Moms Know Moms Day 7: Melissa M.

[yellow_box] The Moms Know Moms big pattern giveaway ends Wednesday, October 9th. Enter HERE.[/yellow_box]

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family life.

I am mom to two boys, ages 5 and 3, and my husband is a football coach in Texas. So if you’ve ever watched the TV show Friday Night Lights (which, incidentally, was shot in and around Austin, where we live) you have a pretty good idea about our family life. We have three seasons here – football season, off-season, and spring football season. Throw in a bunch of sewing and that’s us.

What’s the name of your blog/website? What is the significance of the name (How does it reflect you as a person or what you stand for?) How long have you been blogging?

Melly Sews. When I started kicking around for a blog name, I played with my own name, which I tried as “mel-i-sew” and that became Melly Sews. I have one aunt that calls me Melly, no one else ever did before my blog. I’ve been blogging for two years.

For many, sewing/crafting is a big part of who you are as a person. Why is “creative expression” important to you and how has it affected the quality of your life?

I don’t remember a time when I did not have a creative outlet. Sewing was the first craft skill I learned (at age 3), but I Melly Sews Smocked Dressalso wrote fiction very early (and still do on occasion) and taught myself to knit in elementary school. In high school and college I continued creative pursuits with a focus on acting and directing both theatre and film, and then I spent 12 years teaching theatre before taking a leap of faith to make my blog and sewing patterns my full time job.

Working inside or outside of the home (or running a blog or website on a part to full time basis) can be especially tough because of the difficult choices we have to make with how to divide our time between work and family. Have you ever felt guilty about the choices you’ve made, and what advice would you give to someone struggling with those same types of feelings?

I try not to feel guilty about working and sending my kids to preschool, or being with my kids instead of working. Guilt is really counterproductive to being a good mom or being a successful business person, and I think it’s something that our society tries to put more on women than on men. And I think we women tend to put a lot of it on ourselves, too, but it helps me to realize it benefits no one – not the kids, not me, not my business. If I feel like I don’t have time for everything I want to do, why waste any of that precious time on guilt?

You’ve transitioned from hobbyist to business woman. What made you take the leap? What has been your greatest challenge? What has been your greatest reward?

Pattern grading Logo Melly SewsI started my pattern business kind of by accident because I couldn’t find a pattern I wanted for my son so I drafted it, and then realized there was a market out there. I continued to teach and blog/design on the side for a full year before making the leap. I really recommend the book Quitter, by Jon Acuff to anyone thinking of taking a similar leap, and though I read it after I had quit, it turned out I had unknowingly followed all his advice. The greatest challenge for me is that I am a huge planner, and it can be really stressful month-to-month not to know what my sales are going to look like. But the greatest reward is the autonomy I have, not just over my business but also over my time and the freedom to work my schedule around my kids whenever I need to.

For most moms, multitasking is synonymous with motherhood. What’s been your biggest personal challenge with juggling so many things? Have you found a way to stay balanced? If so, what are some of your strategies?

I’m still learning about balance, but I think maybe my approach is different than a lot of moms/bloggers I know who were full time moms first then added blogging. I was always a full-time worker before I had kids, so I had more practice fitting in both work and kids. In fact, one of the things I love about my current job is that I have much more control over my scheduling and time than I did when I was teaching.

I have a great support system of family nearby and I ask them for help all the time (which they are more than willing to Melly Sews howtodyefabricgive, thank goodness). For example my sister-in-law and I trade off cooking one night a week and eat at each other’s houses so we each get a break. I keep lists. Lots of lists. I try to choose just 1-3 things that HAVE to get done each day and focus on those off the list. I try to make use of technology like canned responses and the Mailbox app to keep my email under control. I put household chores in my phone reminders and try to schedule about 15 minutes/day of housework so that it never piles up.

But there are also a lot of things I choose not to do as a result of everything I am doing. I rarely socialize when it isn’t a playdate. I dropped out of my fiction writing group that I used to attend regularly. I don’t act in community theatre anymore. I exercise very sporadically (this is something I’m trying to prioritize, but it’s the first thing that falls off my plate every time). I’m not superwoman, and I don’t want to give that impression to anyone.

Finding the time to mother AND craft or sew can be a big challenge. How do you carve out time to create? When your children nap or are at school? Or, have you found other ways to “sneak in” some time?

Blank Slate Patterns PicMy oldest is now in kindergarten, so that helps. I try to spend mornings with my younger son and then after lunch work during naptime. I also work after they go to bed. On Tuesdays and Thursdays my younger son is in preschool too, so I have a big chunk of time to work without interruption from kids. I could not do everything I do without that time.

What’s the best mom advice you’ve ever received?

You’re not going to be perfect, and neither are your kids, and that’s OK.

In terms of family, career and motherhood, how do you define success?

Happy kids, husband and mommy 🙂

How has being a mom changed your life perspective?

I was very, very career driven before kids. I still am, but in a very different way. I can’t be a workaholic anymore – they need me. I think I’m a better person overall for having them around – and of course I don’t think I’d ever have been designing kids clothing if I hadn’t had kids!

Line-2Melissa, thank you for sharing with us today.

You can find Melissa at Melly Sews,  Pinterest and Facebook. I personally recommend her Pattern Grading: A Digital Course (see my sidebar) Fantastic information for those that want to learn pattern drafting with Illustrator.

Come back tomorrow for Day 8 of Moms Know Moms and our interview with Louise from I’m Feelin’ Crafty.

Want to continue the conversation? Join the Moms Know Moms Facebook group for more tips, information and resources.

A Question for You:

Do you ever feel guilty about the life choices you have to make that involve your family? How do you manage those feelings?

5 Comments

  • Melissa Mora says:

    Thanks for having me, Shannon! This has been such a fun series to read already.

    • Shannon_CC says:

      Thank you for taking part, Melissa. Your outlook on “mommy guilt” gave me a new perspective. Much appreciated!

  • Tracy King says:

    It was nice to learn a little bit about you. I for one am glad you had kids and started designing kids clothes.

  • Caila says:

    “I feel like I don’t have enough time to do all the things I want to do — why waste any of that precious time on guilt?” Amen, Melissa! I loved everything about this post. Especially the best mom advice you received. Thanks for sharing! (Oh, and I could hear you talking through all of this. Wish I *was* actually hearing you talk and we were hanging out or something!)

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