After I had a kid, other women who were balancing raising kids with expressing themselves creatively were suddenly crazy interesting to me. How did they do THAT? How did they do THIS? What do we have in common? But more importantly, what can they teach me?
For the inaugural Whoah Mama! column, I reached out to one of the most stylish women I know. Michelle Nilson, of Michelle Nilson design, is a Mama of one living in Vancouver, BC. So, we're same same there, but that's pretty much where it ends. While I tap out swear-y missives about my kid, she has an eye for colour and design that will bend you right in half with it's tasteful yet playful pop.
We met for dinner the other night and even my kid was extolling her style virtues. "I LOVE YOUR PURSE, SHOES, LIP GLOSSSSSS." Simply put, Michelle is put together magically.
I demanded to know how she juggles staying at home with her three year old daughter while pursuing a successful and fulfilling design career. As I can attest, there are only so many hours in a day and kids are masterful at sucking the everloving life out of most of them.
What's your favourite time of day to be creative?
Michelle: I usually get most of my creative work done mid morning. I do Bikram's yoga classes at 6am, come home cook and myself a big breakfast of eggs/ toast/steamed greens and down a few cups of black coffee, and then it's right down to work. My husband has usually fed/dressed our 3 year old daughter Jean by then, so she's quite happy to play with her dollhouse and watch TV. I know a lot of moms carve out time for themselves at night when the kids are asleep, but that has never really worked for me! I like to relax with a glass of wine and unwind, so being productive at night just doesn't happen. Plus I'm up at 5:15am almost every morning, so I'm usually in bed by 10pm.
Your best tip for attempting to be creative whilst a kid runs around under foot?
My kid enjoys being creative as well, so she has her own little craft station set up. She can help herself to paints, paper, crayons, pipe cleaners, beads, glitter shakers & glue and get going on a project whenever she feels like it. Yes, it gets messy, but I've learned to let go of that in exchange for having some time to work! I also make sure she gets lots of exercise by going to the park or a kid's yoga class. It gives her an opportunity to burn off that extra energy and I find she's a lot less whiny. When we get home, she's usually pretty mellow and happy to play on the iPad, so I can get a little extra time to work then as well.
Has being a Mom changed the way you express yourself creatively?
It has changed my attitude towards my work for sure. I used to get so wrapped up in what other people thought about my work, that it was almost paralyzing. And honestly, I allowed myself to become very self indulgent as a way to cope. I would get very, very depressed. Now that I have a child, I don't have the option to be that way anymore, because this little person is relying on me to take care of her. So now, I take better care of myself, I've let go of my perceived expectations that other people may or may not have of me, and as a result I produce more work, and the more I create, the better I get and the happier I am with my creative growth! Whenever I get complacent, I remind myself that I have a little girl that needs to see me being successful.
Where can we find you online to support your creativity?
Michelle: I currently have my work licensed for iPad/Kindle and smart phone cases with Keka. I have a collection of fabrics & wallpaper with Spoonflower. I sell art prints/home decor items and more tech items on Society6. I will also soon be featured in a design book about Geometric prints!
Gah - I am currently tattooing this line across my chest: "So now, I take better care of myself, I've let go of my perceived expectations that other people may or may not have of me, and as a result I produce more work, and the more I create, the better I get and the happier I am with my creative growth!"
After we ate dinner, Michelle told me she had been a "number 1 A$$HOLE mother to my kid today" because, well, honesty is everything. Every day, no matter how beautifully or carefully planned, can be a minor shipwreck with your kid. I get it. And I love her for for it.
To celebrate that ^^^ crazy cute new tea towel design Michelle has created, I thought it would be fun to do a sweet little giveaway. I want you to have a tea party - I don't care who you invite, it could be tea for one (my personal favourite), but with these accoutrements, you will be sipping in sweet style. Along with this tea towel that frankly deserves to be framed, you will receive four (4) tea cups, an assortment of delightful Teabird Company teas and a dozen of my favourite macarons made by the incredible French Made Baking. Thank you friends for donating your incredible sweetness so that I can pass it on to a lucky reader.
Contest closes Friday May 16th // CAN only // Enter below and Good luck! // xo