I'm not an expert at this in any shape or form. This is all just my own little opinion and tips I've discovered, that when I actually DO them, have worked to open up some free time for hobbies while being a stay-at-home Mom. For those who may be looking to find some free time to do the same, I hope that this can give you some ideas. So here's some tips that have helped me personally, to have time for things like writing, music, and exercise:
1. First, make a to-do list every night for the following day. For me, lists are ESSENTIAL. I have a hard time remembering what it is I'm supposed to be doing in the 5 or 10 minutes the boys are busy building blocks together. When those moments of free time suddenly appear, I can take a look at my list and be like, "Oh ya! I got to make that Dr's appointment!" It's nice to write a list the night before too, because once the kids are awake and going in the morning, I may not have a chance to think straight enough to even make a list for the day.
2. Next, decide which of the things on your list can be done with kids present. Try to get as many things done while the kids are awake as possible.
Here's some activities I find possible with kids:
*Laundry. I just fold all the clothes on top of the bed so the kids can't get to it, and I block the nightstand with a pack n play so they can't crawl on the bed and throw the laundry everywhere. The kids love handing the clothes up to me, so it's a win/win.
*Exercise... well, depending on what you're trying to do. Just work with what's possible. You can do a quick set of push-ups. If they jump on your back while you are trying to do them, just think, you are going to be even stronger than you were planning :) You can also pick the kiddos up as you would weights and lift them up and down. They are sure to giggle a lot, especially if you blow on their tummy every time they come up, another win/win! Squats, dips using your couch, sit-ups, jumping jacks, pull-ups on a pull-up bar, definitely running outside in a jogging stroller (for me, a jogging stroller is essential)...lots of things are possible. And if all else fails, you can turn on music and dance, because that's definitely exercise and they're definitely going to love it. Or you can just get a gym membership with childcare, which may be the best option of all.
*Small cleaning projects or tasks around the house. These include getting dinner in the oven, wiping down the kitchen counters, sweeping, dishes, and other quick/simple to-do's. It may be trickier, but the more you can realistically do while they're awake, the more free time you'll have during naps and when they go to bed, which brings me to the next thing that's helped me have more time for hobbies...
3. Scheduled naps and bedtimes. I am totally a pro-scheduled naps and bedtimes Mom. Before we had our twins, I read "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins" by Marc Weissbluth or "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby" for the singleton baby Moms. It was the best book I ever could have read to prepare for Motherhood. Our boys get at least one good nap together every day and go to bed really early...6:30pm. Now to some that may seem TOO early, but I'm telling you, it's wonderful. So during those naps and after bedtime, I try to quickly finish up any of the necessary to-do's I couldn't complete while the babes were awake, and then...free time!
4. Another thing I think that helps to find time is organizing craft/writing nights with other women. It gives you a specific time to work on your project and you can't make excuses not to, because other people will be there. I recently joined a little writing group where we share our writing projects and discuss our goals. It has motivated me so much to work on my books and find time to write!
5. Go shopping on Saturday without the kids or as a whole family. If I
don't have to go to the store during the week, then I have more free
time, plus it's WAY easier than taking the boys by myself.
6. One huge factor that has given me so much more time in the day is cutting out TV. I pretty much stopped watching it almost a year ago and I've had SO much more free time since. It's amazing how much time we waste when there is a television show in the background to distract us. Of course the internet is the mother of all distractions. I have made so many attempts to limit my internet time. When I'm successful at it, my "free time" increases immensely. If you just take those 5 minutes when the kids are busily playing to sweep the floors or unload the dishwasher, instead of browsing facebook, then remember, that's one less thing you have to do later, and you'll have more time to work on being creative.
Now if you're like me, your creative hobbies can start to compete for your attention when you should be putting your priorities elsewhere. Although it' good to find time to work on hobbies, I believe it's also important to limit them. It's a delicate balancing act. I know that God wants me develop myself and my talents, but I also know that Motherhood is my number one priority. And I definitely know that I shouldn't be revolving everything else around my hobby time. There are days that I would really love to work on an idea I have, but I have to realize that if too many things are going on, it will just have to wait. There's that lesson in patience again. You may have a project that you could easily get done in like 4 hours, if only you just had 4 hours straight in peace. But as a SAHM.. you possibly never will. Well, maybe at night, but even then, there's a million other more important things to do...so just remember to be patient. Do what's most important in your life first. It may take awhile to get your creative projects done, but keep working on it little by little, when you can.
In summary, I do believe the time for being creative is there, even if it's just a few hours every week. I hope I've given you a few ideas that might help you discover that time in your life, so you can start creating something wonderful! :)