How to be Creative with Kids Around (Or How to Milk the Day for every Second it Has)

permaculture garden || cityhippyfarmgirl

I’ve had a few questions over time on how I seemingly get so many things done in the day. I thought it might be easier to do a post, dispel a few illusions and set the base line once more.

First up stop cleaning, really just stop. Keep things generally tidy if you need to, or have one corner that is deliciously tidy, but apart from that, there are a whole lot more important things to do. Just leave it unless it’s absolutely necessary.

So what’s necessary you say?

Well that’s up to you, but scrubbing the toilet on a daily basis sure isn’t one of them and I’d rather be defined by the way my creativity breaks out rather than how well I keep the bathroom clean, (really, no one else cares.)

Secondly, work out what’s important to you, (hence the dropping of any excessive cleaning). If you really want to design a website, paint a ten foot canvas, draft a novel, draw up a permaculture garden, join an acapella group, or take pictures then do it. Don’t just talk about wanting to do it. Follow those words, and walk that talk. I know it’s not easy, (and it’s really not!) to find and make the time but if you nudge yourself closer and closer, five minutes here and there, make the plans, and start, it’s a beginning, and everything has a beginning.

Third point, set aside time each day/ once a week/ once a month to do what makes your heart sing and makes those excited bubbles in your belly pop. This is fuel, creative fuel and for me, no matter in what shape or form it is, it all goes into my own personal bank.

I like writing, and I like taking photos. I also up until recently have always had a child or children at home with me all the time. A long with the regular activities during the day that we do, I always set aside ‘time for me’. While itย sounds indulgent, it’s what I can do at this stage, so I roll with it. I make sure she’s had her lunch, my coffee is ready and there is a dvd or activity ready to roll. This doesn’t hold her long, she always wants more food, and the interruptions can sometimes be every 30 seconds. But I do what I can within that allocated ‘me time’. If that means she’s sitting on my lap, head butting me like a young goat and placing her hands over mine as I (we) type well than that’s the way I get things done. Clearly I’m not going to win any Pulitzer prize winner novel-writing done in this manner, but…it gets some things done. Tiny nibbles of things done anyway. If I get to feel even just a teensy bit that I’ve done something I’ve wanted to do, I feel better for it. (Even if it’s just editing some photos…or a photo. I did it, and hooray!)

Number four, if I want absolute solitude time I have to either stay up later at night once everyone else has been tucked safely into bed or get up earlier than everyone else. I alternate between the early or late depending on what’s been happening. I’m naturally more of a morning person, but sometimes I just need more sleep. Again, I roll with it.

Which brings me to the very important number five point. Coffee. None of this instant stuff, but instead pure coffee. A simple stove top coffee pot is the highlight of my day. Just the one cup mind you, and it’s all perfectly timed that caffeine hit. Like I said, I get things ready before hand if I can at all. If that means grinding beans the night before in order to get that coffee made and sipped while the opening credits are being rolled out on the kiddo’s dvd or colouring in session. Well then that’s what needs to be done.

This book was a huge eye opener for me, in terms of reading how other creative woman juggled motherhood and creativity.

And this book too was also a huge eye opener as the comparison between the two books was bloody incredible.

Now I promise there’s no creative mother sainthood here, some days it all seems to slot in beautifully and other days…well there’s always tomorrow right?

These precious kids aren’t small forever and but then again life isn’t particularly long either. So for me it’s about squeezing as muchย into the cracks of the day as possible, because while my children are incredibly important to me. So is my creativity.


This post is part two in a series on creativity.

Part one can be found here.

36 thoughts on “How to be Creative with Kids Around (Or How to Milk the Day for every Second it Has)

  1. I had three children under 5 and had always been creative and your post almost exactly described how I kept my creativity and sanity! With only one adult child still living at home, life is a lot easier now but it does just seem like yesterday that I was juggling the whole WAHM thing. I encouraged my children also to be creative and that sometimes meant a lot of mess. But to have my daughter recently tell me she has such great memories of a creative childhood, well that more than made up for my reputation for not having ‘the’ magazine picture perfect tidy as home. But it was a home that created beautiful memories, that will last a lifetime.


    • Yep, I can imagine that would be a proud mama moment right there Sharon. If I had a choice between the magazine picture home and a household full of creative spirits, second one every time. While don’t get me wrong, I do love a floor that doesn’t have dried weetbix attached to it and a bathroom plughole that doesn’t have furrballs in it…I still prefer a spiced up conversation, sipping tea from mismatched mugs, at a table littered with drawings and walls filled with pictures of inspiration. I’d be a bit disheartened to find my adult kids looking forward to cleaning vertical blinds over doing something creative!


  2. Great post Brydie.
    I agree with so much of it. Definitely the cleaning part ha ha! I’m incredibly tidy but often can’t remember when I last cleaned the floor ๐Ÿ˜‰


  3. I read recently that when JK Rowling was asked how she managed to write and care for kids etc as a single parent she commented that she didn’t do housework for 4 years: “I am not superwoman! Living in squalor โ€“ that was the answer!โ€ …. bring it!


  4. I agree with everything you’ve said, Brydie. To just keep going with what you dream of doing, whenever it is possible, that is the answer, no matter how small the time window. Day after day, week after week. And it does get easier — especially when the kids leave home!!


  5. Thanks for sharing this, it’s always heartening to hear how others really do it, what happens behind the scenes we see on social media.


    • It’s a tricky balance isn’t it Kate. Too much turns people off, not enough…turns people off. Hopefully I can try and keep it all fairly ‘real’ feeling round here.

      Some days are chaos, some days are….slightly less than chaos ๐Ÿ™‚


    • I think all juggling creative people need gentle reminders sometimes. I know all this, and have done for a while now…but damn I still need reminding too. Half the time these blog posts are just a note to self kind of thing…I know you know what I mean. x


  6. Such good advice. I learned the hard way with my first. I put all my energy in to his in door activities and outdoor adventures. He was a high energy kid so even when I finally got him to sleep I’d be cutting up coloured paper and making glue ready for the next day. Crazy I know. The cleaning was the big thing I let go of to integrate hand making in to my day. I use to natural clean and organise all day every day. Such a waste of time! I love your last line because I’ve always been creative and in many ways that was squished in to the background when I had kids except for all the cook cook cooking. But there is a deeper creativity within me from my youth the one of the artist. You are very inspiring as always.


    • An inversely proportional relationship with creativity….I got to say, I love that line and would like to see a 2000 word essay on why it is so ๐Ÿ™‚

      I have a friend who is an incredible artist (painter) and has the cleanest, tidiest house I have ever been to…how??


  7. I really enjoyed your post. I have folks ask me all the time how I get so much done,or comment that I don’t work outside the home so that is why/how I get so much done. (But I do work inside the home, independent contract type stuff). You are so right it is priority, learning to rearrange and letting things that don’t matter go.


  8. You won’t remember much about these years with small children but your kids will. The day you cuddled them on your lap while you were processing an image might well be something that gets them through the day at some future time. Life is funny like that. You never know which memories you are building that will come back to haunt you at a later date.


      • Memories tend to be like Instagram and have fuzzy edges. Most of my childhood memories are like that. I think kids tend to remember the good bits. That’s why you read about people wistfully thinking about the past. Seems those rose coloured glasses work in retrospect ๐Ÿ˜‰


  9. Aah Yes. If it’s a choice between dancing with my daughter or doing the dishes… I stop doing the dishes and dance. I try to manage enough cleaning to keep the husband happy (one less problem to worry about) and the rest is all about having fun with the kiddo and fitting in my creative stuff too. My creative stuff is generally shoved into the nooks and crannies of time ๐Ÿ™‚


    • I’m sure they build up though Sam. Something that starts as a tiny 5 minute slot, suddenly extends to 20 minutes, an hour…oh sweet goodness, the occasional day. I’m aiming for a weekend some time this year, and that…will be…actually, it might be too much!!


  10. Love this. Seriously, such balanced advice! It’s funny how liberating it can be to actually decide that it’s ‘okay’ not to have a perfectly clean house. I did the same after I got married and I’ve become much more chilled out and flexible as a result (I think it was the start of a bit of psychological balance, letting go, rather than just the cleaning itself – more ‘symbolic’, if you get what I mean!). I loved reading the bit about flexibility and writing, ‘nibbling away’ at a project. Whilst I don’t have kids I often end up typing with a puppy head/ear/paw on my keyboard or arm. Loki doesn’t really get my personal space either and I suppose it’s good training for when Aaron and I eventually head towards parenthood (if we do… we’ll see!). Great post Brydie. Love learning from your experience xx


    • Laura, having had a puppy for all of three days now, they are exactly the same and completely the same process. Ours is 12 weeks old and I’ve likened it to having a 12-18 month old toddler. They are moving, you can’t leave them for a second, I’ve put all the blind chords up again, and there is the occasional wee on your pilates mat. You also need to tire them out beforehand if you want to get anything done properly. If you ever decide that parenthood is something you’d like to enter into…you’ve had some beautiful practise ๐Ÿ™‚


  11. Thanks for this – I’m only new to motherhood with a five month old, and reading things like this is inspiring. I’ve found I have to massively reduce my expectations about what I can get done, and like you said, nibbles of things get done and amount to a lot!


    • Ahh, those new motherhood moments of adjustments are hard Sally. I highly, super duper, yes you should get it recommend the Motherhood and Creativity book linked. It was incredibly eye opening and you just don’t feel alone in the juggle of it.

      You are right though, it really helps by lowering your expectations, then everything else is a delicious bonus if it goes further.


  12. A great read. I actually really like the book on writing rituals you mentioned – it is great reading about ‘great’ authors having these little things that got them writing – and wouldn’t it be great to be woken up by your maid to start writing ! One thing I have noticed , now having older kids – I have to search for my creativity now though I have the quiet times – but that full on small kid time when I wished for time was when I had the most ideas coming in, as if the kids provided an energy somehow- almost as if not being able to do something gives your brain the incentive to bounce some ideas around in the meantime.Some great ideas for all of us in this post – let’s ALL WRITE AND CREATE AND BE US!!!


    • I adore that book too Kim, don’t get me wrong. It blows me away that life can/could/is so seemingly self indulgent in so many ways for some. That sort of absolute committment and focus on the one subject intrigues me to no end. Polar opposite! Although for a week, I’d certainly like to try the woken by a maid, write solidly in the morning, a little light lunch and then seek inspiration all afternoon, followed by parties in the evening. (Can’t remember who that one was?) Like I said, I would certainly give it a crack!


  13. I do pretty much everything with kids hanging off me! Including typing out this comment. I get things done because I don’t clean and I don’t watch TV. I do forget to do stuff for me though… Well at least I have lately. I need to find that thing that makes my stomach bubble with happy creative vibes x


  14. Pingback: Some things slide… | Gentle Intention

  15. Pingback: That’s a wrap | cityhippyfarmgirl

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s