I have two sons, Paul (born in 2011) and John (born in 2015). I don’t talk about them a lot on Sie Macht, because I want to keep this space and my business focused on sewing. Plus, I’m very aware that what goes on the internet stays on the internet, and I’m extremely protective of their privacy.
That said, when I’m not working on Sie Macht stuff, I’m probably working on family stuff. I’m a stay-at-home parent, first and foremost. It’s a good, crazy, exhausting, and rewarding gig, and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to be physically present for my boys (hubs included). (That’s not to say that some days I wish I could get dressed up and go to an office for work, because I definitely miss those days, too!)
Since I became a mom in 2011, I’ve learned a lot about myself, my husband, our sons, and our extended family. I’ve found a lot of mom-ing lessons overlap with sewing, actually, and I thought you’d be interested in the connections I’ve made between parenthood and my sewing practice. So, here we go!
1.) Lose the Guilt
It’s shockingly easy to feel guilt as a parent. In the back of your mind, there’s a voice quietly hissing, “You’re doing the wrong thing, and your children will pay for it.” (Dark, eh?)
If you work, you’re not giving your kids enough attention. If you give your kids too much attention, you’re preventing them from learning independence.
And let’s not forget about the worst kind of guilt: the kind your feel when you take a hot minute for yourself, sans kiddos. Because shouldn’t your children be your top priority at all times?
I love my sons. I would lay down my life for them, as I’m sure most parents would lay down their lives for their own children.
If you don’t give yourself the same compassion, grace, and patience that you give to your children — unconditional love, free from judgment — you’re doing yourself the greatest disservice of all time. Really.
How does this tie into a sewing practice? It’s all about “should.”
I should be able to sew this faster. I should spend less on fabric. I should tamp down my love of sewing and how much time I spend at my machine, because it’s time that could be spent on “important” things (cough, my kids, cough).
I want you to punch “should” in the throat.
Give yourself permission — to the best of your ability — to invest in the time, tools, and materials of your practice, because your creative practice makes you a more complete human being.
And more complete human beings make better parents.
2.) Loosen Up
On a similar note, you can’t take parenting — or sewing — too seriously.
Yes, guiding your kiddos as they evolve into caring, self-reliant adults is a massive responsibility. But there’s a massive amount of absurdity in the day-to-day job of raising children. (The things that send my sons into laughing fits never ceases to amaze me.)
Kids don’t take life too seriously, so why should parents?
When it comes to your sewing practice, maximum happiness comes from approaching it with ease. This is your playtime, so be playful! It’s just fabric. It’s just clothes. Your sewing machine is not the nuclear football.
Let’s not flog ourselves over mistakes, real or imagined. Let’s shrug and move on.
3.) Ask: How Does It Look from 3 Feet Away?
This probably has more to do with housekeeping than parenting, but I’ve found that having small humans in your house greatly compromises its cleanliness and tidiness. I literally could spend most of my waking hours cleaning and tidying. It. Just. Doesn’t. Stop. Like, HOW does that even work?
Instead of giving into perfection and keeping a sparkling house, I do (almost) daily 30-minute chore/tidying blasts and aim to do an 80 percent job when cleaning. (I bump up that percentage for deep cleaning and when we’re having company, natch).
And, from 3 feet away, our house looks dang good. I wouldn’t eat off the floor, but most people would call my house clean and not be skeezed out by dirt or clutter. Most important, though, is I’ve found the “good enough” point for our housekeeping — clean without driving myself crazy.
(In case you’re wondering, my husband and sons do help with housekeeping. I do more of it because I’m at home more.)
When it comes to sewing, I also encourage you to practice the Rule of 3 Feet: When looking at your garment from 3 feet, can you see the mistake? No? Then it’s not a big deal and you may move on.
4.) Don’t Believe What You’re Told in the Heat of Anger
Hoo boy, it can be hard to take sass from your children, especially when it gets personal. Words like “worst,” “hate,” “never,” “always,” and “AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHH!” pointed in your direction can grind down a parent.
And yet, once those big feeling blow over (and everyone is off time out), you go back to a (mostly) chill household filled with kindness and fits of giggles.
It’s easy to get mad at yourself when you’re sewing (at least it is for me). My head overflows with criticism, and I feel hot shame creeping over my cheeks (and sometimes even tears welling up in my eyes).
“GOD, WHHHHYYYYY did I do that?”
(This mostly happens when I’m tired, for the record.)
This is when I walk away. Literally set down my work and exit the situation.
The crappy judgments you laid on yourself in a moment of sewing frustration just ain’t true. The heat of the moment is not a place to look for truth.
So, calm down, clear you head, and look at your misstep through the lens of learning. A sewing mistake has nothing to do with your worth as a person.
5.) When in Doubt, Get Out of the House
Sometimes you just can’t handle your own home anymore. The toys seems to be multiplying, the chores never stop piling up, and your kiddos selective hearing is at its peak.
Your patience also is at its peak.
This is when you need a change of scenery. To me, it doesn’t matter if it’s field trip to a neighborhood park, a shopping trip to Target, or simply driving a road until it terminates just because you’re curious.
Just go. Give your brain something different to process, so when it comes back to familiar surroundings, it’s recharged and able to cope with the chaos of parenthood.
The same goes for sewing. When you’re feeling stuck or frustrated, step away. Pack up your stuff for another day and get out of your sewing space.
In your time away, your brain has an opportunity to work out problems while it’s not under the gun. This is why you always have great ideas in the shower! You mind has time to wander.
OK, my dearest sewing darlings: What are your parenting lessons that totally apply to sewing? What did I miss? What haven’t I learned yet (oh Lord, help me!)? I can’t wait to hear your sage advice!
P.S. ICYMI, here’s the previous post: 12 Rainbow Clothes Ideas That Won’t Make You Look Like a Child. I made a sweet rainbow-fashion Pinterest board for this post that’s definitely worth a look! 🌈🌈🌈
P.P.S. If you like this post, you might enjoy these, too:
- What sewing a chemo quilt for my mom taught me about parenting
- Wardrobe Architect Part 1: Getting personal about wardrobe planning
- An Update: Coming Out of Hard Times
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
my dear Erin, you have great wisdom here! my mom always told me to pick my battles and my dad would say, stay cool! I wasn’t able to grab onto this wisdom until baby #4 came along (I had no choice 🙂 ) but grab I did. And I continued to learn as they became teens. Close the door and walk away from the kids bedroom disasters. Ain’t worth the fight. This Christmas, I was bound and determined to sew a gorgeous burgundy silk velvet skirt of flounces. I’ve never stitched this type of velvet and I have been sewing since I was 8 or 9 years old! I made so many mistakes. I needed to close the door and walk away on several occasions, but made it by the skin of my teeth. By the way, these lessons go on not only with sewing but with learning how to be a parent to adult children. You will do fine. You are doing fine! And I admire you. Be well.
Thank you so much for your kind words, Nancie. They mean a lot to me.
I can only imagine what it will be like to “parent” adult children. Part of me can’t wait to know my boys as adults, yet another part of me wants to freeze them as they are, innocent, optimistic, and without cynicism. Oh well.
As the mother of two grown boys, or rather, men, I would add one more: remember what your goals are. Your goal as a parent is not to have a perfect house or perfect children, but to help the kids become responsible adults who think for themselves. Ours are both out of the house and supporting themselves, plus they have social support in addition to the family. Success!
Our goals when sewing are not primarily to make pieces of art, but to clothe ourselves comfortably for our unique shape and lifestyle. I’m still working on this, but it is the goal.
Hear, hear, Joyce! Thanks for reading!