I don’t think reading, watching, or hearing anything properly prepares you for the changes that parenthood brings to your life. It took me a long time to get back into a creative groove once my son was born. It’s easy to get sucked into the trap of feeling like you never have any time and just spending your spare moments on your phone. After having my daughter, I finally think I’ve figured out ways to better align my creative drive and the stage of life my family is in now.
You can read more of my thoughts on motherhood and work/creativity in this post – including a picture of how my newborn and I snuggled while sewing!
We love babywearing! I think there is a carrier for every age and every budget and they’re not just for running errands or hiking. When my toddler was younger, I would put him on my back to tape & cut patterns or sort fabric. You could also babywear while cutting fabric, embroidering, painting, etc. Just don’t forget how long your kid’s reach is – I ended up with craft glue in my hair after making that mistake!
2. Stay organized
Easier said than done, I know. But I’ve found that keeping all my stuff loosely organized, and in one spot, makes it much easier to jump in and out of a project. I know not everyone has a sewing room but get creative! Maybe it’s a sewing tote, a sewing closet, a sewing corner where you know everything will stay put; preferably not kid-accessible so it stays organized.
It took me a long time after my son was born to really get into sewing because my stuff was everywhere, and it just stressed me out to try and figure out what I needed and where the heck it was. It doesn’t have to be pretty! My craft & sewing space is NOT “Pinterest-worthy” but you know what, it’s loosely organized and I am really lucky to have it. Maybe when the kids are school-age I’ll spend the time to make it bright and fun, but for now I’d prefer to spend my time making beautiful things instead of creating a beautiful space.
3. Prep wisely
Instead of focusing on what you wish you could do (hot glue gun your latest project, focus on careful topstitching, etc.) prep what you can while your little one(s) entertain themselves. Maybe that is hand-basting, cutting pattern pieces, or sketching out a plan. My son loves to go to the fabric store and touch all the different fabrics, so I usually make my notion and fabric shopping list and take him along – we both have fun!
4. Set yourself up for success
Everyone has different creative styles and I like to be able to plow through projects from start to finish. Which does not usually work when you’re operating around another human’s eating and napping (or lack thereof) schedule. It took me a while to adjust, but especially when he was younger I tried to plan things for 30 minute increments that were mostly assured to be child-free. By restructuring my expectations, I’m less frustrated at my progress. Also, ask for help! If you have friends, try swapping childcare. If you have family, take them up on babysitting offers! Make sure your significant other gets some solo-parent time, which translates into solo-craft time for you.
5. Let them help
This is age dependent, but kids love to feel like they’re helping. Maybe that is giving them paper scraps to cut, fabric scraps to rearrange, or a blunt, plastic needle and sewing card. I remember sewing my first published project at the last minute and my son sat in a pack and play, eating apple slices and ripping paper/fabric scraps while laughing. Check out how Lauren of Molly and Mama embroidered one of her daughter’s sketches! I also love this shot of Bethany’s daughter ‘helping’ her get ready to sew a skirt, she blogs at Sew Not Perfect.
6. Lower your standards
You laugh, but I’m serious. I’ve literally never heard the advice “I looked back and wished I’d cleaned my house more often”. I’ve tried to stop “apologizing” for my messy house when friends or family come over – it is what it is. We pick up toys every 2 or 3 days, I try to do the minimum wiping/vacuuming weekly, and a deep clean when it becomes apparent it’s necessary. If a week has been particularly trying, we might have PB&J for dinner. I am a better mother/spouse/human when I have taken the time to recharge and create something – the same cannot be said for when I use that time to tidy up instead . I’ll go back to trying new recipes every week and cooking almost everything from scratch when the kids are older!
7. Encourage Independent Play
I think this means different things for different people, so I’ll just explain what this looks like for us. In slowly increasing increments, I’ve asked my son to entertain himself since he was a baby. Which typically means I am embroidering, hand-sewing, or working on blog stuff in his vicinity. Our entire house is baby-proofed so he is free to play near me, hang out in his room, or read in our room. We turn on Pandora for ‘tunes’ as he calls it and both have fun! Some days this doesn’t work out, he isn’t feeling well, he’s cranky, etc. and I don’t force it. But generally speaking, now at 2, it’s a well-versed part of our routine that after breakfast he plays by himself for at least an hour before we get ready for the day.
I also really liked this post ‘9 Ways to Find Time To Sew’ from Sew Can She along the same lines – it applies to kids of all ages (or just being busy).
Did I miss anything that has made a difference in your life? How do you balance having little people running your life and making sure to create for yourself?