When my daughter was 2 years old, I was totally one of those moms who hid in the bathroom just to be alone. It was my safe haven. I felt a reprieve from my crazy day... like the day when the lady at the cash register pointed out to me that there was a Cheerio in my hair, or when I burned the Lasagna by leaving it in the oven too long, or when I gently had to explain to my little one why we don't give our kittens bubble baths in the toilet.
When Ashley was down for a nap, I could lock the door to the bathroom, sit myself on the side of the tub, look up, and just exhale. For a moment, the world stopped spinning.
I loved my alone time. I needed my alone time.
I still do. It recharges me and fills up my tank.
But it is hard to do when you live a busy life.
Work. Family. Chores. Bills. Go, go, go.
The craziness of life can pull you out to sea. And before you know it, you can find yourself climbing into bed one night and wondering, "Who am I? How did I get here? And why doesn't my husband tell me when I have Cheerios in my hair?"
But I am learning that having my alone time is necessary for my health and happiness (and sanity). The happier I am, the better support I can be to my loved ones.
I also learned that there are better avenues than hiding in the bathroom.
Like painting and drawing and other creative things.
Here are some tips for carving out Creative Time for yourself that have worked for me:
1) Figure out what makes your heart sing.
What do you love to do in your spare time? Is it Reading? Cooking? Journaling? Drawing? What lights up your heart? What activity makes you feel like time is standing still while you are doing it? Make a note of it, because these things are gifts, gifts that are specific to you. And gifts are meant to be enjoyed.
2) Enlist support.
At one point I just sat down with my husband and daughter and explained to them that I need some time to myself. We agreed to code this as "Mom's Quiet Time", which is less exclusive than "Please, for the love of all that is good, just give me 2 minutes to myself." I explained to both my husband and daughter how important it is to me. They totally got on board and have become my cheerleaders. Now I just tell them when I need this time and for how long. Then I thank them for letting me recharge. We make a good team.
3) Make it meaningful.
I will ask for about an hour of uninterrupted time. I turn off my phone. I listen to my favorite music. I ask Jason and Ashley to please not interrupt unless it's an absolute emergency, like rescuing kittens from unwanted baths. It might sound cheesy, but art is special to me. It's a treat. And I want some of that time to be uninterrupted.
4) Keep it balanced.
If I had my way, I would play in my sketchbook all day. But, right now that would be irresponsible. So I try and make sure my other priorities are first attended, like staying on top of bills, helping with homework, spending time with my family. Because if those top priorities are off, I am a grump. But sometimes it can swing the other way, and I can pay way more to attention to others than myself. Not healthy either. It helps to have someone who can keep you in check. Like my sister who is keen on knowing when I am burned out or when things are off-kilter in my life. She reminds me that I need to take care of me too.
5) Find your rhythm.
I like this concept on finding your rhythm by Marissa Mayer, former executive from Google. Everyone's "rhythm" is different. I work full time, so I blog when I get home. I pay my bills on Monday, prep my journals on Sunday, draw throughout the week, and look at my family schedule about a week/month in advance. It might not work for other people, but it's a good pace for me. Of course, sometimes life events call for adjusting. It's good to be flexible.