How To Make Your Own Art When You Have Small Children at Home -- FAQ #3 April 09, 2019 09:00

My daughter making art
In all honesty, I thought about making this article one sentence, "Hire a nanny or put your kid in daycare!" Which makes me laugh and sob maniacally on the inside. I get a kick out of myself.

But seriously, so many of you have asked me, "How do you do it? You seem so busy/prolific/etc." Truthfully I often feel insanely busy and not at all prolific.  There are two things happening to make you think otherwise.  First, I have found some ways to get work in even before I had daycare available.  But second is the reality of the internet and social media.  I don't usually post when things are shitty, when I'm not getting to the studio as much as I need to.  Or I post an older piece. Or I space things out so they seem way more continuous than they really are.

 
So now that you know the truth, what about the first part? The part about finding ways to get work in?

 
There is that beautiful, fleeting moment in time as a new parent when your baby is tiny and sleepy enough to take out to dinner, fold some laundry (does anyone ACTUALLY sleep when the baby sleeps??), or sneak some art-making in while they nap in a moby or a car seat.  Or at least, that was true with my babies.  I know some never sleep that much even as newborns.  And either way, you may be so sleep deprived and/or baby-absorbed that actually creating art isn't possible.

  
But as they grow your need grows.  The sleep deprivation subsides a little--hopefully--and you need to create. I sure did.  I think a lot of artists can relate: When I am not consistently creating art I get...grumpy.  Making art is my ultimate self-care even though I am "working." My mental and emotional health depend on it. 

This leaves two options when there is no one else around to give you the studio time you so desperately need: distract or include. I use either or both depending on the moment, my daughter's mood, my own mood, and how much mess I'm willing to deal with on a particular day. 

Depending on your parenting style and philosophy and your child's age, distraction may look like: putting them in a playpen or otherwise surrounding them with interesting toys; keeping a rotating supply of "special" toys or activities that they only use in your studio so they are always new and interesting; letting them play freely in the yard if you have one; or the ever-controversial screen time.  Hey, you do what you have to. 

Including them can be a lot of fun and I think is awesome for developing their fine motor skills and creativity. For me, this means my kiddo has her own art table right next to mine (and her own desk in my office space). She has all of her own art supplies and a ton of paper, cardboard, and other materials, and I just let her go crazy.  I don't give her any instructions (besides, "this is how we use scissors safely," for example) or guide her in any way.  The whole point is for me to get some art-making time in. With the cool side effect of enhancing her independence and creativity. 

What if you try all of this--and/or hire a nanny or daycare--and you find you've been out of the game for so long that you are blocked?  You may not know this, but I use my skills as an Artist and a Reiki Master to help people move past their creative blocks.  If this is something that could help you, shoot me an email to see if we can work together.

I wish you the very best in savoring these first few years with your kiddo and making some incredible art!  If you have any more ideas or suggestions on how to get work done with a little one around, I would love to hear them.