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On buying new underwear…and making time for your art

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by Mandi

Mandi Ehman is an entrepreneur, online publisher and author who is passionate about encouraging other women to live intentionally. She's the blogger behind Life Your Way, the author of Easy Homemade and the founder of BundleoftheWeek.com. Mandi and her husband have four spunky little girls plus one baby boy on the way, and together they live, work and homeschool on a little slice of heaven in wild, wonderful West Virginia.

I feel guilty every time I buy new underwear.

Yep, as ridiculous as it may be, I find myself feeling like I shouldn’t spend $25 on a new pack of underwear as long as the old ones have at least a tiny bit of elasticity left in them and no gaping holes.

But when my kids need new underwear? I buy it without a second thought.

I think this is a pretty common scenario for moms.

Maybe we’re not all walking around in old underwear (and for the record, despite the guilt associated, I’m not either!), but many of us have this built-in guilt complex that leads to us taking care of everybody’s needs and often neglecting our own.

This can be true of “frivolous” things like pursuing our art or passion – whatever that may be – too.

We offer our kids plenty of opportunities for creativity, put them in classes or camps to hone their skills, make sure they have a time and a place to practice and develop…all the while ignoring our own need for a creative outlet. Because that’s what moms do, right? We make sacrifices.

Yes and no.

Obviously as a mom (as a parent, really), the needs of our kids come first – especially their need for the basics like food, clothing and education. But that doesn’t mean we always need to put ourselves last.

My grandmother used to run around at family get-togethers, making sure everybody had everything they could possibly need – “Oh, you need a napkin. Here, let me refill your tea. Let me get that for you!”, often not sitting down until most of us were on our seconds or thirds.

I never once heard her complain, and I think she thrived on serving us during those annual family meals, but it would have been nice to sit next to her and eat together, you know?

Similarly, as moms we’re often so busy running around taking care of everybody else that we neglect our own needs. And when this is an everyday thing, rather than just at holiday dinners, it can lead to burn out very quickly.

That’s right – not only does exercising our own creativity and passion show our kids that these things matter, which is a pretty compelling reason to do it in itself; it also makes us better moms.

I know, like buying new underwear, believing that to be true in our heads and actually believing it enough in our hearts to make it a priority are two very different beasts. But it’s true.

When our kids see us make time for anything – cooking healthy meals, reading our Bibles, pursuing our art, playing on our iPhones (ahem) – it tells them, louder than any words ever could, that those things are important. And they’re likely to mimic us and prioritize those same things.

When we make time to be creative and do things that excite us, it helps us manage stress, take our focus off the busyness of everyday, and live more intentionally. In fact, Tsh has shared that she started blogging for that very reason.

So how do you make time for creativity when it feels like a million things are vying for your attention? Here are three ideas to get you started:

1. Decide it’s a priority.

Like it or not, the way we spend our time is a reflection of our true priorities. If we really believe something is crucial, we will make time for it. Decide that pursuing your art is important for you, for your kids and for your family…important enough to make it a priority.

2. Get up early.

This is admittedly coming from an early bird, but getting up several hours earlier than you “need to” is a great way to sneak in some creative time before you start the day. Staying up late can work really well here too, but the problem is there are no built in boundaries on staying up late (like kids waking up and expecting breakfast), which makes it all too easy to stay up too late and start the following day exhausted. As it turns out, being exhaustive isn’t all that conducive to being a better mom!

3. Carve out time for yourself.

It really is okay to hire a mother’s helper, swap childcare with a friend or ask your husband to keep the kids for a few hours while you pursue your art. This doesn’t work in every season of life, obviously, but if it would work for you, don’t let guilt be the reason you don’t take advantage of the opportunity!

____________________

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Comments

  1. When my children were younger I was the same. Always buying the best for them and not really bothering with myself. For me it was shoes. I wanted to protect their little feet and would pay adult prices for their shoes and buy the best soft leather. Now as young adults they have wonderful feet with straight toes!

  2. Ugh, I feel this way all. the. time. And really you’re right. I should just set my alarm and buy some underwear already. Thanks for the encouragement… and the challenge.

  3. A wonderful (and often unexpected benefit) to finding the time to pursue passions is the possibility of making some money. The more to buy underwear with. :-)

    I bought this e-course a month back. It’s fabulous. And a real steal for the price.

  4. I like how Jon Acuff says you can be selfish at 5 AM. Not that it’s selfish to work on your dream (or buy undies – especially if your husband will see them, that’s actually unselfish). But it’s hard sometimes for us to justify that time. I frequently get up at 5 or so to work on my goals and it gives the rest of the day a much more relaxed feeling.

  5. That really hits home! I am so eager to make sure my kids pursue their creative goals and passions, yet mine get pushed to the way side. I know it makes me a better mom when I have a chance to release some creative energy, it reminds me of who I am, but I often feel guilty if I make time for myself to pursue my creative dreams.

  6. Oh man. I always feel guilty about the whole buying of underwear.

    Thanks for this post.

  7. I laughed so hard at the underwear – it is so true! I’ve been working on re-developing my creative ‘muscle’ this year and find that it’s easy for other ‘stuff’ to get in the way. Thanks for the reminder and some strategies to add to the toolbox :-)

  8. I’m another one who lauaghed about the underwear! And as I start back to (home) school, I’m trying to consider an earlier wake up to pursue writing, my creative outlet. Thanks for the great reminder that our kids need to see us making time for ourselves.

  9. Oh how this spoke to me! Firstly, and oh so embarrassingly, I only have 3 bras which are on rotation and define how often I do a ‘delicates’ wash, and this is because I can’t bring myself to spend the £20 on myself to buy another one. Maybe I’ll go and do it online right now because “Mandi told me to”!! Secondly, sewing is my vocation &, my joy, and yet it always sits in last place after my full time job as a wife and stay-at-home mother (which, incidentally, is also my vocation and my joy, though I wouldn’t include the vacuuming in that). I find it so hard to look at the competing needs and responsibilities in my day and say that the house can wait, I’m heading to my sewing machine. But I will re-read this post and try and come up with a better plan.

  10. One of the things I struggle with is the line between meeting my children’s needs and teaching them to be self-sufficient. It is my default to serve — isn’t that what we’ve been doing since infancy? And I want them to know I am here for them and am responsible for them. But I also need to step back more and more and more…

  11. $25 for underwear? I guess you don’t have a Walmart near you.
    (I know, I’m real cheap)
    It’s funny when you talk about our own creativity. I spend lots of my time teaching kids to be creative in art yet, barely do art myself. Believe it or not though, when I am able to help kids be creative, it makes me feel creative…but, one day I will definitely start doing some of my own.

  12. ‘not only does exercising our own creativity and passion show our kids that these things matter, which is a pretty compelling reason to do it in itself; it also makes us better moms.’

    This is so true! I’ve never really thought of it like this, but I don’t want my little girl putting herself last so I better start showing her that her mama doesn’t and invest in some self care.

    Oh and I may just join you on that course – sounds great!

  13. So.very.true. I see it in my mood, attitude, and ability to give my kids what they need. When I have filled my own tank I seem to be a much better mom. As they say on the plane…. put on your own oxygen tank first… :-)

  14. How did you know about those holes in my underwear?!

    Often when my children are doing an art project they ask “Mommy, will you paint with me?” I recently joined in the fun with one daughter and it was so relaxing and therapeutic! And our collaborated efforts produced a beautiful work of art.

  15. I have been really wanting to start school again but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I always find other things that take priority over it. It really expensive and I always think I should save that money for my son to go to school one day.

  16. This is true:
    “I know, like buying new underwear, believing that to be true in our heads and actually believing it enough in our hearts to make it a priority are two very different beasts.”

  17. I’m not a Mom, but you make some really valid points. Personally, I am not a morning person, but the few times I have gotten up early to write or design or create…that high has lasted the rest of the day which is inspiring. ‘

    Also, I probably am due for some new undies too.

  18. As an older woman would add that buying new underwear is not just for you, but it is for your husband, too. I used to wear boring, old underwear. Then one day on a whim I saw a set of forest green underwear on sale at a pricey store and bought it. The sparkle in my husband’s eye convinced me it was worth every penny. I never looked back, but bought great, sexy underwear sets. When my young daughter saw it I simply explained this was married people underwear. I needed her to know that when she got married her husband was worth the effort. We had fun when she was getting married buying her “Married people” underwear. I still do not skimp on my own underwear. I think it gives a spark to my marriage, and to me, too.

    • As a single mom, this “married people underwear” stuff makes me really sad…
      Don’t get me wrong Cheryl, it’s not your fault, what you’re saying is true… How many times have I told myself: “Oh what the heck, I don’t need those lovely briefs, nobody is gonna see them anyway…”
      nobody

      • Estelle,

        YOU deserve nice undies! There is no need to wait for a man, who half the time wont even be paying attention. As to your question of who will see them, the answer is you will! I was raised by a hard working single Mom, and you know what I wished she would have take even $5 from her factory checks often working double hours and bought herself something nice for a change! You deserve a little treat every now and then! So you go get out there are buy some cute undies, put on some crazy dance music and have a mini dance party! Celebrate being a hard working mother and more importantly celebrate being an amazing woman, who knows she deserves nice things and people in her life!

        • Dear Heather,

          Thank you sooo much for this wonderful message!!!
          It almost made me cry, especially because my daughter
          Who is already 19 often tells me the same sort of things: “Mama, you never do anything for yourself, why don’t you take care of yourself…” and so on…
          Next week I’m getting my paycheck and I promise I’ll go get out and buy myself some new underwear or order some online…
          Thanks again, many, many blessings to you and your family, you are such a precious woman, your words made my day…
          Have a beautiful week-end

  19. You know what really struck me about this article … was the part about staying up late vs. getting up early. I never really thought about the built in boundaries that come with getting up early that don’t happen for the night owl. Thank you for the somewhat obvious, though overlooked in my case, insight!

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  21. avatar
    mom of 5 under 5 says:

    how timely. i just broke down and bought a pack of underwear from costco last week when i realized that i didn’t have a single pair that didn’t have holes in it. and i felt guilty. like really guilty. but then found the kids underwear on the same aisle and without hesitation i bought each of them 2 new packs (10 total) for the school year!

    i work full time and their dad is deployed. i often regret that i spend so much time doing chores and seemingly very little time playing with my kids. i spend lots of time ‘near’ them but not necessarily time ‘with’ them. i almost had a meltdown last sunday night when my oldest told me he was so sad because he wanted to play with me all weekend but i had to do all the chores instead. he acknowledged that if i didn’t do the chores then they wouldn’t get done, but he said he wished there was more time in the weekend so i could have played with him.

    clearly, i need to work on this whole ‘balance’ thing!

  22. I have a saying – ‘I’m so far at the bottom of the list, I’m not on the list’. And some days it does indeed feel like that. Recently I mapped out my own personal priorities (not those related to the family) and decided to indulge in them each day. They were – baking – reading- writing – exercise and meditation. I’m managing 3 out of 5 currently which isn’t bad considering previously I wasn’t managing any some days. Just by writing it down I made it real.

    • I also wrote down (aka blogged) about training to become a morning person because apparently this is going to mean 5 out of 5 each day! This needs more work…but seeing it outlined above convinces me yet again this is a trick I am missing!

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