Finding Time For Creativity (For Tired Parents)

I was going to call it “Finding Time For Art,” but not everyone wants to, or needs to, create visual art. Every single person will have their own, unique creative outlet that works for them.

This week, I asked my Instagram community what I could help them with — what they were struggling with.

THIS was one of the most common questions: Finding time for art?

So how do you find time for art? The easy answer must be: just do it!

But it’s not that easy. If it was, everyone would do it and everyone would have a creative outlet.

The first thing you need to do is take a breath, and give yourself permission to be exactly who you are right now, as you are right now, with the exact amount of creative time you’ve had or haven’t had up until now.

It’s all okay.

You want to find the time, otherwise you wouldn’t be here, reading this. Now that we have some of the guilt out of the way, let’s look at a few key ideas that will help us to make space for being more creative.

We’re talking physical space and space in your daily planner, but also mental and emotional space.

The first step is to recognize that an art experience, or a creative experience (head’s up, I’m gonna use those terms interchangeably) doesn’t need to take a full day.

It doesn’t even need to take an hour, or happen every day.

Maybe it’s fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes, well-focused, is a lot of time. And it’s just enough to feel like an accomplishment.

That accomplishment is going to feed you and drive you so that you want to do it again. I don’t just mean you want to do it again in the way you’ve been wanting to be creative up until now. I’m saying you’ll want to do it again in the way you want to pour your coffee in the morning. You’re making it tangible now, and you have a reference point. When you want to do it again, it’s a specific feeling and (or) activity that you’re wanting – not just the idea of it.

In your calendar, you’re going to set aside fifteen minutes to do something creative.

You’re also going to figure out WHAT you’ll be doing, because you’re not going to spend 15 minutes wondering what to do.

When I feel stuck, I always go back to my sketchbook. I have a sketchbook for drawing, and I have a watercolour sketchbook where I doodle in ink and paint in watercolour and gouache. These are quick, easy and fun. And because they’re in a book, they don’t need to be displayed. There are very little stakes involved, because I’m the only one who is going to see it, until I decide otherwise.

I keep my watercolour supplies in a dollar store basket, so that I can bring it with me wherever I want to work.

So figure out WHAT you want to do for your fifteen minutes. Maybe it’s playing an instrument. Maybe it’s writing a story or starting that book. Maybe it’s painting, or maybe it’s sewing. Whatever works for you, works.

Next, find a spot to do it.

You probably don’t have a studio. That is not an issue, my friend. You have a kitchen table, probably. You may have a desk. You might have a cozy nook in the closet (a la Glennon Doyle).

When you have your spot, set it up. You’re not spending your 15 minutes setting it up. I refer to this as “sharpening my pencils” – it’s the prep process, and it allows for uninterrupted creative time.

Look, we’re all guilty of wanting something, and then finding every excuse and story to get out of doing it. That’s fine, but if you want to find time to be creative, you need to use the time to be creative — not to wander around looking for materials.

If you’re a busy parent with busy kids, you may wish to do this when they’re asleep. That’s when I do my chill-the-heck-out creative activities, and it’s usually after they’re in bed (with wine, of course) or when they’re in bed (with coffee, because it’s super early, of course).

Pick the time, and write it down. Set the reminder in your phone and tell your partner that you’re going to be spending fifteen minutes on this, and it’s fifteen sacred minutes that can’t be interrupted.

We now know:

  • what we want to do
  • where we are going to do it
  • what we need to do it
  • when we’re going to do it (and we’ve set it up in our planners/scheduling apps/told our partners to leave us alone while we do it)
  • that we need to set the space up before we start

Now, we just need to dive in.

So dive in.

Fifteen minutes.

That’s all you need.

FAQs:

But my kids might need me.
Yes. They might. But, you know your home’s natural rhythm. You know when there’s some down time. Nap time? Before they get home from school? The first 30 minutes after they go to bed? The fifteen minutes before YOU go to bed? 5am? Pick a time and stick to it. You deserve fifteen minutes.

But my partner doesn’t get it.
That’s okay. They don’t need to. My bet is that once you establish a creative routine, you’ll be a lot happier and that will impact them. They will “get it” when they get it, or they won’t. But you still deserve to do something for you.

But I’m exhausted when the kids are asleep.
I. Hear. You. Me too. But I also know that part of my exhaustion comes from not practicing creativity. Give it a chance. Give yourself a chance. Fifteen minutes on something creative, for you, instead of fifteen minutes on Netlfix or Instagram.

I’ve done my 15 minutes and I want more time. How do I get it?
The same way you got those fifteen minutes. Schedule them, and slowly increase. Move from 15 to 20, to 25. When I started waking up early (I am NOT naturally a morning person), I started with 15 minutes. I eventually worked my way up to an hour and a half! The time is there when you look for it. And think about it this way: 15 minutes, four times a week? That’s an hour. 15 minutes a day? That’s *almost* two hours! 2 hours that you didn’t have before.

This doesn’t feel important enough. It doesn’t pay bills and it doesn’t clean the house.
No, but it brings you joy. It might bring you a sense of calm. It might centre you a bit. So how is it not important? (And for the record, Netflix, Instagram and Facebook don’t pay the bills or clean the house, either.)

I feel good for those 15 minutes, but then my kids start screaming and I’m back to exhausted.
Yes. That’s okay. You’re human. Those 15 minutes are going to add up and train your brain and heart, so you might be able to mimic those feelings even in upsetting situations, but they aren’t a forever-fix. You’re human. You’re allowed to feel. Use your 15 minutes for you, and don’t doubt them.

Find me on Instagram and Facebook and at www.patrickguindon.com.

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