Hi makers! It's Kristin here, the maker and mama behind @kneedlesandleaves. I'm excited to be a guest on the OML blog to share a little bit about my journey into motherhood as a maker! It feels a little intimidating because I’ve only just begun to figure out what this balance looks like, but I wanted to share in case the lessons I’ve learned prove helpful to any of my fellow makers.
I’ve never considered myself very career oriented. While my peers planed for graduate school, I dreamed of the day I would become a mother. All throughout college I dated a man named Jordan. He supported my dream of staying home full-time with our future babies. After graduating from college, nearly three and a half years ago, we got married on a beautiful June day. Together we dreamed of the family we would one day begin. Somewhere along the way I opened my Etsy shop, Kneedles & Leaves Knitwear. At first it was all for fun. Then, in the spring of 2016, when we found out I was pregnant, my mind spun with ideas about how to use my craft to make money from home. To no one’s surprise, except maybe my own, this is much easier said than done. It takes a lot of time, effort, and energy to make money as a maker - three things that are not abundant in the early days of motherhood.
I’m not sure about you, but social media has made the comparison game something I have to fight against daily. It’s easy to scroll though your feed, see what hundreds of makers are doing, and feel like you are failing. It sounds so silly written down, but I doubt I’m alone in this struggle.
I'm sure comparison for my business happened before baby too, but it never felt crippling until I found myself in the midst of maker life and. motherhood. Like most things when you have a new baby, they get easier to handle with time. But time set aside, here are three questions I ask myself often to refocus and keep myself grounded in reality.
Question 1: What is my priority?
For me as a stay at home mama, my top priority is Emerson. My shop and work will always come second, especially in a season where my husband is working long days to allow me the freedom to stay home with our son. I know my business will not always receive the attention it needs, but that feels okay when I am reminded of my main focus. (Your top priority does not have to be the same as mine. Maybe your top priority is providing for your family with your craft. Regardless, it’s necessary and helpful to determine where in your life you should be exerting the most energy.)
Question 2: Are my expectations realistic?
This is where knowing your top priority comes in handy. I’ll speak from a personal example. In the early months of motherhood I tried to do too much - my expectations were not realistic. I wanted to enter this autumn knitwear season stronger than ever, all while caring for my child full time. Realistic? I think not. I was left feeling very frustrated that I kept falling short of the goals I set for myself and my shop. The reality was, I needed to hire help with my child if I wanted to meet the expectations I set, or I needed to readjust them and know the sacrifices my shop would take meant allowing me to truly prioritize being the full-time care giver for our son.
Question 3: What am I doing to “fill up my cup?”
Self-care. This one sounds simple, but is easy to neglect. We’ve all heard the saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” right? Whether it’s taking a few moments to be alone with a good cup of coffee, or working on a personal project that has sat on the shelf way too long, figure out what refreshes and resets you. If we walk though life feeling burnt out and empty, our kids, relationships, businesses, etc. will never receive the proper care they deserve.
I hope these words of advice encourage, comfort, and inspire you. Balancing maker life and motherhood is no easy feat, but it’s one I truly believe is worth fighting to figure out.
Happy making & happy motherhood,