Thursday, February 11, 2010

Finding Time For Your Art

"Hi there

I have been reading your blog for quite some time now. How on earth do you do it all?

I studied fashion design. Got married. Had 2 children. Start working from home (making matricdresses, wedding dresses etc.) Then about 2 years ago I took my children out of school and started to homeschool. I really have a problem getting to everything. I must say I do believe the devil is stealing our time so that we do not have time to spend with. Maybe you can give me some advice on how you get to everything.

On a different note. Here in South Africa we get cases that hold all your bobbins. They are see through so that you can see the colour on them. Maybe someone already told you about them. I did not read the comments on your post yet.

Trolene E."


This is an email I received from one of my readers. I thought that I would answer it here as others may benefit.


Well, actually I don't; but I'm getting there. I am juggling a lot of balls being a homeschooling mother of five, the youngest about to turn two. And you know how busy the two's are. I am also a home seamstress and an artist. Something has to give; and for me, that would be the housework. My home is far from perfect. The basics get done. But I have decided that that is good enough if I want to spend time with my family and work on my creative pursuits as well. I would rather spend time with my family and have some me time than have a home that is a show place. Serving my family is more important to me than trying to impress others. It's all about deciding what is most important, prioritizing and not worrying about the rest.

There are several things I do to maximize my time to make sure I have time to do what is important to me. First of all, I have a very supportive husband. He is willing to do most of the grocery shopping on his way home from work. That saves me several hours each week. I don't plan too many activities outside the home. When I run errands, I run the ones that are close in proximity in the same day. I don't watch TV. I don't spend a lot of time talking on the phone. I don't mindlessly surf the internet. I go to sites I need to go to and then get off.

My children help with the housework. I plan simple meals and use the crockpot often. That way I can throw the ingredients in in the morning and forget about it. I follow as many of Fly Lady's routines as possible. That would include doing one load of laundry each day, sometimes a little more. Each morning I follow a quick routine of wiping down the bathroom sink and counter, swishing the toilet, making the bed, emptying the dishwasher, throwing in a load of laundry, and 15 minutes of decluttering.

Then we start our day with devotions and school.

We do a quick pickup of the main rooms before dinner or bed, depending on which works best that day.

Now you ask: When do you sew or work on your art? I try to get up an hour or two before the kiddos so that I can have that time. I do my Bible reading and prayer time first, then work on my art or sewing. I do the morning routine when they are up. Now some moms fit their personal creative time in at night after everyone else has gone to bed. The time you choose will depend on if you work best in the mornings or at night. Yes. Some sleep is sacrificed, but it's worth it. If you have older children, you may be able to do your creative arts during the day. It's just more challenging when you have small children.
One thing I would like to point out is that as moms we usually do the housecleaning when the little ones are napping, but I am suggesting that we do our art and sewing time when they are napping and clean when they are up. Nap time because "me time." It's good for children to see us cleaning and even to pitch in. Sometimes I do my projects when the children are up, and I'll set things out for them, crayons, paints, play doh, fabric, etc.; and we create together. They will often want to do the same thing I am doing; so I will help them with theirs while doing my own. It takes a little longer, but it's fun. We are building memories, and they are learning to be creative, too, and to appreciate the process. So there are many ways to fit it in. Just takes a little thought and flexibility.

Everything doesn't always go as planned, and I don't always get to do everything on my list. But this is what I aim for. But even if I only get to sew or paint for 15 to 30 minutes each day, think about all that can be accomplished at the end of a month?

I think it's very important that we make this time for ourselves and do a little something each day no matter how busy we are.
I find that I am a better mom when I take a little time to invest in myself. I have more to give. It really helps to prevent burnout, even just doing a little something each day, even if only for 15 minutes.

You are probably still saying, "I just don't know how I can do it. You don't understand. There is no time. My life is too busy." I hear you. My friend Shona Cole of An Artful LIfe has been such a help to me and she has been helping me to work through this. She has taught me many of the things I have shared with you that I do. She has helped me to learn how to make time to create. She is a homeschooling mother of five small children, the youngest being a newborn. She is a photographer and an Artist On Call for Stampington & Co. Her mixed media collage work has appeared in many of their publications since 2005.

She has found a way to work on her art every day while still keeping the family life ticking. She has written a book that covers all of this called The Artistic Mother - A Practical Guide to Fitting Creativity into Your Busy Day, published by North Light Books, which is now available for sale at Amazon and bookstores across the nation on March 8, 2010.

I have just finished reading this book, and it is incredible. There are even more ideas for making your art a part of your every day life a reality than what I have shared with you in her book. She actually has figured out how to get it all done, including keeping the house up. And she shares all of this in her book. I am in process of implementing what I have learned from her book.

Shona starts off getting the reader thinking about her vision, setting goals, breaking them down into steps, setting up a dedicated space for doing art. The instructions and photos are very clear and easy to understand. If you are a beginning artist, Shona points out that it is very important to follow step-by-step instructions of other artists at first; and then you'll be able to branch off on your own with your own ideas. And I love the short essays of the artist moms that are spread through the book.

The book is broken down into three major sections:

The first section has lots of photos and mixed media collages scattered throughout. Here Shona discusses things like the nature of creativity and some practical, common sense, ideas to becoming motivated to do art on those days when you are too tired or unmotivated by the intensity of motherhood.

The second section is a very brief how-to guide for taking decent photos, writing basic poems and doing collage.

The third section is a 12-week workshop and a day-by-day action plan to guide you through making 12 different projects. The first week is more of a prep week. The daily art challenges can be spread over days. The goal is to get you creating, daily, not just to get the projects done.

Spread throughout the book are short essays and art by momma artists. They will inspire you with their creative vision and lives.

If you are already an artistic mother creating daily while raising your children, then this book will be an affirmation of your lifestyle and an encouragement to keep on keeping on. But if you are someone who is not living that life consistently and would like to be, then this book will teach you what you need to know to get there.

The principles taught in this book will help you no matter what your creative outlet is, not just mixed media art, but sewing as well. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Order the book through Amazon by clicking here.

To win a free copy of the book, go here.

When you go there, you can also sign up as a follower to be a part of the every Saturday giveaway for followers.

I would love to hear your time management tips. What does your schedule look like? How do you work it all in?

UPDATE: I received this follow-up email from Trolene.

Hi there
Thank you again. I must say I learned a lot from reading your post. About 2 weeks ago me and two friends were just talking about that if you make time for God first all the other things get done. Talking about practise what you preach. I think the first thing I will do is to only put my computer on once a day and just do what is necessary. Secondly I think I will go to bed earlier and then to get up earlier. I always get much more done early in the morning. At night I'm just not that focused anymore. And lastly but not the least I'm going to buy your friends book. That sounds like a good idea.The only thing I struggle with is the house. Sometimes I see a lot of people at my house who comes for fittings and I am forever making excuses for the mess (in my eyes). One of the ladies husbands once told me to never make excuses, because its my house and I should live as I see fit. Thats so difficult also because I sometimes find it difficult to be creative in chaos.One of my good friends told me the other day that I must remember all artists work in a mess. I must say I also have a very supportive husband. When things go crazy he will cook, but he's not very big on cleaning:)



  1. I have read your blog and the points you have raised and I commend your efforts. I brought up two children who are now young adults on my own as my husband worked away most of the year and found being organized saved so much time and I would devour any articles on 'time saving'. I am now retired looking after my mother, still on my own.... but now busy crafting and I totally agree with the 'No TV'. A time stealer for me is the birds in my garden and I can sit or stand for what seems like eternity watching there anticts but I let myself have that little time. Take care and enjoy this special time with your children they grow up so quickly. Blessings on you and yours. Beverley.

  2. Trudy, you rock! thanks for the shout out,
    your friend

  3. Nice review Trudy. Shona will be so pleased. And I hope you win the giveaway. You might need two books with five kids, haha!

  4. Great tips. I remember as a young working mother whose children were involved in EVERYTHING they could be involved in, just how hard it was to get things done. I find that now that my kids are grown and gone and I'm retired, it's still hard to get things done! I've always heard that if you want something done, ask a busy woman to do it!

  5. Trudy, you are truly an inspiration! so many wise words for all of us moms out there, thanks for the lovely post. i'm so excited about Shona's book and can't wait to read it! :)


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