Mothering and Making, how to do both (and a handMADE giveaway)

by | Sep 24, 2014 | Blogging, Giveaway, Parenting | 76 comments

Motherhood is a full time job. But there’s never much to actually SHOW for all my work at the end of the day. The things I cleaned have been messed again. The food I prepared has been eaten. The laundry I washed has been worn.

And, as much as my full time job is keeping these children alive another day, it’s somehow hard to find a whole lot of professional satisfaction in having managed it yet again.

That’s why, even though my vocation is to motherhood, even though I am grateful that I am able to stay home with my children, even though I find it both rewarding and fulfilling . . . at the end of the day, it’s not enough for me.

I’ve just GOT to make something.

Temporary tattoo design for Tattly by Jude Landry

Makers Gonna Make. We kind of have to. I have to. I get twitchy if I haven’t made anything in a day or two. It could be writing, or graphic design, or sewing, or canning, or baking, or embroidery, or photography, but it’s got to be something. There is nothing I find more stressful than being made to relax. Unless I can have my iPad to write or my needlework bag, then I’m good.

But striking that right balance can be tricky. My kids need me. They need my time and attention. My house and my husband need me too. If I try to do everything at once, I end up doing it all badly. And if having to carefully un-embroider the thing I’ve just spent the last hour embroidering is bad, well, having kids who think they are less important to me than a sewing project would be quite a bit worse.

So, in a world of multi-tasking, I compartmentalize. I have a time for everything and everything in its time. I don’t blog during school hours and I don’t school during blog hours. I engage with my kids during school and stories and mealtimes, and for activities and special projects we do together, then I don’t fret about insisting that they leave me be and entertain themselves during little kid nap times, and on evenings when I’ve got a project going.

Mostly it works. Sometimes I run short of discipline or perspective, and my mothering suffers. Sometimes the nappers don’t cooperate, or there is a crisis that needs my attention, and my making suffers. But I’d say that overall, I’m comfortable with the balance in my life. Of course, all of my making is pretty low stakes. If it doesn’t get done, it doesn’t get done.

I like this guest piece at A Knotted Life by Laura, I also like all the stuff she’s ever made. All of it but especially the giant embroidered Calvin and Hobbes cartoon.

For another perspective, I asked my friend Nell of the blog Whole Parenting Family to weigh in on the subject. In addition to being a writer and photographer, she also maintains one of my favorite Etsy shops. And everything in it is dreamed up and handmade by Nell, while she wrangles three littles in her crazy awesome historic home.

All of the lovely items in this post are made and photographed by Nell.

Here’s Nell’s take:

I’m a mom to three little kids, ages 4 1/4 and under. As a former lawyer, my time used to be carefully allocated to briefs, memos, and other adult things that made you feel like you accomplished something. As a current stay at home mom who blogs and sews and squeezes out time on social media via the i-love-iphone, my time is spent keeping people alive. Crafting and writing drag a few of the accomplishment feelings into my present life. Without the affirmation and contact with the outside-my-moat-around-my-house world, I would shrivel up and snap. 

My kids love it too. They love helping me take & edit photos. They love helping select fabrics and yarns. They even play sew along with me. It is not mutually exclusive to parenting, as my blog is a natural parenting one and my textiles and yarns for babies and children. The mundanities of motherhood are spiced up if you knit while doing them, or compose witty pithy syllogisms inside your head while slogging through them. I write after bedtime. I sew during naps. My sister or mom occasionally watches them so I can get a big retail order out the door on time. Heck, my husband loves and supports these creative outlets. I am a better wife when I’m writing, creating, dreaming, and not simply a burnt out wind bag by the late evening hours. And am better friend, too, because I have something to talk about aside from my kids. Well, almost aside from them.

And because Nell is very generous, as well as very talented, she’s offering you lovely readers the chance to win $40 to spend in her Etsy shop, as party of my week of birthday giveaways!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are you on Instagram? Are you following me (@kendra_tierney)? Do YOU know #whereislulu?


  1. Caitlyn B

    Oh I've always loved her shop! I love the blankets she has – especially the rose confetti one right now!

  2. Mary @ Better Than Eden

    I think I like the blankets best, too…although I kind of wonder if she can make that infinity scarf in my size!!

  3. Theresa @ OrdinaryLovely

    lovely thoughts! Even though I love to sew, I don't have the time so much any more. When things get busy, I tend to do more crocheting and other small, quick crafty projects. I get warm fuzzies when I see handmade things getting used around the home, and am cheered when I see pretty things I've made (or have been given) that remind me of the care and attention I (and others) put into our home ๐Ÿ™‚ And it's one of my favorite things ever to GIVE handmade gifts!

  4. Annery

    Love the bibs! My sister is due in December and she's having a little boy. So much cuteness for him over at Nell's ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Mandi

    I love the fox blanket. I'm sure I could find someone to gift it to ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Celia

    I love those plush blankets, especially the one with lemons all over it.

  7. Rach

    The fox blanket is definitely eye catching! It looks absolutely adorable and will be put in my cart to remember it for gifts for my pregnant friends!

  8. Elizabeth

    I LOVE the red and teal fox blanket! It would look awesome in my son's red/teal nursery. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. melody

    I have been ogling her knit blankets for a while now. I keep telling myself that I should learn to knit (It's called feeding the crafter monster) but I may just have to break down and buy one for someone eventually. Winning this would definitely help! Thanks Nell and Kendra. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Amy

    Large Plush Lemon Minky Children's Blanket is my favorite, I know one of my girls would love it!

  11. Alicia Copley

    I really like the Fox blanket, such a cute fabric! And those contour burp clothes are clever!

  12. Lara Murphy

    I love so many of her things! I think my favorite would have to be the woodland squirrel blanket. So lovely!

  13. Justine Brason

    I just started being a full time mommy and I barely have time to shower! I can't wait until I can have time to be creative

  14. Mia

    Large Plush Lemon Minky Children's Blanket < Favorite!
    Sorry if duplicate.

  15. Sarah

    I really like the contour cloths…wish I had these little fashion freindly covers rather than the dish towels I resorted to once I realized the 2 inch piece of cloth they market as burp cloths was NOT going to cut it!

  16. Katie

    I love the Large Plush Rose Confetti Minky Blanket! Beautiful.

  17. Anonymous

    I really want her orange minky blanket for the new baby! Like really bad…lol

  18. Adrie Little

    I have a feeling that this is going to be me, someday (hopefully). Right now, I'm in the "outside the home and has a checklist of accomplishments" time in my life- I can see my productivity in to-do lists and invoices sent and registrations processed. And even now, I crave time for something beautiful- even if it's just a picture or a couple words on a little unimpressive blog. I think that's it- the making of something beautiful.

    • Kendra

      Yes Adrie, that's it for me exactly, I need something I can SEE, it gives me that sense of accomplishment!

  19. Sarah O

    Love love love the bandit bibs! I just ordered one I cannot wait for it to arrive next on my wish list is probably a Blanket

  20. Meg

    I love the flax seed eye masks, and the spotted owl blanket.

  21. Jen C

    The blankets are adorable and your blog is amazing!!!

  22. Elizabeth

    I already commented with my favorite Etsy item, but I wanted to add that this really struck a cord with me. I've always been very industrious (especially around the house), and ten months into the mothering gig, I'm struggling with finding the balance between "getting stuff done" and just being present with George. I like to think I'm getting better at it, but I like your strategy of compartmentalizing. I need to set some rules for myself and stick to them.

  23. Amanda

    All her blankets are beautiful! I love this post. My mama hands always have an itch to create something beautiful whether it be in photos of our family, stringing thoughts together, or hand-drawing cards for friends and family. I'd love to learn to sew. I've wanted to for awhile. But for now, I'm drawing cards and enjoying photography. ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Jill VT

    Gorgeous stuff! Said wistfully…I have absolutely zero craftiness talent. I can write. And cook. That's about it!

  25. Chantal

    Thank you for this post, it is so timely for me! I am considering giving my part-time job of teaching classical ballet. The regular 2-night-a-week commitment is challenging with 3 little ones at home… BUT, a priest recommended that I prayerfully consider alternate outlets that will allow me to be creative. I loved hearing about other moms who set aside time to make beautiful things!

  26. Britt Fisk

    Okay, I love this for so many reasons, but one of those being your comments about being stressed about relaxing. ME TOO! Lord help us all ๐Ÿ™‚ I love Nell and her shop, too! We currently have a few of her bandit bibs and burp cloths. Cannot decide which I love more!

  27. Erica Saint

    I am not entering the giveaway (although I think the items in Nell's shop are fantastic), but I just wanted to tell you that I totally agree with this post. Makers DO need to make!

  28. Grace Degen

    Happy birthday Kendra! Well written post. Also I have to say the woodland squirrel blanket is my favorite

  29. Bonnie

    Thanks for the link, Kendra! That post of Laura's is one of my favorites. I am not crafty like that – I think baking and cooking are more my thing and I still pale in comparison – and it was so interesting to understand how crrafty people's brains work.

  30. Kristi

    The contoured burp cloths are genius! What a good shower gift they'd make. Thanks for the post and this giveaway. Happy birthday to you and us, indeed!

  31. Sarah

    I love the orange geometric blanket. The hot/cold flaxseed packs are a very close second.

  32. walking dot photography

    Aw, LOVE the modern block blanket – so pretty and soft looking!
    ps. And I COMPLETELY get where you're coming from. I don't have kids (yet!), but i know that once I do I will still need to constantly keep creating. ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. Alicia Copley

    I love this post! I also need to be crafting as well as mothering. It's taken me awhile to find some balance, but I think it's getting better. I at least try to knit a little in the evenings after the baby goes to bed. Sewing, though, I haven't quite figured out…I used to leave my pinned half-finished projects laying around for days while I slowly worked on them. That doesn't seem to be an option anymore, lol.

  34. Laurel

    This really resonates with me. And thank you for hosting this lovely giveaway! Love all of Nell's beautiful work, especially her very large plush spotted owl blanket. My daughter would be in love.

  35. Kati

    I NEED the "Modern Block Pink-Grays-Lavendar // Soft Wool Knit Baby // Toddler Blanket." It looks so soft, I would like to wear it!

    As a mom who also works in an office, I would like to say this post rings true for me too even though I have a job in addition to mothering in which I have a to-do list and check things off regularly. Turns out (and I'm obviously slow on the uptake, because I only figured this out about 2 years ago), that checking things off is not the same as MAKING things. I have started sewing and painting and baking for fun because the seeing of the thing is a different kind of satisfaction than the doing of the things. I feel like it's part of my path to self-awareness to have finally discovered that I like/want/need to MAKE things!!

  36. catlanz

    Loving all of the large minky blankets! I love the prints she uses, especially the "spotted owls"

  37. Lizzie

    I'm still trying to find that balance! the husband is a maker and a doer as well so we have to schedule so each gets a chance to creat. It can be tricky.

  38. Emily

    Love the modern block toddler blanket – looks so cozy!

  39. Lauren @ Breaking the Mold

    Thanks for sharing! I have been yearning for the opportunity to be at home with (future) children, all the while wondering if I would still fill fulfilled and productive in this role. This is a wonderful perspective and I truly hope I have the opportunity to fulfill this dream someday.

  40. Anna

    Love the minky blankets. But I don't think I could choose just one. They're all too cute.

  41. Anne B.

    We're in desperate need of some bandit bibs. All the drool!

  42. Lina

    that little girl cat skirt would be perfect for a fall wardrobe! ๐Ÿ™‚ and an organic wool or cotton knit blanket (love the grays and purples one) would be lovely for the new baby.

  43. Chris and Rachel

    I'm always so impressed with mamas who are able to open etsy shops and make time for doing something they enjoy that's also a little profitable ๐Ÿ™‚ all this stuff is so great!

  44. Anonymous

    Love the little girl fancy every day skirt (too bad my little one is now too big for it…)
    ~Ruth Anne

  45. Bethany

    Oh, the little girl fancy every day skirt is adorable!

  46. Heather

    I know a lot of people have been saying the Fox blanket โ€“ but me too! So fun and cute, and Fox is a family name.

  47. KimK

    It's so hard to pick a favorite, but I have to go with the Large Plush Orange Geometric Minky Blanket – so cute!

  48. Ashley Crane

    I love all the blankets… the pea and cream knit baby swaddle is probably my favorite ๐Ÿ™‚

  49. Greta

    Pure Organic Chocolate Chevron Bandit Bib for Babies – I love the idea of these bibs instead of the traditional bib for droolers.

  50. Abby S.

    Love all the blankets, but, like everyone else, especially the fox.

Submit a Comment

Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, Iโ€™ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

If youโ€™d like to learn more about what Catholics believe and why, and to be inspired by saints from every era all over the world, youโ€™ve come to the right place. If youโ€™re feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of how to teach your kids about the faith in a way thatโ€™s true, engaging, and lasts a lifetime, we can help!

โžก๏ธ Get my liturgical living checklist for free when you join my weekly newsletter. Sign up here.

This blog contains affiliate links and sponsored posts, for which I receive a commission. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.