17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Where's my creative self?

Before I had my second baby I think I was a pretty creative girl. I loved leaving secret notes, making cute gifts, creating things on the sewing machine, making crafty cards, and the like. But it hit me (and I think has been sneaking up on me now and then) that I just don't do it like I used to. And it makes me sad. I think of the adorable homemade Christmas gifts my mom had made her many children and I want to do that. I think of the lovey things I used to do for my dh and I want to do those things again.

There are reasons. I haven't been conveniently located near a JoAnn's or Michaels in over 3 years. Even when I do get to a craft/fabric store I stress about buying stuff just because of the dreaded possibility of needing to return it or go back for one forgotten item. (It'd be that lovely hour drive up and hour back all over again.)

Also, it seems like when you're a Mom your brain is spread so thin, your patience ever tested, your creativity spent on thinking of SOMETHING else for dinner besides grilled cheese. And praying the kids will eat it. So, is there just not as much time or energy or space for that creativity to flow.

And little kids. They're always around. And when they're not, once the dishes are done and the house put-together and lessons planned and yadda yadda yadda...I usually feel like sleeping...or something.

And there's always money. I don't think I'm super tight, but I tend to worry about costs to where it can spoil the fun of creating a fun gift or project. I can annoy myself.

I suppose I'm looking for a few things to talk about. First, do any of you feel the same? How do you keep your creative self alive? Do I have to wait for my kids to be in school? (Please don't say yes.) Do I have to do The Artist's Way program...I don't think I'm that much of an artist. Am I just being a wimp and need a good kick in the pants?

And can we talk about gifts? What do you get men? I've never been good at coming up with creative OR generic guy-gifts. You may think this off-topic, but my creative hole was noticed as our anniversary came and went and I hardly had thought about it, when I know years ago I would have given it a lot more attention. It was pathetic and I felt/feel horrible. Something's got to change.

....a few days later....

So, I wrote this draft and it's been about a week. In the meantime, I cut off my son's jeans to sew them into shorts. While I was in the basement I pulled out the sewing stuff, fabric, and craft boxes. My daughter and I sewed cute jean purses from the bottom of my son's pant legs. We sewed on eyelet trim and sparkly buttons for fun--it was fantastic. I think I have some advice for myself already: Keep sewing machine and fabric out (tricky with kids, but let's find a way!) and look through fabric and supplies now and then. I have plenty of things on hand to get me started.


  • I'm a lurker to this site, but I thought I'd comment this time. I didn't grow up in a home where my mom was creative and crafty, but I've found I enjoy it in small doses. I too have to keep my supplies out and in plain sight, otherwise it seems to much trouble to get it out, use them, and then have to clean them up again. I keep most stuff in a cardboard box with a lid that my kids know not to touch without permission. And I also try to let my kids participate in an age appropriate way. Sometimes that 15 minutes a day of scrapbooking or card making is my sanity saver.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 8/20/2007 08:56:00 AM  

  • Love this post! All moms I know feel the same way, including myself. How do I combat it?

    First, I always push an early bedtime. I mean really early. Since mine is young enough (18 months) she goes to bed at 6:30. I love those evenings of time to myself and with my dh! I can be crafty, watch movies, or even balance my checkbook without my toddler interfering. Love it!

    Second, wtih gifts we always set a budget and agree on what the majority of the money will go to. Then, the rest of the money is used to surprise each other. You get what you want, and the surprise of an individual gift. My friends hate this idea b/c they love well-thought of surprises from their dh's, but it really works for us. As for anniversary's, we will go big when we are making money, but for now we just go on a date. As a stay-at-home mom, a date actually is a really nice celebration of our marriage, since we don't get them often.

    I love arts/crafts but I get discouraged easily when things don't turn out perfectly. Martha Stewart makes it look so easy. I try and focus on projects I know I can complete in one day.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 8/20/2007 09:26:00 AM  

  • That is great, go you! I'm struggling with the same thing and have found if I take small and easy steps I can do it!
    posted by Blogger Angela at 8/20/2007 01:49:00 PM  

  • I definately think you need to adopt a "just do it!" attitude. When something crosses your mind several times, like - "oh, I wish I had nice window treatments..if only I could sew well enough to make some..." Stop wishin' and start doin'!

    I had only taken "Home Ec" in Jr. High, but a few years ago I wanted to start sewing again- and I bought a simple pattern and I made my daugher a beautiful window treatment. Lots of things can be done while kids are around.. more than one might think. And now, I have sewn much more difficult patterns to make fancier looking draperies, bedding, dresses, decorative pillows, and more.

    But something does have to give- and that usually is cleaning the house for me. So you have to do things in little spurts, and try to balance the things you "have" to do (cooking, cleaning, laundry) with the things you "want" to do (crafts, excersizing-whatever!)

    (I usually put more emphasis on the "wants" because I get so much more fulfillment out of it!)

    Also- do you live close to a WALMART? I know they are annoying but if you are close to one- then you have access to scrapbooking supplies, pillow forms, patterns, fabrics INCLUDING upholstery and drapery fabrics, craft paint, silk florals, ribbons for bow making, you name it! Practically anything you might need. I go there for many of my supplies for mural painting, painting furniture, and so you needn't feel reliant on Jo Ann's or Michaels.

    You just need to start, and you'll be SO happy you did!!
    posted by Blogger Rachel H at 8/20/2007 02:39:00 PM  

  • Oh Katie,

    I know exactly what you mean. If I don't have a creative outlet, I am not a happy person. So, I have made it a priority in my life to carve out my creative time.

    Here is what I have done:

    -Keep creative supplies in an easily accessible place. I have a secretary desk with a shelving unit attached to the top where I keep many of my sewing supplies. The machines are always set up inside and the supplies are all in one place, but you can close up all the doors to hide it all at a moments notice.

    -Get inspired. I completely believe in surrounding yourself with inspiration. I have a bulletin board where I pin up magazine tears, scraps of fabric, trims, drawings, notes, ideas, etc. So when I have time to create, I usually have a queue of things ready. You can also check out the millions of craft blogs and flickr albums to get some inspiration too.

    -"Project Night". I allot one night a week to working on projects. I put the kids to bed and have 2-3 solid hours of time. I have even invited other women over to join me. It's always fun to "project" together. On these nights DH either plans to stay late at work or goes out with friends which is perfect because I get easily distracted when he's home.

    -I have made a pledge to not buy new clothes for myself or my children. This has been a huge help in forcing me to be creative with the clothes and supplies I already have.

    -I have also tried to make homemade gifts for friends and family - especially the kids. So now, when there is a birthday instead of running to the store, I sit down at the sewing machine.

    -I set up my own flickr album where I put pictures of everything I make. So even when life get too hectic to create as much as I would like, I can always go back through my past creations and feel good about what I have accomplished over time.

    -Lastly, with children, sometime creating is difficult with them around. I do keep a box full of scraps for them to play with while I am sewing, but mostly I sew while they are asleep.

    On your last question about anniversary's, I can't help there. We don't get anything for each other--we've just decided that what we love most is spending good, quality time together for our anniversary. So we always try to plan a trip (most of the time it's just overnight). Not creative, or uber-romantic, but we love it.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 8/20/2007 04:41:00 PM  

  • oh, and katie, your latest project was totally in line with wardrobe refashion. You should check it out.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 8/20/2007 04:43:00 PM  

  • You guys are so cool. I'm feeling more motivated already! In fact, today I sewed 2 pillowcases out of left over quilt fabric for my son's and daughter's beds. They think it's pretty cool. And of course, it was fast and easy and now it's done!

    Love the kid plan--asleep or entertained with their own scraps, etc. I will have to create the kid-box.

    Carrie--so many great ideas. I might have to try the bulletin board of inspiration. Right now my magazine pics and stuff are in a folder in the file cabinet. Right! Like I'll ever look at them there. You want to know a sad irony? I had a "my space" desk I'd gotten used in Boulder. Well, we decided to move to NY before I refinished it and I sold it to another used furniture place! Sad! It had the secretary sliding cover too--but probably not quite the shelf space above. I suppose I need to start the hunt again! Oh, I checked out the wardrobe refashioning site a while back when you talked about it--I think it is so cool. Some seriously creative people there (by looking at the pictures posted). What's your favorite craft blog? (Otherwise I will have no idea where to start!)

    Rachel H--yes, I have wal-mart here--closest is 30 minutes--a better one more like 45 minutes away. But you're right! Sometimes I have to make dh go to wal-mart with me instead of Target simply because they have craft stuff. Wal-mart totally saved me with girl's camp crafty things. Phew!I've never been to fond of the fabric choices though...especially when I go to a yummy fabric store...then the love goes wild!

    Anon--I like your gift budget idea-I have tried similarly but have had trouble locking dh into the plan. Will keep trying. :) I guess anniversaries could be an entire different post! We did end up going to dinner too--which is what we usually do and yes, is a treat. Ok, and I had to laugh because my word verification word is "cexyy." Oooh, baby.
    posted by Blogger Katie at 8/20/2007 08:54:00 PM  

  • Here are the craft blogs/sites I try to check on a semi-regular basis:

    Hello My Name is Heather
    Wee Wonderfuls
    not martha
    Angry Chicken
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 8/21/2007 08:42:00 AM  

  • Yeah, I look at "Hello My Name is Heather" regularly. I want to be Heather Bailey. Sighhhhhh....
    posted by Blogger marian at 8/21/2007 10:25:00 AM  

  • I am not the craftiest person, but I think when you are a mom (and especially a mom of several kids), you sometimes have to decide what is important to you and set aside time to do that thing, whatever it is. Sometimes it's exercise, or reading a good book, or in your case being crafty. Whenever you get that feeling that a piece of you is "missing" you have to nurture it and focus on it, and then you will feel better. Sometime you just need to kick yourself a bit to get going. I think Rachel H. is right, you have to "just do it". And whenever you get those (infrequent) moments of quiet spend time doing those things that make you feel like yourself again.

    And sorry I don't have any craft husband gifts.... I'm bad about that. I do the exact same thing as Carrie - date night or overnight date (no gifts).
    posted by Blogger Beth at 8/21/2007 01:54:00 PM  

  • Since I was just touting my finds at Wallyworld- Check these out from just yesterday!
    posted by Blogger Rachel H at 8/23/2007 11:57:00 AM  

  • I agree about the inspiration board- I have a word document complete with pictures pasted in from inspiring websites or blogs. I also save all the tuturial pdf's that strike my fancy in one folder on my computer.

    As far as creative anniversary ideas, my husband and I switch off planning the anniversary with the requisite that it has a theme- so some swedish fish with a trip to teh aquarium after Red Lobster...Or my favorite, a Roman date complete with togas, eating on the ground and Ben Hur. Cost- food and costumes, maybe an activity, but it brings me back to our BYU days.

    Also, for gifts, I'm a big fan or personalizing something that is otherwise a good gift but boring. Last year for Christmas I spray painted "Property Management Supervisor" on a new toolbox for my husband, or for my nieces with birthdays close together, made coordinating purses with names sewn on. Any gift is better if you tweak it to them personally.
    posted by Blogger John and Jacki at 8/23/2007 02:47:00 PM  

  • Carrie--thanks for the links--those are really fun sites!

    Rachel h--ok, you found a winner fabric! So cute. I'll have to paw through the fabrics now and again. ;) But my favorite was the story above the fabric about the anniversary! Too good!

    John and Jacki--the personalized gifts you did are adorable. Just the kinds of ideas I'll jot down. And you gotta love the creative BYUesque dates!
    posted by Blogger Katie at 8/24/2007 08:50:00 AM  

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