Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only new mama out there who misses having lots of time for creativity.
I see a lot of advice for new moms about life balance. When I was the super-newest of new moms, doing things like sleeping when my baby sleeps and being sure to hand off the baby to someone for an hour now and then to take a shower were important things to remember, and honestly about all I could manage in terms of life balance. Thankfully, though time and energy are still in short supply, I’m a bit beyond that point now.
I also see a lot of advice about the importance of nurturing your relationship with your spouse or partner by having dates and intimate time– also very important. And I see the occasional advice about being sure to take the occasional afternoon for some self-pampering, such as a massage or pedicure. And everyone tells new moms that they need to get enough exercise. And yet, I don’t see as much advice about nurturing my creativity or my intellect. I guess that it’s easy to deprioritize that in the midst of all the other self-care that’s already so very hard to find time for.
For me, a critical part of taking care of myself as a person is making time for both creativity and intellectual stimulation. Intellectual stimulation mostly comes from my work… writing and reading about productivity and time management and conducting coaching sessions with my clients. I do try to read stimulating things outside those areas, but it’s relatively easy to do that in small chunks. Also, my social media feeds generally provide me to links galore to intriguing articles about science, philosophy and other thought-provoking topics. I only read a few of them, usually while rocking A to sleep on my shoulder at night, but it feels like enough most of the time.
Feeding my creativity is harder. We are still having a lot of sleep challenges, and my creativity tends to wither up anyhow when I’m seriously underslept. Still, if I don’t immerse myself in the flow of music, dance or art now and then, I become sad. A subtle but increasingly draining feeling begins to seep through me, and sometimes it’s difficult to untangle that creative malaise from other kinds of exhaustion or stress. If I start to feel like that, I give myself the gift of ten minutes of dance downstairs in our rec room. Usually that peps me up. It can be terribly hard to get started, but once I do, it helps.
But for me the most soulfully rejuvenating creative act is to play my hand drum in a group with other drummers, musicians and dancers, and to dance in community drum circles. So, my husband and I make a point of prioritizing a solo outing for me once every month or two, and I go out on my own to drum and dance for a few precious hours.
My favorite drum circle happens on the first Saturday of the month, and unless baby A has had a particularly awful night of sleep on the evening prior, I usually go. When I come back from drumming in community, I am filled with light and delight. Empty places in me that I hadn’t even fully sensed are filled and the energy of sheer joy can flow unimpeded through my body. I am giddy with delight for days after I go to a drum circle, and incidentally, that happiness bubbles up and flows over into how I interact with A and with my husband. So while I do it for me, and feel no qualms about focusing on my self in that way, I know that it benefits us all.
I am also teaching A to drum, sing and play maracas, incidentally… and he just loves it. Taking a few minutes to play a djembe drum with him or shake some maracas to a beat is joyful for us both, and he loves getting to play with mama’s toys. Maybe someday he’ll share this interest with me, or even just learn from watching me how much creative pursuits can increase personal happiness.
Do you have a creative or intellectual interest that you make a priority for yourself, or want to start making a priority? How do you make time for creativity as a busy parent?
Image above by Jon Nicholls used under Creative Commons License.