I’m often asked how I have time to run a handmade Etsy business, be a mom to a toddler, and work a full time job…. well it’s a good question. A lot of times I shrug my shoulders. Working on my Etsy shop became just a normal part of my day, but it wasn’t always that ‘easy’ when I think back. I started my Etsy shop before I had Riley, so I actually had a lot of time, but I wasn’t as serious about it as I became. Admittedly, I couldn’t start back up my business again till she was 6 months old when we moved. All of my supplies were in storage, which was a huge bummer. There were definitely things I wished I could have made her.
When I did get back to sewing it was quite a challenge, but I wasn’t working. I had, what seemed like, an abundance of time, but I was learning to balance that with a young baby. I think this transition period helped prepare me with some time management skills. I wanted to share some of the things I learned along the way for those of you who are just starting out. Whether you are sewing as a beginner and just wanting to make something for your little one, or if you’re thinking about starting your own sewing business.
Don’t use naps to clean and do chores. Okay, just not all the time. Don’t sleep during every nap either 🙂 What worked best for me, and still does, is to get some of these household tasks done while your little one is awake. If you have a baby, fold laundry on the couch or floor while they do tummy time on a mat next to you. If they’re old enough to sit, get them set up with toys in a highchair or bouncer activity center while you do dishes. You can still interact with them, be alert and available, but you can get things done as well. Nap time is so precious, you should not be wasting it on chores. I did most of my sewing and business tasks during nap time or after Riley’s bedtime. Yes, it was still only a 1-2 hour chunk of time, and if she woke up early it was a bit of a bummer, but it was relatively uninterrupted ‘me’ time.
Sew in assembly-line fashion. This is especially helpful if you’re sewing for a small business. It also works if you’re making a few of the same item at once. For example, if I’m making a few pairs of baby bummies, I will cut all my fabrics, then pin them all, then do 1-2 steps for each pair, and repeat until done. The main reason I do this is it breaks up the projects into manageable chunks. This is especially helpful if your sewing time gets cut short as there’s a better chance of finishing one or two tasks of a project during each ‘session’. It makes it easier to stop and pick up again and not be completely lost. It also helps keep your space and supplies organized.
Keep your space organized. This feels like an obvious one, but I thought i’d put it out there anyway. First, keep all tools you need regularly handy. I have a mug with pinking sheers, fabric scissors, paper scissors, seam ripper, pencil, small ruler, and poking stick to turn stuff around. I can get what I need quickly and switch between tools. I also have tape, pins, safety pins within easy access as well. I find myself putting off stuff that takes longer to dig out like all the supplies for snaps. I do have these all in one place, but I have to drag a bin out, etc. I also have all of my patterns organized and easily accessible as well. When I had to dig through a binder to find them, I actually took longer to start a project. I know it’s so silly and minor, but as a tired mom, one more thing to do and dig through was just holding me back. I have my patterns organized in a rolling cart drawer bin, and then each pattern is in a labeled file folder with all the sizes labeled in side it. Each drawer is a different category: Dresses, tops, bottoms. I pretty much know where to find everything quickly and know I can find all my sizes.
I have two of these carts. They’re cute and keep my supplies and patterns organized, and fit under my Ikea desk.
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Entertain your little ones while you work. If you do find you have to work while your little one is awake, you will need to find a way to entertain them. First of all, set them up in the same room as you. This depends on the child, but even when Riley was 3 and able to play independently in the room next door, she’d rather bring her toys into my room where I was sewing and come set up right next to me. It felt a little bit like “being annoyed” but naturally she wanted to be involved in what I was doing. What I found to work best, was to just sort of embrace this. I would give her a few fabric scraps, even got her a toy ‘sewing machine’ and set her up at a little table next to mine. Other times I would just let her bring whatever toys into the room and have her play near me and try to be engaged verbally with whatever fantasy game she was playing. It is not easy and a bit distracting, but if I had to get something done it was my only choice. Setting her up with a tv show and snack in the next room never lasted long and I should be relatively grateful in the grand scheme of things. When she was younger I would set her up with toys in the pack n play in the room I was in. Some days, this simply doesn’t work. It’s too distracting, they need too much attention, too much interruptions. That’s okay. Its not their fault and its not your fault. Take a break, see if you can get them set up with an engaging activity and try getting back to work. If not, come back to it later. I want to say, you do not need to feel guilty for not sitting on the floor watching them play every second of the day. You are setting an example for them and you are not ignoring them! You are showing them how to work independently, how to concentrate, how to create things, etc etc. Riley even started folding her washcloths perfectly from watching me fold fabric. She learned that mommy does work and creates things and makes things for people.
This is the toy sewing machine we ended up getting Riley. It doesn’t actually really sew (I think there are a few out there). I was even prepared to just get her a tiny portable machine, but she ended up really liking this one, does not care at all that it doesn’t actually sew, but she loves the noise. There are a few things you can make with the yarn and felt, but she just pretend plays with it for the most part. Toy Sewing Machine
Set Realistic Goals and don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s easy to get overwhelmed trying to get everything done as a new mom or if you’re new to sewing. There are definitely projects that have stopped me in my tracks as well, but you have to get past it. First of all, don’t take on too much, and be realistic. It’s great to have goals and timelines in mind of when you want to finish stuff, but if it doesn’t happen, you haven’t failed. You still have time, and you can still finish. It’s even okay to scrap a project all together if it’s not working out or just simply too hard yet. Set it aside. Get back to it later, or not, it’s okay. If you feel like you haven’t been in the mood or don’t have the energy to sew, go shopping (in the store or through your stash) for new fabric and get excited about something new. I usually do a personal project I’m really excited about to get back into sewing after taking a break. Browse new ideas on Pinterest to try something new.
Happy Sewing! Find fun fabric here for your projects!!