“But there never seems to be enough time, to do the things you want to do once you find them…”
–Jim Croce: Musician, Lover, Dreamer, Mustache-Wearer
A funny thing happens when you commit your life to another person: You don’t get to do what you want all the time.
Then the two of you make a new little person (or two or three), and then you really can’t do anything that you want, EVER. You can’t get drunk and spontaneously board a bus to Milwaukee. You can’t eat ice cream for dinner. You can’t get busy in the parking lot behind Radio Shack.* You can’t even keep fresh cut flowers on the table, because certain little people will knock over the vase, spill the water and eat the flowers.
Don’t get me wrong—despite what my combat-boot-wearing self said 15 years ago about perpetuating the oppression of the patriarchy— I love being married. I adore my children. Being trapped in this straightjacket of domesticity is like being embraced in a warm, sticky hug, 24 hours a day, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
However, there comes a time when you have to scrape off the boogers, pull on some real pants (with a belt), and shift your energy to more creative pursuits. But, girl, it’s not as easy as it sounds.
Since I’ve started this blog, a couple of people have asked me, “where do you find the time to do all this crap?” And the answer is, STUDIO NIGHT!
(Also, my house usually looks like this:)
Strangely, nobody ever asks Scott where he finds the time for his comics, but if they did, the answer would be “STUDIO NIGHT!” (plus a day job where nobody seems to pay attention to what he’s doing).
WHAT IS STUDIO NIGHT?
STUDIO NIGHT is on Monday. It starts when the kids go to bed. It ends when we go to bed. It lasts about 3 hours. There’s no TV watching, no talking about our days or about our feelings or what needs to be done around the house. There is only doing.
There are two simple rules to STUDIO NIGHT:
1) Do something creative
2) Don’t bother me
A BRIEF HISTORY OF STUDIO NIGHT:
When I met Scott, he was already a father to an adorable 4-year-old boy. We quickly settled into a routine that revolved around the custody schedule: Max nights (Tuesday, Thursday, every other weekend), and Date nights (Monday and Wednesday). There was always enough time to spend with Max, and each other, and alone. This worked well for a few years.
Then, in the span of 4 short years, Scott and I got married, had a baby, and then had another baby. Oh, and I lost my job right before the first baby was born.
Suddenly, I was a full-time mommy. I loved my babies, but at the end of the day I wanted nothing more than a glass of wine and some adult conversation. I didn’t care so much about art, or writing, or making stuff. It was enough to get through another day.
I never stopped to think about how quickly the trajectory of life had changed. My entire adult life — including college — had been occupied by challenging jobs that were full of outlets for creativity and even humor (like constructing a giant pair of women’s panties for a street theater action on Michigan Avenue, or orchestrating this Billion Dollar Bake Sale in the state capitol).
I was used to sharing my days (and many evenings) with smart, passionate, funny adults. And now they were shared with stinky, whiny, endlessly needy children. I did get another job, but one that allowed me to stay home with the second baby.
Scott managed to keep up his gaming and other hobbies, and I’m not sure he understood my hunger to just DO NOTHING every night after the kids went down. I tried to write, but it went nowhere. Meanwhile, as Scott got more serious about his comics, we designated one or two nights a week for him to do nothing but draw. I supported him wholeheartedly, but inside I was feeling lonely and stuck.
After a few months of self-pity, I stared hard at a list of projects that I could never find the time to finish. Nothing big; just little projects around the house, stuff that I could never get done when the kids were awake because they involved needles or power tools or toxic fumes. Stuff that would make our daily lives just a little bit more beautiful.
Then I used Scott’s drawing nights to actually finish my projects. And it felt really good. So I started a blog and promised to update it once a week, to give myself a false sense of accountability (and also because I was jealous that Scott had a blog and I didn’t).
And then — suddenly — I had something to write about. And remembered how much I loved writing, and making beautiful things. And maybe, how much I loved my husband.
Thank you, STUDIO NIGHT!
“I’ve looked around enough to know that you’re the one I want to go through time with.”
*We’ve never done any of these things.
I don’t even have kids but I feel like I’m always busy cleaning/cooking/washing and working! I may have to start my own studio night time! Though maybe it will be in the mornings! Thanks for the post!
I have Studio Night every day, from 5:00am to 6:30am, when nobody is awake yet but me. I write, read, do my best effort to meditate or excercise, ¡Listen to MY music! (read what I wrote about not being permited by your own children to losten to your music at http://equiswaye.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/song-of-the-week-be-good-to-yourself-journey/ ) It’s great, and it too has saved my marrige. Thanks for sharing.
This is one of the most authentic and real posts about parenting that I have read. However, sometimes, it’s good to get busy behind Radio Shack when your kids are no longer toddlers and you meet a family at a park, but have to “go back to your car for something.”
I don’t have kids but from observing the lives of my many friends who do, it’s so true. And even for me, just the full-time job, dog care, cleaning, laundry, keeping in touch with family and so on, one never seems to have enough hours in the day. I remember in the movie Date Night, Tina Fey’s character says her fantasy is just to sit alone in a hotel room and actually be able to finish (I think it was) a can of Diet Sprite. A small but regular dose of me time is not a luxury, it’s required therapy, to keep the machine well-oiled so it can continue on efficiently afterwards. A computer cannot function without a sleep mode, and occasional reboot. Same goes for our brains.
This studio night is a great idea I think for anyone who finds it difficult to allocate time for themselves. I’m a single working parent with only one child but there always seems to be constant rounds of housework, job work, and all other child rearing to do and no time to slob out or be creative. I will try to get organised and allocate an evening also. It is important for sanity. Very interesting!
Reblogged this on Tomato Happy Hour.
Wonderful post, wonderful idea. As a married mom of two I greatly appreciate “studio night”. I look forward to reading more!
You’ve perfectly described what I’m feeling. I haven’t quite figured out how to get out of the funk I’ve been in. Lack of intellectual stimulation, wonderful husband (who doesn’t quite get it…but wants to…) maybe I’ll try a studio night, see what happens!
Nice Blog. Beautiful pictures and use of the song. I especially enjoyed this entry…and the comment in “about me” re keeping the house safe. Now with our first grand-child it is time to do it all again! We have tried and mostly succeeded in keeping “date nite” alive thru 31 (?) years of marriage. I like to begin projects, finish them? Not so much. I think it is time to have studio nite! Thanks!
This is my first time to intentionally visit a blog post twice. Well, there’s always a first to everything.
Nice post! You give me a whole view about studio night! And i want to have it so bad! ThoughI don’t have a child, my time has been filled with homework, literally. Thanks btw!
As someone who is due to have my first baby in July, and used to having all the time in the world to do my own thing, I think I’m going to pinch your Studio Night idea!
I think it’s a good idea anyway – so many people get sidetracked by housework, TV, other random stuff, I think it’s a really positive step to have a focused night where you can nurture your creativity.
congratulations on getting ready for your first baby. It’s exciting and exhausting all at the same time! You will also discover the feeling of instant intense love. You will also become so overwhelmed by your new little one that it gets hard to maintain date night. Make sure you hold on to that tradition of one night for you and your husband, its key to maintaining your relationship. I have a book and a blog dedicated to maintaining strong and healthy relationships.
Love the idea of Studio Night! I’m sure there are many women out here who are in the same boots as you….no time, kids, etc. I too have kiddos, no time, fulltime job…get frustrated too at times…SO WANT ADULT TIME TOO. 😉 Keep up the awesome stories!
I’m a single parent with a full-time job and struggle for that bit of ME time. It’s so important though – I always remind myself that the best I can do for my daughter is model the life I would want for her – that means a well-rounded, balanced, inspiring life. Still workin’ on it!
This is so what Amos and I need! How do you two do it without waking up the kids? Fear of waking up Avery is why every night turns into “hide in our room until it is our bedtime” night.
Luckily, Scott’s “studio” is in our bedroom, and I do most of my noisy work in the backroom/dining room, which is pretty well cut off from the rest of the apartment. I’m not sure we could have done all this in the old condo.
Very well written. Really nice.
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You’re my new Favorite Thing!
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Studio night, brilliant! The antithesis of Date night.
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Showing my age! I once dropped my dishes in the sink and ran for the living room because Randy Travis was on Sesame Street. When I called my friend to tell her she drove over and we went on a day trip, out of town, during nap time.