that nursing time was valuable think time until my 3rd baby. Now that my youngest is 5-years-old, things are a little more quiet, and I’m able to snatch more uninterrupted time for myself. But I’m with you — I miss the baby years a little.
I almost felt guilty at first using nursing time as think time. But when your little one only wants to hang out on you all day, nursing time was all I had. It does get a bit easier when their older. They play more independently, so I don’t feel so bad snatching a moment here of there. Thanks for stopping by.