I’m a mom. I can’t create with kids around always interrupting.
It is true. I have learned I can’t write when I’m with my kids. Writing is a very focused activity requiring a total buy-in from the artist. If I am going to write it has to exist outside of my time with them. Since we homeschool, there is not as much time away from them as there would be if they went away to school for a portion of the day. This requires my getting creative. (A little update as of 2016: We do not homeschool anymore, and currently I work outside of the home while my kids are at school.)
When NaNoWriMo started in November of 2009 I was in a routine of waking up around 6:30 to exercise for 30 minutes. I had worked really hard on getting in shape and staying healthy, and I was not about to let my writing take away from my physical health. I had to make some tough decisions with my time. I decided that out of the two responsibilities, writing and exercising, exercising was something I could do when my kids were awake. It wasn’t my first choice, but it was a sacrifice I felt I could make. Doing this allowed me to move writing to an earlier part in my day before my kids were up. If I got behind in my writing I decided I would use my evenings to play catch-up.
Since November of 2009, I have continued to shift my time around. At one time I was waking at 5 AM to write because I knew I was at my best at writing when I was fresh in the morning. My evenings then were usually spent reading good books or listening to podcasts which fed into my writing performance, but required less of my energy and focus.
I created space for writing in my day, so that when I wasn't writing, I could clearly focus on the other responsibilities in my life. I also had the perspective that a day spent with my kids was a day rich with writing inspiration. Any artist can tell you there have to be periods of living life so that you have inspiration for your creations. There are times for writing and there are times for gathering. I think of my times with my kids as my gathering times.
You too have responsibilities in your life that feel as if they pull you away from your dreams. Some of these responsibilities, as is the case with my kids, cannot be eliminated and nor would you want to. They are responsibilities that you are passionate about and invested in. So the challenge is to make your dream bend enough (but not break) so that it can exist and even feed into the other responsibilities in your life. This takes creative thinking and trial and error, but it is possible.
Things to Consider:
- What are your other responsibilities that you must fit in?
- Can you cut any of these out? If not immediately, can you move towards cutting some of them out?
- If you can’t cut any out, can you reduce the time spent on any of them?
- Can your expectations be lowered in places in order to free up time?
- Can you combine any of your responsibilities?
- At the very least can you recognize and appreciate how they can feed into each other?
- Do you need a weekly schedule to help you get organized? If so, be sure to schedule in time for your dream- related goals as well. (I'm a big fan of the Right Brain Planner.)
- Do you need to wildly tear up your schedule and makes some new priorities?
- Are you giving yourself the freedom to do something dream-related during your highest energy times?
- Can you delegate any work?
- Are there times that trade-offs will work? Ex. One night of a longer burst of working towards your dream in exchange for a family night or date night or night off?
There is a difference between telling others what they need to do for you and telling others what you intend to do for yourself. The former is often delayed as it hinges upon another’s agreement and subsequent action. The latter can begin immediately. Your freedom is yours for the taking. If others in your life can’t help or seem unwilling to help accommodate your dreams, in what ways can you take full responsibility for your own dreams? As my friend Teresa says, “Baby steps count.”