Making Time To Be Creative

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Goddess in Progress recently touched on the subject of making time for yourself.  I’d like to propose something even more radical.  Make time to be creative.

I first started quilting when my twins were four months old and my oldest was not yet two years old.  Sounds like a crazy time to take up a hobby but looking back, I can see how it really saved my sanity.

Intellectual Stimulation

I stopped working outside the home when I had my twins, and I missed the challenge of problem-solving that my work had involved. Learning something so totally new to me was a great mental endeavor.

Sense of Accomplishment

Sometimes quilting is the only thing I do around the house that stays done.   Especially when the kids were very small, life seemed to be an endless round of diapers, laundry, feedings.  And no matter how well I did those things, they had to be done again.  Finishing a quilt is like climbing a mountain.  I get euphoric when I’m done.  Then it’s on to the next one.  In addition, I’ve discovered new skills and a sense of color and composition that I never knew I had.

Positive Reinforcement

Nothing is more fun than giving something handmade to somebody who really appreciates it.  My kids each have a stack of quilts now, some of the smallest ones almost threadbare.  People who visit give compliments that make me feel great.

New Circles of Acquaintance

Endless mommy-talk was easy to find at playgrounds, and anywhere I would go with my twins in their stroller, but through quilt shops and classes, I met new people and got to talk about things other than parenting.

If this all seems impossible, let me reassure you that I had three children under the age of two.  If I could do it, so can you.  If the benefits above are appealing to you, here are some steps that might help you start down the road to creativity.

1.Visualize and Daydream

I spent many months with some “how-to” books before I got up the nerve to begin.  I looked at the pictures of completed quilts and knew I wanted to have quilts in my house someday.

What kind of creative outlet appeals to you?  Do you want to design blogs?  Develop your writing skills with your own blog?  Scrapbook? Knit? Bead?  We’re living through a fabulous rebirth of home crafting and there are books and magazines and materials readily available through stores and the internet.  Spend some time just admiring and thinking about what you would really like to do.

2. Be Willing to Fail

I think this is crucial when trying new things.  I repeated this to myself over and over.  I wasn’t ever going to beat myself up over this, it was an extra thing that I was playing with.  Failure would be fine.  Babies don’t care if quilts are lousy.  I could always use them for dusting.

3. Start Small

Time is precious.  Money is precious.  Supplies to begin a new craft can be overwhelming.  I researched how I could start with the bare minimum of quilting supplies.  Pre-made kits of supplies aren’t always a bargain.

4. Carve Out Time

This goes along with “Start Small.”  My husband took up drawing because he realized that he could sketch in about 10 minutes of free time.  Now he does watercolors and elaborate drawings, but he still sits down to do a quick sketch when he only has a little time in the evening.  When I started quilting, I broke down the steps and worked for about 30 minutes at a time while the kids all napped.  Now I carve out time to do needlepoint while I’m in the car waiting for ballet class to end, I embroider tea towels in the car while my husband drives, and I sew a lot after the kids go to bed.  Lots of little chunks of time can really add up.

5. Forgive yourself

I always wince a little when a mom tells me how guilty she feels for not keeping up with her scrapbooking.  I want to say “forget it!  Scrapbooking isn’t your thing!”  Find something else that you love, and it will get done.  I never got hooked on scrapbooking, but I make photobooks on Shutterfly, which are kind of cute and up to date, but not as gorgeous as handmade scrapbooks.  I love receiving homemade greeting cards, but I’ve only made cheesy rudimentary ones myself.  So I don’t make cards.

I feel so lucky to have found something I love, which recharges me and challenges me and separates me from my role of parent.  As my kids have grown, I’m even more grateful that I have creativity in my life to balance my time.  I think seeing me create is inspiring to my kids, who do all kinds of creative things themselves.

So get out there and get creative!  What are you willing to try?

You can find my blog, with lots of posts about quilts at Lit and Laundry.

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Movin' on up!

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This post, my friends, will contain absolutely no advice.  Zero.  Zip.  Zilch.  Instead, I’m asking for your advice.  Can you help?  Please?

Earlier in the week, Rebecca wrote a post about the shrinking of your living space once twins come into the picture.  Two babies at once = lots-o-stuff.  No matter how large your house, it seems to shrink exponentially as the months in which your kids have inhabited the Earth go by.  First, it’s the bouncy seats, swings, play mats, and Bumbo chairs that liter the living room.  Then around the 5th month mark, the aforementioned items are handed down to another expectant MOM (to fill up her living room!), and it’s the Exersaucers, Jumperoos and high chairs that take their place. 

We sold the ol’ Exersaucer and Jumperoo on Craigslist a month or two ago and, damn…that was a happy day!  “More space!!”, B and I said to each-other.  That was, until they started walking.  And climbing.  And being….well, 1-year olds! 

It was at that time that we decided enough-was-enough and started looking around at houses.  Right now, the space in which we live is 1,388 square feet.  That seemed HUGE before we had kids.  We would rarely even use our downstairs, which includes two bedrooms and a bathroom.  We had one entire bedroom (now the boys’ room) that contained nothing more than backpacks and sleeping bags.  We stored them in the abandoned room simply because something had to be in there.  It couldn’t just be….empty! 

Now we seem to be bursting out at the seams of our little home.  The boys enjoy exploring every square inch.  And the primary-colored plastic explosion that is now our living room…well, it needs to be a bit bigger. 

We’ve been looking at houses for a few months now.  While attending open houses, even the 1,600 square foot homes seem SO big.  But we know that, once the boys get older, that amount of space will seem small as well.  So, we decided to stay around the 2,000 square foot mark.  Not to big, but not too small.  I’m all for living in the smallest amount of space that is feasible for a family.  Less to heat, less to clean and less space to search when your kid plays a game of “hide mommy’s car keys”. 

So.  We need to move into a bigger home.  Check.  That would entail us having to sell our current home…and you guessed it!  That’s where you come in! 

Dear readers, how is a family of four supposed to live in their current home, all while giving the “illusion” that it is not lived in?  How do you make your home as uncluttered as possible when you have two one-year olds and all of the paraphernalia that accompanies them, cluttering up your house?  Moreover, how are you supposed to show your house when you and your husband both work full-time and the only time during the week that you have available to show your home is between the hours of 5:30 pm and 6:30 pm, which also happens to coincide with the time in which your two little munchkins start flinging sweet potatoes and black beans all over the dining room (aka, their dinner time)?

If any of our readers have experienced selling their current home and moving into a new house with kids in tow, we want to hear from you!  Give us your tips on staying sane while movin’ on up… 

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