Welcome to Week 22 of Motherhood by Design – the series where mothers who also run creative businesses share their inspirations and their experiences juggling the demands of raising children while growing a creative career.
"It’s easy to make excuses as a mom- we are REALLY busy. But, creativity is refreshing and can help you recharge. Start with simple projects, make creativity a habit before expecting to take on massive DIY projects."
Colleen Pastoor is the voice and vision behind the popular blog Lemon Thistle. As a DIY and lifestyle blogger, she offers plenty of project ideas for your home, your parties and your life - ideas that are heavy on the creativity and light on the budget (the best kind, right?!?). And as the mother of twin toddlers, she's full of ideas for incorporating kids of all ages into your creative pursuits.
Welcome to Motherhood by Design, Colleen - can you please describe your family?
My hubby and I have 20 month old twins, Aubrey is a wild little girl and Emmitt is our little man, full of giggles.
What is your business?
I'm a lifestyle and DIY blogger. I write for my own blog as well as several others both as a contributor or consultant.
When you were a child yourself, how did you spend your free time?
Making up wild adventures with my sister or creating art projects or projects for my parents to find a home for.
Did crafting or handwork play a significant role in your childhood? If yes, in what way?
Yes! We crafted a lot as a family, it was one of my favourite things we did growing up. My mom would do more artsy projects with us and my dad would take us outside to collect things and we'd make crafts out of pinecones, rocks and whatever else we found. We were also included in whatever they were working on- learning to sew from my Grandma at an early age, and learning woodwork with my Dad and Grandpa. We never paid people to make things for us, we painted our own house, made our own costumes, and often times made gifts.
When you were a child, did you have ideas about your own future as a mother? Was motherhood something you’d always imagined for yourself, or is it an idea you grew into later in life?
I always knew I'd wanted to be a mother, but didn't have a clear picture what that would look like for me.
In your early years of motherhood, did you have/make time for your creative pursuits, or was your creative work put aside for a while? If the latter, when did you pick it back up?
This is still my early years in motherhood- and I've found I'm making more time now for my creative pursuits than I ever have. It's my outlet, my me-time.
Did you start your creative business prior to becoming a mother, or after?
I used to own an event business which was largely creative, but this current blogging/creative business was started while on bedrest waiting for my twins' arrival.
What prompted you to start your creative business? Is it something you saw yourself doing when you were a child?
I've always wanted to work for myself in a creative way. I started blogging to explore what I wanted to eventually do for a business. My first business I started when I was 19 and it wasn't a good fit for me. I lasted a year and a half doing it part time before throwing in the towel- I just didn't love it. I started my blog to explore my passions and see what I could handle doing daily, and what I really excelled at. When I started I covered a lot more topics than I do now and had planned on creating an offline business (the blog just to help me decide what). That's long gone now!
How do you balance your creative work with your role as a mother and how has that changed over time?
This is a never ending struggle to balance. The best thing I've done for my family is get a desktop computer. We made me an office and while the kiddos are home and awake- the door stays closed. This allows me to focus on them 100% and when I'm working, focus on work 100%. I also invested in daycare once a week for a part day. It's their favourite time of the week and I'm able to get daylight photos done without juggling rowdy toddlers.
In what ways does motherhood affect your work processes?
I used to get wrapped up in a project, or editing a photo session and work until it was done. Now I have chunks of time (naptimes mostly) that I can use to work so it gets broken up a lot more. I make lists to try remember what I need to get done, I have to be much more organized.
In what ways does motherhood affect your creative products?
I make a lot of projects that involve my kids (finger painting elements) or are for my kids/their space (nursery decor). All my projects need to be functional and not a hazard for kids... I make a lot less trinkets that could be broken and a lot more wall decor!
What is the biggest impact that your children have had on your business?
They inspire me every day, they're the reason that I work so hard- so I can continue to stay home with them.
How do you think your creative pursuits, including your business, affect your children?
I am so grateful that they get to be home with me daily. I'm also grateful that they get to see me first-hand pursue my dreams and work hard at what I love. They started creating with me when they were babies, I'm glad that creativity will be a part of their lives because of what I do. Negatively- I know that I miss out on some family time because I work from home. But if I were working out of the house, I would miss more.
Is there something you hope your children learn from you by having a creative business?
I hope they learn to love the little things in life, the process of creating, celebrating every accomplishment, and the thrill of chasing their dreams. I hope that they learn they can accomplish great things with hard work and a little bit of risk- there is no one way to lead a happy life, you can make your own path.
What advice would you offer the mom who feels drained by the demands of motherhood and wants more hands-on creativity in her life?
Just do it! It's easy to make excuses as a mom- we are REALLY busy. But, creativity is refreshing and can help you recharge. Start with simple projects, make creativity a habit before expecting to take on massive DIY projects. If you feel like you don't have any time away from your kids, include them in the creative process! I wrote an article for Twiniversity that gives tips on how and why I do art activities with my toddlers. There's tons of tips to make it manageable and even enjoyable for you!
Thank you so much, Colleen, for sharing your thoughts with us today! You can find Colleen in the following places: