Monday, November 2, 2015

Kids and Craft: Making Both Work

This blogpost ( by an author/illustrator friend, Jill Bergman, shares what it means for her to be a mother/author/illustrator. It made me think about an article I wrote months ago (see below). Although I speaks from my own mother/children's book maker perspective, others might glean ideas about making other chosen crafts work. I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

Kids and Craft: Making Both Work
Angela C. Hawkins

For the last ten years, I’ve opted to be a stay-at-home-mom. It’s wonderful, but it does come packaged in creative limitations. I’ve teetered between ignoring my craft until my kids grow older and growing my craft while ignoring my kids. It’s not a one-size-fits-all game, but here’s how I try to balance both:        

Most days have pockets of creative time. A writing professor knew a published stay-at-home mom who nabbed twenty minutes a day to write. Sometimes a mind-numbing break while my kids have napped, snacked, or played is tempting, but I've rarely regretted choosing to create. Much can be done in focused swatches of time.
 Notepads are essential. They’ve kept my creativity streaming while I’ve nursed, watched kids, and prepared food. They’ve kept me engaged and ready for those creative time pockets.

Watching kids is productive. Watching my children play has been an opportunity to soak up beautiful memories and improve my writing and illustration. It has flooded my notebook with story ideas, and my artistic mind has captured ways of working light, color, and child-like fun into my illustrations. 

A stay-at-home mom doesn’t have to mean a play-at-home mom. I do play with my kids, but I feel that all day play is misleading and debilitating for all of us. I try to show by example and expectation that lots of happiness can be found through ambition, hard work, sharing, creativity, and productivity.

Learn and create together. Although it takes longer, learning and creating in tandem with littler ones has honed my brainstorming, artistic, researching, and teaching skills.

Learn from kids. I’m often entangled in planning and details. My kids create uninhibitedly, experimenting easily with new ideas and mediums. It reminds me to let go and have more fun.

Daily reading is a boon. It’s important for my kids and my craft to read a lot – and I can accomplish both at once! Reading to them has fine-tuned my understanding of rhythm, rhyme, word choices, and pacing.

Kid perspectives are insightful. While reading together, I observe what engages their attention, finds their chuckle bones, or leaves them distracted. I notice which covers, titles, illustrations, and blurbs reach out to them.

Kids dish out great advice. When I've encountered story and illustration problems, my children offer meticulous advice from the way they see things. Since I am writing for kids, that perspective is a sparkling asset. 

Sharing my work with them is an investment. Not only are my children my greatest fans, but I love how my example inspires them to create. Which inspires me to create. Which inspires them to create. Which . . .

Since my family will always be first, there are days when I set my dreams aside. But with a little thought and lots of perseverance, on most days I can squeeze in both.


Lauren said...

I love this! It can be tricky to make time for a much needed creative outlet. The first job I had after years of not working was a dream job, making faux cakes for Provo Craft. It quickly turned into a nightmare when I realized that Jackson felt like he needed to be a part of everything, and I ended up having to do all of my projects twice a lot of the time. (The price to pay for leaving pretty, edible decorations lying within his reach, though he was very good at finding my hiding places too!) I didn't last long there. But now, I think I'm getting better at whipping out fairly quick sketches that I'm happy with when I have some down time. And it helps that I do it just for me, with no deadlines or other people to please. That creative urge just can't be put off for very long. :D

angelic pursuits said...

That's too funny! I think we might run into the same fate were I to go into cake making. Except there might be three (possibly four?) of us taking snitches . . . I'd love to see some of your creations. Do you have any photos?