01 May 2006

Juggling parenthood and creativity

Creativity and parenting: do they mix? For some, having a baby spurs the desire to sew, paint, and build. For others, any creativity they had before children gets lost in the hazy, sleep-deprived, pulled-every-which-way jungle of parenthood.

Jackie Weissman is fascinated by the intersection of motherhood and art. She's producing and directing Rock 'n Roll Mamas, a documentary about the struggle and glory that comes with juggling rock stardom and parenthood. Her subjects include Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney and Kristin Hersh of Throwing Muses among others -- all of whom have their own approach to managing their lives as musicians while raising their families. Her film is due out in the fall of 2007, but if you'd like to catch an early glimpse, be sure to visit the website to see the trailer. And if you happen to be in the Portland , OR area later this month, kick up your heels at her benefit party (also listed on her site).

Are any of you pursuing your creative dreams as artists, writers, performers or musicians? How's it going?

(If you don't already know about it, the Mamaphonic forum is a great place to mingle with other creative mamas. Creative dads...have you got a place to hang out, too?)

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I am actually struggling with this right now. As the father of a 25 month old and 8 month old girls, I have no time for writing new material. My wife has let me continue playing and rehearsing, but the band (who have become like uncles to the girls, my bass player is a godfather) said if I can't rehearse more I need to take a break so I don't hold them back. It's more complicated than that, and there are no hard feelings, but I need to be there for my children. I can't just run off pursuing my dreams while my wife does the bulk of the work. In addition, I'm going back to school, that was the killer for us. My included link goes to my "goodbye for now" letter.

Wow. I have been in a very similar situation for several years. I keep wanting to do my art, but there never seems to be the time to get to it in the midst of raising the kids, keeping house and trying to fit in some work here and there. My girls are now 4 and 6 and I'm just now beginning to find a small amount of time to sculpt or paint. Having our first girl while I was just beginning to sell art and show things really set me off kilter. Just this year, I've begun to make myself keep a journal again by setting aside some serious moleskine time, but it's much tougher to do larger pieces. Any help with this would be much appreciated here too. Thanks and hang in there Jay, it'll get better, but never forget your dreams are important too.

Well I don't know about "art", being more of a craftsman myself, but what works for me when I can't get any real creative time is to use my old brain. You can fully imagine projects in your brain, so that when you do get a chance the actual making of the thing will go faster. You can do a lot of thinking while playing with a 3 year old and a baby...

True that Nick, my problem is my deplorable memory. I can realize songs in my head, but getting them down on paper or quickly recorded is difficult because by the time I have a chance to do so I may have forgotten the melody or lyrics...I can only hope it gets better.

There's an opportunity here for someone to start a web-based blog/something for dads who juggle creative pursuits with family life...does anyone know if something like this already exists?

"Creativity and parenting: do they mix?" -- Yes, definitely. My personal brand of creativity is not of the music/writing/art ilk but the technical/business sort, but I have rarely felt more creative (starting with my 2nd trimester of pregnancy). I've applied for a patent, developed and led a project, and started a new team in the last year and a half (and that's just at work!). For my personal life, I'm building a web application/starting a business, contributing to parenthacks, blogging some on my own, designing a new patio, and planning creative parties for friends getting married this year. I can truly say I've never been more creative.

I think there are a number of reasons for this:
1) having a child pulls your values in sharp contrast -- I ask myself "is this what I want to be modelling for my daughter?" (In my case I realize I want the same values my parents instilled in me -- ownership of decisions, entrepeneurship, independence -- for J.)
2) I'm stuck at home more -- after 8 every night I have 3 hours of uninterrupted time to do things. Previously I would have gone out. Now I value that time much more.

I do think there are a number of things that make creative pursuits more possible:
1) working a day job -- I am able to switch focus 3 times during the day -- work time, J. time, and me time. For me, I know spending all of my time with J. would probably not work as well.
2) getting your life together -- to do lists, reducing stress, finding help you trust, and a job that isn't *that* demanding.
3) no TV. I never get anything done if I watch TV, even if it's all on DVD. Web surfing can also be bad, and I occasionally institute a "no web surfing before noon" rule to keep myself focused.

Sara, I like your ideas, I wholly agree with the television thing, we've been w/o cable/sat for over a year now... But I somehow still end up without time... I think this is one of those really individual things, but things like getting organized are really good points.

I think a blog/forum for this sort of thing would be excellent. I'd be willing to help with it, heck, I can even host it if people would like to move forward with it.

T

I think that both hubby and I have become more creative since having children. pre-children we worked nine to five in dreary unimaginative jobs.

We now run our own web design business called Scribble Designs.co.uk and hubby has illustrated and launched our first childrens educational product - a set of first word picture cards.

I couldn't have imagined doing all this before we became parents. It seemed to just bring out the best in us!

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