Staying creative is a challenge for me even when I have quiet time and a quiet, organized space to find my “flow.”
Throw in my five-year-old son whose energy is unstoppable and boundless. How do I create anything?
Needless to say, it’s a struggle at times, but I think I’ve found some ways to get over the challenges fatherhood presents to creating art!
As any dad knows, having children is fun, exhausting, terrifying, challenging, joy-filled, and precious. In other words, the greatest gift we ever get. But at many times, being a dad isn’t conducive to creating art.
Make Art With Your Kids
One of the benefits of working in pencil art and drawing mandalas is I can do my work almost anywhere. Location isn’t always a priority (unlike photography.) Drawing lets me get my son involved and he’s grown to love it!
When it’s time to sit down and start drawing, I find a spot, usually in our playroom/home office/daddy’s studio. We made a spot for the little guy too using my wife’s old table and chair from when she was a kid.
This is and has been a perfect addition to the creative space. This lets the little guy be “just like daddy.” He gets a spot all his own, (although I was instructed several times to sit with him. Those little chairs are not what I remembered.) He gets to create and I get to create as well.
Is this cheating as I’m not giving him my direct attention? Totally. But, he needs to focus as do I and we’re still in the same space and doing the same activity. It’s a great experience.
Check out Abby Lawson’s idea for a home office space that is far beyond my abilities.
Let Your Kids Steal Your Art
No, I’m not endorsing or promoting criminal behavior by our children in any way. I am suggesting you let your kids follow Austin Kleon’s ideas and use your work to teach themselves.
As a side note, I highly recommend his book Steal Like An Artist.
Kids learn a tremendous amount from mimicry. And yes, it does feel good to see your little one following what you do. I’m enjoying it because I know one day, he may want nothing to do with me.
One way my son creates is through tracing some of my pieces. Other times, he just comes up with his own interpretation:
Letting the little guy find his own creative flow is fun to watch and reminds me of what creativity is all about. When I asked him what inspired him to draw this piece, he said he wanted to make it look like one of my mandalas.
My work here is done.
Schedule Your Time
Creativity and fatherhood are in direct opposition to each other. This is a hard truth to accept. But it’s fact. Like anything else, I have to schedule my time to make art and find a balance between creativity and being a plain old dad.
Unfortunately, while it’s great my son loves to draw and mimic my art, more often than not, he wants to do something he wants to do. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need an excuse to build with Legos or play cars.
Not one excuse.
But daddy-time does eat into creative time. Add the day job in and sleep, and even less creative time results.
When I can’t create at the same time as my little guy, I need to schedule my creative time. Usually, this falls sometime between dinner and the end of his evening bath. Making art during fatherhood becomes a habit. It becomes a routine.
Everything comes down to scheduling. Check out these 5 steps to creating a daily routine.
I’m a fan of being busy and doing things that are worth my time. Creating and making art and photography happen to be two things worth my time. Fatherhood, everything involved with being a dad is also worth my time.
But we need to chill out.
Relaxing is more productive than we may think. Especially when it comes to creativity. The mind needs to relax. You, me, we need to relax. What’s cool about chilling out (pun?) is we set the example for our kids too.
Life can’t and shouldn’t be all work. Sometimes creativity is work. Sometimes, a lot of the time, fatherhood is work.
So chill out. Read a book. Take a nap. Or just sit and be quiet (I have yet to figure this one out considering I have a small child. But it sounded good while writing.)
Let your mind just wander.
Right now, my little guy is watching a video on our tablet. I told him after lunch daddy needs to sit and create. He said OK, albeit hesitantly. But I got the approval. So I’m good right now and amazingly enough, I don’t feel guilty. Well, maybe a little, but that’s part of being a dad.
How do you balance your daily responsibilities with parenting?
Also published on Medium.