By Robyna May
I wonder how many times, in how many families, the scene plays out. It’s nearing dinner time. In about half an hour, baths will need to be run and children will need to be settled. An amazing idea for a blog post has entered my mind. I quickly sit down on the computer. Intending to be only a few minutes - just to jot down a rough sketch. Time ticks on and dinner doesn’t make itself. I have once again tried to snatch time that doesn’t exist and I know that I am being unfair. But I fear that if I let the idea go, I will never catch it again. This is how my blog posts are written - stolen bits and pieces of time, patched together.
When I am inspired, the words fall and I catch them. But inspiration does not wait for an appropriate time. If I schedule time to blog, I can find myself in front of a blinking cursor, desperately trying to recapture what came so easily in my head only a day ago. If I blog when the mood takes me, then I am battling with children who are demanding my attention and a husband who wants to me manage my time better. Like so many women, I blog about being a mother and a wife. It feels so terribly inauthentic when my words convey how much I love my children to the world and my actions convey some thing entirely different to my family.
Creative people everywhere struggle with this issue - how to feed your creative spirit whilst maintaining the other parts of your life. Passion can be all-consuming and insistent. It wears the cloak of importance and urgency so very easily. To put that passion to one side requires a discipline I find at odds with my creativity. Writing is not my only passion. I love to sew and to paint and to read. These projects are finite. Not so blogging. A blog is not just a place to write, it is a place that needs tending. There are communities to be a part of. There are blogs to read. There are images to produce. There are skills to learn. If left unchecked, I could lose myself in the whole vortex of blogging for days. There is always something to do on the great blogging to do list. And I am one of those people that strives to have a list full of struck off items.
As bloggers, we have exactly the same number of hours in the day as everyone else. Bloggers work and look for work, they care for parents, partners and children, they study, they volunteer, they spend time with friends, they have vast lives outside of blogging. It wonder if it looks like bloggers have excess spare time they have decided to fill with words. Realistically, I think bloggers have invested time in their passion for writing. Perhaps their teenaged days were filled with journals and dubious poetry (mine were). Perhaps they have narrated their lives in their own head since they were little (I did and I do). What drives people to blog isn’t a sea of time to be filled, it’s passion and creativity and words and a desire to share. But is a passion that needs to fit within life. It needs to be balanced with partners and kids and friends and family and work. I often struggle to find that balance.
My husband doesn’t read my blog. He doesn’t understand the need to write. He knows that it takes me away from him and the kids for stretches of time. He knows that if I don’t write, I get twitchy. He knows that I need it and he thinks I should manage time better. When the blog enjoys modest monetary success, he becomes a little more interested. But on the whole, blogging remains a mystery to him. He knows it’s important to me and so it is tolerated. After his work and looking after our two young boys, we have precious little time for each other. Too often blogging intrudes on that time.
My kids don’t understand the blog. They want to play and they want my attention. When my arms are full of laundry or dishes, my kids understand that I am doing chores - that I cannot play right at that moment. When I sit down to the computer, my one year old reaches out for me. My six year old wants to know why he can’t have screen time if mummy is.
To be the best version of me, I need a creative outlet. At the moment, that outlet is blogging. In that space I am more than mum and more than wife. I can test out ideas, I can push boundaries and I can push myself. I meet interesting people. I learn incredible things. It is a window to a wide and beautiful world. But sometimes I need to make a choice, close that window and focus on my family.
I have thought about ways to create balance this year. Here are the things that I think will work for me:
- Scheduling time specifically for blogging and communicating that with my family. With the understanding that blogging time is mine and I should not be interrupted. On the other side, I won’t blog on the computer or phone outside of that time.
- Within the schedule, include all the various blogging tasks and focus on them ONLY when they come up.
- A constant notepad and pen for capturing the fragments of inspiration. Taking down a word or phrase should be enough to access the memories at a later date.
- Understanding what is urgent, what is important and what is neither. Making sure that my priorities align with what I really want my life to look like.
- Making time for myself that doesn’t include writing or blogging.
- Understanding that not all life experiences need to be translated into blog posts, not every drink and dinner needs to be instagrammed and not every joyous moment with my boys needs to be on Facebook.
- Investing time and money in writing workshops and training so that I can trust myself to write both when the inspiration is running hot and when I need to dig deeper.
- Avoiding the comparison trap.
- Remember why I blog in the first place and hold fast to it.
I honestly believe that being able to express creativity through blogging makes me a better person, mother and wife. But it cannot consume all of my spare time. Excuse me, I am off to play with my children and kiss my husband.
Robyna May writes as one half as the Mummy and the Minx, a blog dedicated to empowering mothers and inspiring minxes. She writes about getting the mojo back into your life after kids and expanding possibilities when they contract after having babies. Her passions are writing and creating beautiful things. She has unkempt hair, a crazy, messy house, a racing brain and a heart overflowing with love.