Creative busy parents


Hello. How’s your week been? I’ve been a little hamster on a race wheel since getting back from our tour. Run, hamster, run! Most days, I’ve written 6,000 + words for work. One day, I handed my work in at 5pm then made Tinkerbell costumers and a cake for my daughter’s happy cakey day. I made my children call me Super Mum, and vetoed all complaints immediately.

Let’s talk about this busy, busy thing, shall we? Hands up if you are busy. Yes… I see lots of raised hands. Here we are, all scampering around to make party costumes, and cakes, and fulfil our work commitments, and make sure our children are completely happy and satisfied at all times… That last one is an impossible goal. Let’s just aim for – alive and mostly well.

I’ve always thrived on busy, I have to admit. I used to love my busy, sometimes stressful job at the art gallery for that reason. Someone likened working as an art gallery attendant to a duck on water. And we were, busy peddling away to run the place, while appearing calm and glidey to anyone who was watching.

I like tight deadlines, because they get me cracking. I like organising the million of things to do in my head, like an invisible calendar. I like the satisfaction when it all comes together. And as you saw from my book tour post – I am a crazy lady. I feel like I can take on a million things, and stretch like a rubber band to take on just a little bit more.

We’ve had periods in our busy life, which have been more busy than others. Like that time when my husband worked 6-7 days a week. I was writing entire educational books in five weeks.  We had a newborn and a preschooler. AND we tried to renovate. Actually, we did renovate. My husband pulled up all the carpets, tiled, and painted the whole interior. Yes, it was a crazy time. And looking back, we can’t believe we pulled it off.

Generally, we’ve both worked a fair bit since becoming parents. We throw the parenting baton between us. I send off my documents, just as he’s heading out the door to a care shift.

Somehow, we’ve found a way to do a lot, and not feel too hectic while we do it.

But, there are consequences. And sometimes the rubber band can stretch too tightly. It breaks. Or pops off your finger, and pokes someone in the eye. Gosh that hurts.

Like that time, last year, when we thought that on top of all the other things we do, we could start a brand new music project extraordinaire called The Quincys, where we’d release a new song every month, plus an illustrated (sometimes animated) story, an animated video clip, an activity and a learning resource EVERY MONTH! I figured I would just reduce time spent on my blog, and reallocate it.

Of course, we were way too optimistic. And a few months in, I started to feel the pressure. My kids started to complain about the Quincys, because it was taking time away from them. And we realised we needed to pull back. We decided to just release the song, and the video each month. And now, we’ve put the project on ice until my book events have quietened down again, and we can dedicate serious time to producing an album.

Doing creative activities is so fun. And so fulfilling. And when you make it something which the kids can be involved in, it’s extra fun. But sometimes it’s too much, and the result is a deficit of creativity.

At the end of that particular crazy period, I found I couldn’t do anything. I sat down to write, and nothing came. I tried drawing, but just got frustrated. Even I had reached my limit.

I took time out. It was summer, and family were here. So I chilled out beside lakes. I READ NOVELS! Lots of them. I thought about Facebook occasionally, but didn’t bother checking it. I sucked up time with my small ones like it was oxygen.

So where are we at now? The repercussions of this recent busy time aren’t so intense. I feel a little less creative. And a little less motivated. But I am just going to bed a bit earlier, keeping on top of my exercise, and eating well. I am trying not to be too hectic – though that rush to get kids and husband out the door on time for preschool gets me every week. I know my creative mojo will bounce back soon.

In general, I am a big believer in finding your balance between busy, parenting life and creativity. I think the right amount of creativity can help us parent better, and be more fulfilled as a person.

Recently, I did a podcast for a local community radio show, Parenting, Birth and Beyond, which is a national community radio series about parenting. I talked about fostering creativity in motherhood. You can listen here.

How do you balance creativity in parenthood? Do you have any hot tips?

Lately, in the Sunshine House

It’s been a busy time in the Sunshine House, as you may imagine.

We’ve been Quincy’ing, and creating, and working…Leading up to launch, Gregor told me to relax, it was all going to ease up after the big day, but noooo…Now the Quincys are alive, we need to look after them!

Not that I am complaining. It’s an adorable project, and I love all the creativity it’s opening up for me. I have started painting again. I love the marketing side of the project. I love the connections we are gaining from it. And the school visits.

I love the feedback we are getting, especially from the kids themselves. They love the first song! It’s getting shared widely. One person told me it was the only thing that stopped her baby screaming that day. Wow.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on my picture book manuscripts. We’ve both been working loads.

What’s the sacrifice?

Time. Down time. Our laundry. The weeds.

A friend, Renee, recently commented that it must be lovely for our girls to be growing up in such a creative house. In many ways it is, particularly if this wall is anything to go by:

Elkas art wall

Creativity rules the house. And the fridge. It’s more important than laundry, and weeds.

But not more important than love.

We were a bit frazzled yesterday afternoon, following a birthday party and a quick visit to the Lennox Head Markets.

The frazzledness started with the purchase of a bee suit for our school visit bee mascot, and ended up in hours of tears from our older daughter.

In the crazy heat of the afternoon, and the post-sugar slump, my daughter mourned the fact that she did not have a bee suit too.

The Notorious Bee Suit...but it looks so cute!

The Notorious Bee Suit…but it looks so cute!

The compromise was that I was to make her a ladybird suit, but when my sewing machine broke, the mourning turned hysterical. It continued well into the afternoon, and until pre-dinner, when I found myself screen-painting stripes onto a yellow tee-shirt. It was a vague substitute, but one that got her to the table for dinner without too much resistance.

Eating together that evening, my girls either side of me, all was quiet. Calm washed over me, and over them. We ate cucumber, carrot, and hummus, and no-one complained.

We sat nestled together on the day-bed, turned evening-bed. A small head rested on each of my shoulders.

We fell asleep in our usual position, on the mattress on the floor. Me between the girls. Me still singing Hallelujah {every night for almost five years and counting}.

It’s good being busy, and creative. It fills me, and my husband. It connects us as a couple. But like every parent, I carry with me a bucket for my guilt. Its content is a weight I am responsible for, that keeps me in check, and grounds me when it looks like I could soar into creative land forever.

But the other side is this:

If you were at our Creative Business Women’s High Tea earlier this year, you will probably remember my godmother Jenny Johnson’s talk about being a creative business woman, and the unforgettable text she asked Monique, a dance teacher and business woman of many years, to read aloud.

It was a text from Monique’s daughter, who lives overseas. She wrote thanking her mother for the inspiration of being a busy, industrious, creative mother during her upbringing. From her mother, the daughter wrote, she learnt skills which have set her up for life.

Jenny said she could hear us young mothers talking about the torture of guilt, and our promise to ourselves and our children to spend as much time as possible with them during the day. We diligently do our creative work at night, or pre-dawn.

“Don’t feel guilty,” Jenny said. “You are role-models for your children.”

And yet another side of it is this:

My daughter was drawing at our kitchen table. She scrunched up her page. She started again, and scrunched the page again.

“I can’t do it,” she said.

“Of course you can,” I affirmed. “You are a brilliant. See your wall? I think everything you do is amazing.”

“But I can’t draw as well as you.”

I felt bad. That bucket tugged at my arm. Should I be hiding my drawings away, so hers will shine? So her creative self will flourish, undiminished?

I decided no. We talked about it.

“Your stuff is amazing. When I was a kid, I couldn’t draw like I can now. But I did draw a lot. And so do you. That’s how you learn,” I said.

That’s the beauty of being human. We learn from each other. We appropriate. Copy. We add to each other’s developments, and sophisticate.

Life is full – busting sometimes, and bustling other times. My laundry pile is screaming at me, as are the weeds. But it’s sunny here and blooming, and hopefully, so are our kids.

How’s your week been? Ever found yourself making an imitation bee suit, just to stave off hysteria?

For more tales from the sunshine house, book ideas and imaginative activities, visit me over at Facebook. You might also like to visit my new website, The Quincys ~ Good Music For Kids.

The Quincys-logo


Linking with Essentially Jess