Sunday, February 1, 2015

How Do I Find the Time?

A lot of people have been asking me lately how I find the time to do artwork with a toddler. It's starting to feel like they are asking if I'm ignoring her and spending all day making art. Which would be completely impossible even if I wanted to! So I've been thinking about what I do when, and how it's working for me. Just in case it's interesting or helpful to anyone I'll share the things that work for me.

First of all, nothing is perfect. Plans fall apart or we operate on not enough sleep, but I try not to stress about it and just keep plugging away whenever I can. It definitely adds up to results in the end!

A page from my sketchbook.
My daughter, Tessa takes great naps now. But for most of a year she didn't nap for longer than 10 minutes. It made me crazy! So I definitely take advantage of her naps now. She also goes to sleep at about 8 (usually) (hopefully.) And I stay up for a few hours working on things at night. I'm actually a morning person, so this isn't ideal for me. But every time I wake up early in the morning my dog gets up too. He's very loud flapping his ears and yawning and nosing around and he wakes up Tessa. So I stay up late and sleep in.

These times when my daughter is asleep are when I get artwork done. But I try and maximize my art time with lots of little tricks. And here they are:

-Always have a plan. Know the next two little things to be done and have materials handy.

-Have 2 or 3 different projects going in different phases. When I can't work on one, I move on to another.

-Do the daydreamy planning brainstorming stuff while helping her fall asleep, fall asleep myself, or in the shower, in the car, or whenever I have enforced quiet time. I've formulated huge projects this way. I take notes when I can. And then as soon as I have free time for art, I jump right in because I've been working out the details in my head for weeks already.

-Keep notes on my phone with ideas for illustrations, stories, things to do, business stuff, whatever.

-Do as many chores as possible with Tessa so that I don't have to do them later by myself. We make laundry and doing dishes into fun games. 

-I like the house to be organized, so whenever I go through a room, I will quickly pick it up. Usually everything is tidy when she goes to bed.

-If Tessa is enjoying playing alone I pay the bills, do email, or things like that so I won't have to do them later.

-I always have a sketchbook or other artwork on the kitchen table. She often takes longer to eat than me, so I just start drawing without even getting up. We can still talk and I can help her.

Here's a goofy photo that my husband took during breakfast one morning.
And these are the things that I DON'T  do:

-I don't stress over minute housecleaning. My house is rarely very well dusted.

-I don't  watch TV. It's often on because my husband is watching. To be friendly I sit in the room with him and do artwork or computer stuff at a desk we have in the living room. I might sit on the couch and watch a one hour show per week without something in my hands.

-I don't procrastinate on art projects. It's hard to get started sometimes, but taking the first little step will quickly get me excited instead of being nervous. I do procrastinate on things like taxes. Blah.

-I don't do social things unless they are toddler-related. I'm not necessarily recommending this, but Im both broke and an introvert, and that's just how it is.

Play time at the library.

All of this leaves us tons of time to play, read, go on walks, do crafts, go to fun places like the library, music class, or gymnastics. Tessa is actually quite the artist herself. I don't think it will be too long before I don't have to monitor her as closely and maybe we could do some drawing or painting side by side!

Tessa painting.
If you've read this far, here is a disclaimer: If I do get a big job with deadlines, we will investigate some daycare. I'm not Wonder Woman!

A page from our collaborative sketchbook.


  1. Jill, I love it! That's about how I am, too (except without the toddler!). I don't watch TV, I don't go out much, and I plan when there's quiet time like on my bike rides or as I am going to sleep. Great job!

    1. Thanks, Dow! We figure out a way to do what we need to do, don't we? Some things are too important to skip. :)

  2. Oh my gosh Jill she is adorable! I'll let you in on a little secret....I now have huge blocks of interrupted time in my studio because my kiddos are almost grown up and I still pause on occasion and have a little whimper because I miss them being little!

    1. Oh that's great, Julia! I know that will be me too. We just have to know how to appreciate what we have before it changes, right?