I have gone through the ebb and flow of being creative many times in my life. Going from drawing for hours every day when I was in high school and college, through dropping almost everything when I started working because I thought that’s what responsible adults did, to going DIY crazy when we got married and bought our first home. But nothing prepared me for the overwhelming need to create every day when I became a mum.
It came at me full force. I know now it’s a form of nesting and that it’s pretty common, especially among women who were quite creative when they were younger, but I was totally overwhelmed by it. I felt guilty, because if I acted on it, it could take valuable time away from caring for my family, doing housework, and getting dinner on the table. I couldn’t understand how I was going to fit all these jigsaw pieces together when I couldn’t even find the time to have a shower some days.
But I’m a systems girl. I love finding and making systems that help me and make my life easier. So I looked around at what others were doing, tried a lot of their stuff, and mixed the best of theirs with my own ideas until I had a blend that worked for me.
But getting over that guilt factor. That took time. And I know some of you are feeling that same guilt, because you’ve told me. So today I’m kicking off a new series of posts on being a creative mum with a post on why crafting is good for you. Because crafting is a way in. And taking time out to craft is not selfish, or frivolous, and you have nothing to feel guilty about.
Ready? Let’s go.
1. We all need something that is just ours.
As mums we spend a lot of time looking after other people. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is important we look after ourselves too, or we risk burning out or becoming resentful. If we’re resentful we’re no good to anyone, least of all our kids. We just look like and act like martyrs, and that’s no fun for anyone. Taking a little time out to craft can make us kinder, more patient mothers, and who doesn’t want to be that?
2. It’s fun.
Yes, I know there’s a whole bunch of people out there who say that crafting is their worst nightmare, but if you enjoyed it once chances are that you would really enjoy it again. The big difference is in how you do it. As a mum, you may need to put a bit more planning into it than you did before. I have a few posts lined up on how to do that, including a video tutorial on how I use Trello to keep me going, so watch out for them, they’re coming soon.
3. It’s great for your health.
I would craft even if it wasn’t good for my health, but did you know that arts and crafts can:
* Reduce stress
* Ward off depression
* Develop hand-eye coordination
* Teach you patience and focus
Pretty cool, huh?
4. It’s great thinking time.
I love crafting on my own because it is great thinking time. Certain things, like cross-stitching and knitting, are really rhythmic and meditative. Those types of crafts not only help us reduce our stress levels, but give us a chance to figure things out and come up with new ideas, even if we don’t sit down to do them with that in mind. I like keeping a notepad and pen (or my phone) nearby so I can record ideas as they come.
5. It’s tailor made to you.
Crafting gives us a chance to make something that is truly tailor made to us, our families and our lifestyles. Even if we follow someone else’s pattern or instructions, ours will turn out differently. Crafting gives us a chance to express our true selves in our homes and lives.
6. It increases self-confidence.
The process of seeing something grow out of nothing is awe-inspiring. And knowing that we can make something from nothing boosts our self- confidence. As parents, we have to make snap decisions all the time, and we’re often quite hard on ourselves afterwards about the choices we’ve made, so doing something that makes us feel better about ourselves and what we’re capable of is good.
7. It’s great bonding time.
* With the kids.
Your kids are probably THE easiest route back into crafting if you haven’t done any in a while, because there is no pressure to be perfect. Kids craft to have fun, to experiment, to see what happens if they add odd components together, NOT to be perfect. And very often, they open up to you in a really cool way when you’re crafting together, because it’s so relaxed.
Not all kids like crafting. I have one who is totally obsessed with it, and one who couldn’t care less. But in all my years of looking after kids as a parent, playgroup leader and au pair and nanny, I’ve figured out that there is usually ONE craft they like doing. That’s your way in. With Kirby it’s hama beads. So I got him a big box and some spare boards and he plays with them for ages. We fill our boards together and chat.
* With friends, new and old.
Being a mum can be pretty lonely. Even if you go to playgroups during the day, the focus is still mostly on the kids. A craft club or evening class is about you. You get to be you, not mum, for an hour or two and spend that time with people who have at least one similar interest to you. That’s not always true of playgroups.
If you’re not able to slip away to a local craft club once or twice a week, join a craft group on Facebook or Google Plus, start posting your makes on Instagram, or watch Periscope. They’re all really good places for finding community.
Speaking of Periscope. If you want to see and hear more on this kind of topic, or see me do simple tutorials, add me on Periscope because I’m planning on starting to broadcast after the half term holiday (so first week in November). I’m @artfullycarin. I’d do it now, just to get over my nerves, but I don’t want to start something I’ll have to put on hold for a week when the kids are off. If you have a Twitter profile, that’s the best way to sign up since it’s owned by them and gives me a way to reply to your comments afterwards if I miss them during the show.
8. It can save you money.
Hmm, yes. I’m not sure I’m the best person to talk about this one because I’ve tried a lot of things and have a big stash, plus I run this blog, but if you are really into one or two crafts, you can make some wonderful things for your home and family and save on what you would have spent in the shops on similar things, or you can make something completely unique.
9. It can make you creative in other areas of life.
Like I said earlier; crafting is often our way into being more creative in other areas of our lives. Once we start making those first few things, it’s like we trigger something in our brains to say it’s okay to be creative and to have fun with our homes and our lives.
So it’s time to ditch the guilt, because there are plenty of reasons why crafting is good for us. Over the years I’ve learned that the guilt often just covers up that we’re scared. Scared to pick up something we loved years ago only to find that we don’t like it any more or that we are very rusty. Scared to try something new and maybe not be very good at it. Scared what other people might think.
So tell me. Which reason resonated with you today? Which one did you need to hear the most? Or did I forget something? I’d love to know.