I’ve partnered with HP & Intel to show you how I work from my happy place and make time to sew!
As a busy mom, I am often asked the age-old question “How do you do it all?”. The question first makes me laugh (Hah! you have no idea, come see my laundry pile!), and then it makes me a little sad! The feeling I get from the women who ask me this question is that they don’t think they are doing enough, or they want to have time to be creative and pursue hobbies, but it just doesn’t seem to fit in their current lifestyle. I never want anyone to think she isn’t enough. And I wish everyone had more time to be creative. I’m hoping this little glimpse into my life will help you feel like you are doing and achieving and also help you make time to sew. Let’s face it, that’s what it comes down to: MORE SEWING. ;)
The motherhood + life/work balance is hard. In bold. Even if you don’t consider you creative pursuits “work”, I think it takes careful prioritizing to make sure you have time to be creative each day.
It feels silly for me to be giving life advice. I’m still young and someone lost. (hah!) I mean, I don’t have it all figured out. But in the past almost 5 years of motherhood, I’ve learned a few things that have helped me make time for myself to create. It is so important for me to have time for creative pursuits, and I’m guessing since you’re here that it is important to you also. I’m wired to create and I go crazy if I can’t.
These 5 tips are simple things that I have put into practice that help me feel more on top of things and less guilty that I am not “enough” in any aspect of my life. There have been lots of tears, so much stress and questioning why I try along the way, so don’t think I don’t get discouraged. I still do. So here is HOW TO DO IT ALL:
1. “Doing it all” doesn’t exist.
That’s the real answer. I don’t do it all. There is no “doing it all”. There is no perfect work/life balance and I’m not sure there ever will be. So stop worrying that you aren’t good enough or aren’t doing enough. I think you are! Just do your best! I’m a big believer in times and seasons, ebbs and flows, and taking breaks when you need to.
It’s daunting knowing that perfect balance isn’t truly achievable, but at the same time, it takes a lot of pressure off. Whew! We don’t have to try to do it all anymore. Let’s just do what we can. So that’s what this post is about, doing what I can do to make time for myself to create. Not doing “it all”.
With that out of the way, let’s move on to some real tips you can put into practice now!
2. Freezer Meals
My first tip is very pragmatic. The first thing I always tell people is “Oh, I don’t cook dinner!” It’s sort of a joke, to deflect how awkward that question makes me feel. But it is also kind of true. I do COOK the dinner, but I prepare meals ahead of time so I don’t have to think about what meals to make, where the ingredients are, etc etc. And no last minute runs to the store at 4:30 pm with two cranky kids.
I have done a few freezer meal plans in the last few months that I love. I’m on a Costco/Freezer Meal kick. There are two ways I have done this. The first way is to make all the meals at once, it usually takes a solid 4 hours. It’s so much chopping and dumping and cooking. But then it is done! Or, I will make 1-2 meals each day for a week, making double or quadruple batches and freezing the extra.
I’ve found that this is also very cost effective (more money for fabric! Yeah!) and reduces my stress level SO MUCH. Also, we eat out a lot less and don’t depend on unhealthy, quick meals as much.
This is my favorite resource for freezer meal plans: http://www.5dollardinners.com/recipe-lists/ There is a Sam’s Club version also. I split the meals in half because they are a little too big for my family of 4. Most of the plans make 20 meals, but since I split them in half I get about 40 out of them. That’s over a month of meals ready in one day! I’m a believer!
I’m always looking for more ideas, so leave a comment if you have a favorite freezer meal or plan!
Ah, dinner is out of the way. Dinner is so daunting to me. Onto the other tips!
3. Prioritize tasks
Ah tasks! I usually make this just work/creative stuff. All of my other responsibilities get done in between (like dishes) or they don’t (like laundry) and that’s okay. Here are my tips for task prioritizing.
- List 2-3 important tasks you want to achieve each day.
- I use a post-it or small piece of scratch paper for this
- If I write all the things I really have to do, which is always over 10 items, I have trouble concentrating. Now I try to focus on a few first and then move on to the next 2-3 things.
- Baby Quilt
- Little Zipper Pouch
- Face Adelaide Top
- Do the most important thing first
- If I can get up a few minutes early and get my 1 important thing done, my day will be so much more productive. Without that one task hanging over my head, it’s amazing what I get done. For example, I HAVE to finish my Adelaide Top in time for date night on Friday, so that is my first task. It will only take 30 minutes or so but if I don’t get it done right away I will procrastinate it (and all my other tasks) while worrying about my deadline.
- Have big AND small projects
- If you have too many big projects going on at once, it’s hard to feel accomplished, because you can’t check them off for a while. Big things such as a quilt, take days or weeks…or months or years. Have a small project around for when you feel like feeling accomplished. A simple project that takes an hour or less but leaves you feeling creative and happy. When your day doesn’t permit for sewing a whole dress or blouse, a small but cute project will keep you going.
- For example, the Baby Quilt is my big task and the others are smaller tasks that can be squeezed in to small time slots, like a little zipper pouch or a quick facing.
- Save busy work or mindless sewing for when you’re out of energy
- For me, this is at night. After about 9pm, I am useless! I’m worn out from wrangling kids all day and too tired to focus on anything important. So I save things like emails, quilting the top of quilts, photo editing and cleaning my sewing room for night. I can usually tell when I’m too tired to sew, my seams get pretty wonky!
4. Be present in whatever you are doing
This is pretty simple, at least in concept. If you’re in mom-mode, be a MOM. If you’re working WORK. If you’re playing with your kids PLAY. This is a mindset exercise. Put down your phone and be present. It’s harder than you might think. But practice makes it easier. You’ll get so much more work done when you’re working and you’ll feel so much less guilt about balancing things.
5. Work from Your Happy Place
My final secret is slipping away to my little “happy place!” away from home for a few hours every once in a while. I LOVE working in the library.
It’s INSANE how much I can get done when I am alone, without distractions in a quiet place. Usually I have a task list to be done that I estimate will take me 3 hours and I’m always done with it in about 45 minutes. It’s library magic! I think it’s more the fact that there are no snacks, no kids and no household chores around.
I save all of my computer tasks for this chunk of time. For me that is emails, patternwork, writing posts and editing photos. And sometimes I hang out streaming episodes of Friends on Netflix…. Recharging my batteries. It’s work. ;) Sometimes I wander over to the books while I’m there, but usually, I am just working working working.
The HP Stream 8 with Intel allows me to work from my happy place, the library or anywhere. Sometimes I think about bringing my sewing machine and sewing in a private study room. I haven’t done that yet, but the HP stream 8 with Intel comes with a free year of Office 365, so I can get a lot of work done using those programs, like Word and Excel. I try to save all of my computer work for these times when I can sneak to the library.
I can use the HP Stream 8 with Intel and it’s apps to make grocery lists, plan out freezer meals, order craft supplies or groceries. Anything I can do at home with kids crawling on me, I can do in the library so much faster. This helps me to separate work and play also and be present where I am.
This isn’t an exhaustive list but I do hope these tips give you a place to start and help you find your own time to be creative!
I still don’t have a solution for the laundry. Sorry.
Tomorrow I will share the tutorial for that “HAPPY” pouch! It makes a great tablet case, or art supply pouch and it can be one of your “quick, easy” projects that make you feel accomplished!