Thoughts on "doing it all"
I've had a few people ask me recently how I do it all - how I fit in Instagramming and photography with parenting, working, and what passes for my social life these days. (It helps that Instagram pretty much IS my social life at the moment.)
I have two little girls, aged 3 and 5, and a huge portion of my life is taken up with them, and with all the tasks that go alongside them: school and nursery drop-offs and pick-ups and admin, the endless preparation of meals, the grocery shopping, the laundry - you get the picture. A lot of it is a bit dull and not particularly photogenic (apart from the girls! they're gorgeous). I also work part-time in publishing, three days spread over four so that I can work around school hours. I don't have a nanny or any family close by, and the bulk of the evening routine falls to me, as my husband generally works very long hours.
I started my Instagram account quite deliberately as an escape from all that domestic stuff, in a way - it was a means of pushing myself to get out and about in London, of taking advantage of all the things about London that I love but that I'd put on hold for a couple of years. I didn't really want to be a "mummy blogger" or to feature my children prominently in a public account - I was uneasy at the thought of strangers viewing pictures of them or of me invading their privacy in any way. (This is not to say people shouldn't do it, and there are lots of great Instagram accounts where family life is featured in a very respectful and beautiful and creative way - it just wasn't what I wanted to do). And yet a great deal of my public Instagram "life" is determined and proscribed by my duties to my family. I'm very limited in when I can get out on my own to take photos, which means I've had to be creative in my use of time, taking advantage of lunch breaks at work to dash around taking photos, or taking my kids with me on a photo walk (it's like a special Instagram handicap - parents of small children should get extra points for getting the shot with two kids in tow!). It's why you'll rarely see photos of west London in my feed - I live and work in south-east London, and don't often make it west of Green Park. (Also, I often feel like people are all taking photos of the same things in west London, but that's a whole other post!).
I guess what I'm saying is that if you really want to do something, then you make it work and you find the time. For me, photography and Instagram are a blessed respite from all the other parts of my life, a space to try and be creative and to have some time to myself. The other parts of my life are very fulfilling, to me, but I really believe that when you have young children, you need the different parts of your life each to provide variety and respite from the other parts. That's why going back to work was important to me, and why I also liked having a couple of days a week just to spend time with the children while they were young. Each element worked to give me a break from the others and refreshed me.
So to people who wonder how to fit it all in I would say: be creative and flexible with your time. Seize the moments you get and make the most of them to nourish yourself in whatever way you need at that time. Don't feel bad about going back to work or not going back to work after having kids - people's choices depend on their individual situations. And if you really, truly want to do something creative, you will find the time and the motivation.
I'd love to hear about other people's experiences of fitting in a creative life alongside parenting and/or your day job - how do you manage it? What tips would you give?