creative motherhood: andrea

creative motherhood: andrea

In recent years, Andrea Hartman's blog, Seasons and Salt, has become one of my favorites. I love her minimalist style and real life wardrobe. She actually lives, walks, and mothers in the clothes she blogs about, instead of just putting together pretty but unrealistic outfits for a blogger photo shoot. She focuses on ethical fashion, but in an approachable way. Andrea has three kids and runs a really active blog, so I was curious about how she manages it all. Enjoy.  --Dacy

mindful closet: creative motherhood

Q: Introduce yourself, your family, the work (aside from mothering) you currently do, and how that work has evolved as your children have gotten older.

Hello! I’m Andrea, and I run and write the blog Seasons + Salt, which is about simple, conscious style. I’m from Oregon, and our family of five recently moved to Portland. We love it here!

My kids are 3, 5 and 7 and only one of them is in school full time (for another week at least). When they were younger, I was able to work during that precious afternoon nap and frequently after they had gone to bed for the night. Now that no one in our household naps any longer, I feel like I scramble a bit more to find the time to work. I had a friend watch my kids one day a week for a few months, and that was a tremendous help. Lately, I’ve let them watch an hour or two of TV, and that’s when I try to grab my work time. And then, of course, lots of late nights. This is not ideal for me, but it’s the best way I make things work for now. In the fall I’ll have two in school full time and my littlest in school part time. I’m hoping for a major work-life balance shift when that time comes.

Q. Do you wish you could do more or less creative work? How do you manage those conflicted feelings?

I definitely wish I could do more creative work. Every once in awhile I’ll see opportunities that seem like a great fit, but I realize it’s just not practical for me to be away from my family for so many hours of the week.

Those feelings are hard. I want to have success and achieve goals, but I also want to have a peaceful household. The busier I am the more hectic everyone else’s lives become. As a mom I feel like it’s really hard to have your cake and eat it too. If I were to work 40 hours a week, who would help my daughter with her homework? Who would be kissing my three-year-old’s knee when he scrapes it up playing? Who would play with them all summer? Though my reasons for not having a traditional 40 hour work week come in the form of three beautiful children, I still have the desire to do more creative work. I manage my conflicted feelings with the reality check of where life currently sits (as the parent of three young ones), and I remember that this time that my children are living at home is going by quickly.

While my children are young, I hope the work I am doing now is laying groundwork for what’s to come professionally when I have more time and they need me less.

Q. Did choosing not to work full time affect any financial or career goals for you?

I am one of those odd birds who always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I was a standout student in high school, and I graduated from college in less than four years, but I knew when the time came, I wanted to be at home with my children. But that desire doesn’t make staying at home/working from home any easier. It is harder than I anticipated to be out of the professional world. I miss having coworkers and being recognized for doing good work. I think in some regard that is why I started my blog. I needed an outlet for my skills and creative passions.

Financially it would be much easier to live in this expensive city with two full-time incomes, but that would come at the price of my time. I am very thankful to run a blog that allows me to stay at home, but also contribute to household expenses.

Q. What kind of a “village” or help do you have around you?

So many wonderful people! I can’t tell you how many times my friend has picked my daughter up from school with her daughter (they are in the same class) and taken her home for a playdate, especially in times I’ve been busy or tied up. My husband and I are also very thankful to have both sets of our parents living in Oregon, just a short car drive away. They are quick to take the kids for a weekend when my husband and I need some time together.

Q. Do you feel as though your work and home life lines are blurred? How do you handle that challenge?

Yes! Sometimes it is hard to stop working when you live in your workspace. I try to designate times for working, and limit my work to mostly those windows. But it takes a lot of restraint and discipline. This is a big area of struggle for me and I don’t have a good answer.

Q. What’s a typical day like and when do you actually get your work done?

It depends on the day and the editorial calendar for my blog, but most days involve errands/groceries/school pickup. I try to work for an hour or two in the morning, answering emails, replying to comments. If I am on deadline for a blog post, my husband will often take over bedtime duty for me so I can get writing right after dinner. Sometimes I work until 11pm at night. This probably happens about two days per week. I am so thankful to have a partner who takes on extra housework and parenting, without complaint, so I can spend time working. His support is invaluable.

Q. What do you do when creative ideas hit you and you’re in the middle of mothering?

This seems to happen to me a lot when I’m driving! I will use the dictation feature on my phone to take a note.

mindful closet: creative motherhood

Q. Do you have any words of encouragement for other moms trying to do all the things?

Don’t give up on your dreams, they are so valuable! Don’t give up on quality time with your family, it can often refill your ‘cup.’ Keep wrestling through to find the best of both worlds, and know when to say ‘no.’

Thanks, Andrea!

Keep up with Andrea on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest

letting go of sentimental things

letting go of sentimental things

Ellie and I are working hard on the making space course, and there's an entire week of the course devoted to overcoming the stumbling blocks that arise when you start to let go of clothing. I love this essay she wrote about letting go of sentimental items from family members. --Dacy

mindful closet st. louis personal stylist

Letting go of sentimental items can feel impossible. Sometimes, it's not even a happy memory that ties us to a belonging, but rather a misplaced sense of obligation, longing, or insecurity.  

For years before my grandmother died, she placed masking tape underneath figurines and pots and tea cups. Each piece of tape had a name scribbled on it, signifying who the item would belong to when she passed. Long before her death, she was concerned about her heirlooms.

When the time finally came to distribute my grandmother’s things, I found very little of it sentimental. Unusable china, decorative bells, miscellaneous antiques; most of which I had never seen my grandmother touch, admire, or even talk about. The only thing significant about about these items was that they lived in her house.

My family, however, felt differently. Any item my grandmother had touched now seemed a holy artifact, worthy of reverence. In china cabinets and cardboard boxes, stored in the garage and in closets, my grandmother’s things were tucked away. But with so much clutter, her heirlooms lost all meaning.

For me, only a few items allowed me to reminisce in her memory. A set of handmade coffee mugs, a gold chain my she wore daily, and a handful of black and white photos. These items were real to us.

mindful closet: letting go of sentimental things

The memory of my grandma does not live in her possessions. What I remember most is her resilience; her refusal to be anything other than joyful. I remember her incredible chicken dumplings and her unwavering belief in me. While I do not need physical things to acknowledge her impact on my life, what I have of hers feels special. What I have of hers feels like hidden treasure.

An item only has as much meaning as you give to it. While it’s tempting to hoard a loved one’s belongings, consider why each item is significant to you. If it brings you joy, by all means, cherish it. If it does not serve you, find the space to let it go.   

creative motherhood series introduction

creative motherhood series introduction

Basically from the moment I found out I was pregnant, I was curious (anxious) about how I would combine motherhood with work. I wrote this post over a year ago, and unfortunately, other than our childcare situation (more about that below), not much has changed. I’m still overwhelmed and I still haven’t hit on a routine that feels right. I’ve felt a constant tension between my desire to develop my business and creative endeavors and my desire to live a slow life spending the majority of my time with my son.

Earlier this year, I came across this series in the Atlantic, which was fascinating. If you can save it to your reading list, it’s worth coming back to when you have some time. We know all moms have their struggles, but what was interesting to me was that the moms who chose to focus on one aspect of life (either high-powered work OR mothering) seemed to have a little easier time. They’re not putting as much pressure on themselves to excel in both areas.

The writers, Hana Schank and Elizabeth Wallace, call the other group of moms the “scale-backers”. “Instead, the women still chasing the having-it-all dream are the group we’re calling the Scale Backers—13 women who dialed down high-powered careers to simultaneously be full-time mothers and workers. And in the process of downsizing, they became, ironically, the most stressed-out of our subjects, attempting to do everything well, but feeling like they excelled at none of it.”

The frustrating thing is that if we don’t choose the high-powered work path, as women, we will fall behind in some way. It’s impossible not to. The demands of young children are such that it sometimes takes everything we have just to get through the day. If you completely opt out of work (outside of the home), you leave ideas and creative paths unexplored. It feels like there’s no way to win.

I feel strongly that this conflict doesn’t get talked about enough. So much so that I thought I’d ask a bunch of other mothers how they handle it. When we hear of someone else going through similar struggles, it makes us feel like we’re not alone. I’ll be posting these women’s stories throughout the summer in a new series on my blog called creative motherhood. Creative in the sense that we're creating something, but also in that we have to get creative with how we make it happen. 

My intention with this series is not to give advice, since we're all constantly trying to figure it out, but to acknowledge the struggle that we all share. I focused on moms who seem to have similar work situations to mine, fitting in part-time work around mostly full time childcaring. Please know that I am fully aware that women who are working full-time or childcaring full-time have just as many struggles.

I prepared a list of questions for all the women who are participating, and I thought it’d be fair for me to start this series with my answers.  

Q: Introduce yourself, your family, the work (aside from mothering) you currently do, and how that work has evolved as your children have gotten older.

 My name is Dacy and I am married to Dave and we have a 3-year-old son. I started my business, mindful closet, around the time that I got pregnant, and the amount of work over that time has fluctuated wildly. In addition to actually working one-on-one with clients, I am creating an ecourse due out in Fall 2017 called Making Space. I shop online for clients, create lookbooks, maintain a blog and two active social media channels, create content for social media, deal with scheduling and communicating with new clients, handle my accounting, meet with potential partners, coordinate events….I’m sure there’s more….

For the first year after my son was born, I was still building my business and only worked with clients a few times a month. The second year of his life got much busier and I would schedule clients when my husband could watch my son (we both have irregular schedules) or when I could get a sitter.  We were constantly trading off, and I also never got any time to myself or to work “on the business” instead of “in the business”. Because we were getting worn down, we decided to put my son in full time daycare/preschool when he turned two. Those were an interesting few months because while I was getting to work on business and with 4-5 clients every week, my son wasn’t adjusting well and that caused other stresses. It was clear after a while it wasn’t a good fit and I would have rather kept him home than work, although it was a hard decision because I love what I do so much. We tried fewer days a week, with no better results, and a few months ago, we took him completely out of school, and he’s home with me.

Q. Do you wish you could do more or less creative work? How do you manage those conflicted feelings?

I do wish I could do more creative work, but I also don’t want to spend any less time with my son. It’s a weird place to be in, wanting to do both things but only having the physical time for one and a little of another. I’ve been trying to remind myself that this is a season of my life and my only chance to spend so much time with him. There will be more time for business later, but it doesn’t stop the ideas from flowing or the desire to work on them.

Q. Did choosing not to work full time affect any financial or career goals for you?

Definitely. Part of our discussion in choosing whether to try to have a child or not involved this decision. We knew that it would mean less earning power for me. I feel pressure (from myself, not my husband) to contribute more to our family financial goals. We’d like to retire early, and if I worked more, we could get there sooner. As far as career goals go, sustaining my business through these early childhood years is my goal, and I have fears that if I don’t work on it hard enough right now, it might not succeed. I also have a lot of anxiety about falling behind some imaginary competition.  

Q. What kind of a “village” or help do you have around you?

This has been a tough one for us. When my son was in preschool, I didn't even know who to put as an emergency contact. My family is in Alabama and my husband’s is in New York. We rely completely on babysitters, whose own lives are always shifting and changing and aren’t always available. We’ve recently begun to feel close with some of our neighbors, who’ve offered their help if we ever have an emergency childcare situation, and that helps. I also have some great mom friends who I’m sure would be happy to help (and have helped!) in a pinch, but asking is always hard for me. I’m trying to get better at this, because I would offer my help in a heartbeat, and we all can benefit from that willingness.

My husband is a huge help. For one thing, I wouldn’t have the options to do the kind of work I do if it weren’t for him. When I do get pockets of time to work, it’s because of him. He also shares equally in the housework so that I’m not tasked with all of that. I am constantly grateful that I have such an amazing partner in life and parenting.

Q. Do you feel as though your work and home life lines are blurred? How do you handle that challenge?

Very much so. Now that my son is 3, there are little pockets of 20-30 minutes where he’ll entertain himself, which is so new and great. Then I have to decide, which thing should I do first? Not only that, but it’s like a ticking time bomb and you don’t know how long you’ll have to work. I can’t really turn work off, since part of my work is communicating and building community on social media.

I dream of setting regular hours for all my tasks (for example, emails only between the hours of 6-7, etc.), but every day is different and requires different things at different times for both work and family. I have learned enough that setting an unrealistic goal or schedule will only stress me out more, so I’m trying to appreciate the pockets of time when I get them and not expect much more.

Q. What’s a typical day like and when do you actually get your work done?

At the moment, I work with clients 2 afternoons a week (usually covered by my husband), try to work on my business one morning a week (usually have a babysitter for that one), and also do things like social media and blogging before he wakes and after he goes to bed. Throughout each day, I’m also replying to emails and social media. I would love to compartmentalize all of this more, but I’m realizing that the only way I can shut off the work thoughts is if I have a specific time in the future when I know I’ll be able to get to it (i.e. “I can worry about that at 2pm when I know I’ll have an hour free”). I need to work on that. Having said that, I never plan to do anything during naptime because I need that time to recharge after handling a toddler all day!

My actual day looks something like:
6-7 email, social media, etc.
7-1 with kid
1-3 naptime, sometimes rest, sometimes work, sometimes with a client
4-5 tv time, prepare dinner, check social media, etc.
5-8 kid time
8-9 work time
9-ideally, get in bed, hope to be asleep by 10 or 11, sometimes still working

Q. What do you do when creative ideas hit you and you’re in the middle of mothering?

Try and write it down somewhere! I keep my laptop on the kitchen counter and sometimes I’m able to do it there, or on my phone, or in my bullet journal.  

Q. Do you have any words of encouragement for other moms juggling all the things?

I am constantly reminded how intensive this part of parenting is. I know parenting is hard at all stages of your child’s life, but in this baby/toddler phase, it’s so all-encompassing. I try to remember it won’t always be this way.

the good stuff!! photo by celeste boyer

the good stuff!! photo by celeste boyer

Please, please chime in with your thoughts. Is this something you think about? 

Check back next Thursday, when I talk to Andrea from one of my favorite blogs, Seasons and Salt

Update: new posts in the series by Andrea Hartman and Erin Loechner

why i won't be pledging to buy only ethically made clothing

why i won't be pledging to buy only ethically made clothing

Just a couple of months ago, I wrote about my guilt around considering purchases that aren’t ethically made. The guilt hasn’t abated, and I started to wonder why I wasn’t able to just make the statement that I would only buy ethically made clothing. 

I realized there are a few reasons I’m hesitant to take the plunge.

mindful closet: ethical fashion
  • There’s a bit of peer pressure. I’m really resistant to doing what “everyone else” is doing. It kept me from doing a capsule wardrobe for a long time.
  • Taking a pledge like this feels a bit elitist, to be honest. It’s great for me to be able to say I won’t buy fast fashion, but what about people who don’t have my resources or privilege? There are lots of similarities between sustainable fashion and sustainable food, and this is a common criticism of both movements. If you are struggling to put clothes, any clothes, on your family’s back, you’re not too concerned about where they came from.
  • Will I alienate people who read my blog or want to work with me? Will they think that by my doing this, I’m judging them if they don’t? (I’m not!)
  • I’d have to only shop from places that are considered ethical or sustainable. How do I determine this? What is the official definition of ethically made? If they have fair labor but pollute the water, does that pass? If I see a retailer on blogger’s list of ethical retailers but don’t see any info on their site about it, who do I trust?

I was talking to mr. mindful closet about all of this, and I had an epiphany. It’s not really about any of these factors. It’s about my personality type. You may know I’m a huge fan of Gretchen Rubin. One of her personality type distinctions that’s been really helpful for me has been the moderator/abstainer distinction. If you’re an abstainer, you find it easier to rule out entire categories of things so that you’re never tempted by them. Moderators, on the other hand, “find that occasional indulgence heightens their pleasure, and get panicky at the thought of ‘never’ getting or doing something”.

Let’s take ice cream as an example. My husband is an abstainer, and he cannot have ice cream in the house without eating most of it in one sitting. I’m a moderator, and I like to keep sweets around so that I can have one bite after dinner. I realized that I’m a moderator when it comes to ethical fashion as well. For some people, it may work really well to draw that hard line and say, I will never buy another piece of unethically made clothing again, but not for me.

I’m not perfect. I do my best. I try to eat healthily, but I do occasionally eat McDonald’s (gasp). I use cloth napkins, but also use disposable wipes to clean my counters. We use cloth diapers about half the time, and disposable the rest. I care deeply about stopping the cycle of consumerism and I think carefully about all of my purchases. I try to buy clothing as ethically as I can, but every once in awhile, I buy something from Old Navy (case in point, the culottes pictured above, worn with my ethically made Elizabeth Suzann Petra top). 

If you want to hear more about how you can get started on making ethical fashion purchases, join me on Facebook live this Thursday, June 15 at 5:30pm cst. It’ll be the beginner’s guide to sustainable fashion! Also, I’ve pulled together my favorite ethically made wardrobe basics and Ellie created and illustrated a cool interactive PDF. Get it below!

ellie's mindful yoga wardrobe

ellie's mindful yoga wardrobe

In case you haven't heard, I'm creating an ecourse. You'll be hearing much more about it over the summer, but as I began to seriously consider the idea, I knew I would need help. Tech guru, I am not. I met Ellie at my minimalist wardrobe workshop when she agreed to be my guinea pig for a wardrobe edit. We bonded over our desire to live intentional lives, the only difference being that she's figuring it all out about 10 years before I got a clue! ;) Ellie went to school for fashion, has worked in interior and graphic design, and for the last few years, has worked as a digital marketer. She's super into holistic health and also teaches yoga. In addition to helping me with the ecourse, Ellie is going to be writing some guest posts for the mindful closet blog. I love hanging out with her and know that you will too!  ---Dacy

As a yoga teacher with a committed practice, I find myself in workout clothes daily. Whether I’m flowing at home or teaching in studio, my yoga pants are on and I’m ready to sweat.  

For years, my active wardrobe has consisted mostly of faded sorority tee shirts and obnoxious leggings, all of which fit poorly. While my "real life" wardrobe is becoming more refined by the day, my yoga clothes were looking run down, sloppy, and careless.

Honestly, I never thought my workout clothes mattered. I’m just going to sweat in them, right? In fact, by the end of a hot yoga class, I’ll have completely soaked through my shirt. Who cares if that shirt is ugly?

It wasn’t until I started teaching yoga that this mentality was challenged. As my classes went on, I started to notice how how unflattering my outfits were. In fact, I found it distracting. "Whoa, have I gained weight? Is this a child’s shirt, why is it so short? It's becoming really evident that I haven’t brushed my hair today…"

Whether you’re teaching or practicing yoga, nothing quite steals your thunder like insecurity. My clothes were affecting my confidence because ultimately, I wasn’t showing up as my best self.

While I thought my workout clothes were an exception, practicing yoga is my real life. It was time to take mindfulness off of my mat and into my leggings.

After dropping off my tee shirts at Goodwill, I began to consider my yoga style. Like my everyday outfits, I wanted my yoga clothes to feel effortless, sophisticated, and organic. Obviously, function is crucial when attempting to down dog and head stand, so I opted for a reliable (and sustainable) yoga company, Manduka. By buying only one pair of leggings and 3 tops on sale, my yoga wardrobe is almost complete! Goodbye electric blue camo-print leggings, hello chic bralettes and timeless wraps.

These changes were small, but they have made a huge difference in my life. Now when I teach, I feel at ease in the front of a room. I’m more eager to chat with my students, I laugh more easily, and I’m proud of my strength on the mat. It’s not about how I look in my new clothes, but how they make me feel.

Do you have pieces in your wardrobe that "don’t count"? Maybe it's gardening clothes or pajamas. How do you feel when you’re wearing them? I’d love to read about your experience! Let me know in the comments below!

 

dos and don'ts for packing light

dos and don'ts for packing light

For most people, Memorial Day weekend is the start of summer, and summer usually includes some traveling. I know it can be hard to figure out what you’ll actually wear on a trip and I know what it’s like to feel that you need extra stuff “just in case”, so here are a few tips to help you minimize what clothing you bring on your next trip.

Don’t get complicated. The simpler the look, the fewer pieces you’ll need to bring. For the most part, everything you bring should go together. All the tops should go with any bottom. The outer layers should match all the pieces they’ll go over. The more minimal the color palette, the more easily everything with go with everything else. Stick to neutrals with one or two colors as accents and choose one color (usually brown or black) for all of your accessories.

Do remember that it’s all about accessories. Those simple pieces you’re bringing can go from day to night with a shoe change and the addition of some jewelry. A white top and slim jeans or a lbd can go with a cute sneaker during the day for seeing the sights and you can throw on a cute flat or sandal with a heel for dinner.  

Don’t take new clothes. I’ve heard from many clients that they feel an urge to go shopping for new things just before a trip. They feel like they don’t have what they need or that what they have isn’t good enough. However, a trip is not the time to try out new looks. Even though you may feel a bit boring by keeping it simple and tried-and-true, it's better than feeling self conscious about something you’re not sure really works.

Do remember that you can rewear your clothes. In fact, I generally assume that I’ll wear everything I bring at least twice. If everything goes together, that means there are lots of possible combinations. A loose rule I use is to bring as many clothing items (not shoes, accessories, or outerwear) as there are days in my trip, plus or minus a layer or two. Four days? Four items: two tops, two bottoms. Six days? Six items - maybe 3 tops, 2 bottoms, and a dress. Ten days? You get the idea….

Don’t pack last minute. I know no one really means to pack at the last minute, but somehow it just happens. When at all possible, plan ahead. Count the number of days you’ll be gone, check the weather, look at what activities are scheduled, and note how many outfits you’ll need for dressy occasions. I’ve created a quick little worksheet for you to download that will help you get organized, see end of post.

Do keep a toiletry bag packed at all times. Even if you just travel a few times a year, this is worth it. It’s many less things to worry about forgetting and you can just grab it and go.

Here’s what I brought on a recent 4 day trip to visit my sister in Atlanta: two tops, a cardigan, leggings, jeans, sandals, boots, and a scarf (pictured are similar items, not my exact pieces).

mindful closet: how to pack light

Since I wore leggings, the black tunic, the cardigan and boots while traveling, I had hardly anything in my suitcase and was able to fit all of Matteo's stuff in with mine. I had plenty of combinations available to me for travel days, going out to dinner, and walking around town. 

Also, big news! I'll be doing my first Facebook live (yep, I'm nervous!) TOMORROW on Thursday, June 1 at 5:30pm cst. I'll be sharing these and more travel packing tips. Make sure you're following the mindful closet Facebook page so you'll see a notification and you won't miss it! 

P.S. mr. mindful closet used this link to find athletic underwear that worked for him while traveling.

(this post contains affiliate links)

conscious living night + sunset yoga

conscious living night + sunset yoga

food roof st. louis

As always, I’m trying hard to be healthy and intentional in all areas of my life, which is why I’m so excited about an event I’m co-hosting with other women-run, St. Louis-based businesses on June 8 at 7:30pm at the Food Roof. The theme of the night is intentional living. You’ll be able to enjoy intentional food from Core + Rind, intentional beauty care from Lark Skin Co., intentional fashion from ethical retailer Route, and of course, intentional wardrobe advice doled out by yours truly. In addition to all of that, there will be yoga on the roof as the sun goes down, led by Kate Ewing from Southtown Yoga (see great yoga gear reviews here). There are a limited number of people allowed on the Food Roof at any one time, so there are only 40 tickets available, and a few have already gone. Don't miss out and get yours here!

 

conscious living st louis
core and rind st louis
lark skin co and mindful closet
route ethical clothing