Our next interview is with one of the sweetest ladies I’ve come across online, Ashley Ann, with a wonderful family and heart for others. I love all her DIY projects and the creative activities she does with her kids. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did!
1. First, tell us a little bit about yourself.
This is always such a hard thing to write about. Really, where do you start in telling about yourself? The short version is I am married to my best friend and I am relishing life as a mom to four amazing kids (boys 2, 4, 6 and a 10 month old girl). I spend my days buried in Legos, dirt and Mod Podge. I write a blog…it used to be a place to give my photography clients sneak peeks of their sessions….now it is something totally different. I was created to live on a tropical island, but somehow ended up in Oklahoma. I am passionate about raising my kids to celebrate how unique God made each of them and how that uniqueness can impact their world. I wish Mac would create a way that I could sit outside in the sun sipping sweet tea and still be able to clearly see my laptop screen.
2. What keeps you inspired and motivated to create while still being a mom?
If I don’t carve out time to create then I can’t be the mom that I want to be. Creating, whether it is a 5 minute project or a 5 day project, is essential for me to be able to manage all the demands of life as a mom to little ones. When I go through stretches of time where I am unable to create I find myself grumpy and not truly enjoying my days with the kids. I find inspiration around just about every corner. A trip to my favorite flea market, my daughter’s wrinkled nose smile, the way the sun rises over my garden, and the way the boys line up Lego men on the windowsill. I think the most inspiring things in life are often the most overlooked day to day things. Photography, looking through my camera, keeps me inspired by helping me notice the beauty in the mundane.
3. OK, so you are married with 4 lovely children, a beautiful home, a fantastic blog, AND a photography business. And you still fit in time to be creative. How in the world do you do it all?
Well let’s see, as I write there is a load of laundry on the chair next to me, the bed hasn’t been made and I haven’t finished cleaning up from breakfast! On a serious note, I truly believe you make time for the priorities in your life. A little over a year ago I actually ‘quit’ the portrait side of my photography business. I had reached a point where I was trying to ‘do it all’ and everything was suffering. Each day I felt like I was surviving my life instead of enjoying and living it. Most days I was sinking and I knew something had to go. I now teach photography workshops once month and do occasional tips on my blog, but that is basically all in regards to a photography business. At home, the tv is rarely on and we spend a lot of time just the 6 of us.
Daily tasks (like laundry and cleaning) I try to do early in the morning to get them over with. I have daily goals I want to get done (like writing a blog post) and weekly goals (like digging up a new flowerbed). If I keep my goals in front of me it helps me be a better steward of my time. I try to incorporate the kids into the creative things I want to do. If I am outside working in the garden they are usually digging next to me. If I am crafting in the kitchen they are usually drawing or crafting next to me. However, at the end of the day it isn’t checking off my ‘to do’ list that makes it a good day. If I can go to bed knowing that I truly connected with each of my kids (not that I was just physically near them) then I count that day as a success.
4. How are you incorporating creativity into everyday life with your kids?
I am constantly jotting down ideas of creative activities to do with the kids. For most of my creative projects I look for ways to let the kids be involved. For instance, when we built raised garden beds the older boys wanted to help. I made a template for them to use to mark all the screw holes. They learned a few lessons on measuring and were more excited to be a part of the whole gardening experience.
When I repaint a room I always have a few brushes for them to use to help (I end up painting over their area with the roller after they have moved on to something else). For just about every creative project there is a way to simplify it to make it more kid friendly….I try to simplify a lot! By not defaulting to the tv or video games all the time I think it forces us to get out and try new ways to entertain ourselves and have fun. I think kids getting bored is a great way for creativity and imaginations to spark.
5. Any advice for young moms that feel like they are struggling to fit in creativity into their new busy lives?
My advice would be to look at creating as something to do together, not something that you have to have a few quiet moments alone to achieve. As a mom it is a rare occasion to get ‘alone time’ for creating. If you keep waiting for that perfect quiet, peaceful time to come you can find yourself very frustrated. It might be a little messier and more time consuming to be creative with little ones, but the benefits can be a lot sweeter. And a Nintendo Wii for the kids can be your ‘every now and then’ crafting best friend.
6. What are your mother’s day wishes?
On Mother’s Day I am looking forward to escaping to a quiet remote field for a picnic with my family. As a Mother’s Day gift, I would love a day to myself for thrift stores, flea markets, a movie by myself, garage sales, and crafting. I could wish for my boys to love flea markets as much as they love Legos, but that is in the realm of impossible.