Sewing and alterations are piling up. I had five projects to work on yesterday, but I got none of those done... or even started.
You know what happened? We had a great family day, punctuated with sickness on the carpet and broken glass… several times each. We cleaned the house, set up the Christmas tree, made cookies, and spent lots of time just enjoying each other.
I won’t pretend that it’s easy to sew with children. It’s not. But I wouldn’t trade my children for anything in the whole, wide world.
So (or "sew", for pun’s sake), how do I sew with children?
They are best behaved when they’re well-rested, fed, and have gone to the bathroom. Needing sleep, food, or the potty causes most of the problems in our house – at any age.
If all those issues are properly addressed, here are some of the ideas that have worked for me:
1. Hold them on my lap. They just love to be involved in whatever I’m doing. Often, I find that five minutes spent with them in the middle of my work will pay off in lots more peaceful time. They just need the attention. When they were babies, I would hold them while sewing for as long as I could.
2. Let them run the foot pedal for a bit. Again, involving them in my work is another way to show them attention, though it’s a no-no for persnickety projects.
3. The rag bag. To a child, this is Christmas in a bag. It’s stuffed full of every type of fabric under the sun, long strips of pretty satins cut from prom gowns, fluffy fake fur, poufy tulle, and fascinating prints. They make up all sorts of games with the contents, sometimes draping themselves in their homemade fashions, sometimes weaving a tangled web around a room to navigate. Either way, it keeps them busy and happy… until lunch time. The mess is worth some peace.
4. Read or play nearby. Sometimes my children bring their books and toys into the room where I work and read or play.
5. Forts. Under the sewing table makes a great “fort” for my children. They drag in pillows and blankets making an elaborate system. They are right at my feet and love just being with me – which makes me feel good, even though it’s harder to get my work done.
6. Quiet time under the sewing table. The wonderful fort space is also a great place that my little girl will use to build a nest and have quiet time. This works like a charm when she needs attention and quiet. I’ve used this trick when she’s restless at night and needing me, yet I still have to get work done, and that leads to my next tip:
7. Sew at night. No matter what, it’s just hard to do any type of special work while my children are awake. Trying to get back on the right thinking track after an interruption can eat lots of time, and multiply that by all the interruptions in a day! When they’re asleep for the night, I’m free to fly with my work… if my body hasn’t shut down by 8:00, as is often the case!
8. Invite a friend over to play. This often keeps the children happy for 2-3 hours.
9. Finish handwork with them as they watch a movie. Again, just being with them while I do the finishing hand-stitching on items keeps up the connection with them while I still get some work done.
10. A movie or other media. I saved this for last because it is my last option, but I refuse to believe I’m a bad mom for using the T.V. occasionally as a babysitter. I don’t do it all the time, but it helps in very pressing situations.
I’d love to hear other suggestions. How do you get sewing, crafting, or any special project done with your children there?