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“I used to be so creative.” These words must be spoken at least once a week around our home.
It seems that ever since I dipped my toes into the pool of motherhood, creativity has been zapped out the window.
Things weren’t always like this. When the kids were first born, I had long bouts of creativity. I’d find my brain extremely stimulated during the quiet periods of rocking them to sleep or nursing.
Naptimes were a creative haven. The dishes waited while I drew, designed, daydreamed, read or even painted. It’s amazing how many creative projects I can explore when given a couple quiet hours every my day.
But then naps ceased. Needs escalated. And even though school started, my days were suddenly full of straightening messes in too big of a house or cleaning up breakfast dishes that had sat too long. Creative living seemed long gone.
Real life can be a terrible antidote to the creative life I dream of. And it doesn’t help when the world around me doesn’t seem to support my creative pleasures.
The truth is that we all need some sort of creativity in our lives to be successful. It’s human nature. Being creative is not something reserved for the elite or those that can afford full time nannies while staying home. Creativity is for all moms.
For me, living a creative life fuels an energy and joy that I need for my own happiness. Almost a form of self care.
When I stayed home more with my littles, my happiest days were the ones that I had time to explore my creativity. I yelled at the kids less, we played more together and I was an overall a pleasant person to be around.
This is actually no different when I’m working more today. There must be some moments of creativity in my life daily or I can get really grouchy. Not even on purpose. My brain just feels freer when given time to create.
Living a creative life is important to my well being no matter how busy I am as a mom. It’s part of my identity. Luckily there are ways that I’ve discovered to live a creative life every day.
And with whomever you can find. Although I love to mak time to play in my studio, it’s even more enjoyable when I get my family involved.
Set aside time to play with your kids every day. It’s so much fun getting creative with them and taking the time to be curious together fills up my creativity bucket. We love to try a new craft material or art form (our latest one has been origami). Explore a craft book or try something backwards.
We also enjoy playing outside together. Activities such as hiking, exploring nature and playing sports all bring out our creativity.
Make Creativity a Habit
Although developing a new habit can take some determination before it becomes automatic, it might be worth the effort. According to the study conducted by Phillippa Lally at University College London, a new habit can take up to 2 months – 66 days to be exact – to become authentic. This amount of time can also vary based on each person. So, it might take even longer.
This means that adding creativity to your life on a daily basis can take some hard work before it becomes second nature. But taking the time to establish creativity as a habit can be the answer to living a creative life.
First, find the places in your life where you want to add more creativity. For me, it is finding time to design and draw every day. So, I added in journaling time first thing in the morning when my brain is the freshest. No matter what kind of things you hope to create, you need to find the time to do it in order for it to become a habit.
I also wanted to add creativity to meal times. So, every week I make it a goal to cook one brand new recipe that we haven’t tried before. I also set cooking challenges for myself with Clean Out the Refrigerator Night. On these special evenings, meals are cooked from left overs in the fridge and freezer.
Not sure how to start making creativity a habit? I find a daily journal prompt or sketch a day challenge can be a great place to start. Project 1, 2, 3 Daily Creativity Journal (affiliate) is a great place to start. They have creative writing and journal prompts to get your brain moving.
Another idea is to try the book 365 Days of Creativity by Lorna Scoble. She has curated a collection of fun daily creative prompts to help keep your art flowing.
But remember, just buying the journal or finding a challenge won’t make creativity a habit or help you live a more creative life. You need to set aside time each day to add using the aid into your life. So, include it in your morning routine, work on it before going to bed or even during the kids’ naptimes.
And after the 2 months are over, reevaluate whether it’s working. Were you able to make it a true habit and is it one worth keeping? If not, see if you can find something else that will work.
Find Things that Excite You
I used to be known as the “Yes” mom. School would start at the beginning of the year and I’d find myself volunteering to be room parent and signing up for numerous committees.
It wasn’t until I was knee deep organizing the contributions for an auction basket in the middle of a snow storm that I realized maybe I shouldn’t be a “Yes” mom. Organizing the auction basket didn’t excite me. It turned out many mom volunteer tasks didn’t.
Find the things that you love about motherhood and say yes to those. Don’t feel like you need to say yes to everything though.
Once you discover the things you want to volunteer for, see how you can use your creativity to help.
For example, I am no longer room parent. But I still love helping in my kids’ classroom. When there is a class party to plan or art project that needs to be made, I offer assistance to help organize these things. Although these tasks might not be as involved as I once was, they are more contained and give me time to pursue my own creativity on the side. At least I’m no longer driving around during snowstorms trying to locate auction gifts. Instead, you can find me enjoying the creative life by the fireplace.
Create a Creative Space
Being creative isn’t easy if you don’t set aside a place to create. We recently established a family “flow” room. Inspired by the Danes, the flow room is a room in our house that’s dedicated to being creative together as a family.
In America, we traditionally have family rooms. But at the heart of most family rooms is usually a television set.
Although television has a place in our lives, it can be hard to be creative with the set blaring at you. Even when it’s not on, finding my creativity is hard when a large black box is staring at me blank.
So, my family created a “flow” room. It’s a room with a large table as the focus – not a television set. There is no flopping on a couch either. The room is full of creative supplies – paints, easels, brushes, crayons, paper, activity books, clay, Legos, board games. The list goes on.
After dinner, our new family tradition is to gather in the flow room and engage with each other. Sometimes we pick an activity to do by ourselves and other times we do something together. No matter the choice, it’s a great chance to be creative together.
You can create your own “flow” space in your home by rethinking your family room. Cover your television set or remove it altogether. Add a large enough table for everyone to sit and spread out. Make sure that everyone has places to sit. And keep supplies to encourage different hobbies that your family enjoys.
The most important thing is to engage with each other. If you’re having trouble getting started, pick out a couple of games or art projects that you can try together. Once everyone is hooked on spending more creative time together, it will become the most favorite room in the house.
Learning new skills has always been one thing that I’ve enjoyed the most about adulthood. No longer do I have to take required classes or work towards a specific degree. Suddenly, learning has become fun.
We are so blessed in our community to have an art and design school downtown. They have a wonderful assortment of creative classes for adults. You can take classes from sparking your creativity to learning a new art form.
Check out your community and see if there are any creativity classes that you can enjoy. Usually the community centers have a schedule of upcoming options. Or check out local art shops. Our pottery painting store offers painting evenings and themed pottery events. And one night doesn’t seem like that big of a commitment.
If you are having trouble finding something locally, check out the options online. Skillshare is one of my favorite places to sharpen my design skills. And for a small monthly fee, you can have access to thousands of options.
Try Something New
Are you a master of a specific art form? That’s awesome. Some creatives are lucky enough to have created in a specific medium for so long that they can be deemed an expert.
But sometimes expertise can hinder us. We only want to use that specific art form and avoid all others.
Challenge is good. If you find yourself stuck in a certain medium or type of creativity, maybe it’s time to try something new. Take a class to learn a new medium. Experiment with those cool pens. Try your knack at knitting or ceramics.
Trying something new stretches our brains. It also makes our creativity more versatile. We can become better at the old medium by expanding into something new.
So, don’t be scared. Grab that new material and give it a shot. If you don’t like it after a couple of tries, you can go back to your other loved art forms.
Explore your World
This is something that I say to my kids a lot when referring to life, but I think it works when thinking about creativity too. If you want to live a creative life, just keep exploring. You never know what you’re going to find.
Take a walk. Visit that new city or country. Climb that mountain. You never know what adventure lays ahead of you or what you will discover.
One of my favorite things to do is visit art museums wherever I go. You never know what amazing work of art will be hidden in a small town art museum. Art galleries and antique stores are the same way. An afternoon wandering through them can be a treasure trove of ideas.
When trying to live a creative life, leave plenty of time for exploring. Unstructured time for discovery can lead to the ultimate creative life.
As many of you know, being technology dependent is not my favorite pastime. Although technology can help you live a creative life at moments – such as teaching you a new skill, giving you a design reference or assisting in learning about an interesting artist – it is also a major distraction.
How many times have you started a creative project only to hear your phone beep?
In order to live a creative life, try to stay offline as often as possible. Staring at our screens constantly causes us to miss things. Funny things the kids say. The smell of a rose. Birds building a nest. The newest art in the gallery window. And really, whatever is happening on your mobile device is not usually that important.
Creative ideas are all around us. They’re just waiting to be uncovered. Help your discovery process by paying more attention to life around you.
I know it’s impossible to stay offline all of the time. And no one living a creative life can these days. Instead of getting interrupted by online activities, though, schedule times throughout the day to participate. Find time to check email, update social media, complete product marketing and stay in touch with friends.
By following a technology schedule, you will regain control over how you spend your time and fill it with creative thoughts instead.
On the Go
As a busy mom, a lot of time is spent on the go. Whether I’m picking the kids up from school or running them to after school practice, many minutes of my day are spent in the car waiting.
I love using my waiting time to spark creativity. I spend the quiet minutes drawing in my sketchpad that I keep in my glove box or brainstorming ideas in my Ideas Notebook.
There are lots of ways that you can spark your creativity on the go. Consider grabbing your knitting bag with your latest project before heading out the door. Or your latest biography about a famous artist. Even a mini watercolor set so you can set up a makeshift studio at the playing field.
However you celebrate creativity in your life, don’t forget to think outside the box. With less time at home ever these days, sneaking in creative moments is important to successfully living a creative life.
Make It Easy
When I find that I’m in a creative rut, it’s because I haven’t made being creative easy on myself. Instead, my sketchbook has run out of pages (and I haven’t replaced it yet) or I’ve misplaced a vital drawing pencil. These obstacles always start off small, but eventually cause me to stop being creative at all.
To live a successful creative life, you need to make it easy on yourself. Set up an accessible creative space in your home.
No space available? Try a basket. Fill it up with all of the supplies that you need to be creative. Then you can move it from room to room depending on where you want to work that day.
Always keep your creative supplies replenished. If you notice that you are running low on something, buy another before you run out. Nothing is more frustrating than to stop a creative project in the middle because you ran out of a necessary supply.
I always keep a couple of sketchbooks on hand since I’m always misplacing them. I hate having to run out for a new one when ideas are flowing.
Place your inspiration and how to books near your creative area. And stay organized. A messy creative area just leads to less creating and more chaos.
Also, clean up after you’re finished working for the day. And take the time to make sure all of your supplies have specific homes so you know where to put them back.
Although living a creative life isn’t always easy, I find it’s necessary to be successful in my creative business. Finding ways to be creative every day leads to new ideas percolating and keeps designs flowing.
If you want to live a more creative life too, try adding one or two of the tips above to your daily life. You’ll be surprised how little actions can have a big impact on your creativity.
And if time is a factor, bring your family along on your journey too. Kids love being creative. And it’s a great way to spend quality time together.