This month marks 18 months of sleeplessness … I mean… parenting and having our little guy in the family.
(All in a bit of jest, he’s actually a great sleeper now!)
So it’s a special month for us…
And because of that, I’m gonna share 7 tips that I’ve honed over the last year to spur and recharge my creativity – even when I’m exhausted from taking care of a little one.
Now, as you’ll see below, these tips are about parenting and getting your creative juices flowing if you’re an artistic type – i.e. writer, singer, etc.
And it’s easy to assume that “creativity” relates only to specific areas of life, like if you’re an aspiring writer.
But it applies to other areas too!
Basically – if you’re producing anything in this day and age, you need to keep your creativity on point.
And it’s with that in mind that I wrote these tips.
Let’s get started!
TIP #1. Produce something. Produce ANYTHING.
Mark Twain said:
The secret to getting ahead is getting started.
And it’s still true today…
Sometimes the best way to start gaining momentum is just to start, even if you don’t know exactly what direction you want to go.
A lotta creative types understand this intuitively – before they’re parents. But once you’re a parent it’s easy to let the creative habits slide.
After all, there are endless reasons not to practice your craft.
So, if it’s been a while since you:
- Painted something
- Wrote something
- Compose some music
… just start today. Even if you only have 10 minutes. Sometimes just the symbolic mental steps of taking action will start to propel you forward.
TIP #2: BREAK your parenting routines.
There’s a lot to be said for routines. Especially for kids. Consistency is good. The stability is good. But as a parent, they can be the death wish of innovation and ideas.
And as a parent, it’s so easy to get caught in the day to day to day routines. Rushing from one pre-scheduled, already lived day.
You’ll become more complacent than Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.
While routine and habits are great for the kids, recognize when it’s starting to kill your inner light of your own.
TIP #3. Escape on your lunch break.
Your environment is everything.
Do you stay at work during lunch break? Perhaps you just sit in your small cube.
Staring at the screen.
Answering as many e-mails as possible.
All while the clock is ticking. But here’s the thing:
There’s a good chance, if you work in an office, that you’re NOT getting paid for your lunch. If you don’t have a plan for how you’re using that unpaid time wisely, chances are you’re wasting it.
It’s a prime time to find your muse. For a couple of reasons:
It’s the middle of the day. Even though you’re at work, you’re not at home chasing the kids around. You’re not surrounded by everything in your house with a million things on your mind to …
In other words?
It’s the perfect time of day to focus on projects for YOU.
So, even if all you can manage do is just step around the corner to a coffee shop and read and write for a few minutes…
You might find a previously untapped productive time of your day.
TIP #4. Ask your treadmill for forgiveness.
We’ve all been there:
The extreme exhaustion. From months of sleep deprivation. That feeling of “I wish I was only tired” (not completely drained.
And when you’re in the thick of tiredness, it’s soo easy to let things in other parts of your life slide.
And one of the easiest?
After all – when are you supposed to make it to the gym?
In the morning?
Everybody’s getting ready.
On your commute?
During the day?
Maybe – if you happen to have a gym on-site or close by (rare).
My point is this…
If you were a regular exerciser before the baby, at some point it’s gonna slide.
So after the baby starts to get older, then the question becomes:
How can I get my exercise mojo back?
Well, one first step (in my experience) was making peace with my own exercise guilt.
I’d been beating myself up for not exercising. I was making it to the gym just once a month.
Hardly anything at all.
So I had to make peace with myself. But I kept beating myself up.
So I had an idea.
Kind of silly. I realized:
I need to repent.
From my neglect of the treadmill.
A turning point?
Because once I did, then I was able to stop beating myself up.
Well, maybe not entirely. I still do occasionally.
But it gave me the mental space to be a bit kinder to myself.
And then, get back into the swing of things.
Without so much guilt.
TIP #5. Doodle while your toddler doodles.
Distracted parenting kills your creative mojo. Whatever kind of play your kid enjoys – whether doodling or otherwise – try engaging with it. Participate. The creativity will FLOW once you’re in a state of FLOW.
And the best way to do that?
Mindful playtime. As adults, we forget this. But one of the joys of being a parent is that you can reclaim play.
And in doing so…
Find your muse fire up again.
TIP #5. Do THIS with your kids’ toys and make your days delightful (read on)
If your house is anything like mine, there’s a good chance you’ve got a bunch of kid junk lying around that never get used.
Takes up space.
Adds to the clutter.
Increases your stress.
Drives the cortisol levels higher…
Now, it’s certainly true that “de-cluttering” and the link is common advice you’ll here to de-stress and “improve” your life as a parent. And it’s true. Having a garage sale, donating to charity, etc. with old toys is great.
But want to know what’s even better?
Something that will make your days at work a little better?
And perhaps make some new friends with coworkers instead?
Bring a few of your kids’ toys they don’t use to work!
Now, don’t go crazy with this. Say you work in a cube:
You don’t want to be a weird person and turn it into something that looks completely unprofessional. All I’m saying is bring a little bit of joy from your kiddos world into your workspace.
Because there’s a good chance that seeing that little toy truck sitting on your cube will bring you benefits such as:
- A smile on your face
- A mind focus point of gratitude when things get crazy
- A way to connect with other parents
- A little bright spot of joy
TIP #6. Tell your spouse and kids No!
This one’s a bit controversial? I know.
It’s one of my weaknesses.
I like to be helpful.
I like to make other people happy.
I’m a people pleaser.
Especially my spouse.
And my kids!
They’re the hardest to say no to.
But over the years I’ve realized:
It’s a slippery slope.
And if I don’t set boundaries and find some time for myself?
It actually has a net negative effect.
Because then I’m left feeling totally drained.
No spare mental energy for myself.
Much less the family.
So it’s important to strategically say No.
Now, I’m not saying to become a jerk.
If anything, I’m saying the opposite
TIP #7. Be present to play with your kiddos.
I’ve said it before…
But I think it’s worth repeating.
In this context.
You gotta learn to be present…
Notice I didn’t say:
Because it’s all about balance.
And you’re likely working hard too.
Plus commuting. Managing a household.
And a million other things.
So you don’t have to be perfect!
And you don’t have to spend EVERY hour that you’re home entertaining your kids.
You do need to make sure to spend quality time with them.
Even if it’s just a short while.
Or not as long as you’d like.
Because they’ll get it.
They’ll understand those days when you’re working long hours and get home late.
Or whatever the case may be.
They’ll still remember that you were there.
To say goodnight.
And tell them you love them.
But what they won’t remember?
Or what will mean painful members?
If you’re never there.
If you’re there physically…
But completely distracted.
So take a moment.
Take a breath.
And spend some time really focusing on what matters:
Your kids. Do that and you’ll find:
Your mojo in your off time will start to kick right back in!