“I am doing more crafting and leisure, as a form of self-preservation. So, hopefully I can solidify that into long term habits.”
“… I am devoting a lot of time to my hobbies: sketching , painting , knitting, sewing. I am giving myself permission to be the true artist that I sometimes silence in normal times.”
Over 2,600 parents, mostly Mothers (97%) have shared the pandemic’s impact on their work, life and health in our research study since March of 2020. It’s not a secret, that Moms have disproportionately taken the pandemic hit, in the workforce. And at home, where the amount of housework and childcare grew. While the infrastructure to support it, shrunk.
But when social calendars cleared and many people’s commutes dissolved, something interesting happened. A growing number of Mothers, from early in the study, turned to their creativity. Amidst the chaos, they found comfort, purpose and renewed energy through creative accomplishments.
And when asked, ‘what new pandemic routines or habits do you want to keep?’ there’s an unmistakable trend towards creative pursuits. Can turning to a passion project, help us cope with Covid’s ongoing stress and sadness?
Creativity Fights Burnout
Yes. There are countless studies that link creative expression to wellbeing, not just happiness. And Eve Rodsky studied the topic at length for her newest book, Unicorn Space, Reclaim Your Creative Life in a Too Busy World. She explained, “If we want to avoid burning out, we each have to find the time to step back to cultivate our curiosities, interests and passions. And remember who we are apart from our jobs and our family roles.”
Surveyed parents are desperate for relief from the never-done list. And crave time for what fuels them. She added, “No matter what is affecting your life, creative self-expression like I’m describing, is essential to your physical and mental well-being. In fact, it has been found to be a form of transformative coping that allows individuals to deal with transitions and stressful events.”
And Can Become Your Satisfying ‘Me Time’
In the survey, Moms want to keep the few positive changes the pandemic has enabled. One surveyed Mom said she’s made space for, “those creative, quiet activities.” Many are terrified of returning to the ‘old normal’ where there wasn’t space for anything. In addition to embracing more and better time with family, they want to retain healthier habits. And ways of thinking. Here’s what we heard about the creative pursuits they plan to keep on the calendar.
“Writing poetry every single day. Spending less money on things (besides food), tending to home-improvement updates.”
“(Developed) a writing routine.”
“Journaling and listening to positive affirmations every morning and night.”
Visual and Performance Arts
“Using photography and video to be creative.”
“Playing guitar, more weekends where we don’t go anywhere.”
“Creative hobbies like painting and playing musical instruments.”
“Morning routine with my daughter. Journaling, dancing, yoga…”
“…Crafts, educational and play with kids, coffee at home.”
“I learned to knit and hope to keep learning.”
“Hobbies after kids’ bedtime. Spending time with my sewing machine (making mostly masks for the family.)”
And Culinary Projects
“Gardening and preserving food. Scheduling specific days for creating art and for quality time with my daughter. Allowing extra personal space….”
“I’ve started baking. I’m trying new recipes.”
“Making bread and doll clothes.”
“More DIY projects at home, I picked up an old hobby I never had time for anymore.”
Because We Don’t Outgrow Creativity
We know creativity is an important part of childhood development. But what about its role for grown-ups? Although many studies link innovation and creativity, it’s usually not part of adult life. Unless you’re in a field like art, design or entertainment, the space for it isn’t sanctioned at work. And most people already have too much responsibility at home. So, creative pursuits drift into the past. And join the list of things we ‘used to do’ back ‘when we had time’ that maybe, ‘someday’ we’ll revisit.
Don’t Let it Go
Eve makes the case for our right to creative expression. And as a way to restore lost identity after having kids. “…You don’t have to be artsy to live a creative life. … Your version of creativity has no boundaries. So ask yourself, what curiosities and talents lie inside me that haven’t yet been explored?”
Creative expression, in whatever way you choose, is healthy. The Unicorn Space, however, is defined by its cycle. Following your curiosity to completion and then, connecting with others to share it. So, it transcends a hobby, which Eve considers an important distinction. In the book she said, “A hobby is generally regarded as a superfluous, ‘nice to have’ that only comes into play after all the more important checkboxes, in one’s already time constrained life, are ticked off.”
Give Yourself Permission to Start
For most surveyed Moms, the challenge with any form of self-care, is making the time for it. And then, self-doubt or worries about not succeeding, can take hold. Eve recommends we start by examining any self-limiting beliefs. In the book she said, “…what stories am I telling myself about my abilities that aren’t likely true? What old stories can I retire about myself to create new, exciting stories?”
Life isn’t static. And whether you master a creative pursuit, or not, isn’t the point. There’s joy in the exploration. And freedom from being able to redefine yourself for yourself. She explains, “Give yourself permission to edit and sometimes completely rewrite your story. At any stage age or page of your life.”
Enjoy the (Imperfect) Journey
In our society, how we spend our time, is often judged harshly. Which can lead you to believe, every activity needs to meet a productivity goal. But creativity isn’t like that. In the book Eve said, “Many people mistakenly assume or simply hope that once they’re in active pursuit of their dream, it’ll be a free flowing experience. Marked by rainbows and magical glitter showers. And that would be amazing if it were true but it’s unlikely.” She goes onto explain her own experience as a writer. And how the challenge is what makes it satisfying. “…writing is arduous and freaking hard work!”
And Positive Benefits
So, whether you choose a creative calling to manage stress. Boost joy or to learn something new, doesn’t matter. It only matters that you start. Eve’s Unicorn Space opened when she developed a system to share household responsibiliries with her husband. And true to her Fair Play roots, Eve dedicates a chapter in this book, to enlisting your partner, if coupled, to help you make the time. In addition to the many writing prompts, mantras and practical exercises, to map your values to your ideal creative path.
Although many Moms feel guilty when they spend any time on themselves, what’s good for you, is also good for your family. Eve states in the book, ”…Creativity is also essential to the health of your partnerships. And your ability to model what a full and meaningful life looks like to your children, your friends and colleagues, and your communities.” Amen!
Many thanks to the talented Eve Rodsky!
Check out her amazing new book Find Your Unicorn Space. And if you haven’t read it yet, her game changing way to operationalize your home, Fair Play and its companion card game. Follow Eve’s great adventure on Instagram, Facebook and her website.
- Ready to reclaim space from the never-done list? Take a TimeCheck.
- Have you chimed in yet? Share your pandemic experiences! How are the latest changes affecting your life? It’s quick and the results from this study are used to advocate better support for parents.
- Employers, let us help you transform your workplace into an environment where caregivers thrive. Learn about Allies @ Work.
About Eve Rodsky:
Eve Rodsky transformed a “blueberries breakdown” into a catalyst for social change when she applied her Harvard trained background in organizational management to ask the simple yet profound question: What would happen if we treated our homes as our most important organizations? Her New York Times bestselling book and Reese’s Book Club Pick, Fair Play, a gamified life-management system that helps partners rebalance their domestic workload and reimagine their relationship, has elevated the cultural conversation about the value of unpaid labor and care. In her highly anticipated follow-up, Find Your Unicorn Space: Reclaim Your Creative Life in a Too-Busy World, Rodsky explores the cross-section between the science of creativity, productivity, and resilience. Described as the ‘antidote to physical, mental and emotional burnout,’ Rodsky aims to inspire a new narrative around the equality of time and the individual right to personal time choice that influences sustainable and lasting change on a policy level.
Rodsky’s work is backed by Hello Sunshine—Reese Witherspoon’s media company whose mission is to change the narrative for women through storytelling. Rodsky was born and raised by a single mom in New York City and now lives in Los Angeles with her husband Seth and their three children.Tags: Creativity, learning for moms, Manage Stress For Moms, Moms Self care, self-expression, time for creativity, work life integration for Moms