The short answer –
You shoe-horn the work you want to do into the tiny gaps you have, and then gradually you stretch that time, until it has widened sufficiently for your work to take flight.
As a home-educating mother of 4 kids, I know that finding a moment to yourself (and with little’s – even going to the loo without company) is hard.
Like, seriously hard. And if you work outside the home, that will also have it’s challenges.
Because once you become a mum, sacrifice becomes your new middle name.
Now sacrifice is a beautiful thing, it’s at the heart of all true expressions of love – but during the process of sacrificing for what is necessary, we can lose sight of what feeds our own souls, and if left unchecked, we can eventually lose total sight of ourselves as a separate entity.
I am writing this right now, having just returned from a difficult walk in the woods with my younger three. My elder son who is autistic, was not really in the mood to walk with us, suddenly becoming utterly distraught with a stray bit of thread poking out of the stitching on his cagoule.
Getting home was a real challenge, and so I currently still have my cagoule on, as my baby son is fast asleep on my back and I didn’t want to wake him. There is a cup of tea beside me, Frozen 2 is on, and due to the extra weight and the awkward way I am sitting on my chair, my left foot is half asleep and tingling with the uncomfortable prickle of pins and needles.
This writing time is definitely being snatched.
The thing is, if we don’t fight to keep growing, we will atrophy without even noticing
– one day, finally having some time to ourselves, but no idea what to do with it.
It can happen after a year or so when we are suddenly able to take couple of hours break, or perhaps when our kids leave home and we are no longer required to be present in the same way. If we haven’t continued to take the little moments available to us to do something that stretches us, we will have a much bigger fight on our hands to recover our sense of self.
I came to realise in my early twenties, just how VITAL creative expression is and how much of an assault on and resistance to it we face in this life, because the enemy of our souls HATES that we are chips off the proverbial block.
Creative like God, we are made in his image to be creative, call things into being – our imagination, words and dreams becoming substantial as we make new things that didn’t exist before – just look at the internet, the telephone, or the aeroplane!
We are utterly amazing, though we pale in comparison to the ultimate creator who made us.
But the enemy cannot create like us, only distort. He is therefore jealous, and will do everything in his power to fight, squash and stamp out our glowing creative embers.
I made a decision to always fight for and grow my creativity.
But I still find it hard.
I don’t always know what to do with my spare, child-free time, and wander around aimlessly, tackling odd chores, which leaves me feeling utterly frustrated that I have squandered my precious moments.
Even when I have decided, I’m often too tired or emotionally drained to do much.
The only trick I know is to keep committing to take the space, doing a little bit at a time and just not give up.
Often this has simply meant that I have read books – fiction, poetry and non-fiction -or when my eyelids were too heavy with sleep to stay open, I have listened to the audio versions. Never underestimate the power of reading a good book to stretch and grow you.
I’ve listened to music, podcasts and teachings, watched films, seized rare opportunities to go to the theatre (my first love) and enjoyed some great television – which has kept my soul fed and mind stretched – even if only one mouthful at a time.
I have scribbled down odd lines of poetry in more miscellaneous notebooks than I could count, and have journalled my thoughts and conversations with God, my rants, joys and pain.
I have made up many silly songs and ditties for my kids as I changed thousands of nappies – only occasionally getting to a piano to attempt to form them more fully. I have sung at church, and encouraged others to sing from a place of connection and worship to allow their souls and minds to soar in praise.
I have snapped photos on my phone when something beautiful or moving arrested my attention, and have practiced conversations with people – real and imagined- in front of the mirror or to a sink-full of washing up – sometimes bits of script, other times just going over a difficult situation. Sometimes I have resisted the atrophy purely by painting my nails a bold colour or doodling on my receipts.
I have played the clown and the total wally for the amusement of my husband, kids and friends, continuing to be a playful idiot as I seem like a fool.
But above all, I have refused to believe that the best is behind me – even when it looks a lot like, professionally, it might be – because all of these little things add up to a person open to the opportunities to be creatively alive.Cassie@ createperformandmother.comTweet
The creative work is still going on.
I am still growing – sharpening my skills, my ability to notice, to pay attention to life, learning to be responsive and expanding my empathy and sensitivity – all transferable skills.
These things are vital to a creative life, and vital as we grow in God -allowing us to catch the whispers of his heart, spoken through the Holy Spirit directly into to our own.
You may not even know where to begin, perhaps you’re so exhausted in your soul, you’re not even sure you remember your internal self.
But you can choose to do something.
Pick a time today or tomorrow when you’ll have 5-10mins you could feasibly take for your self (more if it’s an option).
Write it in your diary.
Show up for the date.
Alternatively if the moment suddenly presents itself at an unscheduled time – SEIZE IT!
It could be as small as doodling a flower and a cake on the envelope of your sister’s birthday card; stopping chores or your driving to attentively listen to a favourite song all the way through; reading three pages of a book; or jotting down that idea for a song/poem/film you’ve had floating in your mind for ages and adding a couple of extra details.
Something FUN that reminds you of what you love. Go for it!