A few moms in my network have expressed an interest in finding out how other creative moms get stuff done. Everyone has their own patterns, habits, and work flow that is right for them. Here’s mine:
When I had my first baby I was at work on a PhD. I quickly realized - shock! - that things were going to be different from now on. Actually I panicked. But what came out of that was one simple idea.
Make A, B, C priorities. An A priority is something you need total focus for. Read, when the kids are in bed. A B priority is something you need partial focus for. Read, when the kids are watching TV. A C priority is something you can do blindfolded. For me that was referencing my work. It didn’t require any creative thinking just manual labor.
2. Scale Your Practice
Fast forward a couple years and there’s a toddler in the house and a new baby. Now things really get harry. At this point I realize I’ve got to scale my practice. For me, a non-fiction writer, that meant no more long meandering essays. I started a blog. I wrote “flash essays” - no more than 1,000 words.
3. Do Only The Work You Love
Fast forward another couple years. There’s two fully-formed toddlers in the house and now things are just hard. Now I realize not only do I have to scale my practice I’ve got to install a bullshit-meter in my creative self. Since I was fortunate not to have to take on paid work at this point that meant doing creative work that I loved. Yes I allowed myself to do work I loved. Now I could use the finite energy I had. Without the added fuel of pleasure, I couldn’t get my butt in the chair and do the work.
4. Learn Your Patterns
The next thing that works for me is not making myself work when my energy is sapped. For me that means no working at nap times when I’m shattered. It doesn’t mean making work when I feel like it (Let’s face it, then it’d never get done.) But it does mean knowing when I’ve got a little juice in me. For a lot of people, myself included, this is the morning.
5. Self-Compassion is More Important Than Discipline
I’m a fairly seasoned parent now and although I’ve got a background in classical music and that makes me a self-discipline kind of person, I have come to realize that self-compassion is way more important. I simply can’t afford to go down the existential rabbit holes of comparison, doubt, and insecurity. This didn’t come easy people. It is a hard, tough road. Self-compassion is way harder than self-discipline but it’s also a way more fantastic gift to give to our kids.