Break it Down

No, I’m not talking about singing… I’m talking about breaking down those larger projects that you would love to complete into smaller, manageable parts.

The Monumental Task

When I see projects online, I often wonder how people make time to do it all. I’m always pinning massive sewing projects, amazing gardens, and time-intensive paper crafts. When I see the tutorials online, I know I have the skills to complete the work, but my reality is two adorable, screamy, active boys who need my attention for all of their waking hours. My choices are to include them in the projects (which I do from time to time), or to only complete crafts when they are asleep (which leaves only about an hour or so each night to work.) Neither scenario is ideal.

My solution? I break my big projects into tiny bits that I can complete in about 10 minutes. I find that is about the time span that my two little boys can play independently without some sort of interaction with me. I realize that this method may stretch a project that would normally take about 2-3 hours and make it into a 2-3 week project. I’m ok with that.

How do I do it?

Each project is different, but I follow the same general guidelines each time:

  1. Gather supplies – get your key items together for the project. This usually involves a shopping trip for me, so getting everything together at the beginning of the project will certainly save time during the process.
  2. Complete tiny steps – have your supplies handy and ready to grab when you can steal a few minutes to work on it. For my “daddy doll” project (I’ve since completed dolls for both sets of grandparents too), I took the picture one day, printed it the next, ironed it on the next, sewed the fabric together the next, and finally stuffed it on the last day of the project. Yes, it took me longer to complete the total project, but since I had everything ready to go, I only worked on it for about 10 minutes a day, which felt like no time at all.
  3. Get help when you can – my kids love to help me with my crafting projects, so I try to include them as much as I can. We will be starting a garden in our backyard this spring, and I have been planning it for months (in my head). I found a cute tutorial for using old wine corks as seedling markers, and made my own twist on it (tutorial to come) by letting the boys paint the corks before I use permanent marker to label them. They loved painting with me, and I loved getting a tiny step of my project done while keeping them busy and entertained. (Yes, the 2-year-old wound up with paint all over himself…)

Everyone can find time to craft!

5 Ways to Find Time to Craft

As a busy mom of 2, it can be hard to find time to make all of the fun crafty things I want to make. This was especially true when my boys were infants. I have learned in the past few years some tricks for getting those craft projects done even when there seems to be very little time to craft.

1.Choose simple projects

This one may seem obvious, but if you pick some projects that take very little time to complete, then you will find that you’re completing a lot of projects in very little time.

2. Make set-up and clean-up very easy

Have your craft project and all of the materials needed in an easily accessible area so that when you find yourself with a few minutes, you can just pull out what you need and work on the project right away. If you have to search for all of the materials every time you work on the project, you will waste the precious time you have. For example, I have been knitting a scarf a few rows at a time. I keep the yarn and needles in a small bag that I can just pull out when I have a few minutes to work. I have brought it with me in car trips, and have even brought it to work!

3. Craft when the kids are playing

This tip may not be entirely practical, depending on how old your kids are and how interested they are in your project. I was able to occupy my 2 and 4-year-old boys with Play-doh at the kitchen table today while I worked next to them at the kitchen counter on my holiday wreath project. I had all of the materials set up at the dining room, so I didn’t have to go far to find what I needed. Once they were busy with their toy, they didn’t really pay much attention to me. That being said, the wreath only takes about 20 minutes to make, and that was just about the amount of time the boys would stay interested in Play-doh. Perfect!

4. Take the craft projects with you

Depending on what you’re working on, you can potentially work on craft projects when you’re in the car (not driving – obviously) or when you’re on your lunch break at work. If you pack up the parts neatly, then you can take them anywhere to work on your project.

5. Make crafting a priority

If you’re anything like me, then making things with your hands fills you with a sense of pride, happiness, and purpose that you just can’t find doing anything else. When I’m being creative and making something either useful or pretty, then I’m feeling calm and happy, which seeps into the rest of my day. If I don’t spend time creating, then I’m not as happy during the day. As a result, I have learned to make this creative time a priority in my life. I would rather have some laundry that needs folding than to sacrifice crafting time… even if I just work for 20 minutes on a project.

If you’re finding that you don’t really have time to make the craft projects you pin, then try incorporating these tips into your busy schedule and see how it works!

Quilt Blanket Saga

Before I had my 2 boys, I had at least 3 craft projects going at a time. I would spend a Saturday afternoon sewing a new outfit or making curtains for my office.

When I was pregnant with my first baby, especially toward the end, I went into nesting mode. This involved reorganizing my pantry. I still have the color coded and labeled bins and the magnet board for “meal planning” that hasn’t been touched in at least 3 months. It’s a beautiful thing and even now I think about how wonderful it was to have the time to spend an entire weekend organizing just one tiny space in my home.

The best project of that pregnancy, however, was the tufted quilt blanket I planned and started in the last month. (Inspired by Pinterest, of course.) My due date was July 15, so after the school year ended mid-June, I thought I would have all the time in the world to finish the project while I binge watched episodes of “A Baby Story” on TLC. I carefully cut all of the pieces… that took a whole weekend. I started stuffing the quilt and sewing it as I went, which was a tedious process, but I loved every minute of it. This was going to be the most glorious lap blanket in the world.

And then my son was born two weeks before my due date.

At first, I would set him on top of the cozy tufts of finished blankie while I worked, but inevitably, the sound of the sewing machine wasn’t as soothing to my infant son as it was to me. Alas, I had to abandon the blanket. I had stacks of cut fabric and no time to make anything out of it.

Fast forward 2 1/2 years to the end of my second pregnancy. Again, I was feeling that nesting urge as most pregnant women do. This time, however, I wasn’t starting from scratch. I didn’t have thousands of fabric squares to cut. I did have half of an amazing quilt in all of my favorite colors that promised to be the center of the cozy universe, I had a toddler running around, and I had a strong determination to finish it before baby 2 arrived (knowing this time that after baby, nothing was going to get done).

I originally planned on the blanket being 10 squares across by 20 squares long, but settled to make it 10 x 10 instead to “just finish the darn thing already.”

I am proud to say that I DID finish that blanket, and I backed it with a soft fleece fabric. It is amazing, and soft, and warm, and one of my favorite craft projects… even if it did take the longest to complete.

Quilted blanket
This is the tufted blanket that took over 2 years to finish, thanks to the birth of my son.