Creative WomenInterviews

On Motherhood & Creativity: How Does Having Kids Affect Your Work? 4 Creative Women Share Their Stories

By June 22, 2017 6 Comments

If you’ve ever listened to Tina Roth Eisenberg, you’ll hear her talk about how her kids are the catalyst for her Creative work and journey. She hinges her Eureka moments in her journey to birthing and walking with her kids. We found it interestingly profound that having kids was a creative catalyst for her. And it piqued our interest about how having/raising kids change your life, your plans, career, productivity and everything in between.
So we asked some of our favorite women in the creative & business world, how childbirth and raising kids have affected their work? Their stories are open, raw and really beautiful, we are so glad they decided to open up their hearts and share these details. We hope you learn from them, fall in love with yourself again, have partners who’ll share responsibilities and push through into a fulfilling life that magnifies your soul

Modupe Macaulay Odunyemi: Founder of Capital Square
Can you please share your story and/or tips on how motherhood has affected your creativity, work, and business?
What they don’t tell you is that motherhood is a full-time job. I have a supportive husband, I have help, my parents and siblings are close by and help out a lot, and I’m still tired all the time. It takes some getting used to, and you definitely have to put some structure in your life, if you want to get anything done. I learnt that a bit too late, and I’m still trying to be organized. Modupe Macaulay on raising kids and creativity

Why do people assume that becoming a mother sucks out your creative & business acumen?
I have no idea. I suppose priorities change, so it seems like all we care about or want to talk about is our kids (and why is that a bad thing, anyway?), but trust me, work and business become even more important when you have a child, because, Hello, there’s a new mouth to feed!

Any interesting creative juice or hyper creativity story during pregnancy that you’d like to share?
Unfortunately, I used pregnancy as an excuse to be a lazy ass. No major projects or anything. Just business as usual. I did go into labor while doing my accounts, though. Lol.

What difficulties do First-Time mothers have to deal with, so as to keep afloat? How would you advise them to tackle these difficulties?
You suddenly have a new person in your life, who depends on you for absolutely everything. It’s going to be tough. The best thing you can do is plan. Put yourself on a schedule, if need be. Don’t use your baby as an excuse not to do things (I’m talking to myself here 😁). And make yourself a priority. It’s easy to forget to do nice things for yourself (or to do basic things like eat well or wash your hair), but you need to be in good physical and mental health to be able to take care of your child or do your work well.

 
Ozoz Sokoh: Chef/Recipe Conjurer & Owner of Kitchen Butterfly
Can you please share your story and/or tips on how motherhood has affected your creativity, work, and business?
I’m a mother of three – 13, 11 and 9 (yeah I was on the 2-year plan but that’s a whole other story about how I wasn’t prepared enough for pregnancy and motherhood) 🙂
Being a mother has made me more honest and determined about living my fullest, most meaningful life. It’s also made me the most afraid I’ll ever be – being responsible for children who will become adults someday…knowing that the kind of adults they will become rests on the journey through childhood. ozoz-sokoh on raising kids and creativity
For the most part, Motherhood has brought me a lot of clarity – around what’s important and about time management. It’s made me judicious with who, what and how I spend my time.
I dare say it’s made me more creative. Surrounded by children who don’t know as many constraints and boxes as we adults do has so many benefits. Sometimes when I’m stuck in a rut about how to tackle an issue – whether it’s a response or the name for a feature I plan to start, I turn to my children and often emerge with the answer.
With work and business, it’s encouraged me to do things I may not have considered before – whether that’s attending events my children are interested in, participating in projects that relate to other goals and generally finding meaning in the things I do.

Why do people assume that becoming a mother sucks out your creative & business acumen?
I expect they do because they realize how much of the burden of parenting is put on mothers. I suppose in a way it could be considered, part consideration – people are thinking of mothers and saying ‘With your babies, you can’t possibly have time for other things and therefore your creativity and smartness might be on pause’. That’s consideration to some extent. If you flip that though and it could result in exclusion.

There are so many things that should be beyond gender disposition in the course of parenting which could free up – more in people’s minds – time and space for mothers to stay and continue to share their creativity. For instance, changing diapers shouldn’t be the exclusive preserve of mothers, bottle feeding, bathing, attending school events, homework, cooking…I could go on but yeah, you get my point.
Motherhood doesn’t put a wall on creativity or dull one’s business acumen – it may change personal priorities about what is important but that is personal and shouldn’t be used as a sweeping argument.

Any interesting creative juice or hyper creativity story during pregnancy that you’d like to share?
:0) No, none.

What difficulties do First-Time mothers have to deal with, so as to keep afloat? How would you advise them to tackle these difficulties?
First-time mothers face unrealistic expectations – expectations around what their priorities should be and what they should be content with; expectations around their capacity to be superheroes including home tending, lovely, caring, and mothering. These are unrealistic and place an enormous burden on mothers. The expectations should be for First-time parents, not only mothers.
To tackle these difficulties, I say know thyself and draw thy boundaries.

First, parents – not mothers alone – should define what things are important to them. A clean house might take precedence over a daily home cooked meals. Find out what works for you – forget the dictates of society and find what works for you…then do it.
Second, you can change your mind at any point in time. Your priorities can change. They are yours. Do you.
Third, delegate, delegate, delegate
Learn who can do what and delegate accordingly.
I, for one, am not a fan of housework and so I got a Nanny.

 
Osemhen Akhibi: Engineer, Writer & Blogger at Eureka Naija
Is there a link between having Kids and Creativity? Can you share your story?
I don’t think there’s a link. The best thing that you can get out of it Creativity wise is that you now have more experiences that you can draw from. Like, nowadays, when I hear of kids dying, I think it strikes me harder than before I had a child. I can really put myself in that place of a mother suffering through that experience – it’s horrifying. If I’m going to write about that now, I can write it better than I would have before I had a child – the line of experiences versus imagination. Osemhen Akhibi on raising kids and creativity
Also, when your child does something very naughty and you know you should scold him but you can’t bring yourself to actually doing it. Another thing I’m learning as a mother is how to manage my time better. So, now I look back on all those many days, weeks and months where I was living a very carefree life, you know responsible only for myself, and I’m wondering ‘Osemhen, how could you have wasted all that time.’
Now any work I want to do, I have to do it when he’s sleeping or when he’s occupied or I wake up in the middle of the night to do it. Somehow, I get stuff done. When you have a child, who has his own calendar and wants to play with you, you need to put down the computer and play.

What if you don’t feel like working when he is sleeping?
What?! So, what are you doing again? That can’t happen. When he is awake, I have a running to-do list on my mind. Like right now I have to write, schedule a couple of Social Media work. When he’s asleep you finally get to do all your work, so you can’t not feel like working when he is asleep. That’s literally your only free time – so I have to get everything done within the 3 hours he is napping. There is no time.

Why do people assume that becoming a mother sucks out your creative & business acumen?
Whether you like it or not, there’s a drop in productivity when you start having kids. Some people might disagree. I mean I have a day job, I’m an Engineer and before I got married I worked in Portharcourt and lived there, I didn’t have many friends because I’m a Lagos girl. What that did for me was that I was able to focus on my career and my productivity at that point in my life was soaring, it was 150{7516946f8b0c1a6ede41439c3ae11d430d01c6cb1788b8e4cf8ff90b3f78e65d}. I would stay back in the office late, I would work through the weekend. I wasn’t doing anything else, so I had all the time to focus. People who knew me then, if they compare my performance then to what they see now, there’s definitely a difference. I cannot sustain that kind of intensity right now because I have other commitments.
So, I guess when people say there’s a drop in creativity or productivity that’s what they are referring to because you’ll have a particular time in your life when you’ll be able to go above and beyond in Productivity and agility.

But, I had a mentor who used to talk about women having(and I suppose this applies to creative careers as well) M-shaped careers. So you start off, and you peak and then it drops a bit and then eventually it peaks again, you know just before you finally retire. So, you have the first peak just before you start having a family and then you have the second peak when your children are in Secondary school, at that point they are sort of independent and free. He used to use it to console me that ‘okay even if it feels like you aren’t as productive as you used to be, understand that your second peek is coming’.
On the flip side, you look at women like Buchi Emecheta, she gave birth to five children. You look at women like that and wonder how come because her career launched after she had her children and she became prolific afterward.
It’s interesting actually, I feel like people who don’t have families don’t appreciate how much time they have till they don’t have that time anymore. I have friends in their 40s, they look at me that I have one child and I’m moaning and struggling, and they are saying ‘wait till you have 3’. And you’ll still have to make time for your work. At every stage, you need to learn, understand your time management as it applies to your personal life. There’s always an opportunity to squeeze out the most from every circumstance.

Any Hyperactivity/Creativity story during pregnancy?
I’m not sure if this was before pregnancy or during, I had a lot of Ideas that I wanted to execute. And then I remember that during Pregnancy I was thinking ‘God when am I going to be to do all these wow wonderful things?’ So, of course, you have to prioritize. I have a day job, I have a creative career and I have a child. All my hyperactivity were of the imagination – all the things you want to do before your energy goes out.
The only thing I remember is that, on the day I gave birth I woke up with so much energy, I cleaned, scrubbed the bathroom and I had the music played loudly and I was dancing. My husband feels that that was what induced the labor.
I mean pregnancy is not easy, especially the first trimester. I think I prefer the actual delivery to the 9 months of Pregnancy – it feels like it doesn’t end. But delivery, you think it’ll soon be over.

What difficulties do First-Time mothers have to deal with, so as to keep afloat? How would you advise them to tackle these difficulties?
I think our generation has a lot of unrealistic expectations of what parenthood should be. So, everyone wants to have the super child and be the super parent, perfect in every way. And that takes a lot! You have to learn to make a lot of compromises, there are people who will not babysit your child exactly the way you want them to. But you ask yourself what’s the end goal? – You want two hours to yourself, let the child watch the TV he/she wants.
Be able to make compromises.
Be able to ask for help and say right now I am tired.
And then understand time management.
Also, coffee helps a lot. So, if you are a coffee drinker. Coffee helps.

 
Jennifer Aldrich: UX Designer & Strategist at Invision App
Can you please share your story and/or tips on how motherhood has affected your creativity, work, and business?
I’ve been a single mom since my daughter was 6 months old. Being able to support my daughter as the sole breadwinner for 14 years has been tough going at times, but it’s been incredibly rewarding as well. Being a single mom gave me a laser focus on being successful from a career perspective, and as a result, it pushed me to search out a career I was extremely passionate about pursuing. If not for her, I never would have uncovered my love for all things Design and UX. jennifer-aldrich on raising kids and creativity

My daughter considers being able to fully provide for yourself on your own a completely normal life circumstance. She’s seen me work 3 jobs at once at one point to get by but then was able to see me move upward in career trajectory over time. She was able to witness that it took A LOT of work to get to the point we are now, but she knows that it’s possible to work your way up from any circumstance to a significantly better one if you work really hard, don’t get discouraged by slow progress, and don’t give up. She also believes 100{7516946f8b0c1a6ede41439c3ae11d430d01c6cb1788b8e4cf8ff90b3f78e65d} that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to if you just focus your energy and put in the hard work it requires, which I love.

Why do people assume that becoming a mother sucks out your creative & business acumen?
I could go off on a rant about archaic gender role mentalities in the US, but instead, I’ll just say that in my case, being a mother had the exact opposite effect. Being a mom gave me a pure focus on career success and unlocked creativity that I didn’t even realize I had locked inside.

Any interesting creative juice or hyper creativity story during pregnancy that you’d like to share?
I was REALLY sick during my pregnancy, so no cool stories there. 🙂

What difficulties do First-Time mothers have to deal with, so as to keep afloat? How would you advise them to tackle these difficulties?
This advice applies to both first-time mothers and fathers. You basically black out for the first 6 months of your kid’s life due to lack of sleep. Zombie mode is just accepted as your new lifestyle until your kiddo gets on a regular sleep schedule. You’re going to forget things. You’re going to put your phone in the freezer and put salt in your coffee. My advice is to know in advance that you are going to be a mess for a while, and accept it as fact. Then when it happens, don’t be so hard on yourself!

Specific advice for both women and men who work full time and have new infants at home: Sleep when the baby sleeps. Bank every single sick day and vacation day that you can in advance from the second you find out you’re going to be having a tiny human since when your kiddo goes to daycare he or she will probably catch every single illness ever created. Don’t beat yourself up when things go wrong. Feel exactly zero guilt when you cancel plans with friends last minute because you’re just too tired to deal with adult people. Remember that other people have been through this and survived, and you will too.
Every new parent in the history of history seems to think that every other first-time parent that has come before them actually knew what they were doing/had it together/managed everything beautifully and didn’t want to hide in the office storage closet to take a 20-minute nap 2 hours into the work day.

As a person who was a single mom without family nearby, I understand how stressful being a working parent with an infant can be. People with kids UNDERSTAND that having kids is completely crazy. All you can do is have a backup plan for your backup plan in case someone gets sick or injured and if both plans fail you just have to do the best you can.
If you’re working in a company with people who have never had kids, they may just really not understand, and that’s fine. There are tons of companies that are family friendly and applying for them is free.

You work to provide for your family. Your job isn’t going to make you melt by smiling at you and giving you a hug at the end of the day. Work is very important and you should focus on doing the best work you can, but work isn’t, and should never be the center of your world and take up 110{7516946f8b0c1a6ede41439c3ae11d430d01c6cb1788b8e4cf8ff90b3f78e65d} of your time.
Unless you have to work multiple jobs to provide for your family, in which case you just have to do what you’ve got to do to get by while continuing to apply for jobs that pay more and allow for upward career opportunities.
At one point I was going to college full time and working 3 part time jobs to survive and pay for daycare and babysitters. I applied for grants and scholarships at every opportunity to keep my student loan costs down as much as possible. I just kept focusing on the knowledge that things wouldn’t always be that way.

I made my first goal graduating college. Then my next goal was getting 2 jobs that would pay my bills, instead of juggling 3. Next up was getting 1 job that would pay my bills. After that, my goal was getting a job that would give me nights and weekends free to spend all of my time with my kiddo. From there I focused on continuing to move upward into jobs and promotions that paid more with better benefits.
I didn’t focus on making a jump from a really tough situation to an amazing one, it would have been so discouraging that it would have probably crushed my spirit. I just kept working hard and pushing to improve our situation little by little.

Those small victories don’t seem like a big deal, but over time they really add up. Eventually, you look over your shoulder and realize that all of those baby steps you took allowed you to scale a mountain. If I can do it, so can you—I’ve got faith in you. Just count your blessings and always keep moving forward.

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