While I certainly don't claim to have the handle on this topic, and other mamas (ahem, Soulemama) certainly put me to shame, I've been asked a few times recently about how I manage to balance working full-time+parenting+creative outlets so I thought I'd take a few minutes to address this ever-popular topic.
I do work full-time for a national bank, but I am fortunate to have the flexibility to work from home and have the flexibility to arrange my schedule around anything at my kids' schools that might need my attention. My work also has a community service policy that includes volunteer work, and I choose to use my volunteer time at my kids' schools as well. One of the ways I use working from home to my benefit is by using my lunch hour judiciously, generally by grocery shopping (sans kids, it goes much more quickly), starting dinner (prep work like veggie chopping or setting up the bread machine), and other household tasks that might otherwise cut into my evenings. I try to reserve the hour or so between dinner and bathtime for whatever activities the kids are engaged in, lately (as you might have noticed by our pictures) they've been riding bikes and skateboards or drawing in the driveway. Although often when I'm out in the driveway with them, I'm also knitting. Some evenings though, like last night when it was raining, we just do an art project in the kitchen or something else creative, involving vehicles if the decision is Finn's.
I tend to hone one creative outlet for myself at a time. Lately that's been knitting (no surprise for regular readers), although in the past it's been felting, crocheting, pottery, glasswork, sewing. All summer there have been a couple of projects begging for my attention, but I just can't seem to put down the knitting! The wonderful thing about knitting is that it's so transportable. I knit in the car, waiting in line, on the phone, even occasionally while cooking. I really love the outlet that knitting has given me, but hopefully as fall nears, I'll carve out a little more time for other endeavors as well.
Weekends are such a luxury here since Paul and I both work full-time. We also have a unique situation in that we have 4 kids every other weekend, and the alternate weekends belong to just Finn. On our kid-ful weekends, I tend to plan lots of projects, activities, and slow food meals, and we really concentrate on creating and learning together. On the Finn-ful weekends, Paul and I tend to spend one on one time with him or special time as the three of us, but we also plan more house projects and personal creativity projects during this time. We also have cultivated a love of Indian food in Finn so these are our Indian food weekends. :)
Last but not least, I decided a few years ago that a clean house was important, but a completely picked-up, laundry-always-done, kitchen-always-spotless house was not, especially if it cost me the experiences that I wanted to give my kids and that I wanted to have with my kids. We all help keep things tidy, but we focus much time on simple rituals like weekly farmer's market outings, nightly reading, new art projects, and nature walks...which is what they'll remember of their childhood anyway.