My Secret to Making Time for Art as a Busy Parent
Have you ever tried to build an empire while simultaneously herding cats? That's kind of what it feels like when you're running a business while also raising a toddler.
In my current situation, I am a small business owner, the mom of a toddler, working a full time day job, and pregnant with my second child. There are certainly times where it feels like I'm drowning! So when you're in a situation where you have a lot of responsibilities and not much free time, how do you find time for creating? I'm far from an expert, but I can share my experience! Here is the number one technique I have learned to help me prioritize creating when life gets busy.
Separate your to-do list into categories based on when they can be worked on.
As you might expect, I start out by making lists of everything I need to do. Then the key is organizing the lists into different categories based on when I can do them. This sounds simple, but for me it has been a game changer. These are the general categories I use:
What can my toddler "help" with?
These are tasks I can do while also entertaining my child in some way. For example, I can assemble products while my toddler sits on my lap and "helps" me by handing me parts or just playing with the pieces (if they are child-safe). He is spending time with me, being entertained, and learning about the work mama does, so it's a win-win-win! Some other tasks that I put into this category include simple chores, cleaning, and errands where I can take my son with me.
What can I do while my toddler is awake, but occupied?
These are jobs where my toddler can't necessarily be involved, but I can quickly stop what I'm doing to tend to him if needed. I get these done while my kid is playing with toys and doesn't need my full attention, but I can still keep an eye on him while working. These kinds of tasks include blogging, writing product listings, working on my mailing list, making graphics, and editing photos.
What can I get done on my lunch break at work?
This category includes pretty much anything I can do on my phone. I save many of my social media posts and answering emails for my lunch break, because it can be done on-the-go. These small mobile tasks are also great for times when you're standing in a long line, riding public transit, or stuck in a waiting room.
Bonus tip: I made a Google Doc with a social media calendar (basically just a list of prepared posts), that way I can just copy and paste and I almost always have something ready. I can edit my social media calendar on my phone, too, so I can come up with posts on-the-go and then upload whenever I'm ready.
What needs to wait until it has my full attention?
Of course, not all of your to-do list is going to be possible with a toddler in the room. Tasks like creating artwork, taking product photos, and organizing my inventory are reserved for times when my son is asleep or being taken care of by another adult, that way I can give my full attention without interruptions. This is when I take advantage of nap time (if you can get your toddler to nap!), and that small window of time after his bed time but before mine.
After I've broken my list into these four categories, I keep it on my phone and then I can quickly refer to it as soon as the time is right. Toddler just went down for a nap? What's on my "full attention" list that I can start on right now? Then I'm not wasting time deciding which task to tackle during that precious moment of quiet!
Do you have any tips for making time for creating when you have a busy life? Please share them in the comments! I am always looking for more time management tips.