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The secret for making time to sew with young kids

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The secret for making time to sew with young kids

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 and I felt like I could never find time to sew! 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 – but keep reading for what I think is the secret for finding time to sew! Any guesses?

The secret for finding time to sew is…

Lower your standards and put yourself first!

You might 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 focus on minimizing “stuff” that we own. I try to do the minimum wiping/vacuuming weekly, and a deep clean when it becomes apparent it’s necessary.There are only 24 hours in each day, I don’t have a secret around that, and you cannot sleep more, clean more, exercise more, have family time more, and sew more all in the same day!

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! Of course if you have a spouse, get them involved! I stay at home while my husband works full-time, so our division of labor is different from someone who works full-time while their spouse does at well.

Also, put yourself first when you’re making the schedule! Don’t let sewing “fit in” around the rest of your life if that means it doesn’t happen at all. Is there a night you could stay up later to sew in peace and sleep in the next morning? A friend you could swap care with for an afternoon once a week? Get creative and make sure there is time carved out on the front end, instead of getting to Sunday and realizing you filled all those little gaps of time with something else.

I have a few more tips, let me know if you have any other gems in the comments and I’ll add them!

1. 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!

Organized Craft Rooms

 picture via

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.


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3. Babywear

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!

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. Grace from Maker Mountain Fabrics stated it more clearly – ask for what you need! Don’t hedge around, sit down and spell it out that you need time to feed your creativity in order to stay sane/happy.

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. If your kiddo is old enough to start sewing, get them working on one of my sewing projects for kids while you work on your own!


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6. 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. I pull out a stack of picture books, or a toy he hasn’t seen in a while, 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, once he was 2, it’s a well-versed part of our routine that after breakfast he plays by himself for a while, and I work on a hand project, before we get ready for the day.

If you think you’ll need a reminder, pin this post for later with this link or image!

milennial mom finding time to sew with a kid on her lap

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?

If you’re having trouble picking a project to start on, check out these posts for inspiration!

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Tuesday 25th of June 2019

These points are perfect! I’ve found that making the time and changing my success expectations are key. Even a little progress is still progress. Also selecting smaller/quicker projects ensures more finishes and feel goods. Thanks for writing this!


Tuesday 18th of June 2019

This is exactly in line with what I have been feeling lately! My kids aren't so little (10 & 8) but I feel like they are less easily distracted now and I can't exactly stretch "Just 10 more minutes" into 35 anymore lol

Thank you for being the echo and confirmation of my own thoughts :) I love your blog and all of your projects!

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Sunday 11th of August 2019

Christen, you are so kind :) Thanks for reading and also helping remind me that my kids getting older won't necessarily mean they will leave me to sew more often, haha!!


Monday 11th of May 2015

Great ideas! Lower your expectations is what helps me the most. Haha. Glad we hahave the same cleaning schedule. ;)

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Monday 11th of May 2015

Now if only I could lower my Mom's expectations for when she visits.. ;)


Wednesday 29th of April 2015

So excited to see this post Stephanie! Great suggestions and I've definitely followed all of this without really putting them down in words like you did. With 3 kids, I'm so lucky that naps tend to overlap, so I do get creative time during the day. But on days that doesn't happen, I know that I have nighttime too, so I try not to let it get to me when they don't nap. When I put my kids first, I tend to get more time to create than when I put my creative time first. Seems backwards, but always works. :)

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Sunday 3rd of May 2015

It's so important to figure out what works for you! I wrote this post while pregnant, added/changed a few things after the baby was born, and read your comment as a nice reminder that at some point, I will have nighttime back :P We're in a witching hour(s) groove over here, with rare overlapping naps, so it's either sleep or creativity at this point in time. I know it's only temporary though :)


Wednesday 29th of April 2015

Love this. I found sewing when my kids were awake in the 1-2 year old range nearly impossible, but it's gotten a lot easier now. We do a lot of co-creative time at the kitchen table. This is a pretty common site:

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Sunday 3rd of May 2015

I love it! I've been doing lots of embroidery lately because it's easiest to do side by side or while nursing - can't wait until they're old enough to be trusted around an actual machine :P and trusted around markers like in your picture, for that matter..

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