When you have small children at home, your most common question isn’t, “How do I make that?” – It’s, “How do I make that with a two-year-old and a four-year-old running loose in the house?” (If you have children that age, you should probably stop reading this for a moment and go see what they’re up to.) Sewing with little kids underfoot can be a challenge. But if you think ahead and do a little creative planning, you won’t have to put away your sewing machine until they’re in college. We’ve collected our best ideas and found some handy expert online resources for fun activities.
Many women work full or part-time from home with small children. Compared to that, finding a few hours to sew should be a piece of cake. Yeah right.
Sewing with kids in the room
While it may be tempting to lock yourself in your sewing room and turn the music up to drown out the little fists pounding on the door, it’s not a good idea. A toddler armed with a metal dog food dish can cause significant damage to an interior door. Also, it’s not really safe for the kids.
And the reality is, it’s not really safe for small kids inside your sewing room either. Between the red-hot iron with the cord hanging down, the razor-sharp cutting wheels, and your pin cushion full of needles, somebody’s going to get hurt.
So why not take your sewing out to where your little ones can play safely? When my sister’s children were small, she would do most of her sewing on the dining room table. The kids could play in their usual areas and she could keep an eye on them. It wasn’t entirely convenient – she would often have to run up to her sewing room for notions or supplies – but it let her carve out sewing time while the kids were awake.
Have them join you
Many pre-schoolers and kindergarteners are mature enough to be in the sewing room with you. Once they’ve learned to obey your safety rules, you can give them their own little sewing projects to work on while you finish yours. Both boys and girls are delighted to try simple hand-sewing projects to make toys or doll accessories. As they get more experienced, Janome, as well an other manufacturers, have smaller, simple machines that are wonderful for little hands to learn on. Look for Janome’s Hello Kitty, Jem Gold 3 and the 2206.
If your children go down at a regularly scheduled time, this can be your golden hour (or your silver 45 minutes) to get some uninterrupted work done. Many kids are not happy to take a nap. But if you can be consistent with their schedule in this area, it will pay off for you both: they’ll be rested; you’ll have some freed-up time.
Make this Cozy Kid’s Roll-Up Nap Blanket.
Child care alternatives
Before you spend the money to hire a daytime baby-sitter or nanny, try these free child care options.
Find another mom who will trade child watching. If you’re not getting anything done while two kids run wild through the house, why not have four kids running wild, knowing you’re banking a couple hours of uninterrupted sewing time? I did this with a friend when our girls were small and it worked very well for both of us. You just want to make sure the person you’re trading with has similar ideas on what’s safe and appropriate for your kids.
OK, right now I can hear somebody asking, “Why not have your husband watch the kids?” Husbands who can play with their kids in another room so their wife can get some sewing done should receive the Presidential Medal of Honor. But the reality is, husband and kids often end up in the same room as mom, and not a lot of sewing gets done. But go ahead and give this a try. I’ve heard stories of families where it works like a charm.
Sewing group for you; play group for the kids
Here’s another great child care alternative, but it does take a little planning and dedication to a routine. Invite other moms who sew to your house for a sewing group. You can take turns watching the kids in the other room or better yet pool your money to hire a babysitter for a few hours. This can be a very productive and rewarding way to sew. But it will only work if the other members of the group are committed to making this scheduled time a priority.
Being realistic will make you a better planner
When you have small children to care for, you just won’t have the same amount of sewing time as someone with no kids. But that’s okay. They’re only going to be this age once and ultimately their care is more important than having a home that looks like it came out of a magazine.
That being said, I’ve found when my sewing time is limited, I actually do a better job preparing for those precious few hours at the machine. I think ahead, plan and make sure I have everything I need before working on a project. I actually got in the habit of carefully reading ALL the instructions before beginning a project. (Imagine that!)
Sewing with small children underfoot is just as easy as cooking with small children underfoot or cleaning with small children underfoot – challenging but not impossible.
These are just a few ideas. We know our Sew4Home friends have many more brilliant solutions and cautionary tales to share. Please use the Comments section at the bottom to post what has worked well or gone terribly wrong for you.
Resources for at home working moms with small kids
There are a lot of great resources for work-at-home moms who need to keep their kids occupied for stretches of time. These are some links we found to ideas and activities for keeping your little ones busy so you can get some work done. You’re probably making something for them anyway!