To Do or Not to Do?

Fragment, 2008 Angela Fehr

"How do you find time to paint while raising three children?"

I get asked variations on this question frequently, and I can see why my productivity seems so remarkable. I've got three children under school age, no regular babysitter or extended family to help free up some time, and I'm embarrassingly domestic about housekeeping, regular mealtimes and baking.

But I have cut a lot of things out of my life in order to have time to paint. Things like:

  1. Television - cancelling our satellite TV subscription was the best decision we ever made, hard as it was!
  2. Extra-curriculars - I would love to join a choir or play soccer, but refuse to be gone from home more than two evenings per week.
  3. Travel - it may be only a ten-minute drive, but somehow every trip to town takes half the day. I limit my drives in to twice a week.
  4. Hobbies - I love (almost) all crafts, but I cut way back on my crafting and let my magazine subscriptions lapse when I decided to focus on painting. Now the majority of crafts that are done are part of creative time with my children.
  5. Reading - I love to read (actually, "love" should be bold and all-caps and outlined in red!) and if there is a new book in the house, many other things remain undone until it is complete. So I really try to avoid the "new book" rack in the library when I am there with the kids.

Because I want our family to live a family-centred, simple life, I have built some structure into our week. I get up early to exercise, so that it doesn't detract from my "me" time in the evenings, and I have designated Tuesday afternoons as "must-paint" time, even if the rest of the week is a bust. We have designated days for grocery-shopping and having friends over, and all of our afternoons are spent at home so that the children can get their naps. Being at home every afternoon also gives me more time to paint!

I cannot stress how much of a role structure and organization play in helping me to achieve my goals. I am not a professional artist, making art my business, with 8 hours of studio time at my feet. I am a full-time mom who is including painting and art marketing in my life. As big as my artistic dreams may be, getting a lot of painting done isn't the priority - my children are, and I have to watch myself carefully that I keep those priorities straight. And when they are, even fifteen minutes of painting is a joy and a blessing.

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