Work at Home Mom

This winter, my littlest one discovered my sewing machine and all of its fancy knobs.  She pulled off two, and at first I thought it was just annoyingly cosmetic, but eventually I realized it had affected the stitch length function and it was getting worse.  Ack, another expensive tune up.

Enter the sewing machine cover, whipped up after reading the lovely tutorial at Art Nest.  I have a crush on anything patchwork, so this functional and patchy project was calling my name.  Although, it has occurred to me that this may actually attract the children...  I guess I should have made it ugly?

This little adventure reminded me of my efforts to find balance in motherhood and working at home not long after J was born.  Since then, sewing and designing have turned into part time employment which is exciting, fulfilling, and helps me maintain my sanity as a new mother.  I don't have it all figured out, but I feel much more confident than I did back in 2009.  So I thought I'd share a few things I've learned about being a work at home mom.  The first three are organizational, and the last one is more of a change in philosophy.

  1. Routine.  The children and I are both more pleasant, have more fun, and get more accomplished when we have a somewhat structured day.  Routine does not come naturally to me, so I've had to work at this, but it's worth it.  I'm especially able to enjoy play time more and focus during chore time, when I know I have work time slotted in later.  
  2. Efficiency.  I work in small increments throughout the day: during naptime, movie time, daddy time, and bed time.  I work in batches, doing a bunch of cutting at once, machine sewing, and hand sewing.  I save hand sewing for long car rides or tv time.  When someone wakes up, gets hungry, or needs to pee, I'm prepared to walk away.
  3.  Space.  I have a dedicated work space - it's not pretty, but it's organized and my work table is out of the children's reach (ahem, unlike the sewing machine).  I keep works in progress neatly laid out on the table, and organizational notes on a marker board above it.  My scanner and pattern files are stored under the table, and my fabrics, scissors, and trims are all in reach.  This is essential to making my short bursts of work really productive. 
  4. I let my children see me work.  During movie time, daddy time or quiet time - when they are awake but occupied, I get out my stuff and work.  I cut fabric on the floor near them while they play with John, I hand sew on the couch during their movie, and sometimes L plays on the floor in my studio while I work on the machine.  Sometimes they ignore me, sometimes they get involved, and sometimes they steal my fabric.  Either way, I feel this is valuable for them because being creative and productive is a regular part of their day.  Handiwork skills are easily accessible to them, whenever they are ready to learn.  Not to mention they get a chance to see me being both domestic and professional.
I've begun to realize that when I can keep the first three in order (and that's the hard part) the fourth point proves to be beneficial for me and my children.  But, of course, the most helpful thing has been to find what works for me, and go with it confidently.  We all get there eventually, I guess.  :)

What works for you?


Susannah said...

eep! so cute - great job! feel free to share it in my Flickr group!

Hayley said...

This is very smart. Routine always allows me to get things done (like work, or something specifically for us...unrelated to the kids) without the guilt since I know I've slotted in enough time for family. The only problem? I don't stick to it.

mtnman said...

Were you trying to be funny with "mine name"? Regardless, I laughed.

Laura said...

nope, Josh. That was all typo. Thanks.