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?

  • Great post. I can completely relate to it. All of 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.”

    That right there is a handy reminder to slow down.


  • Gosh, no I don’t have any advice. I’m very much feeling like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew at the moment. I’ve taken on a couple of new ventures all with the hope I can actually have a career that I love doing and am passionate about. I thought if I put in the hard yards, it would all come to fruition. Instead, I’m feeling exhausted and a little unhappy. I’m taking on your advice this morning and Josefa’s as well to trust in the process. What would I do without you girls? xx

    • Sorry to hear you are feeling exhausted and unhappy. But you are putting positive energy into something you love – that may snowball, right? Take time out where you can hon, and don’t put pressure on yourself. I think a little of what Josefa’s serving today could be just what you need! xx

  • LydiaCLee

    I think the creative process is easily squashed when time poor – I am spending a lot of time doing urgent tax matters, and driving around in the car – and there seems to be no time to actually write!! It’s a little frustrating….

    • Yes, tax and creativity are rarely friends I am afraid…

  • It sounds like a lovely slow down, and just the right thing for you at this moment in time. You need space to let the creativity in, don’t you? x

  • This is a constant juggle for me. Sometimes all I get is 10 minutes and other times hours. Like you I get tempted into trying to do all the creative things I think of and then I have to pull back. Sounds like you pulled back when needed. Xx

    • Sounds to me like you’ve worked it all out Deb! Look at all you’ve achieved and created. Just amazing x

  • My creativity, my writing, is really important to me as it makes me who I am. I have to make time for it. But it’s been a learned process, that’s for sure.

    • You can’t force these things, but you do have to make time for it. I am glad you have space in your life to do what you love Jodi x

  • I hate busy. I try my hardest not to have busy in my life at all. Having said that, there’s something about a deadline that shoots my productivity through the roof!!

  • Cafe Conversation

    It’s such a constant juggle isn’t it. I find I go around in circles, I get busy, overwhelmed, push back and then find I just need something and the cycle starts again. I’m slowly identifying when to say yes and no, we all need to feel fulfilled but the joy is lost if you’re racing against the clock. It’s nice when you can put things on ice and not shut the door completely.

    • Yes, I agree. Sometimes, it’s just not quite the right time for something.

  • It’s unfun during creative lulls, but it’s nice that you recognise it and you know it will come back. How good is it to make time to read and enjoy it? I’ve forgotten to do that recently. #teamIBOT

    • It’s been a while since I read a novel too. Should get back to that!

  • Every time I see something else you’ve achieved, I get so inspired and motivated, Zanni! But it’s a slippery slop, isn’t it?
    So easy to get caught up in all the busy, and before you know it, you’re just running on fumes.
    I think we all need those times to refill the creative tank, before we’re off again xx

    • Oh, thanks Lisa! Ditto! Yes refilling the tank is definitely a necessary part of being creative 🙂

  • My creativity has been a bit lacking the last few weeks, and it’s frustrating me. I would dearly love to just write for enjoyment, and not feel guilty about it.
    I’m hoping that in the next few weeks I’ll have a little more time, but who knows? There’s always something isn’t there?

    • Family. Life. Work. Illness. Yes – always something!

  • Hugzilla

    Yeah, I am very big on work-life balance and I need to not be busy and sociable all the time – it literally drains everything out of me. Luckily that my husband is a bit of a homebody like me so we make sure that we regularly have weekends at home to literally potter around and do nothing. Bliss.

    • I wish my husband and I were more homebody-ish. It would do us good!

  • One of the good things about being at Tafe is that it has given me the time and opportunity to focus solely on creativity, but at the same time, I’ve had so many creative thoughts and projects that I want to do that some weeks we get to the weekend and I’m so overwhelmed by it all that all I can do is sit on the lounge and binge watch Gossip Girl. I’m looking forward to things slowing down in the holidays and having a chance to sit and really plan out all the creative ideas I have for my photography so I can approach them a bit better without the overwhelm.

    • Sounds like a beautiful opportunity to relax and reconnect. So glad to hear you are studying something you are so passionate about!

  • You have always been amazing Zanni, but this year you have made amazing into a super power! I love the analogy of the hamster running on thre wheel – I had the feeling that was what life was like for you just from the posts and social media updates. Let a little air in this summer, soak up some of that sunshine, while it may always feel like we need to juggle and balance – sometimes we need to put all the balls down on the ground and walk away – even if it is a moment or a little while xx

    • Yes… I like that analogy too. Balls down. Walk away xx

  • Alas no hot tips but agree that we all seem to be so busy all the time. I think for me anyway summer will be a good time to take a break and just be with the family and recharge, hopefully I can work out some ongoing balance for the new year. x

    • I am looking forward to a holiday too! Hope you have a lovely summer x

  • It is such a tricky balance between happy busy-ness and over-busy. And sometimes we have to do the latter and like it seems you are doing, just take the time to recoup. You have achieved so much this year!

    • Thank you Malinda 🙂 Yes… it’s a fine balance!

  • I like listening to you, Zanni. You have a lovely candence in your voice. I think that creativity needs to be a part of everything I do because otherwise I just know I wouldn’t ‘make time’ for it. Instead, I’ve made it a lifestyle. x