I love crafts, especially doing them with our son. In fact, I’m such a sucker for it that he tried out this tactic to delay bedtime the other night: “But Mama, I’m really in the mood to knit with you right now…” (and it almost worked). The thing about crafts is that they, like everything, demand time.
So if you are a craft-loving, busy parent like me, you have loads of started but half-finished projects, if not stacked around the house, certainly piling up in the corners of your consciousness. These mental piles evoke feelings of wistfulness, regret, and occasionally guilt. For me, they include the wedding scrapbook project (our wedding was 10 years ago this summer), the fight for marriage equality scrapbook (the newspapers are already badly yellowing), the t-shirt memory quilt, a half-knit sweater, and then all the projects my son and I have started or envisioned together, including several waiting skeins of lovely yarn. As a wise person once said, “Every item you own costs you”. Put another way, old projects are not worth the physical and mental space they occupy. Here is my proposed remedy, just in time for spring-cleaning:
1) Identify the Roadblocks. Did you stall on a project because you were missing a sharp cutting blade or the proper glue? Is your label-maker out of tape? Or maybe there is some emotional reason; for example, working on that project makes you feel or think about something or someone that makes you uncomfortable or angry or sad. Or maybe the project just doesn’t interest you anymore but you feel some obligation to use the supplies you bought. Regardless, naming the cause can help you categorize the project in one of the following two options: Finish It or Let it Go.
2) Get Real and Let Go. I’m never going to finish that sweater, not only because my carpel-tunnel will not permit that much knitting ever again, but also because there are too many other things that are more important to me right now. It was a nice dream, and there was a time in my life (pre baby) when it was a realistic goal, but not any more. So, I’m going to toss it. A neighbor recently posted on our West Wash Park NextDoor that she was selling $350 worth of her scrapbooking stuff because she had moved on. Good for her.
3) Make Time for What Matters to You. Some projects are genuinely worth your time, and you deserve allocating time and money to doing them. I will forever regret it if I never immortalize our marriage journey, and working on that kind of crafting is deeply satisfying for me. It is useful to take stock of how you are using your time; what would recharge me more- reading Facebook posts or getting this precious project done? Even 1 hr a week will eventually add up to a finished project.
4) Focus! Prioritize your projects worth doing and do not move on to the next one until you have finished the first one. This is super hard for me- starting is easier than finishing because I start out excited and then lose steam. But, it helps me to think about how I will feel when it is done, and also to give myself the ultimatum that if I can’t make myself focus on it, then maybe it’ time to let it go.
Whatever you do, try to avoid self-judgment, which I have found is completely not useful in this process. Think about how light and happy you will be when you have the satisfaction of only finished projects plus the project currently in production. I’m also motivated by what this models for our son: finishing what you have started… but only if it is worth it.