You’re washing another pile of dirty dishes. Big surprise, right? Changing another diaper? Didn’t see that coming.
Are you getting the feeling as though the cycle of motherhood chores and tasks will never end? Well, that’s because they won’t. You’re a mom now, remember?
And if you’re a mom that stays home with her babies, you may be feeling like all you ever do anymore is cook, clean, wipe butts and scrub toilets – repeatedly! The work never ends!
While your reasons for staying home will vary, all moms can agree that staying home with infants and toddlers is different than working in an office job surrounded by adults or attending university classes. There aren’t any textbooks to study or adults to talk to during your fifteen-minute break (yeah, remember those?)
What I’m saying is that, for many moms, we feel like a part of our life is missing or out of place, but we struggle to figure out a way around it.
Well, I think I stumbled across something the other day that might be the key we’ve been looking for to fill in that void and keep us from going insane. And I think I’ve known this to be true all along, but underestimated its importance.
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi made the following statement during a Ted Talk in 2014:
When we are involved in (creativity), we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life. You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears. You forget yourself. You feel part of something larger.”
To summarize, the CNN article I read basically goes on to explain that being involved in a creative project of any kind improves our mood (dopamine is released in the brain), reduces stress (our flight or fight response is quieted), and helps us live longer, more fulfilling lives.
My Struggle to Find a Creative Outlet
As someone who enjoyed her college years because I love learning, adjusting to the period of time after college proved to be challenging. Up until that point, all I knew was work and school. That’s it!
Suddenly, I went from college graduate to full-time mom. For that first year, I spent several months raising my son on my own since my husband worked out-of-state. At times, it sucked. I never did anything for myself. I may have read a magazine or so, possibly a book. I didn’t have girlfriends to hang out with, nor did I arrange play-dates. My life was about caring for my baby boy.
Just before my son’s first birthday, I picked a full-time online curriculum to complete my Bachelor’s degree while I continued to stay home. I decided to go at that time because I knew that I wanted to finish before I spent too much time away from school so that the transition would be easier. In hindsight, I think I just missed the essay assignments.
With the demands of a toddler in my second year of classes, I reduced my college class load to part-time and I quickly got bored (big surprise). As my son approached the two-year mark, I felt less guilty about daycare and sought out a full-time job. I even added a children’s writing course to my studies! I worked and went to school for several months before the economy crashed and my job was eliminated.
Great, I thought. Back to square one.
Unemployed, but still in school, I looked for work, but after I found out I was pregnant with my second child, I knew the workplace wasn’t the right place for me. After finished up my Bachelors, seeing how the job market still wasn’t picking up, I signed up for nine more months of school. I gave birth to my daughter several weeks before I completed my financial planning certificate. Around that time, I also finished up the children’s writing program.
When my daughter was around eight or nine months, having been out of school for about seven, I was bored again, so I decided to experiment with my writing abilities and I created a website for young adults about personal finances.
I loved it!
I was in charge of designing and content creating and everything in between. It reminded me again how much I love to write! At that time (2011), building my website and writing a book to complement it consumed me. It gave me a place to escape from my mommy career. I felt like I was contributing to society again. I felt important.
Yet, when I started work again (part-time) when my daughter was two, I struggled to find motivation to continue my website. With a heavy heart, I shut it down (2013), mostly because our finances wouldn’t afford us the luxury of keeping it open. I eventually found full-time work and worked until my third trimester of my third pregnancy. Around that time was when my husband took a job out of state and we began what would result in nearly two and a half years of living long distance.
I was left alone, pregnant, no job – just me and my children.
How Creating Helps Me Coupe
Amidst the pain I felt from living away from my husband, I came to my senses, I suppose, and picked up blogging again last summer (2015) and My Mommy Career was born. It helped by shifting my focus away from missing my husband and writing allowed me to be a positive voice for other moms. I essentially turned my pain into your gain.
After starting this blog, I told my husband that I plan on writing for the rest of my life, and while I have struggled to blog during my trial periods, I think I’ve finally realized (with help from recent science discovery) that it’s vital to my health and well being to write during the hard times, too.
All my life I’ve journaled and kept a diary, but I typically turn to it when I’m aggravated by life. As time passes, I write less and less frequently in those journals. And it’s funny that I’ve allowed that to happen because I always tell others that if they journal their thoughts, they will feel better immediately afterwards. I suppose I never thought of creating content online as a way to achieve the same result – even though I’m excited each time I complete a new blog post.
I know, I’m weird. The answer was right in front of my face and I knew it, but didn’t know it. Go figure!
How Moms Can Get Creative
If you are happy just how things are, great! If you feel a little like somethings amiss, maybe seeking a creative outlet can help.
My mom used to craft. I remember her creating wreaths to decorate around the home. She occasionally sewed dresses for us, too. She also created earrings and sold them to her friends and neighbors. I don’t know that she did those things on a daily basis, but she tells me that she misses those creative glue-gun days when she stayed home with us.
I have friends who get really crafty for their children’s birthday parties. Next time you attend a party and it’s clear the mom went a little over board, smile and know that she was just exercising her creative muscles and their’s nothing wrong with that! Maybe you’d enjoy it, too.
Others take on creative projects around the house, such as reupholstering chairs or painting. Having painted a few rooms myself over the years, I’ve found the experience to be quite relaxing and fulfilling. I’ve also spray painted picture frames and dabbled in planting flowers and plants in the yard (weather permitting). You’ll hear many gardeners say how relaxing it is, including my dad. For years, when he still worked a normal 9 to 5 job, he would water the plants in the yard after work as a way to unwind from his stressful day.
Others find crossword puzzles or word searches, even those adult coloring books, to be rewarding. Some play instruments or paint. Heck, learn a new language if that’s something you’ve always wanted to do. The key to your sanity is to participate in something creative that you enjoy doing. If you don’t think it will be fun, don’t do it.
Using your imagination and then seeing it come to life right before your eyes is a feeling hard to describe. The pride you feel for a job well done is more than enough to make up for all the exhausting energy you put into caring for your kids. Knowing that you had an idea, put all the pieces together and finished is a phenomenal mood boost. I cannot emphasize it enough.
I think most moms out there have the means to creatively let loose, but they just have to reconnect with their past to figure out how. Once you do, dedicate as much time as you can to that activity on a regular basis and you’ll soon discover the benefits for yourself.
What do you (or wish you could) create on a regular basis? What types of creative outlets did you participate in before having children? I’d love to hear from you!