In the face of discussions about “helicopter parenting” and three-am wakeup calls, it’s easy to forget that there is another side of the coin: how parenthood actually can promote creativity. That topic is the subject of a recent Atlantic article by Erika Haysaki, and something I’ve seen anecdotally among friends and colleagues as well.
When there are enough resources to sustain us, it’s possible to have parenthood be not a negative to the creative process, but actually a positive. However, we have take the time to be strategic about how. The combination of in-depth time with kids, and time to reflect–stepping away from the desk or easel, and then back–can actually provide the jumpstart to creativity many of us need.
Being strategic about this process means finding ways and times to make creativity happen. Some of those strategies might seem simple, but the process of including them into our daily routines can create important shifts.
Being creative while parenting: A process
—Finding brief “micro-moments” to focus
Even if we have only five to ten minutes, it can be helpful to brainstorm a single question we have been stuck on, and try to find answers to that. Sometimes, after the external stimulation that being around (especially young) children brings, the flow of creativity can come more easily.
—Making thinking visible
Carrying around a notebook or using the notes section of the iPhone can be a great way to record passing thoughts. Often, if I have an idea for a character or an essay, it can get lost in the flow of daily life, if I don’t at least stop and take a moment to note it down. Later, when there is more time, it can be easier to go back and get started, rather than face a blank page.
—Finding concrete routines to jumpstart creativity
Whether it is coffee or a certain set of headphones, or even a certain set-up of your desk, it can be helpful to find a separate space and set of routines to signal that now is the time for creative work. These external shifts can help make internal shifts come more easily, especially after a long day of work and kids. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, keeping a daily routine of creativity can, over time, build up into completed projects. If we work on creative projects daily, it’s also more likely for us to not let them go, and to feel more satisfied.