Finding the time to be creative is difficult, especially as a parent. Your time can already feel scarce, between working, daycare runs, after school or weekend activities, and the running of a household; finding the time to work on your creative pursuits can feel impossible.
Time management is something I’ve struggled with as I’ve started to grow this blog, and improve my writing portfolio. I’ve had to drop limiting beliefs around what I need to feel creative and write, and instead shift my mindset and take a fresh look at how I use my time.
I’ve started to implement the practises listed below to help me be more productive and feel motivated to write. These have helped me gain a new perspective on what I can achieve, and have brought the fun and excitement back to writing that I feel I’ve been without recently.
Plan your work
Planning out what I want to write about is a great way to stay on track. I use Google Calendars to map out when I’d like to post something and start to plan what I’d like to post about; so that my content stays varied. When you have time to sit down, you can check your calendar and see what you’re currently working on.
It takes the wondering out of what to write and just gets you doing it. If you can plan out times in the week to work as well, do that. Block off those times in your calendar as creative time, and set an alarm on your phone to remind you.
Change your mindset
I had myself in the mindset that if I didn’t have 2 hours a day to myself, then I couldn’t get work done. I kept wanting to have these long uninterrupted periods to write like I used to have as a student and then living alone in Paris.
Before having Willow, writing never felt like work. I would write when the urge struck me, or I was feeling particularly inspired. With more free time than I knew what to do with, this was never a problem. Now with less time, I don’t have the luxury to wait until I feel motivated or inspired, and instead have to cultivate that myself.
If I want to blog regularly and advance in my abilities then I have to force myself to work as well. This was a tricky mindset change for me.
But if you can get yourself in the zone quickly, and work through something in 20 minutes, then you realize there are endless little pockets in your day where you can be creative.
The other night I wrote for 20 minutes while Ben cooked the dinner, and finished a blog post I’ve been sitting on for ages, which was 75% done. It’s easy to make excuses and shy away from getting into it when you’re tired or exhausted or frustrated you won’t have as much time as you’d like.
But if you instead appreciate all the little pockets of time you can use, you’ll find yourself feeling much more motivated.
Utilize your time well
I have two days a week where I start work later in the day. I used to spend this time at home, taking my time to get ready for the day after seeing Ben and Willow out the door at 7.30 am. Sometimes I’d write a little, but it was always more of a lazy morning where I had a nice breakfast and took my time getting ready.
It never felt like a lot of time when I stayed home, but if I’m out the door early in the morning for the daycare drop off, I have much more time afterwards to get writing done before having to head to the day job. I can go to the library close to work and spend a quiet couple of hours writing. I realized I was complaining about my lack of time to write, yet spending 3 hours leisurely getting ready two days a week.
I also haven’t been utilizing nap time. On my days at home when Willow naps, I usually collapse and watch TV, or try to catch up on laundry, have lunch and not do much at all.
But changing my mindset from “I never have enough time to write”, to “I have 45 minutes I could use right now”, or “I have 20 minutes before dinner I could use right now”, has opened up my days like you wouldn’t believe.
Time management has less to do with “managing time” and more to do with managing yourself. It’s an important distinction to make. Self discipline will help you make the most of your time, and get more done.
It’s really easy to feel frazzled, especially as a busy mum, but keep at the forefront of your mind why it’s so important to carve out this time for yourself. While your world may revolve around your children, don’t forget about yourself, and your goals and ambitions, because they are as valid now as they ever were. Your life looks different with kids and you have different priorities, but that doesn’t mean you need to drop yourself as one of them.
Roseanne is the blogger behind the honest and inspirational personal blog Roseanne Writes. Native to Scotland and now calling Canada home, Rosanne helps mothers navigate motherhood while remaining true to themselves. You learn more about Roseanne and follow her personal blog here.
That was the only way I could describe the feelings of anxiety and loss of identity that I felt at times mid-summer.
Last June, I was going through a particularly difficult season of parenting, and was coming out of a very busy time of travelling to conferences coming away with a lot of ideas, examples and calls-to-action to support my online content creation business.
I was so immersed in what I thought I wanted and what I felt I had to do next, which included build and build, and more and more that I began to feel lost and fall out of love with creating and storytelling, something that had once brought me endless joy.
I felt out of touch with my family, my husband and myself.
I’m not sure where this pressure was coming from, I could possibly call it the Rachel Hollis effect, which had acted as a much needed fire under my ass, but somewhere along the way had morphed into this cloudy, anxious, unsatisfied monster in my mind.
As the summer began I made the decision to create more balance in my life that needed to happen in order to protect my mental health and stay in the world of social media, which is a vital part of the business I have built from the ground up.
I wanted to give more of myself to my kids, change the way I was sharing my life and use social media in a different way to protect my mind and my relationships.
It had all just become too invasive.
So, my goal was to continue to breathe life into everything I had created and then just live life.
But something happened… When I stepped away from the screens and the apps I had no idea who I was.
It scared me to the point where at times I felt like I was floating and had no sense of what to do with myself. I realized that this unhealthy relationship I had built with social media, (especially Instagram), and this constant pressure to grow, grow, grow, would take time to stop and rewire my brain.
It would be a process.
I began stepping back and looking at what I had created. I took baby steps to heal my mind and my soul.
So I began by just sitting and reading outside. In fact much of July was spent training myself to leave my phone inside my house, while I read a book in my backyard on my deck, often looking up as I watched my kids play.
This stillness began to tell my brain that it was okay so have some separation from the machine of constantly sharing and seeing what everyone else was doing.
As the weeks went on, and as I mastered stillness, I started to feel like I was disappearing and fading away. I was realizing that a strong feel of loss of identity was coming to the surface as I reprioritized how I was spending my time.
If I wasn’t as present online, then who was I?
At one point mid-summer as I floated around feeling like a delicate spec on the planet, I unexpectedly opened up to my mom and my sister-in-law about my identity crisis. I shared how I was intentionally creating more boundaries with social media and work.
Through this raw and honest conversation I was able to better see what I had created, to find joy and self-worth in parenting, and gain perspective on life outside of social media.
As the summer sank deep into August I was starting to get better at being present and calm in parenting and in running my business, while feeling more certain about who I was and that I still mattered.
Now that I had created this boundary and distinction between myself and interacting within real life vs myself in the virtual online world, it was time to begin to reengage in a different way.
I have learned to be patient, appreciate what I have grown and dive deeply into what feeds my soul.
If I don’t feel like posting, I don’t, even if days go by.
I have been taking more time to truly engage, instead of being a collector of likes.
I have been creating content that is simple, but creative and relatable.
I have been keeping more of my own and my family’s experiences to myself, occasionally carefully choosing teachable stories to open up about.
I’ve stood with other parents after school allowing myself to fall deep into conversation, despite it eating into my “work day.”
I’ve prioritized soul-strengthening exercises like walking my dog and taking yoga classes.
I’ve given my kids and my husband more of me.
This journey in redefining my identity, participating fully in in-person experiences and creating healthy boundaries with social media that support my mental health will probably be a constant lesson, and often require some course correction.
I now feel like I am on a path of intentional living, intentional and creative content creation, and being intentional within each relationship.
Now four months out from the beginning of this journey, I’ve observed something interesting and hopeful. It makes sense really, but when you are so deep in the world of entrepreneurship and online social media it can be really hard to see…
I had been stuck.
But ever since I slowed down in what I was creating to share online, I’ve watched the needle move. My online growth across multiple platforms had been stagnant for a while. But switching from working around the clock and embracing the “more is more” concept to stepping away, living life, breathing, slowing down and allowing myself to be inspired gave air to the the flame that it had needed for so long.
In celebrating Nesting Story’s new website and the addition of it’s contributors, I wanted to share the 7 most pivotal moments that got Nesting Story to where it is today. It’s had some unexpected twists, very exciting turns, and I wouldn’t change a thing…
#7: Feeling like I needed to create something that was mine.
I think entrepreneurs are cut from a certain cloth. We are idea people, who no matter how many times say we are going to take a step back, end up waking up the next morning with five new ideas. It’s in us, the urge to create something from nothing.
I’ve always had this sense, but it became impossible to ignore once I had my first two babies. So, I began dabbling in creative outlets, hoping that one day it would turn into a full-fledged business. I had Etsy shops where I created and sold hand made headbands and mobiles. I created a baby concierge service, which never quite made it past the planning stages, and eventually landed on an Interior Design and mural painting business, with a focus on children’s spaces. So in 2013, Nesting Story was officially born.
This little business began to thrive, and it felt great putting my Interior Design and fine arts skillset to use. But it came to a halt when I had the surprise of a lifetime… twins! I was pregnant with twins, and had terrible pregnancy sickness to accompany it. My days of climbing a ladder to paint were officially on pause…
#6: Craving connection during an isolating twin pregnancy.
My twin pregnancy brought me to my knees. Although our twins thrived, my body struggled through the entire process. I would black out after climbing stairs, my hips were in constant agony and I even lost my vision at the end. On top of this I had two older kids that needed me.
Many days were spent laying on the sofa, with a pillow between my knees, beds for my kids made on the ground, feeding them bowls of Cheerios while watching a movie.
It’s amazing how alone you can feel when you are surrounded by so much support. I longed for connection with other parents of multiples. I didn’t know one person with twins. So family members began connecting me via email with twin parents they knew. I was shocked by the negative emails I was receiving from them, with the over-arching tone being “your life is over.”
I wouldn’t accept it. I began scouring the Internet for twin-mom bloggers, who hadn’t lost their identity, but came up short. It was this longing, as well as some encouragement from friends to switch Nesting Story over to a parenting blog…
#5: Sharing my twin pregnancy story and finding my tribe.
When the dust settled, and my twins were around six months old, I began to blog. I shared everything, from what it’s really like to be pregnant with twins, to the depression I experienced during my twin pregnancy.
It was during my twin pregnancy and birth series that I started to gain some traction. With the help of my twin mom Facebook group, we got the posts out into the world and more and more mothers began to resonate with it.
I found my voice with writing and shared every gritty detail, but always ended on an inspiring or solution-based note. The last thing I wanted to do was scare other moms like the emails that were sent to me had done. Besides, although I was in the trenches, I was able to find my voice and was slowly rehabilitating my (new) body…
#4: Hitting a viral nerve.
Going viral is not a natural or normal human experience. Anyone who has experienced going viral can probably agree that it is a bit of an out-of-body journey with a roller coaster of emotions that follow. Although it can bring some incredible opportunities, it can also throw your life off course. Here is my story.
In 2015 I had been pretty pumped about the fact that I was finally falling into a rhythm with my early morning workout routine and could actually see my body coming back after having my four kids, (including twins). I knew that my body would forever be changed. I had a few followers expecting twins that I wanted to share my body after baby story with.
So, after a finishing dinner with a big glass of wine I sat down and began to write. I laughed with my husband that I probably shouldn’t be blogging because I was a little buzzed. I cranked my music and began. It poured out of me. I enjoyed going through my pregnancy photos and finally felt balzy enough to throw in those postpartum photos I once felt so ashamed about. After only an hour and a half, (record time), I finished and went to bed, waiting for the morning to hit publish.
Over the next day I could see the post was resonating with everyone, not just moms expecting twins. My website traffic was slowly climbing and the comments were pouring in. “Cool,” I thought to myself, “my post had legs.” Over the weekend I watched the numbers climb. I mentioned to some family that one of my posts was going viral, “oh that’s nice,” they replied, not knowing what was about to happen.
Within days, Nesting Story reached just under two-million page views. The crazy viral numbers started to level out and slowly decline. Then came the press. For the next couple weeks I averaged four interviews a day, (on the phone and reporters in our home). I was featured on media outlets like People magazine and Fit Pregnancy. It felt like a dream.
As the buzz tapered, so did my energy. I had to find my footing again and figure out what was next. I hadn’t even monetized my blog yet…
#3: How do I turn this into a business?
I sometimes look back at when I went viral and think, “that woman had no idea what she was doing.” Okay, in terms of storytelling, the old me knew what I was doing. In fact, I am kind of jealous of the filter-free Joanna. I’ve definitely found time, growth and my kids getting older have made me more filtered. But what I meant was, I had no idea how to turn a blog into a business. Here I was on the heels of a media storm, basically holding a golden ticket and I had not idea how to cash it in.
I began calling PR agencies and after some negative encounters, (and what felt like Pretty Woman moments, “big mistake, huge!”), I decided to go to a blogger conference. So I snagged a ticket, and booked a flight to Scottsdale Arizona and attended my first Mom 2.0 Summit, a conference for bloggers.
Finally being plugging into a blogging community was everything. I no longer felt like a lone wolf. I created friendships and learned faster than I could take notes. Then on one fateful day, after a lovely lunch conversation with a fellow blogger, she said “I’d like to introduce you to someone. This is Baby Center.” My jaw dropped, I felt like I was in the presence of blogger royalty.
This chance encounter with the Baby Center team was a huge moment on my journey. They ended up adding me as a contributor, and through them I was able to get my first paid gig and learn how to work with brands.
Brand partnerships soon followed on Nesting Story and I was able to start making an income. My dream of creating my own company from scratch was coming true. I continued to share my story on my blog, but I began to feel like writing and photos was limiting some of the stories I wanted to tell…
#2: I guess I’m also a video creator.
I could have continued telling my story on my blog, but some needed extra explanation and visuals. I really wanted to give my twin mom audience a nursery tour and show them how I fed my babies, without help during the night, from day one. “Could I film it?” I wondered. I decided to give video and YouTube a try. I had already slapped a few videos up on YouTube, what’s one more? Besides, I could embed it in a blog post so that it can actually be viewed.
So, I invited a friend over and asked her to film me in my twins’ nursery with my phone. After a couple failed attempts with cranky babies, I swapped my twins out for dolls and I was off to the races. That video now has almost 100,000 views.
I enjoyed creating that video so much, I thought I’d try sharing a “day in the life.” I was able to capture my day on my phone and edit it together. Success!
I dabbled with video here and there over the next year, and slowly I gained 5,000 subscribers. I would do this thing where I’d film myself casually, talking to the camera, and then show my day. It wasn’t until that year’s Mom 2.0 Summit that I was told by someone that I was really good at vlogging. “What was vlogging?” I thought. I had so much to learn, and apparently some YouTube to watch.
I was soon after introduced to Kin Community Canada, being told that it would be a great fit for me. After some adjustments to my videos and my channel, they signed me. I didn’t realize that Kin would not only become a huge stepping stone for my career, but would also feel like family. It was also through Kin where I met my “work wife” AmandaMuse. Together we have created videos, a business, and spoken at events.
Over the next few years Nesting Story transformed, and grew with me. I began to share more about me, and a little less about my kids. I began to share more lifestyle, home, DIY projects and wellness content which all made my heart sing. But something was nagging me. I didn’t want to abandon the twin community that meant so much to me. I wanted to pay it forward and help other new bloggers the way Baby Center helped me. And I didn’t want my blog to fade into the background, being overshadowed by video…
#1: It’s come full circle.
By late 2018 I began saying something out loud to a few of my closest people, “I want to add contributors to my blog.”
“You’ve wanted to do that for years.” They’d say.
I had. I had been saying it for years. I had held back out of fear. Fear because I didn’t know if anyone would want to write for Nesting Story, fear because I didn’t know how it would all work. But it was time. I also had an incredible team by this point who I knew would help make it happen.
So we put out a call, and boy did you deliver! We had a huge response. I was so excited to pick our final contributors and I am even more excited to share their stories. So, who are Nesting Story’s contributors? Some are twin moms, some are new moms, one isn’t a mom but is a master of minimalism. One specializes in makeup, while another one specializes in Interior Design. But the common thread is each of them speak from an honest and inspirational place which I am sure is going to resonate with all of you. I’m sure as our contributors own platforms grow, they will move on and we will be ready to add the next wave of writers.
I see this point of Nesting Story as a full circle moment. I am able to continue telling my story and do what I love, but I am also excited to share the spotlight with new writers and budding bloggers. I am exciting to work behind the scenes on some other projects including ebooks, an ecourse, a shop and lots more.
I don’t know entirely what’s down the road for Nesting Story, and after some of my surprising twists and turns I’ve stopped trying to predict the future. Right now I am going to celebrate this new launch and just breathe it all in.
I am about to head to my tenth conference, and this week I am heading to my fifth Mom 2.0 Summit conference.
Over the years I’ve really been able to turn packing for a conference into a craft and have picked up many tips along the way. I’ve also learned hard lessons from real life situations, like forgetting all of my makeup once, so now I rely heavily on a checklist. Which you can download here:
This past spring I fell into a depression. I had been trucking along and a couple small events completely derailed me. I won’t get into too much detail about those specific events, but it gave me a glimpse into the future, a road I was heading down. This was a huge wakeup call which has lead to some positive changes in my life.
First, I want to mention, and remind myself that personal growth is a lifelong journey. I will never be done. Actually, I feel like that is what a lot of my thirties have been about.
This depression was hinged on the fact that I suddenly felt like my whole identity was tied up in my job, or more specifically, the industry I’m in and social media. My self worth was much too tied up in the noise that can surround telling my story through Nesting Story and it had to stop.
I slowed down, switched my focus to my family, work that was on my plate and babied myself for a few weeks.
Just as I began to pull myself out of the fog at the beginning of summer, our whole house got sick. So I rode it out. But I promised myself that I would slow down enough to enjoy summer, enjoy my family and create content for Nesting Story that I was really passionate about.
Yesterday I was one of four women who recorded a podcast together. Myself, along with three close friends in the industry discussed friendship. This almost two-hour raw and honest conversation forced me to not only self-reflect, but receive feedback from my dear friends. This feedback was surprisingly positive.
Isn’t it sad that I was surprised that they thought I was a good friend?
Since yesterday it has dawned on me, I, once again, despite promising myself I would never do this again, had lost my identity.
Nesting Story was born from a place of loneliness, isolation and a promise to myself that I would never lose my identity again. Something which I did during my first three weeks of motherhood.
I worked hard to not lose my identity when my twins were born, and I kept it in tact. But in the past couple years as Nesting Story has grown, I feel like I have lost my way.
Back when I switched Nesting Story over to a personal blog, and I sat at my small desk in the corner of my living room, poured my heart out in the evening to the handful of readers that I had, and buzz words like monetization, strategy, engagement, etc… never entered my mind.
I just told my story.
A lot has changed since those days. My kids are older and my last two are beginning school. My little corner desk has turned into a large office space. Nesting Story has gained a lot of media attention. I have a team of three amazing women (and moms who I couldn’t live without) who work behind the scenes at Nesting Story. And Nesting Story has become a full-time career, providing an additional household income, taking a lot of weight off of Mike’s shoulders.
But through this amazing growth in my business, I lost who I was. Yes, I had weekly date night with Mike, and I was secure as my identity as a wife and partner. Yes, I was constantly pouring love, time and attention into my kids, which made me know who I was as a mother.
But who was I? What was I doing for me? What did I like?
Everything else was tied up into my workaholic tendencies and I needed to go on a journey of self discovery. This realization isn’t new. The writing has been on the wall for a while… just check out the theme of my blog posts during the last year.
I am happy to announce that since writing those blog posts about finding joy, slowing down, self care and happiness, I have made some changes. Here are a few:
I’ve begun working out… for me, not a trip or an event. Just to feel good.
I’ve made sure our family is vacationing more, because I’ve realized I really like travelling with my crew.
I love playing Marco Polo. I know, this is an odd one. But for years when we’d go swimming at my parents’ house I’d just sit and watch our kids swim. But this summer you can find me with goggles and flippers on, swimming all around the pool. It’s so fun!
I love running with our dog Oliver. But, I don’t like long distance running. Two kilometres, three times a week is my sweet spot.
I love my friends. I have reprioritized my closest friendships and have been investing in those relationships more.
You get the idea. I am finding me and it is wonderful.
When it comes to work and Nesting Story, I’m still here. In fact I am hoping this new zest for life will trickle into the content I create. I am being more selective about how much time I learning and strategizing and will be sinking more time into creating. I will be delegating more to my team so I can focus on storytelling.
But here’s the big one…
I am going to write like no one’s reading.
That might sound weird, but when I went from getting feedback from a few hundred people on one platform, to tens of thousands on multiple platforms, it messed with my head and made me hold back.
Actually I think the image of me playing Marco Polo is a perfect metaphor for what I want my life to feel like. I don’t care who’s watching, despite the fact that my kids think I look like an sickly Ninja Turtle with their googles on.
So here’s to a new chapter. An imperfect, authentic chapter full of self discovery about who I am at this stage in my life.