Creative Family Series
Modern Parents Messy Kids
I stumbled across MPMK a couple months ago and fell in love. It’s so chock full of goodness that you could spend hours getting lost in fabulous ideas. Ahh, le sigh. I asked Steph if she wouldn’t mind sharing her thoughts on creativity, background and what she’s got planned for the future. Here’s what she had to say…
Have you always thought of yourself as creative? If not, how did you come to realize you were?
I guess you could say that before kids I was more of a “closet creative.” I’ve always had an interest and love for arts and crafts but never pursued them seriously. Growing up I was very academic and I also played a lot of sports so there wasn’t a whole lot of time left over. I would go through creative stints here and there though. In middle school I went to a week long summer sewing camp and sold some jewelry at my school’s annual craft bazaar.
I think if I would have been fearless as a young adult then I would have studied some type of design. But I was much too pragmatic for that. I’d always been the honor student and education has always been a high priority for both myself and my family.
It wasn’t until I decided to stay home with my kids that I fully embraced my creative side. I’ve had so much fun dreaming up stimulating art and play experiences for my two year old son. My nesting instinct also went into over-drive when I was pregnant with my, now 12 month old, daughter. I got my first sewing machine and made curtains, pillows, a roman shade, and a crib skirt for her nursery. I pretty much made up how to do it all as I went and would probably cringe if I had to show it to a true seamstress. But I love that my baby girl is surrounded by so many items made from love.
Since starting Modern Parents Messy Kids I’ve really jumped into arts and crafts. I like to put out stuff that any parent, not just the crafty ones, can do so that really lessens the pressure for perfection. The blog has also led me to another creative passion, photography. I got my first DSLR camera last December and taking and editing photos is one of my favorite parts of the whole process.
How do you nurture your own creativity? How about in your children?
I read A LOT of blogs, books, and magazines looking for inspiration. I regularly round up my favorites for the blog, usually according to some sort of theme and recently I’ve started a new We Tried It! series. The idea behind that was to get us to actually do all the fun stuff I’d been blogging about.
Since my kids are still so young (1 and 2 years old), we focus almost completely on open-ended activities. My mantra for this age is that art is all about the process, not the product. I recently created, and posted about, a creativity center for the kids. It’s stocked with all kinds of art supplies ranging from crayons and paint to hole punches and cardboard tubes. Everything is out on display, inviting the kids to come and use them whenever they want.
What are some of your favorite ways to spend time together as a family?
We like to go on outings together. We have an annual zoo pass and we head there as often as we can. Being in Seattle, there’s lots of time for rainy day arts and crafts so when it’s sunny, we try to take advantage and get outdoors as much as possible. Our youngest is just on the cusp of walking and we can’t wait to start going on more family hikes and camping trips.
How have you been able to integrate work with pursuing your creative passions?
I am very lucky to be able to stay home full time with my kids. I absolutely love being able to witness this time in their lives as I know it is fleeting. I’m also fortunate that my only work right now, Modern Parents Messy Kids, is a creative thing in itself so doing lots of creative stuff with the kids is a big part of it. We do projects together during the day and I blog when they nap and after they go to bed at night. That’s my time to be creative.
What are you working on currently? Anything fun?
I just launched my make and play vault. It’s a visual catalog of all the things we make and do at MPMK. All this stuff was archived in other places on the site but I like having it all in one central place where parents can quickly look for inspiration.
What’s the story behind Modern Parents Messy Kids? How did it start?
Modern Parents Messy Kids (or MPMK for short) is the fruition of a seed that was planted in April, 2010. While seven months pregnant with S, I wrote my very first tutorial (which later became MPMK’s first post) and came oh-so-close to becoming a contributor for the mega blog ohdeedoh.
I didn’t make the final cut but I did beat out 95% of the applicants to the final round. That got me thinking that I might have something worthwhile to share. Then I had S and thoughts of anything else were put on the back burner for a while. When she was around 3 months old I started plotting. I spent a few months researching what it really takes to have a successful blog and working with a fabulous designer (Jenna at q.a. design). In December, I did a MPMK sneak peek and officially launched on January 3rd of this year.
Did you pursue coursework in creativity in school (e.g. arts) or did you come by this on your own?
I truly have no educational background in the arts. I ended up getting a doctorate in audiology from Vanderbilt University and even though I’m not using it now, I believe it was the best path for me. Grad school was an incredible experience and I learned so much about myself and what I’m capable of. I also see working in the schools when my kids are older as a very attractive option.
What would you say to someone who might feel they are creative deep down but are afraid to embrace it?
Go for it! There are so many great outlets for creativity these days. Take a class from your local craft store or parks and rec department or start a blog. The process of creating is so fulfilling that it doesn’t have to be for anyone but you. And if you have kids then you really have to do it. Following your passion is one of the best examples you can set for them.