Living a Creative Life With Small Children
Creativity coach Georgina Green provides top tips on the creative life.
Posted April 22, 2021 | Reviewed by Matt Huston
Can a mother or father of small children still live a creative life full of books written, songs composed, or painting series completed? If so, will the cost prove too high as you spend too little quality time with the children, exhaust yourself, or let other responsibilities fall by the wayside? In her post, creativity coach Georgina Green explores this theme.
To be really productive, creatives need to be honest with themselves about the value of a daily practice and what obstacles are arising to thwart their daily practice. That need for honesty is so crucial and yet so difficult, especially for parents of small children. The fine line we must walk is a line of honesty, where we distinguish legitimate reasons to scale back our expectations from garden-variety resistance.
Be Honest About the Challenges That Come With the Territory
For parents of young children, there are real obstacles, including:
+ sleep deprivation
+ shorter uninterrupted stretches of time for our own projects
+ hormonal changes
+ childhood illnesses that disrupt life’s daily rhythms
It’s important to acknowledge the reality of obstacles like these so that you can cultivate self-compassion, strategize, and in turn create a sustainable, adaptive creative practice.
Be Honest About the Role of Resistance
Dishonesty looks like relentlessly driving yourself into the ground with unrealistic expectations. But it also looks like hiding behind your commitments because you’re scared. It’s the same dishonesty that challenges any creative practice. While some parents report that their limited time amped up their focus and efficiency, making it easier to dismiss procrastination or perfectionism as something only people without kids could afford, for many of us that isn’t the case.
The part of us that always felt creativity was a bit risky is still there, ruminating over unproductive thoughts like, What if you fail? What if you’re disappointed? What if you’re rejected? What if you get it wrong?
And, sometimes, these negative ruminations seem, if anything, to have gotten worse. Why is that? As a parent of a young child you have, by definition, been through a huge life transition. In this state of uncertainty, the part of you that wants to keep you safe recognises your vulnerability, so it gets cleverer and louder in an effort to protect you from the risks it perceives. And now it has all those valid logistical difficulties to call upon.
What’s more, it can call on cultural expectations and narratives about what it is to be a parent: motherhood as sacrifice; fatherhood as being a good provider; parenting as being fulfilling enough all by itself. That inner protector who finds creativity risky will use these ideologies as cover for its agenda of keeping you safe by keeping you small and not creating (and, by the way, in doing so it is playing straight into the patriarchy’s hands).
Walking the Fine Line of Honesty
How can you walk the line, as Johnny and June Cash once sang?
Seek out sounding boards, such as your journal, a coach, a friend, or a community of other creative parents. Raise your consciousness. Listen to feminists on the topic of motherhood and/or masculinity. Most of all, s.l.o.w. d.o.w.n., so that you can notice your thoughts and emotions and tune into your own discernment.
I hope that this has helped to begin or continue your efforts to walk the line. I’ll leave you with one simple wish for you, which will no doubt help you walk the line more than anything: I wish you a good night’s sleep.