How to fit creativity into the everyday busy of life can be a big challenge for all of us. It doesn't matter if you're a parent of 6, or 1, or have no kids at all. Life can be full, hectic, non-stop. Just regular living - cooking, cleaning, buying food, paying bills, going to work, sitting in traffic.... all those things seem to fill our days before we even get to think about spending time with family and friends, before we can even consider adding in our own creative making time.
I received a beautiful postcard the other day from a friend who said she felt guilty when she put herself first by choosing craft and creative time. Unless she was making money from it, then it couldn't fit into her days. It got me thinking about how we can all overcome the guilt (because I hate guilt more than anything else - let's let go of the guilt please), and make the space for our selves. How we can find the balance, the slow, in everyday. And how I truly think it's actually vital that we stop all the busy, and take just some small pockets of time to create a Slower life. I personally think craft and creative time has a big part to play in modern society, and helping us all to slow down. What do you think?
I know I'm in a happy position to be able to look at some of these ideas with a less busy, un-blinkered lifestyle. I don't have to rush off to work, sit in traffic, spend every Saturday taxi-ing kids around to sports. So, with this perspective - I've decided to share some ideas with you, in the hope that you can make implement them in your life. So you can find slow for yourself and your family.
First thing is to choose -
by this I mean: Actually sit down and decide if this life you're living is going the way you want, or are you just on a whirlwind roundabout that you can't step off. "Stop World, I wanna get off!". Well, maybe you don't have to be so extreme as that, but take some ideas and inspiration from that thought process. Write down a list of what you do in your week - it doesn't have to be minute by minute, but roughly day by day how you spend your time. Is all Saturday caught up with house cleaning and kids' activities, and Sunday the rush to plan for the week again. Do you go shopping in your lunch break because it's what you've always done, or is Sunday spent at the shopping centre because you think the kids need new shoes?
Once you have your list, think about which parts bring you true feeling and meaning, and which parts you're just floating through without thinking. Do you buy a morning coffee evert day, and not even notice that you're sipping it? Stop and really truly think about this! I'm not asking for radical life changes, I'm asking for small moments, for tiny alterations that build up and create new ways of thinking.
Choose, Edit & Re-Write ::
Write your weekly list of what you do each day
Circle the things that bring you joy
How many things on your list bring you joy, compared to not?
Can you remove any of those 'not' things? Or minimise them - ie rather than every week, can you plan to go to the shopping malls once a month and get everything at the same time.
Can you organise with a neighbour or friend to do some of the out-of-school activities, rather than you going weekly, could you go fortnightly? Like sharing driving to sports events or such.
Can you ask your family to help more with the cleaning, so you spend less time doing it all? Or how much would it cost to get a cleaner once a week; think of your own time in terms of hours it costs you. Perhaps outlaying $50 a week on a cleaner would save you so much more in energy, time, and feeling joyous.
Once you've crossed items off your list, have you got space to create space for yourself. (Read below for what I mean about this).
Can you re-write your list with a new weekly how to? And this list will include some big pockets of 'not doing anything time'. This is vital. Giving yourself actual space for yourself. This is the space you're creating to SLOW your life, the space to add in your craft, your gardening, your cooking, your journalling, your you time.
Create Space -
To really slow down, you need proper time. Yes 10 minutes here and there is great, but one hour is ideal. So, when you're re-writing your list make sure you move things around so that you have longer free time, and more jobs linked together. Why get in the car and go to the shops more times than necessary? If you forgot something, let it be - your family will survive without that 'much-needed' item. In my experience we create some of the best meals when haven't been shopping and are using all the things at the bottom of the fridge and pantry. We live half an hour out of town, so we can’t zip to the shops to buy more bread or milk. Instead we make do. It might take a while to re-train yourself and your family, but instead of jumping up at the first moment practice stopping and slowing.
A few other ideas for daily things to SLOW you down:
instead of going to the shops during lunch hour, take a packed lunch and sit in a garden somewhere. You'll save money (on not buying lunch) and go back to work feeling calmer and happier.
Write a letter to a friend.
Don't scroll Instagram or Facebook.
Breathe and let the sun smile upon your face.
instead of going to a busy coffee shop with friends, invite them to your house.
Bake something special and really sit and chat with them. No noisy cafe to disturb you.
Have your craft work sitting on the table for easy access, maybe something easy and small for your friend. Idle hands are often drawn to small craft projects and it creates a beautiful moment woven into your conversation.
Do you take public transport to work? Instead of scrolling your phone, take some craft work with you (I'll share how I do this in a later post). The meditative aspect of slow stitch or basket weaving means you'll zone out of the noise around you, and allow you to breath a little slower. True! I've tried it.
Before you go shopping for gift items ponder if you can maybe make something instead. The time spent driving to the shop, finding a car park and then scouring the shops looking for the perfect (totally elusive) gift could better be spent slowly sipping tea and hand making a gift. Read this for a few tips and gift wrapping options.
*I mention these because they're easy to transport and to do in small pockets of time, as well as pick up & put down. No stitch counting to remember.
This post is the first in a series called Slow Your Life With Craft. Future posts coming up will be:
Handmade vs Shop bought : Gifts you can make in less time than driving to the shops
Creativity on the go : Crafts for travelling or out-&-about and how to pack your craft bag + a FREE downloadable pattern
Fitting Craft around family life
Craft as Meditation : and a creative meditation you can listen to while you craft
Slow Craft and what it means - both in an environmental sense and a personal un-busy sense.