Why Routine, Frustration and Parenting can be your Biggest Inspirations

The King Protea.png
‘The King Protea’

What is your inspiration? As an artist you often get this question.

I find this an impossible question. I always find things to say and then feel like I haven’t quite nailed it. Like I want to say: “I don’t know- everything?” which is true in the sense that it could be anything at all at any unplanned moment but that is an unsatisfying answer. It could be something someone said, a dream, a song, an image, a beautiful flower, a book, a dead bird on the pavement. It is not planned and so the answer is “Life” – see what I mean – seriously unsatisfying. So I usually name the most influential or motivational things in my life: other artists, themes, ideas and, always, my daughter. Although ‘my daughter’ seems uninteresting as an answer too, this is probably the most honest answer. It seems like every second person has a child… mine might not be particularly inspirational. In fact she probably isn’t to anyone besides my husband and me. It seems boring, mundane, yet that is precisely one of the reasons why it is so incredibly liberating and inspirational to be a parent.

Children inspiring, motivating and bringing meaning to life is something that many people say and something all parents can understand. Being a parent really messed up my life but it also really helped me sort it out. Like a huge decluttering of priorities.  So my daughter inspires me – yes – but she is mostly my motivation and purpose.

  • Focus and priorities: 

Before I had a child I wasn’t really focussed. Children really help to put our priorities in order. In a way we don’t really grow up until we have a child. For me it was like moving from the role of a child to the role of a parent suddenly made life very clear. I couldn’t waste any more time. Time was suddenly really, seriously finite. I had a little person who would look up to me and I was going to be the example of someone who either followed her dream no matter what or just gave up.

Before you have a child you don’t really appreciate the time you have at your disposal. Then when the child arrives you suddenly don’t have any time. You are not an individual anymore. You have to find that time and time becomes incredibly precious. You also realize how little time you have over a lifetime. Your child is growing and changing and the limits are there.

  • Routine is your friend:

Having a child teaches you to follow routine. It teaches you that a prepared environment and routine make a child feel secure and able to develop and explore. The same seems to be true for adults. We need the stability so that we can relax our minds and set them free to work and explore and learn.

  • Curiosity:

Children are intrigued by the world. They experience life viscerally and everything is fresh. They ask questions. Many, many questions. There have been so many questions from my daughter that have made me pause and wonder and change the way I was set on seeing things. I have unlearned some ways of thinking thanks to her.

  • The mundane; boredom and frustration are your friends:

Sometimes the most creative and inspired moments come when you are utterly bored or very frustrated. Children often complain about boredom but if you let them experience it, within a little while, they will have come up with something quite amazing and be deeply engrossed in a world of imagination or creation.

When children are frustrated- a little frustrated not completely overwhelmed- and they persevere they gain learning a new skill or finding out something new. This is completely true for adults too. It is okay to be bored or frustrated. Life is mundane and every day is similar yet often the interesting is in the simple, inspiration occurs after boredom and frequently frustration means you are learning something new.

So, although inspiration visits in all different guises and in the interesting nooks of life, I believe we can’t find it unless we pay attention to the everyday. Unless we are in a space from where we can venture out and explore. Inspiration happens when we are curious and juxtapose things, when we invent and when we experience things and these creations are all made from simpler, everyday things: Life.

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