Crafting & unhealthy comparison

 

Cotton Yarn

 

Over the last few weeks and months I’ve read quite a number of news stories and Facebook posts about how Pinterest and ‘Mommy blogs’ are making life hard for mothers. Most with an underlying theme that those of us who DIY and make are all A-type overachievers with nothing more to do than to compete at motherhood.

This one, was posted yesterday on the Facebook page of a Mommy blogger and clearly states in its title that Modern Moms are looking for perfection in all the wrong places.

I feel compelled to comment. Particularly as of late, I’ve had a number of people not so subtly hint that I’m creating problems for other mothers.

Yes I bake elaborate cakes, host themed parties, host dinner parties, create invites, paper art, sew, crochet, embroider, knit, letterpress, re-purpose, eat mostly organic and entirely gluten-free. Then I post the things I make, create and host on this blog. I share my creations and give most of them away for free. I’m starting a small business selling a few of them.

And I’m a Mum!

I do what I do because I love it. I relax and enjoy creating. I love the space I go to in my mind when I’m making. I enjoy the process of creating as much as the finished product. For me, putting together a party is as much fun as the actual event! I find inspiration and genuine pleasure when I see what others have made and so share what I do to feed into that inspirational pool.

I don’t do these things to make others feel bad.

I don’t feel like I’m entering a competition.

I did ALL of these things before I had Munchkin and now I do many of them for her.

Lately I’m starting to feel pressure to apologise continually for my creations. But I don’t need to apologise, nor do I want to.

I’m far from perfect. My house is often a mess. I never make it through my to-do lists. I often don’t get the exercise I need. My projects sometimes belong on Pinterest Fails or Cake Wrecks. My daughter watches more television than I’d like. Munchkin sometimes eats one pot, heat and serve meals when I’m seriously short on time. My friends know that it’s just as likely that they’ll arrive at my house for coffee to find it clean and tidy and be served freshly baked cake as it is that I’ll put out a box of chocolates and ask that they ignore the clutter. I often feel like I’m struggling to find a balance between being Mother/ Wife/ Self that is akin to finding the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. And a multitude of other stresses, private issues, disappointments and frustrations.

I don’t post these things on Facebook or my blog. There is no point. It’s not constructive, nor, I believe, healthy to do so. I wouldn’t walk down the street telling strangers my problems so why would I post it publicly?

Why can’t we all realise that very few of us post/ share the bad things, and recognise that we all have private, sometimes chaotic lives?

I don’t care how you choose to live your life. If you chose to buy a birthday cake from the grocery store or make one. If you chose to feed your children organic, vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free, or entirely from the frozen food aisle. Unless what you’re doing is exceedingly dangerous I would never consider commenting on it.

Munchkin won’t care if she’s at her own birthday party with home-made cake or at a friends eating store-bought ice-cream cake. She’ll adore both parties. And I’ll adore that your little one invited Munchkin, that you went to the effort to generously host a party, that she had a ball, ate ice-cream and played with her friends. I don’t think that any party, dinner party or other project is any less worthy because the host decided to buy a cake and hates crafting. And there is no reason anyone should feel pressure to do anything they don’t want to.

I’m a firm believer that everyone should prioritise the things that matter to them and let others make their own priorities. We all chose to do things differently. It’s what makes us wonderfully interesting human beings.

So please, mother or not, if reading my blog, looking at Pinterest or another Mum is making you feel badly or like a failure, stop reading it, delete your account, ignore them and live your life as you see fit. Because I fully intend to happily live mine as I choose. And I choose to bake my daughter’s birthday cakes, host themed parties, sew, knit, crochet and anything else creative I can think of and can find time to do.

Not because I’m expected to, but because I want to and thoroughly enjoy the process.

If you don’t enjoy it. It’s simple. Don’t do it!

When we all stop turning our mere existence into a competition and comparing ourselves to everyone else, we’ll all be so much happier!

Munchkin’s year on Instagram – in a box

Polabox

 

I very rarely do product posts. But I just received our first Polabox in the mail and I love it!

There’s something just so satisfying about holding physical copies of my Instagram photographs. We ordered a test box of thirty, containing photos of Munchkin’s first year to send to her Great-Grandmother in Australia. We’re so happy with the result, we’re in the process of ordering a whole heap more for her Nana, other Great-Grandmother, Aunt who struggles with things technical, Nono and a copy for us.

You can either download the app to your phone or select your photos etc online. You’re not limited to Instagram, any photo you can access on your device can be used.

Thirty photo’s in a cute and very sturdy box are 16.95 euro. They’re created in Paris and shipped toute de suite. Ours took just 5 days to arrive (over a weekend).

The box they arrive in is sturdy and wrapped in a bubble wrap package. But you could easily tape the box shut, add a shipping label and a stamp and send it on. The contents would be perfectly safe. And as the box is just 2cm high, this is a great option for those of us who live in Switzerland and are trying to cut down on shipping charges, 2cm is classified as a letter, not a parcel.

For those of you who want to try the service – here’s a promocode that will give you 5 euros off - NICPRN 

I’m now looking at printing photobooks. I really love the look of My Little Photobook, have you tried them? If so what do you think of the results?

In the interest of full disclosure, when you use this code, I also receive a credit on my next order. Otherwise this post is unsponsored.

Almost a year of parenthood celebrated

Munchkin's first birthday

 
Note; this blog mainly consists of ramblings about the past year with Munchkin and motherhood. The photos are a sneak peek of our recent celebration of Munchkin’s first birthday. I’ll have more photos, templates, recipes and tutorials to share in the coming weeks.

I can’t believe that at this time just last year I was desperately trying to sleep and failing. I was due to be induced the following morning. After 12 very long days of regular contractions that just weren’t strong enough, the doctor decided enough was enough. Munchkin was coming out, one way or the other.

Late that night, DM and I had a discussion about what we hoped our bundle, of what then felt like all elbows and knees doing the hokey pokey in a very confined space, would be like.

A year in, and I can say she’s everything we hoped for and a little bit more. She’s generous, loving, independent, strong, social, gentle but no pushover, scarily intelligent and just because she’s ours, perfect.
 

Munchkin's first birthday

 
It hasn’t been an easy year. My fitness, sanity and health has taken something of a beating due to iron deficiency, sleep deprivation and adjusting my life expectations to my new reality.

Breastfeeding and getting our little one to thrive took about four stressful weeks to work out. There were what seemed like endless days as my butt became one with the couch as Munchkin fed every hour threatening my dwindling sanity.

Our marriage feels stronger, as it feels it has now been forged by fire. The fire of months of colic and walking paths around the dining table, our hearts breaking as we tried anything and everything to soothe our tiny, sweet bundle.
 

Munchkin's first birthday

 
But it’s also been the most amazing year of my life.

I never dreamed I could want to do nothing but stare at my baby for days on end… and I did. I’ve experienced the seemingly indescribable joy of seeing my little one accomplish something and look at me with pride as she’s just learned to roll over, clap her hands, say “Mum”, stand up, bottom shuffle or get a spoon into her mouth and not her nose, ear or forehead.

I’ve loved living in this little nest we’ve made. My priorities and goals have shifted in ways I never dreamed would be possible. I thought Motherhood and I would be a tough fit and avoided it for as long as possible. It turns out I’m not as terrible at it as I feared. I love it.
 

Munchkin's first birthday

 
And through all of this DM has worked tirelessly, both at his job and then when he got home. He’s perfected cooking and has made dinner more times than I. He can cook some of “my recipes” better than I can now! He’s been home most of the time to give Munchkin her bath (and me a few quiet moments alone). He’s rocked, soothed, fed, bathed, read, played, chatted and revelled in fatherhood. He’s done an excellent job. Frequently, in the early days, he’d arrive home, take the screaming Munchkin, soothe some of my frazzled feathers, make me a cup of tea and take over. Definitely not the easiest year!

And, in amongst all of this, he’s almost completed a thesis.

I have no idea how he has done it. My admiration, pride in and love for DM is limitless.
 

Munchkin's first birthday

 
All of this needed to be celebrated. So we invited our nearest and dearest in Lausanne and threw a party to celebrate the amazing miracle that is Munchkin’s first year.

I got to making, designing, baking, crocheting, adding faux gold foil to invites, making packaging, trying my hand at floristry and stocking up on champagne.
 

Munchkin's first birthday

 
I’ll share patterns, templates, recipes and the rest with you in the upcoming weeks.
 

Munchkin's first birthday

 
I’m so happy with the result! It seems worthy of what feels to us, and I’m sure to all parents, the gorgeous accomplishment of a lifetime. And we’ve only just begun!
 

Munchkin's first birthday

 

All the amazing photography in this post is by the fantastically talented Hayley Hay

Ramblings: Ten and a half months in; a report card.

Munchkin and I

 

I thought I’d be shopping for publishers right about now. I didn’t tell anyone apart from my close friends and some family, but my grand plan for the first year after Munchkin was born was to put together a craft book.

I thought that every day I’d wander into the studio during Munchkin’s nap time and that by the end of a year I’d have a book.

We’re ten and a half months in, and I’m not even close.

What I do have is a pile of paper cut thank you cards for beautiful presents given to Munchkin. They’re so late that I’m not even sure I should bother sending them. She’s grown out of pretty much all she was given.

My gym/ pool/ spa membership has lapsed because I didn’t have the energy to go after my husband got home from work. There’s no point paying for something I wasn’t using.

My brain was mush. I had lists for lists for lists and I’d still forget things. Repeated trips to the grocery on the same day became regular.

The house was tidy (most of the time), Munchkin was clean, fed and clothed (most of the time), my husband and I were eating well (except for dodgy takeout Friday night). But in all other things, it felt like too much effort to tie my shoelaces.

I was more exhausted post baby than when I was carrying her.

“Baby brain”, They said.

“Motherhood”, They said.

I didn’t get depressed, but I got seriously concerned.

I decided to quit the blog. Then I got a commission for a magazine. It took every ounce of energy I could muster but completed it.

Where was the driven woman I used to be? Was this motherhood? Did I just have to adjust my expectations further? How was I going to stay sane?

It became clear that if we didn’t do something I would start to resent motherhood. The festering seeds of resentment had already started to sprout in other areas. Seeing DM leave for work each morning had me wishing I was getting dressed, eating breakfast and heading to work to do something productive.

We hired a baby sitter for two afternoons a week. Each time she and Munchkin walked out the front door, I made a beeline straight into the studio. After the 2 minute pity party when Munchkin stopped getting upset she was leaving me and instead waved goodbye with a big smile, I got to work. It felt great.

But then I got so exhausted that when they left, I went to bed.

I decided to put the blog on hold for a year. But then some of you gorgeous people wrote me encouraging emails, and I decided to stick with it a bit longer.

But still I had no energy.

I got frustrated. My fuse was short.

“Depression”, They hinted.

Maybe I wasn’t mum material? Was I aiming too high? Was it possible that our hopes of my continuing a part-time creative career whilst being a mum were just not possible?

“Rubbish**”, my brain said. There had to be something more wrong. If it was depression, I’d get treatment for it.

I finally took myself off to the doctor.

All it took was some iron infused and some vitamin B supplements.

The lights turned on.

Foggy brain started clearing within hours. Energy increased in the following days. Happiness levels rocketed. Creativity returned.

I hit the studio.

Then a slight bump in the road, the babysitter found full-time work and quit. But Munchkin was accepted into the daycare centre for two half days per week and she starts mid August.

I’m looking for a new gym membership. I’m back in the studio. I’m no closer to having a book, but I have some other collaborations and fun works in progress.

 

I’m giving myself an A for effort and a C for execution.

I should have listened to myself a lot sooner.

‘They’ were wrong.

And Munchkin?

She’s perfect. A+

 

**Or some other non PG rated word

 

 

My greatest project

Nicola Pravato by Hayley Hay Photography

Many of you who have followed ‘next to nicx’ over the years have probably noticed that it’s not plastered with my photograph. In fact, I’ve actively avoided putting my face on the blog as I’ve rather liked hiding behind my creations. I’ve loved letting them do the talking and showing off, particularly as I’m not comfortable in front of a camera and have tended to prefer being behind it. I am something of an introvert.

Nicola Pravato by Hayley Hay Photography

I thought that if my ‘face’ didn’t match what you thought it would look like, you’d be disappointed. A little like when someone creates a movie adaption of a book you love and they put what you feel is entirely the wrong actor in the part. The book is forever tainted by the awful actor and the mental image you had created is slightly overwritten.

I didn’t feel like the face of this blog. I was pregnant and fat and I’m still not back to my ideal shape. I’m sleep deprived, tired and have struggled with an iron deficiency. I’ve used all these as my excuses for leaving my face off the blog and to keep hiding in relative obscurity.

Nicola Pravato by Hayley Hay Photography

But all that comfortable anonymity has recently been stripped away. I was asked to complete a project (rather a splediferous one I can share with you in August) and they wanted to put my photo on it. After the subsequent panic attack, I realised that I can no longer hide. And whilst I’ve no plans of plastering my face over every post, I probably do need to share a little more than I have been.

Thankfully I’ve recently become friends with lovely and insanely talented Hayley Hay. She’s amazing! Hayley came to my rescue and took some really great photos of the Munchkin and I. Many more than was needed for my project. And so I’ve decided to share some of them with you and to say;

“Hello, this is me. Nice to meet you”.

As well as; “Check out my greatest project of all time! Isn’t she adorable?!”

Nicola Pravato by Hayley Hay Photography

Because Munchkin is by far and away, my greatest creation/ project/ job.

She is a handful. Just like her father and I, she knows her own mind and makes sure we know it too. She is also gentle, generous and kind. I’m adoring the personality that is emerging every day and seeing just how excited she gets as she learns something new. Just last week she learned how to clap her hands and so clapped proudly whilst saying “Yaaaaay” for about a day and a half. She clapped even whilst crying!

Nicola Pravato by Hayley Hay Photography

I’m a firm believer in “Do it once. Do it well”. And I’m doing my utmost to do it well with Munchkin. We have our good and bad days, and I’m learning to go with the flow a lot more. My perfectionist self has had to learn to be happy with ‘Almost perfect’ and more often with ‘Good enough’. It has been a challenge.

Nicola Pravato by Hayley Hay Photography

Just minutes before we were to start this shoot, my daughter decorated her outfit so badly it had to be changed entirely. And it was washing day. So she end up wearing a t-shirt, baby Converse and spotty tights in this shoot instead of the pretty dress I’d planned. I was a little disappointed. But after seeing the end result, I’m so glad! They show every gorgeous little squishy baby roll and her beautifully chubby belly. She’s thinning out a little now as she’s starting to move around a bit more.

Nicola Pravato by Hayley Hay Photography

This beautiful little one has taken all of my days and a fair number of my nights. Any any spare time I’ve had, I’ve been making but haven’t had time to blog.

It was starting to get to me. I hated seeing the blog stagnant. Even though I told myself it was only ‘maternity leave’, I seriously considered giving up next to nicx. Being an expat and not having easy access to family had meant that I’d not had time alone to work etc. I couldn’t see a way to make it work.

But a couple of my friends and my husband gave me a serious taking to, I’ve decided to keep it going. And I saw a need for a little me time as I’d started to feel like I was losing myself. Consequently, we’ve made some lifestyle adjustments. My husband comes home early a couple of nights so I can get in a swim/ workout and we now have a sitter come to look after Munchkin a couple of half days a week so I can get back to ‘work’. Munchkin has made a new friend, and I’ve finally got time to bake/ blog/ make and create!

It has the added benefit of making me feel a whole heap better and therefore, I’m a much better mother.

Nicola Pravato by Hayley Hay Photography

Good news! This means that the blog is going to get busier than it has been. All those half finished projects are starting to be completed and photographed. And I’ve a whole heap of new ones. So you should start to see a craft/ GF baking blog post every week or so. And I’ve a list of splendiferous things I’ve found whilst wandering around this new world inhabited by little Munchkins, I’ll share a few of those with you too.

Nicola Pravato by Hayley Hay Photography

Thanks for following next to nicx and for being patient all these months!
So see you next week; right now I’ve a tiny skirt and post to finish!

Nicx

 

All images in this post are Copyright to Hayley Hay Photography