Claire Burge is the author of Spin: Taking Your Creativity to the Nth Degree and runs a business called Get Organised.
“I am bored stiff.” “I don’t want to go back to work.” “My brain is melting.” “I feel very isolated.” “I need adult conversation.” “It’s all give, and no get but I love being a mom.” “My body has taken a big knock. I’m struggling to lose the extra weight.”
Expressions like these factor into every client conversation, especially if the client is the primary carer - the stay-at-home parent who does the school run, the weekly shop and the household chores.
Today is one such day and one such conversation. She sits opposite me and talks about her due date, a mere two weeks away. We talk about how radical the change is that happens at that moment of birth, and even before it, in the nine months leading up to it. We also talk about what happens after birth. We talk about all the awkward things that no one tells you about: those things that are so important.
One of these important but forgotten things is retention of one’s own identity. In my work as a Productivity and Organisational Design Consultant I see regularly the effects that the loss of the individual identity has on productivity. My clients pour all they have into the small little body that has beautifully invaded their life and they are suddenly faced with a less-productive-work-self and wondering why.
The decrease in productivity is what people try to address but the root cause goes deeper. It’s not about doing more with less or doing more in a shorter period of time. It’s most definitely not about learning to multi-task well.
It’s about staying true to yourself as an individual. Creativity helps us to do this because creativity is the expression of self.
Bill Moyers once wrote: “Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvellous.” Piercing the mundane is where we find our true selves and when that happens, we can get back to being productive in whatever sphere our work might fall: full-time mom or top-level executive.
These three creative actions are things you can do right now to improve how you're feeling.
1. Rediscover Your Desire
What do you love?
What do you yearn for?
What do you dream about?
Write down answers to these questions as fast as you can without censoring anything. Reconnect with the hidden parts of you.
2. Make Secret Time
It really isn't that hard to find time for yourself. You just have to be persistent about keeping to it. Keeping to that date with yourself means scheduling it and putting a plan in place around the kids, the food, the house and everything else. Do it once and then just keep doing it. No more excuses.
3. Follow Your Desire
Allow yourself to go down roads you didn’t plan to go down. Follow the desires you have identified in number one. It might be yarn, it might be food, it might be photography. Whatever it is, indulge yourself. Yes, it will be awkward the first time you pursue it while you try to find your feet. But just like a first date with someone special, you'll also feel giddy and as the relationship starts to build, you'll want more and more. So push past the awkward first date with yourself and the object of your desire.
The 'marvellous' is where we are going. Your children, your boss, your partner and your life will thank you for finding you, and for giving expression to that inner creative.