mom life

Five Tips for Sewing with Young Kids Underfoot

I’ve been in a season of slow, simple sewing. Have you been in a season like this? I’m a homeschool mama with five young kids, including a toddler whose favorite pastime is coloring on the walls and climbing onto everything he shouldn’t.. some days I barely have time to go to the bathroom, let alone sew an entire handmade wardrobe. Most of the projects I’m sewing lately are things I can complete in one sitting, generally a pattern I’ve sewn a dozen times, with slight variations here and there. I’ve sewn a bunch of garments recently that haven’t made it to the blog, for myself and the kids. None of them earth shattering in their execution, but all of them well-loved and well-worn.

I’m learning a lot these days about taking seasons as they come. I’ve had years and months where my sewing machine has been in constant use, and others where carving out time seems a bit trickier. Recently I was talking with some friends about how disappointed I was that I hadn’t been able to find the time to sew myself jeans, so I had to buy them instead. At first, it felt a little like a failure. I know how to sew jeans – I’ve done it several times, and before I got pregnant with my youngest, I had drafted and sewn a pair that I’ve been dying to tweak to the point of perfection. But my jean-sewing season will come back, I just need to give it time.

If you’re in a season like this, here are my best tips and encouragement for you:

1. Find a way to sew alongside your kiddos: For me right now, this means a shared space. I have my sewing tables set up in a corner of the room, the kiddos have an art table on the other side, and there are toys for my toddler and younger kids to play with as well. This could mean that you have a special bin of toys for your kids to play with only while you sew or that you give them a bucket or art supplies and let them create something alongside you. There’s something beautiful about creating together!

2. Use pockets of time: five minutes here and there to put a pattern together, cut it out, and prepare your fabric. When you need longer stretches of time, sew during nap time or after they’ve gone to bed. During some seasons, late night sewing isn’t an option, though (hello middle of the night feedings and teething toddler, I’m looking at you!), so make use of times when your kiddos are content to play.

3. Keep it simple when needed: What I’ve found is that small, simple sews can be deeply satisfying in a season where it’s hard to accomplish much. Pillow covers, simple tees, and pajamas are the way to go if you need to keep it simple, but still feel accomplished. When you start sleeping through the night or your toddler is more content to play alone and not demand every second of your attention, more complicated projects will return to your table.

4. Babywear, Pack ‘n Play, or highchair: find a way to safely contain your baby or toddler nearby. I’ve definitely worn my babies and toddlers in a sling or Ergo while sewing or put up a Pack ‘n Play next to my sewing machine. I had a “duh” moment recently when my friend Jodi shared an Instagram story with her toddler eating in a high chair while she sewed – brilliant!

5. Give yourself grace and remember it’s a season: this has been a constant mantra in my mind lately, and I’ve been so encouraged by friends reminding me of this. It won’t always be like this, and I don’t want to wish away these years when my kids are at home with me. Whether you’re a homeschool mama like me or you volunteer daily in your kids classroom or you work in or outside of the home, it can be hard to fit in time for hobbies and passions when you have littles! Embrace the season you’re in and prioritize the things you love, even for just a few minutes at a time.

Whatever season you’re in, whether you’re cranking out projects or looking longingly at your serger when you pass it by, remind yourself that each season has it’s time. Be present. Remind yourself that seasons change and kids get older. Let yourself be okay with whatever sewing time life has for you right now. And be intentional to carve out more time when you can.

Some nitty gritty sewing notes: this is my go-to sewing pattern (quick and easy!) – the Alex and Anna pajamas from Peekaboo Pattern Shop. I did make a matching pair for my six-year-old (mostly because he desperately needed pajamas, and I found a pattern in that size already cut and ready to go), but he refused to comply with my adorable matching jammie photo shoot that I had in mind, so I have proof of his pajamas over on Instagram too. These are jammies are the ultimate in comfort, since they’re sewn with jersey from Raspberry Creek Fabrics. All the RCF love and heart eyes over here, y’all.

Speaking of heart eyes….

Gah!! I can’t handle the cuteness of this age, even if he does color on all my walls.

Happy slow sewing, friends. :)

 

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Real Mom Confessions: How to End the Toothbrushing Battle

                                  

I think it’s fair to say that parents everywhere have experienced the same struggle at least a time or two: the dreaded tooth brushing battle! Whether it be a toddler who refuses to open her mouth or a preschooler who hates the taste of toothpaste or an older child who just can’t remember to brush, the struggle IS real. With four tooth-bearing kiddos, we’ve gone through our fair share of brushing battles. If you’re nodding your head, saying “Yes! This is me!” I have some toothbrushing tips to make brush time a little easier.

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Some of my kiddos have fought tooth brushing more than others, so I’ve used my fair share of tricks to try to get them to brush. I’m sure you parents can relate to this video:


(Click here if you’re having trouble viewing the video)

Here’s how we ended the tooth brushing battle in our house:

1. Make it silly

When you make a silly face, act like a monkey, or bring out the goofy voices, your toddler will have a hard time holding back his smiles. This relaxes you both and makes it more of a game, less of a battle.

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2. Don’t push it 

It’s important to brush your kiddos’ teeth,  but sometimes we just need to back off for awhile. If your little one is suddenly refusing to brush, take a few days off (her teeth won’t fall out!) and come back to it with a fresh approach.

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3. Give them control 

Kids love to be in control! Let your preschooler squeeze the toothpaste himself. Ask your elementary aged child to be the tooth brush monitor. Give your toddler a choice of toothpaste flavors.

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4. Buy a really yummy toothpaste

This kind of seems like a no-brainer, but honestly? Some kids’ toothpastes don’t taste good! Many have a fake taste that I wouldn’t enjoy using, so why would they?  Some of my boys are really picky about food, and they don’t care for traditional toothpaste flavors. I’ve truly never seen my kids like a toothpaste as much as they like this hello toothpaste. Sometimes they brush their teeth three times a day, without me even asking. What?!

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The unique flavors (watermelon and bubble gum are the kid favorites here) really get them excited to brush. And the toothpaste is naturally friendly, which makes this mama excited! I love when our personal care products say no: no dyes, parabens, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, triclosan, or microbeads. I’m super conscious of what we put in our bodies, so that’s all really important to me.

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Something else I love? These toothpastes have fluoride and fluoride free options. Personally, I love the natural sweet mint flavor (fluoride free!)

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I love anything that can make my mom life a little bit easier (can I get an Amen, mamas??), and eliminating brush time battles with hello toothpaste has made a huge difference in our house.

So time for your own real mom confessions… what crazy things have you done to get your kids to brush their teeth? What tips do you have to share??

Finding the Lovely in the Chaos

Motherhood is a chaotic business. Each day is filled with noise, lots of messes, and countless challenges. The days can be monotonous and exhausting. When faced with all the chaos, sometimes it can feel anything but lovely.

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Some days it’s easier just to focus on the challenges. To simply clean up the messes, change the diapers, and do the same things over again the next day.

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But every day has something lovely. Every moment. Even in the midst of a tantrum-throwing toddler, there is something lovely. The tear-stained hug when the crying stops, the laughter during the tickling that diffused the moment, the triumphant moment of standing your ground and not giving in to the kicking and screaming.

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“There is a correlation, I’m finding, between beauty and perseverance. It feels like beauty might be knots in the rope you are climbing, gas stations along the cross-country journey, the water stations strategically set up on a racecourse. Beauty is what makes it possible to keep going. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it? It’s not just in the things everyone sees, but it is what YOU see, what sticks out to you, the unique moments God gives you to collect up and hold and draw strength from.”
-Annie F. Downs, Looking for Lovely
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Motherhood is a long-distance marathon. A test in endurance. An uphill climb. When you’re in the middle of the race, you feel tired. Your feet hurt. You can’t breathe. But as you keep going, you see the beauty in the persevering. You find your stride, you get your second wind, you drink some water and feel refreshed.

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Annie F. Downs recently released her latest book, Looking for Lovely. It is, in every sense of the word, lovely. I read it in two sittings, absolutely unable to put it down. This book reads a little like a memoir, as Annie shares her struggles and the loveliness she fought to find in the midst of them. Because sometimes you need to actively pursue the lovely. You have to ask the Father to show you all the good gifts He has put in your life, to open your eyes to what’s around you that you maybe haven’t noticed yet.DSC_6251-2 copy

That doesn’t mean that the chaos disappears or that suddenly life and motherhood become a walk in the park. Or that the messes are magically cleaned and the kids will never fight with each other. But looking for lovely can give you – give me – the change in perspective you need to embrace the chaos.

I don’t know about you, but I can always use more lovely in my life. Looking for Lovely is all about collecting the moments in your life that matter. In these days when I’m knee-deep in motherhood, I would much rather set my mind on what matters – the lovely, not the chaos. The snuggling on the couch, the basketball in the driveway, the “I love you” scrawled across the heart-shaped paper.

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Will you look for the lovely with me? Check out Annie F. Downs and her new book Looking for Lovely. I promise, you won’t regret it.

I received this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.