Thursday, October 24, 2013

Creative Spaces: Finding the Time

Welcome to the fourth installment of the Creative Space Link-up Series! You can find the rest of the series here.

Laura commented on this post that she'd be interested in hearing how I manage to find time to sew with two little ones. I've gotten that question from various acquaintances, so I thought it would be worth addressing -- and I'm hoping I'll get some good ideas from you crafty ladies, too! Even if you don't have little ones, we all have plenty of busy-ness in our lives.

Okay, to start out, here's my situation: I'm a stay-at-home mom of two little ones (currently my son is almost 3, and my daughter is just over a year old). My son gave up naps almost a year ago, much to my chagrin! My daughter still naps twice a day.

And here's the confession: I've read blogs where moms declare that they've never let their crafting interfere with time with their children. I would have to say that I sometimes fall short here -- I've been known to say "Wait until I finished this seam" or "Not right now." I don't neglect my children, and I place their needs above my crafty pursuits. But there are certainly times when I choose to sew rather than amuse them. Balance is hard!

I distinctly remember a woman that I knew when I was about five or six years old. She was an incredibly talented seamstress, and spent a great deal of time sewing. However, her house was a disaster and her two children were surly and disobedient. I've tried to keep that in mind over the years -- as much as I love sewing, it doesn't deserve first place in my life.

So how do I balance it all? I don't. Not perfectly. But on my more successful days, here's the skinny:

I don't have friends. I realize that sounds a bit depressing, but I just don't have much of a social life. I have acquaintances at church, but I rarely leave my house during the week. That's not a situation I'm not necessarily overjoyed about (I'm often lonely for female companionship), but it certainly leaves my schedule more open.

I'm also not on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and I don't own a smartphone or a TV. Those are distractions I'm happy to do without! Pinterest and my little bloggy world is quite enough temptation for me. If I were into social media more, I'd have a little less time for crafting.

I sew while my children play. My crafting area is in our spare bedroom, right across the hall from the children's bedroom. They play in both of these rooms for the majority of the day, so I'm able to sew and craft while still being actively involved in their play. While in some ways it would be nice to have a quiet, designated crafting area, my current situation actually allows me to craft more because I don't have to abandon my children to do so.

I save certain tasks for naptime/bedtime. My son is old enough to understand "Don't touch my pins!" My daughter isn't quite there yet, so I try to save tasks that involve pinning/cutting on the floor for her naptimes or after the kids are in bed (8:00 p.m.). The few times I've tried to cut things out while she's awake, she gets underfoot and I end up frustrated with her -- that's not what I want!

I could, of course, move my project to a table or an area she can't access, but I tend to just wait.

I let my children play by themselves. If I played with my son every time he asked, I would literally play with him from morning to night. And while I do want to spend time playing with him every day, I also want him to learn how to play by himself. So if I'm in the middle of a project when he asks me to play, I evaluate the situation -- have I spent any time with him today? If not, I probably should put my project aside. Again, I'm not perfect with this. I'm a selfish, fallen human. Sometimes I ignore my children's requests because I just want *me* time. I'm not proud of that, but there it is.

Recently, Little Man has been asking for paper and pen to "make patterns" if he sees me doing the same. He also likes to play with my mini fabric bolts, and pretends to "sew" them. As my children get older, I look forward to crafting with them!

I'm open to interruptions. I take many an unintended break to get Little Man a snack or a beverage, or to change Rosa's diaper. Interruptions are just a part of my life right now, so I try not to get too ruffled by them. Also, I'll sit down at the machine even if I know I only have a few minutes. Even just two or three seams will get me closer to a project's completion! This would not be practical if I did not have the freedom to leave my craft area in some amount of disarray.

I multitask. We don't have a TV, but we do have a computer and a generous film collection. I try to keep "viewing" times to a minimum (especially now that I have young children), but if there is something I want to watch, I usually craft while I do so. My sewing machine is right next to our computer, so that's convenient! I try to save up hand sewing for when my husband and I watch something together in the evenings.

I live in Florida. Have you ever been to Florida in the summer? It's hot! And muggy. I'm very sensitive to heat, so I rarely venture out of doors in the summer. Instead, I hibernate in the air conditioning and sew. Now that temperatures are cooling down, I'm hoping to get outside with my little ones and enjoy some of God's beautiful creation -- which will mean a little less time at the sewing machine.

I prioritize my sewing. Sewing is my primary relaxation and creative pursuit. That means that I devote most of my free time to it. If I had many other hobbies, I would dividing up my time, and consequently would do less sewing. Also, because some of my sewing is very practical (i.e., sewing garments or household items), I don't mind spending some of my "housework" time on those projects.

I sew relatively quickly. Practice is a help. I've been sewing for many years, and most of my projects are similar in nature. Once you've put together a dozen skirts, it's easier to crank out another one (even if it's a brand new pattern). Also, you may have noticed that many of my projects are "practical," meaning that they don't usually involve time-consuming couture techniques. Simple = faster.

This is not meant to discourage those of you who are beginning crafters and seamstresses! If anything, be encouraged that the more you craft or sew, the more experienced and confident you'll become. You just may not be able to crank out as many projects right now. It will come with time.

I realize that things may change. Over the 12 years that I've been sewing seriously, I've gone through many life phases. As a homeschooled teenager, I had plenty of time to sew! During my college years my sewing time dwindled. After college it increased, and stayed that way through engagement and marriage. When Little Man was born, I barely touched my machine! I had more time for sewing as he got older, then less when Rosa was born. I feel like I'm able to spend more time sewing again, but I'm well aware that it will fluctuate as more children are (hopefully) born, or when I start "official" home education for my little ones.

Please realize that I jot these down simply as an explanation of my lifestyle -- I am not suggesting that there are guidelines that everyone (or anyone!) should follow. But I hope it will be helpful to those who are curious, and perhaps spark an idea!

We each have a different situation -- would you be willing to share your ideas for finding time to craft? You can use the link-up below, or leave your ideas in the comment section!

Creative Space: Finding the Time


  1. Oh Shannon ~ where to start?!

    First, I think these tips are great even for those who do not have little ones like me :)

    Second, I recently deleted my Facebook and Twitter for several reasons. The main reason; privacy. After that, time constraints, peace of mind, and the realization that almost of all of these "friends" are not friends!

    I now have time for my job, studies, blogging, and enjoying life! Now, I do have a smartphone and TV but no cable ;)

    1. Cari,

      I've never been on Facebook or Twitter (except for "couponing" accounts) for the same reasons! Some people are able to manage it well, but I don't think I'd be one of them (and quite honestly, Twitter just doesn't appeal to me at all). Your mentioning that "friends" are not friends is actually really helpful to me -- I've often felt that my lack of real friends is largely due to my not participating in social media. But if a friendship can only be maintained if I'm on Facebook, it's not much of a friendship anyway!

      I'm resisting the smartphone more out of stubborness (and miserly motivations) than for any good reason. :-)


  2. Thank you for sharing Shannon. I am truly enjoying these posts.

    1. I'm so glad to hear it, Maria! Your comments are an encouragement. :-)


  3. Thanks for this post, Shannon, it helps me to understand where you're coming from & how sewing fits into your lifestyle. We are obviously in similar circumstances, although would you hate me if I admit my kids (almost 4 & 18 mos.) both take 2-4 hour naps every afternoon? Plus L. naps for an hour in the morning. You must be wondering why I'm not incredibly productive after this revelation, lol. Sometimes I do sew during that time, but often times there are other things that need my attention (like the couch... Zzzzz....).
    Seriously though, you've given me some encouraging ideas to consider & I think my main goals need to be making the sewing room more kid-friendly, so they can play near me, and better storage for items I don't want little hands getting into.

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    2. Laura,

      I'll try not to hate you for having such good nappers! :-) I've tried and tried with Little Man, but on the occasions he does happen to fall asleep in the afternoon, he's a total grouch for the rest of the evening. Hardly worth it...

      The couch DEFINITELY needs attention -- especially for one "in your condition!" :-) I'd probably take more naps if both of my kids slept in the afternoon; as it is, I tend to sew while Rosa is napping and Little Man is playing.

      I'm glad you found this helpful!



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