There is often an image that goes along with the title “stay at home mom”… a woman sitting on the couch, watching soap operas and eating chocolates. The reality is much different.
Sewing Through the Seasons Part 1
A typical day for me involves roughly 100 miles of driving, multiple school drop offs and pickups, after school activities, multiple errands, and meal preps. One of my children sees several doctors of various specialties, and is on two medications that require me to hand deliver hand-written prescriptions to two different pharmacies every month. In short, I am busy. Every mom is busy. It’s the nature of the beast.
“How do you find time to sew?”
This is one of my most frequently asked questions and it’s not an easy one to answer. The short answer is that I make time. I think most people try to make time for the things they love. I sew when the kids are otherwise occupied, at school, when my husband is playing with them, when they are playing nicely with each other (at least for the few minutes that it lasts), and when they’re sleeping. I’m also pretty lucky that my older two are avid readers and I can usually hand them a book and get a good chunk of time. This is the short answer. The reality is that I grab time in my sewing room whenever I can.
I discovered earlier this year that I have ADHD. This has been eye-opening, and it is comforting to know that there is a reason for my chronic executive dysfunction. I’ve accepted that it takes me much longer to finish a project than I used to think it should. It is a little easier to deal with frustration over frequent interruptions when I acknowledge that I might be hyper-focusing and dealing with emotional dysregulation. Medication helps, but it is a trial and error process to find the right med and the right dosage.
Amidst the chaos, it is important to make time for things you love (in my case, sewing) to have balance in your life. I have found that in order to carve out time to sew I need to meticulously plan out my days. I’m talking write out everything step by step or it won’t get done. Every step is planned out before starting. Having a detailed plan of what I need to do to complete a project helps me make sure each project actually gets completed. There is so much more to it than just sitting at the machine and stitching away.
Every project gets broken down into steps. I have to find a way to fit each step into my other responsibilities. Many times I need to complete each step on different days. Choosing a pattern and fabric on day one, printing and taping on day 2, cut the fabric on day 3, and still need to break the construction of the more complex projects down over two or three days. There are days when I work on sewing projects in 5 minute increments because that’s all the time I can carve out.
I use two separate planners to keep track; my everyday weekly planner and a separate monthly planner dedicated to sewing projects. I use the sewing planner to plan out the big steps for completing my sewing projects and writing my blog. I break each project down into 5 stages; planning, buying, sewing, photographing, and writing. I keep track of which projects are in each stage and any deadlines I have coming up. Breaking it down this way lets me work on a few different projects at once without getting too overwhelmed and shutting down. I include any daily steps in the to-do lists kept in my weekly planner, along with all of my regular “mom” responsibilities. This allows me to only look at one planner throughout the day to check things off.
Because I try to plan my projects out in advance, my kids are learning to be patient with any requests they have and to get them in early.
For example, I make them choose their Halloween costumes before September 1st, and I hold them to their decision. It takes a full two months for me to choose patterns, purchase fabric and notions, prep the patterns, cut the fabric, and sew the costumes. I use every bit of those two months, and sometimes it drives my husband crazy. He is incredibly supportive of my need to create. He does tend to get nervous that I won’t finish Halloween costumes in time for Trick-or-Treating. I watch him struggle to bite his tongue and not start suggesting back up plans every year as Halloween draws closer. I haven’t failed to complete a costume yet, but on more than one occasion I have been finishing up the last costume Halloween afternoon.
This year was not much different.
I had costume requests on time, and was able to plan out my strategy. Peanut asked to be Jojo Siwa, specifically from the video for the song “Boomerang”. I used the Taylor tank and mashed together the Luna skirt and Ninja leggings to create the skirt. I did shorten the skirt length a smidge, but otherwise the patterns were exactly what I was looking for.
The Bug asked to be Link, from The Legend of Zelda. I used the Ninja leggings and the Easy Tee Tunic for his costume, only making fit adjustments. I ended up mostly winging it for his belt and boots, and found myself making adjustments to the boots on Halloween morning.
Baby Bear was very specific in what she wanted out of her puppy costume. It had to be black and it had to be a “girl puppy”. I used the double ruffle option in the Rachel pants pattern to jazz it up a little. This was the simplest costume this year, only having two pieces and few adjustments.
Knowing I would be making at least 10 items for costumes this year, I needed to make and stick to a plan. It was clear that I would be better off sticking to patterns that I knew well and, if that wasn’t possible, find new patterns from designers I had sewn before.
The denim vest would be my biggest challenge and even tried to find something ready-made that would work. Deciding to modify a jacket pattern, I scheduled myself an entire week to get it done. For the rest of the items, I immediately looked toward 5oo4 patterns. I was very pleased that I was able to use so many. I was able to complete all of the other costume pieces in a second week. That was only possible because I was familiar with most of the patterns I was using and the alterations my kids would need.
It’s all in the planning
Planning everything out ahead of time really helps me get all of the projects I want to do done. Even during my most hectic weeks, I can usually find an hour or two to spend in my sewing room regaining my sanity. Sometimes that hour or two just needs to be made up in 5 minute time blocks. It’s amazing how those scattered little blocks of tie can add up to progress. After all, in my world progress leads to completion and completion is better than perfection. Most of the time I’m the only one that can see my mistakes anyway. The kids certainly won’t notice.
Need more Sewing Through the Season inspiration?
Erin is an ex-high school biology teacher turned full-time Mama. The reality of the hectic life of raising three very active young children, one with ADHD, means she had to find time to center herself. Sewing and yarn crafting have become her creative outlet. She started blogging at The Bug’s Bit to share her projects with other people looking for a focusing hobby. Find more of Erin’s awesomeness on her blog, The Bug’s Bit: Adventures in Sewing.