The reality for most is that, with small children in the house, it is very difficult to complete any task, other than the most basic one – and often that is beyond reach. Small children are synonymous with interruptions, distractions and interferences (as well as being absolutely adorable) and the best tip that I could give anyone planning to sew with children around would be: don't bother!
However, for those who need a regular “fix” of sewing, knitting or any other craft activity, there are some ways to minimize the frustration inherent to any activity that does not centre on the children.
The ideal situation would be to sew when small children were either asleep or being fully cared for by another adult, or a much older child. Whether you can structure your day so that the childrenís sleep time is fully at your service for the purpose of sewing or you are able to conserve enough energy and concentration to be able to sew at night when the children are in bed, sleep time may give you a few hours of undivided attention.
If your only option is to sew when the children are awake and active, you could try restraining or blockading them. That may sound dreadful, but in practice, a toddler may be quite happy to sit for a lengthy time in the highchair, eating or playing while you sew. Depending on the design of your home, you may be able to blockade a sewing area, denying physical access to your child, but still allowing full visual and verbal contact.
If you are unable to separate your wakeful child physically from your sewing area, be careful to keep the area safe. If possible, cut out on a table or bench and ensure scissors and pins are well away from the child's reach. Watch to see that electrical cords are not causing a hazard. For your sanity, keep fabric, cotton reels and other supplies out of reach of children, unless you are happy to have them tampered with.
Try to provide your child with an interesting, absorbing activity whilst you sew. Perhaps they might watch a DVD. (The Wiggles may drive adults crazy, but none can doubt their babysitting value.) Older children may be happy to sit and colour-in at the table beside you, or maybe do some “sewing” of their own.
Choose your sewing tasks wisely. Simple, repetitive tasks can be carried out successfully when children are distracting you. Save complex, involved projects for child-free times.
Appeal to your child's selfish side….your daughter may be quite happy to sit and watch you sew her a pretty dress, but if the project is of no immediate value to her, she will quickly lose interest and become annoyed by your preoccupation with the sewing machine.
If sewing is something that you love doing, or need to do, then make it as regular a practice in your home as possible. Although difficulties may occur when you attempt to sew with young children in the house, they will decrease as children become accustomed to your habits and your expectations of their behaviour whilst you sew. Young children can learn to amuse themselves for a reasonable period of time, and to be happy just being near Mum, without monopolizing her full attention. Having said this, be fair to your children. It is not reasonable to expect to be able to sew for hours every day, while your children are basically ignored. Be sure to spend bursts of quality time with young children throughout your sewing routine, so that perceived neglect does not lead to misbehaviour.
Be prepared to be distracted, frustrated and annoyed. That way you won't be disappointed with ineffective sewing sessions and, on the occasions when your small children behave like angels your satisfaction will know no bounds. When people marvel at your super mum qualities….creating such beautiful projects when you must be so busy with your young family…..accept the praise, you have definitely earned it!
By Katelyn Vercoe