This blog post will be a bit different. It won't be about techniques, patterns or collections. I am writing this to share my point of view as a mom & designer or designer & mom. I also don't mean to give the impression that I got everything figured out or that my way of living or mothering is the only possible, we are all so different and have different views on things like motherhood, career and the combination of both. But I thought, since I turned 7 years old as a mom this week, that I'll share some thoughts with you.
Why being a mom makes us better designers
Through motherhood, we learn new skills that can be also applied to our work as designers:
1) Time management:
If there is a skill we learn as moms it's to squeeze every minute of the day or to multitask. Doctor appointments, school meetings, getting birthday presents for the teachers, laundry, meal prep, etc. We do a lot and we only get better and better with time management.
When they hurt, you hurt. Putting yourself in the place of the other person is a huge skill as a designer. You have to know your clients' problems, their needs, and how to communicate with them, just as our kids do!
Another good one! You listen to your kids and also you listen to your clients, to trends, etc.
4) Seeing the world through the eyes of a child again,
which can get really creative: This is one of my favorite aspects of being a mom, for sure.
... ... ... yeah well, I could get better at that I guess, haha. But you really get a new perspective as a mom, things that would have bothered you before, aren't that important now. You just don't have the energy to deal with that. So you move on.
6) Trial and error:
Would he sleep better tonight if I do this? Next night: Humm... maybe if I try this? NEXT NIGHT..... and so on, right?
7) Conflict mediation:
Splitting siblings fights, navigating everyday life with a bullheaded toddler... The mediator role comes in handy when you're trying to get a deal with a client or when you encounter difficulties in your business.
8) Unexpected solutions to problems:
As a mom you face problems that require great creativity, and, as you know, creativity is a muscle, the more you use it, the more you get.
9) Finding inspiration in the smallest and most banal things:
At least my kids think every little stone or leaf or bug is the most spectacular thing in the world and could spend hours just looking at them. And I love that!! Curiosity is something every designer or artist should have, no matter how big or small the object might be.
10) Wanting to become better:
I want to become a better mom everyday, more patient, more understanding. That goal is also applicable to my career, the desire to become better and better.
>>> Personal bonus for me, as a freelance baby & kidswear designer: First-hand-experience!:
After becoming a mother myself, I started looking at clothes from the other side, from the side of the indirect consumer, because, even if I was not the one wearing them, I had to dress up my babies and later on help them get dressed themselves. It was eye-opening from both a designer AND a "consumer" perspective and it led me to question many current design practices and decisions, to the point where I would think: "The person who designed this has definitely no kids". (I don't mean it in a demeaning way; some things look super cute but are either uncomfortable for the children or time/nerves-consuming for their parents).
Why being a designer makes us "better" moms
This is very personal and -of course- there isn't such thing as THE perfect mom.
What works for me, might not work for you and that's fine! But here are some things I think
We'll need creativity to survive parenting, definitely!
2) Setting an example:
This is very personal, but I think I think by working on something I love, I am setting a good example to them by showing up everyday.
3) Following our dreams:
This one relates to the previous one: I want to show my children how to chase their dreams, as easy as that! If you have a passion, follow it, learn, grow, change course if you need or want to, help others.
4) Keep going:
In business as in parenting, you wake up every day and you do your thing, you try your very best, open to the experience and giving 100%. If you fall, you straight up your crown and you go on. Tomorrow is a new day.
This is also very personal, since everyone has their own paths.
For me, not working wasn't an option. Thanks to the laws in Germany, I could have stayed up to 3 years at home taking care of my kids. But I wouldn't have been happy. And if mom isn't happy, the children will not likely be happy neither. There would have been an urge to work and create and maybe I would have ended up resenting them. I repeat, if you want to take time off to stay home with the kids, that's great and I know it's a LOT of work too. You've got all my respect! In an ideal world, everyone should be able to decide on their own without being forced or judged by society.
6) Thinking outside the box:
This skill will come handy as a parent, believe me!
7) Making them proud:
I recently made a project for my kids' kindergarten using my skills as a designer and they loved it, they were so proud! Also when they wear something with my design on it, they go out glowing, telling everyone THEIR mom has done that herself.
8) Work ethic:
I love that they get to see the whole process behind "bringing the bread home", all the hard work, the struggles, but also the successes and achievements. Standing up for what's right, for what you're worth, being kind, helping others.
9) You can make a living out of art/design:
Art does NOT equal poor or starve!
10) Learning by doing:
Like my mom used to say: "Kids don't come with a manual" and yes, she is right! Of course you can learn a lot about design, techniques, programs, etc. But some things, you just learn by doing.
Tips for working or creating with kids around
Many parents in the world were able to experience this during the pandemic: working home with the kids. I'm not gonna lie, it's not a fun ride! But as resilient human beings we have/had to go through with it and make the best out of this. But what happens if you're a stay-at-home-mom and you want to work as an artist or designer? Or if childcare closes and you have some deadlines to meet?
1) Share your drawing time:
Forget "sleep when the baby sleep" and "draw when the kids draw". You'll have lots of fun! And they too!
2) Nap time:
Those hours are worth gold! Forget laundry and dishes if what you really want to do is drawing, painting, watching an online class or whatever! I remember sleeping next to my baby -he wouldn't let me leave the room- so I stayed there, holding him and watching Skillshare classes. He felt safe and warm and I learned so many new stuff!
3) Mom time:
Motherhood is 24/7, right? But even moms need time for them. And I don't mean a shower or going to the bathroom alone, that's not mom-time, that's basic personal hygiene. Remember that you can't fill any cup if yours is empty.
4) Get help:
Friends or relatives can take the kids for a walk or look after them if you need to do some work. If your finances allow it, get household help. If your kids are bigger, delegate! Be sure to communicate to your partner, that your job is very important to you, even if you are not yet making lots of money. You have the right to work on something you love. Every start is hard.
5) Plan your goals and be realistic:
Think about the amount of hours you can work during a week and
This is important! Get some rest! Load your batteries and you'll be able to work better.
7) Plan enough buffer time for your projects:
Kids get sick. Like, a lot. Then YOU get sick. Happens almost every time. Be sure to add some days buffer time to your projects to avoid stressing out about deadlines.
8) Be THERE when you are not working:
As a freelancer or business owner it can be really difficult to turn the thinking off. It's understandable, it's kind of our baby too. What I find most helpful is to do a "brain dump list" of all the work-related things so I don't forget anything and then I pick up my kids. That way, I have more space in my brain to be present for them, their needs, their stories, etc.
9) Work together on something:
This is similar to point number 1) but this time, you will work together on something! Have your kids draw something, then scan it, do a pattern, order some fabric with it and sew something for them. Or a notebook, a poster, a sticker. Anything! Nowadays with print on demand a project like this is really easy and they'll never forget it. They'll be there for every step of the process and they'll more likely understand when you explain them that you have to do something like that but for a client.
10) Don't be so hard on yourself:
Really. Don't be so hard on yourself! We are all trying to do our best here, to balance family and our career, because we want to! We love our kids so much we can explode and we are also so passionate about what we do! Sometimes it's going to be balanced and sometimes it won't. Have your priorities clear, and be gentle to yourself. You've got this!!!
What do you think about this? What are your experiences with motherhood and creating? Share your story and share your tips if you like.
Drop them in the comment.