It's not easy being an illustrator. It's even harder being an illustrator when add a kid (or several kids) to the mix. Christina Forshay has worked as both an illustrator and a mom of two small kids for 10 years. Christina must have known that many of you are struggling to finish this challenge with children. She has some great tips to get your dummy done!
Step One: Understand that there is no such thing as balance and go with it.
This December my oldest child will turn ten. TEN. Wow, I have been a mom and an illustrator for ten years now. This September marked the first time both my kids attended school full time. As a stay at home/work-from-home illustrating mama, it is a moment I have been guiltily waiting for. I now have a solid six hours of (mostly) uninterrupted work time!
I know a lot of readers might be interested in all the ways I worked through my book deadlines with two small kids at home. Here is an abbreviated list:
ANGEL WINGS SERIES, WRITTEN BY MICHELLE MISRA,
COVERS ILLUSTRATED BY CHRISTINA FORSHAY,
ALADDIN, SIMON & SCHUSTER,2016
-A plethora of snacks always available
-An arsenal of kids crafts available
-Enlisting grandparents for baby duty
-Having husband be Mr. Mom
-Late, late nights
-A lot of (sometimes too much) coffee
-Lots of guilt, some tears (mine)
Most of those things are a given for any parent trying to get stuff done. But trying to break into the children's book world takes a lot of time devoted to craft. Like, A LOT of time. And for me, spending a lot of time on my craft made me feel guilty about the days my kids watched Frozen on repeat. I also felt guilty about my kitchen being a mess the night before a deadline. And there was also guilt about the piles of laundry I tried to ignore while I sketched the night away.
Well, something over the past year or two has finally clicked with me. I learned (am still learning) that there won't ever be a proper balance in a freelance illustrator's life. And that there are no trophies for SuperMoms. Some days I have to let my kids zone out on tv so I can paint--I shouldn't feel guilty about that.
What I'm basically saying is it's ok to let the laundry go a few days and work on your craft. Don't beat yourself up over wanting (and needing) to spend time on your art. That time is absolutely necessary to become a successful illustrator. You already know you are a great parent, give yourself permission to be a great artist too.