Juggling Your Art Business & Family Life

You’ve put your child down for a nap or for the night and a wave of relief washes over you. You immediately dash to your room, to start working on your business. Just when you’ve gotten into the flow, your little one wakes up. Sound familiar?

Welcome to the never-ending juggle of your business and family life!

Juggling Your Art Business & Family Life | Sketch Design Repeat

I only realized how much extra time I had outside of work when I had my first child. My after-work hours were filled with plenty of time to exercise, catch up with friends, watch TV, stay home and not do very much, with even more time to kill on weekends. 

Although I’d always been creative and loved making things, I only decided to register my business name a few months prior to having my first child. I’d been thinking about starting something creative a year or more beforehand, but finally took the plunge when I was about to enter a new time in my life when I’d have no time to work on it!

I distinctly remember taking on a freelance design job not too long after giving birth, thinking I could just pick things up where I left off, only to be breastfeeding my daughter while working on my laptop because I was desperate to get the job finished by the deadline. That’s when I first realized that doing both things was going to require a lot of perseverance. 

I’ve spent many years from when my kids were babies to now (my eldest is about to start high school), trying to navigate family life and developing my art business. It just takes time. And it’s really hard work. But it’s so worth it.

Creating and nurturing something just for yourself is worth all the challenges that come with it.

So here are a few key things that have helped me nurture my business and could help nurture yours.

Finding extra time you don’t have

We all have limited time, but it feels even more precious when you have children. So how do you find time for your business when you often feel you barely have any for yourself? 

I found I had to work in small snippets of time and around our kids’ schedule. But this can be challenging, especially as an artist, where you’d ideally have a block of time to get stuck into a design or planning. If I only had an hour or so, I would stick to doing smaller tasks that I could tick off easily, such as replying to emails, updating my website, or posting on social media.

In the early days I used nap times (if they slept long enough) and evenings after the kids were asleep as longer blocks of time to create. I wasn’t able to do this everyday, because there were always other things needing attention (like the never ending housework) or they just didn’t sleep for long enough, but I made sure I prioritized creating art and working on my business consistently. So look at your schedule and see where you can fit in working on your business. 

Be realistic, set up a to-do list, and make sure you stick to it.

Surface design by Beck Ng | Juggling Your Art Business & Family Life | Sketch Design Repeat
Sketching during small snippets of time can help with your daily or weekly art practice

It takes a village

Trying to do everything yourself just doesn’t work. You’ll burn out eventually and feel like you’re not doing a good job as a parent or making any progress on your business. As the stay at home mum when my kids were young, I also felt I couldn’t ask anyone for help because I was the one who was at home. 

They say it takes a village to raise a child and having that support will allow you to invest more time and energy for your business. Whether it’s your partner, grandparents, aunties, uncles, neighbors, friends, childcare — having an extra pair of hands will make a world of difference. 

Also, consider whether any aspects of your business could be outsourced. Could you get someone to help with your social media or website so you can focus on other areas of your business? If that’s something that’s not in your business budget, then just prioritize what’s most important — building your email list might be better than trying to build your social media following.

Set realistic expectations

You might look around and see some businesses growing exponentially and wonder why you can’t do the same. Setting realistic expectations can keep you on track, make you feel less overwhelmed, and allow you to celebrate those wins however small they may be. I find having a to-do list is a good way to work through your tasks, especially when you have a small snippet of time. You can easily scan through your list and see what’s achievable in the time you’ve got. 

And remember that small progress is still progress!

Juggling Your Art Business & Family Life | Sketch Design Repeat
Keeping a running to-do list will help you focus on the priorities with the limited time you have

Be prepared for the peaks and troughs

This year, my business took a little bit of a back seat. My youngest got sick and was home for a lot of the first few months of the year. It meant the days I usually had to work on my business while both my kids were at school became non-existent. Things settled down a little in the second half of the year, but it felt difficult to get back into things. 

Sometimes life takes over, kids get sick, things happen, and you have no control over it. Family comes first. So when things happen unexpectedly, sometimes you do have to put your business to one side while you sort it all out. But don’t give up on your business, keep going and you’ll come out the other side.

Related Article: 5 Ways To Make Space for Your Creativity

It gets easier as they get older

Life got easier once my second child started school. Even though I was working part-time, I suddenly had longer blocks of time during the day to work — something I rarely had before. It gave me the headspace to really plan and focus on growing my business, as well as create without being distracted. Even though I often feel like the school day is a bit too short to get everything I want done, it forces me to be intentional with the time I do have.

So if you still have little kids at home with you, just remind yourself that it’s your season in life to spend more time with them now, and when they get older you’ll have more time to work on your business. 

My kids are old enough now to know what I do and the business I have created. They come visit me if I’m doing a market and often give me feedback on my designs. They’ll tell me if they’ve seen my products in a shop or if someone at school has one of my designs. 

I think one of the wonderful things about having a business is being able to show your children how to create something from nothing, working hard on something you love doing, and how to learn from mistakes and keep going.

They’ll learn so much from watching your own business journey. So when things get chaotic at home, just find a way to keep nurturing your business. You’ve got this!

Surface Designer Beck Ng
Written by Beck Ng

Website: www.fabricdrawer.com.au
Instagram: @fabric_drawer

Beck is a surface designer and maker living in Melbourne, Australia, who has a love of creating patterns. She started her creative business Fabric Drawer showcasing her work on a range of products, as well as collaborating with a range of local and international companies.

  1. This was such an encouraging and thoughtful post. As someone in the trenches caring for young ones I really appreciated your practical tips. Thank you!

    • Beck Ng says:

      Hi Megan, thanks so much for leaving a comment! It feels like the days are never-ending when your kids are young, but somehow the time flies and before you know it they are all grown up and don’t need you so much. Just keep going and you’ll get some more time for your creativity soon enough!

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