And we all love after-school coffee time and play time! That's when I try to slow down for the rest of the day. Well, until the kids go to bed, anyway. I still only managed half a cup of coffee before getting distracted, though.
I hope you had a good day too, whether it was ordinary or not so ordinary.
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I’m currently loving the regularity of school days and afternoon studio time, and have had a wonderful time pottering about in the studio this week. No finished projects to show you, just snippets of activity…
If it seems as though I have far too many different projects on the go, and am always jumping from one project to the next, it’s because I am. Sometimes that gets a bit overwhelming, but most of the time it’s just how I like it. It means that there is always something I can do, no matter my mood, or that of my children! Apparently it’s probably not the most efficient way to work, though!
My artwork has been blessed with more press coverage. A big ‘Thankyou’ to Clare Mooney and Katherine Balfour for this lovely write-up in the latest Quilter’s Companion magazine (issue 57)! Katherine showed so much interest when she visited me at the gallery, and it was lovely to be able to talk with her about my work.
On the home front, we are all doing well. Marcus is generally very relaxed. The other four children are now home too (the youngest two came home this morning) and it is so nice to be a complete family again.
As someone who likes to be organised and plan my days, these early days and weeks (months?) with a newborn baby are rather challenging. I’m trying very hard to focus on enjoying the moment rather than on how unpredictable my days (and nights) are. I know this time will be over all too quickly!
As part of a recent workshop, we had to interview ourselves. I started with some of the questions I am asked most often, and I thought I’d share some of them here, one at a time. (Feel free to post new questions via email or comments. I can’t promise when I’ll get them, but I will do my best to get to them eventually.)
With 4 children, two not yet at school, how do you find the time to make your artwork?
I try to include the children where possible, by talking about what I am doing, and asking for their opinions. All my children have grown up with me spending significant amounts of time at the sewing machine, or in the various stages of making something. They think that it’s a normal part of what mums do.
I also encourage them to be creative alongside me wherever I am working. We might draw together at the dining table, or they might work in their colouring books next to me while I am sewing. They all go through stages where they like to try their hand at some sewing themselves, or even just sorting through buttons or pinning pins into a scrap of fabric.
I have regular daily and weekly habits and routines. I plan ahead by setting goals and defining the steps needed to meet my goals. This means that I always have a ‘workfront’. These tasks are scheduled into my calendar wherever I have an empty time slot.
For example, getting up on time in the morning (between 5:30 and 6 AM) is important to me as it enables me to start my day with Bible reading and prayer before the children wake up. I also check my calendar for the day. Between 6:30 and 8AM we have breakfast, I prepare vegies and other ingredients for dinner (and make sure I have taken the meat out of the freezer!), put on a load of washing, check emails, tidy up the kitchen, and if possible, fold any clean washing. This leaves me free to spend half an hour or do at the computer attending to any emails or other computer work that requires more focused attention.
Getting my day off to a good start like this important to me. My challenge is in accepting that it doesn’t always work out, and to not let it ruin my day when it doesn’t!
Afternoons between lunchtime and school pickup time is set aside for working in my studio. I try not to let other jobs cut into that time. Daniel sleeps for part of that time, and both Daniel and Caleb are quite happy to spend some time in the studio every afternoon. (We have some dedicated ‘studio’ toys that they only get to use when I am busy in the studio).
Tasks like drawing, designing new quilts, screenprinting, burying threads and hand-stitching bindings are more likely to happen outside of ‘studio hours’ – on a morning when I’m not running errands, or after school while I supervise homework.
I LOVE iCal and my iPad for planning my days/weeks/year. My calendar is reviewed daily. Saturday evenings I spend a bit of extra time planning the upcoming week – by then we usually know which meetings and appointments we need to take into account (and what Phil’s work week should look like – late days or travel). Spending time on these on Saturday evening also means that on Sunday my mind is not busy with a whole host of mental ‘to-do’s’, enabling me to enjoy Sunday properly as a day of rest and worship.
As I alluded to in another recent post, the big thing I need to keep in mind is that my first tasks are that of wife and mother, and that with four children in the house, the best-laid plans are likely to change on a very regular basis. However, I still maintain that I am more productive when I make plans that are likely to change than when I make no plans at all!
Maintaining routines and setting goals…
Establishing priorities and letting go of goals…
It is quite a balancing act, isn’t it?
I feel that I have good habits in place as far as that goes, but there is still a constant process of review. Family needs change, and consequently, routines change. Opportunities arise, and need to be assessed in the light of various goals and priorities.
Goal setting is a valuable tool. If I don’t set goals for myself, I don’t accomplish much more than my day-to-day duties. I have been fortunate to be able to meet several goals in the past couple of months (completing quilts for entering into various exhibitions, releasing my ‘to be a child’ tea towel for sale and participating more online). But sometimes it doesn’t work out like that. I have been working towards another goal (applying to participate in an art and craft market), but an honest assessment of things last week showed that it was taking too much of my focus away from my family (put simply: grumpy Mum!). So I had to let go of that goal.
I don’t like to ‘give up’ but I also know that I cannot pray daily for God to bless what I do, if I don’t also work by the God-given priorities at this stage of my life – that before I am an artist, I am a wife and mother. I try not to dwell on the things I would like to do but can’t, and focus instead on being thankful for the many things I AM able to do during these busy years at home.