And just like that the holidays are nearly over. What felt like months stretching out ahead of us with plenty of leisurely time to enjoy the list of potential creative projects I would enjoy with my daughters seems in retrospect a comically unrealistic and whimsical wish list! I really did want to spend time with them teaching them how interpret the instructions on a sewing pattern, to encourage them to be brave enough to make the first cut into a beautiful piece of fabric and to take pleasure in wearing something they had made themselves. We genuinely meant to spend afternoons together in the kitchen baking a variety of egg based recipes such as meringues and macarons (we are awash with eggs) and artistically capturing the fruits of our labours to share on social media to encourage others to do likewise. Jam making was also on the list as this is inextricably linked with my elder daughter in my mind having made my very first foray into preserves whilst awaiting her arrival, I was quite convinced that putting something on the stove which required a reasonable amount of time and my full attention was a surefire way to put me in labour. It didn’t work and neither did the pineapples, but that’s another story!
However, the weeks of what has been a bit of a washout summer have somehow flown by without the charming moments of family creativity really having taken place. I have on a couple of occasions forced one or other daughter to cook supper when I have simply had enough of trying to produce a relatively healthy meal that will please everyone, and I have made them look at my instagram posts to decree whether my chosen image is worthy of a space in the grid (for teenage girls are the insta-experts you know!), but as far as genuine creativity is concerned I fear I have not entirely succeeded. The lure of the screens in their hands has been greater than my energy and enthusiasm for persuading them that greater rewards are to be found from the physical process of making something (anything) than in the hypnotic scroll and click that absorbs them so.
I too am guilty of spending far too much time online. Establishing The Simpson Sisters has involved a huge amount of learning for me much of which has taken place online, and while the resources and support available are genuinely incredible I do find myself all too easily caught up in the social media which has become so pervasive in so many of our lives. It is truly a wonderful way to communicate with people, and I enjoy sharing what I have to offer, but I dislike feeling enslaved to it and I am keen to explore other ways to do so without making my life busier, more complicated and increasing the feelings of overwhelm that threaten me when I check my to do lists.
I am a little inclined to make life difficult for myself by dint of my slightly perfectionist tendencies and inexplicable need to do everything the long way round so was relieved to read one of my favourite blogs this week and find that Kayte Ferris of Simple and Season has similar inclinations. I always enjoy reading her posts and her advice is sound I think. I am guilty of having an idealised picture in my mind of how The Simpson Sisters should look, function and feel but the reality is that I started less than a year ago and it takes time to create something worthy of admiration. It isn’t necessary to do it all at once, rather as Kayte says “it’s about doing less, but better”.
So, my creative intentions at the beginning of the holidays were genuine but unrealistic. Perhaps if my list of potential projects had been considerably shorter I might have felt less overwhelmed and the girls and I would actually have completed some of them. It seems important to rethink how I plan these things in order to do better next year, for in my head I hear my grandmother gently reminding me that ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’!