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How to Start Creating Again After Kids


Emily Bennett

By Emily Bennett

It was about two weeks after my son was born when I said to my husband, or maybe I wailed, “I am going to have to do something because this is SO HARD!”

Two weeks into motherhood and I was a poop-covered, milk-soaked, tear-stained, sleep-deprived mess. And I was losing it.

Before Babies

I always knew I wanted to be a mom someday. I always loved kids. They are pretty much the best humans, as far as I can tell.

I was always an artist as well. At the age of 5, I made the world’s smallest quilt — 3” by 3” in size. As a tween, I painted an ocean mural on my bedroom walls, including a cartoon octopus using each arm for a different beauty tool: comb, brush, lipstick, hair dryer. Just because. You know? In college, I studied art and made these drippy paintings of clothing on lines and hangers. Creativity always came easily.

But then I graduated from college. No more deadlines, no more critique groups, no more assignments to keep me working. That childhood spontaneity to just create was somehow gone. Huddled alone in my freezing garage studio rigged up with clamp lights and space heaters, I couldn’t help but wonder what on Earth I was doing.

Also, life demanded practicality. I needed health insurance. I needed a savings account. I needed to have a “real” job. So, I got busy being practical; I became a teacher. That channeled my love of young children, so it was good. And I had a steady paycheck, and I met my husband and got married and bought a house and had stability and all the things.

And I stopped making art. I gave up my studio. I might have even have told people that I was done with all of that.

Time Plus Suffering

Then I gave birth. I quit my job to be with my son, and faster than you can say, “post-partum depression,” I was in the middle of the darkest time in my life. My son didn’t sleep, or, if he slept, I couldn’t sleep. He had reflux. He wouldn’t nurse. He wasn’t gaining weight. We didn’t know what was wrong. My son and I spent days just bouncing on the yoga ball waiting for my husband to come home. It was mind-numbingly, bone-crushingly hard.

P1020607Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to be with my son. I feel immensely privileged to get to spend time with my children. What emerged in that period was not just an over-abundance of time, but also the deep personal necessity to DO SOMETHING.

An Idea

As the darkness lifted, I started to look around. I was bugged by how baby clothing is so stuck on gender stereotypes. I didn’t want to put my son in the “Mr. Tough Guy” onesie. Sitting around at a moms’ group with my friends, I said, “I want to put a dump truck on a pink onesie. What do you think?” And they said, “YOU SHOULD DO IT!”

That rallying cry fueled my desire to create. I began to draw again — teaching myself how to use drawing software, learning how to screen print from YouTube tutorials. I started to put my hands on fabric and ink and make something new. And it was awesome. It was a deep and rushing joy that I had forgotten existed.

More Than Just Time

Now that I have two children and a growing business, there’s hardly a moment to spare. I look back on my practical, pre-kid life and think, “I had so much time! Why didn’t I spend it creating!!??”

Before children, I had vague ideas of art I wanted to make but nothing I truly felt passionate about. With the dump truck project, I had an idea that brought together my love of children, textiles, and graphic design.

There was one more thing missing, though.

I needed more than just time to explore a project. I needed an avenue for sharing my work with others.


Within my group of new mom friends was a creator who helped me find my way. She made artisan bath products, and she knew all the things: how to sell at the farmer’s market, open an Etsy shop, and aesthetically arrange her wares in lovely piles on a folding table. She introduced me to a new world: the world of selling your stuff.

In all my time in critique groups and art classes, I was never taught how to bring my artwork to others outside of a school context. In my friend’s example, I saw how it was possible. She taught me the nuts and bolts of being in business (business license, sales tax, etc.) and I’m not sure my nascent creative practice would have taken hold without her help.

Suddenly, I had a critique group again (customers) and I had deadlines (holiday bazaar), and those two motivated me to Go and Do in a way I had not gone and done since college.


I didn’t set out to create again, it kind of just happened when time met passion plus an outlet for sharing my work with others. This experience has brought me back to a part of myself and an understanding of how to have a creative practice that I hope to never lose again.

Advice to You, Artist Mama Who Wants to Get Back to Making

1)     Make time.


How do we find time as moms? For me it happened because I chose something I could work on while my son was with me. What can you do while your kids are with you? What other dedicated time can you create? If you have the means, give yourself permission to hire a babysitter regularly. Schedule with your partner 30 minutes every evening. Can you cut back at work? Start looking for the little moments. I almost always work sitting perched on the toilet while my kids are in the bathtub. (At right: Me sitting on top of the couch to work with my son in the room — without him being able to bang on the computer.)

2)     Decide what you’re passionate about.

If you want to get back to creating, then you probably have your passion in mind. What does that look like? What do you want to say to the world? Put it down on paper! Tell someone! Something is there that you want to bring forth. You have a need, and it is such a precious thing! Cradle it in your hands as it begins to grow.

3)     Find a way to share your work with others.

If you don’t have an awesome friend like mine, look up local art festivals in your area. Sign up! Don’t worry, because you will get in and you will sell things. Go visit local maker fairs to get inspired. Create your own free website, and then tell everyone that you did it! Share the link on your personal Facebook page. Check out local entrepreneurial resources. Sign up for a class on business basics. But most importantly, sign up! Go and do it. Once you have done one thing, sign up for another. Incorporate the feedback you get into your work for the next event. Make sure that sharing, scary as it is, becomes part of your regular regimen, so that your awesome creativity is getting out to the world and you have a reason to keep creating.


About Emily Bennett


Emily Bennett is the owner and creator of Baby Blastoff!, a line of baby clothing that honors the spirit and possibility in every child. She grew up in Portland, Oregon, and went to Whitman College, where she studied studio art. After graduating, she moved to New Mexico where she earned a master’s in education at the University of New Mexico. Emily came back to creating and started her business after her son was born in 2011. She lives in Albuquerque with her husband and two kids.

Connect with Emily! Find Emily’s awesome baby clothes at Follow her on Instagram at @babyblastoff and on Facebook at


How She Does It: Meet Becca Ellis

Photographer Becca Ellis lives in a small beachside community in Kitsap County, WA (right near me, we just figured out!) with her husband and three children. When she is not behind the lens, she enjoys running, gardening, writing, fine art modeling, exploring and hiking in the beautiful PNW, sharing a cup of coffee or tea, painting, and creating music. I hope to soon meet Becca in person for a cup of tea—but in the meantime, the following interview *feels* like having a cup of tea in person—which we can all share together. Enjoy!


Becca Ellis

SM: Please introduce yourself and your family.
BE: I live in a sleepy little beachside community on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington state with my husband, three kids (ages 7, 5, and almost 1 year), and cat. I grew up a city girl, but after falling in love, getting married, and having kids, we moved back to where my husband grew up and have settled into a simpler, slower, rural lifestyle and absolutely love it. We spend much of our free time exploring different beaches and parks, gardening, and taking walks in our own community down to our local beach.

SM: Tell us about your artwork/creative endeavors.
BE: I am the owner of Soma Art Photography, based here on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State. I specialize in maternity, birth, and newborn photography. While I tend to have a documentary approach to photography, I am also heavily drawn to creating strong portraits of women, particularly mothers, acknowledging and celebrating the unique role they play in the world and memorializing the season they are currently in.


Soma Art Photography

I also love to capture the connection shared between family members, which is why I am so drawn to birth—the raw emotion and sacred bonding that takes place when a baby is born is unlike any other experience I know. I originally ventured into professional photography out of a desire to become a midwife. I was invited to attend births as a photographer for a local doula, and after a few births, I was hooked! After a year of attending births as an amateur and building my portfolio, I launched my business in spring of 2015.

I also run a personal blog, B.E. Blog, which began as a way to document and write about simplifying our family’s lifestyle in just about every aspect from our home to what we eat to parenting and more. Today the subjects are more broad and cover different interests and questions I find myself asking, but I still find myself centering on simplicity often.

My latest project is PenCraftLove, a shop I started on Etsy where I create and sell organizational templates, planners, and fun and inspiring wall art printables. I hope to expand as time goes on, but it has been a fun new outlet for my graphic artist aspirations.

SM: What goals do you have for your art? How would you define your “life’s work”?
BE: I am a maker and always have been since I was young. I have a tendency to jump from one project to another as I follow my interests—I have always had the mindset that if I want to make or do something myself, there is nothing stopping me (short of finances), other than devoting some time to education and practice. So, my art is fluid and changes with time, but I know I will always create. My “life’s work” feels hard to pin down, but I have enjoyed settling on photography these past few years and developing my craft and personal artistic style. My greatest hope for my photography is that I will create something that my clients cherish forever and that it will emotionally stir people and form a connection with them in some way.


Soma Art Photography

SM: How has motherhood changed you creatively?
BE: Motherhood has helped me see the beauty in creating just to experience the process. With kids, the process is really the important part of exposing them to art and different mediums. Most of the time, they aren’t going to end up with a masterpiece (even if we feel sentimental about their preschool watercolor prints ourselves). I love devoting time to creating with my kids and it has always been important to me that they don’t become bogged down with worrying about creating something perfect—I want them to have fun and simply enjoy the process of experimenting and creating something uniquely theirs. Learning this has helped me loosen up and give myself permission to explore different ideas without worrying about the outcome being perfect. Sometimes I can devote hours to something that ends up feeling like a total “flop,” but what I learn from it is actually very valuable. Actually, many times I end up loving something that I created which happened completely by accident!


Becca’s daughter

SM: Where do you do your creative work?
BE: We live in a small house without much of an office space. I used to work with my laptop in bed or on the living room floor with Netflix in the background. I still paint and draw in the kitchen, due to it being convenient and I can keep an eye on my kids, and I often will do my editing work with my laptop down there if it is the middle of the day. I also set up a desk in our loft where I can work at my computer and have my printer and other supplies handy. When I have a designated space it makes it much easier to sit and get more work done than if I feel like I have to pick up my work and put it away every time we have a meal or need the table for something.

Becca's Desk

Becca’s desk

SM: Do you have a schedule for your creative work?
BE: Right now, with three young kids at home (two school aged, one under a year old) and a husband who works full time, I generally work when he is home in the evening after the kids go to bed or on the weekends. I am able to get some work done during the day when the kids are in school/napping. It has worked OK to just work when I have a moment without it planned out, but for the new school season, it feels important to schedule out some specific time that I can be uninterrupted on a regular basis. I really believe this will help me be more productive and present with everything I do, whether it be for work or family.

SM: What does creative success mean to you?
BE: In the past, I think it would have meant that I am busy all the time (high demand for my work) and I have many fans and admirers. Lately though, it has much more to do with being true to myself as an artist and individual and having my work mean something to the people who connect with it.

SM: What makes you feel successful as a mother?
BE: I think it is both important for my kids to see me work hard to achieve my goals and provide for my family, and also to be present and available to them. It doesn’t happen every day and we all extend a lot of grace to each other when we fail to pay attention to each other’s needs, but I can see the difference in everyone when we have settled into a daily rhythm that works for our family—life doesn’t feel so rushed and we have plenty of opportunities to connect throughout the day. There is a feeling of peace in our home. This is when I can rest easy knowing I have given them what they need from me as their mother.


Becca’s youngest Son

SM: What do you struggle with most?
BE: Self-promotion and placing value on my work. I have always been a very self-conscious person. Each year, I get a little older and a little wiser and I care a little bit less about what others think about me—it has taken a long time to get to where I am today! Yet, I still doubt and overthink things and worry that I’m just not “that good” or that anyone will see any value in my art, or even care to see it. To be truthful, I get a lot of anxiety over sharing my work on social media sites, so I am constantly struggling with figuring out the balance in marketing/networking and what feels good to me.

SM: What inspires you?
BE: I draw inspiration from many sources. Books, nature, music, my kids. When I see or hear an authentic voice in another’s work, writing or art, it moves me. When I see someone share a photograph or piece of art that they created that you just KNOW they put their soul into, because you can feel it—this inspires me. People embracing and sharing the beauty they see makes me want to dig deeper and find those extra minutes that seem to be hiding from me to do more. I find a lot of inspiration on Instagram [you can find Becca on Insta here and here] and am mostly drawn to following accounts where I see this—people developing and sharing their craft with a passion that truly reflects who they are. I can always tell when I am not being authentic and am just trying to be more like someone else, because I think it will gain me popularity points. I try to stop myself in those moments and take some time to re-center and remind myself who I am and what unique perspective I have to bring to the world, even if it isn’t going to get the most “likes.” 


Soma Art Photography

SM: What do you want your life to look like in 10 years?
BE: When I dream of the future, I envision a small house on some acreage with rows of flowers dancing in the sun. I see myself waking up to the morning light seeping in through the slits of the curtains and sitting at my desk and writing and painting with my cup of tea or coffee. I see working with clients and families who appreciate and value my style and are eager to invest in my artwork. I see my husband and I working together for our own businesses, sharing the load of household and careers and embracing a simple and sustainable lifestyle, deciding our own schedules and investing in our values. I see creating a space of community and gathering with others. I don’t know exactly what my art might be in 10 years, because I hope it will always be evolving as I grow and learn more and go to the places life takes us, but my hope is that it will become richer with each passing year and give something back to the community I live in.

SM: What are you reading right now?
BE: I always have about 5 open books on my nightstand and can hardly help myself from picking up more every time I’m at the library with my kids. I just finished Jewel’s Never Broken and it was so inspiring and ribbed with truth. I am currently reading Writing Wild by Tina Welling and am learning so much about tuning into my own creative process from it.


Becca and son

SM: What are your top 5 favorite blogs/online resources?
BE: For photography inspiration/eye candy I love LooksLikeFilm and the 5 Minute Project.

Click’n Moms also has some great articles and breakout classes all about photography, although I have yet to invest in taking one, I have heard great things about many of them.

I also tried out the SkillShare App for a few months and really enjoyed the online workshops I took—there are so many different subjects to learn directly from experts and artists from business to photo editing to social media skills.

SM: What do you wish you’d known a decade ago?
BE: That it’s okay to laugh hard and let tears fall, that you can’t live up to everyone’s expectations and you will always be too much or too little for someone—so just be you and do the things that are burning inside without worrying so much about what everyone thinks.


SM: What advice would you offer to other artists/writers struggling to find the time and means to be more creative?
BE: Just start. Every day, even if it is only ten minutes or fewer, it is that much more than nothing. I have found that starting is the hardest part—once you get going, it will be easier each day to find the passion and motivation you need. Of course, there will always be slumps and days you don’t feel like doing it; don’t let that get you down forever. Take a break, re-center, and go at it again. Also, don’t be too worried if something doesn’t turn out. Chances are a lot of things aren’t going to, but the process is so important and you will grow from it until you really discover what it is you have been waiting to do all this time.


Connect with Becca!


Ellie: One Crafty Mother

I’m Ellie, mother to two kids aged 7 and 4. I’m a jewelry designer, blogger and I love writing. I sell my jewelry on Etsy, which has worked well for me. When I’m not chasing my kids around, making jewelry, or writing, I love to read. I have been designing and selling jewelry for the past two years, specializing in wire wrapping. I started a blog last May, thinking I would just dabble in it, and it I love the creative process of writing a few times a week. I am also a woman in recovery from alcoholism — sober over two years now — and my writing and jewelry making is a HUGE part of my recovery. It helps me stay in touch with my creative muse and gives me peace of mind. I love this community, and I’m looking forward to learning more about everyone!

[Editor’s note: You can follow Ellie at Twitter via @onecraftyellie!]

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