Preparing For An Art Camp My Way

Spring break is next week, and so is the Noctiluna Spring Camp! As you can imagine, this is a busy week for me.

As with most jobs I do, preparing for a camp has it’s own pattern, so here is an insider’s view of what I normally do in the week before I run a camp:

Transcendental Lesson Planning Marathon

I always leave the lesson planning until the last week (a habit I picked up in college).  This is a tried and tested format that has it’s own wisdom to it. I decide on a day to plan lessons, then on that day I shut myself in my work room with a cup of tea and background music, get into research mode, and write shiny new curriculum in a trance-like state for hours without a break. I’m so absorbed that I can’t even hear the phone ringing until I’m done. Trust me, it just works better this way.

Turning My House Upside Down

Gathering supplies for an Art camp is no small feat! Things have moved since the last camp, sometimes they can migrate right out of my house! Also, Art camps aren’t just about art supplies, you also need cleaning supplies, medical supplies, books, games, snacks and protective clothing (yes). This is normally the time when you will be able to hear me shriek “I need an empty milk carton, a beach ball, talcum powder and a dust mask!!” across my driveway, while dragging an old bed sheet and tennis rackets to my car. My neighbors have given up trying to guess what I’m doing.

Clean Out My Local Library

Yet another reason to visit my local library. During my planning-trance I also put every possible book related to my projects on hold at the library. Right now, I need to pick up a stack of books on butterflies, color, and Fauvism, and let the librarians eyeball me suspiciously. Did I mention how much I love libraries?

Major Weather Freak Out

Two words that strike terror into every teacher’s heart: INDOOR RECESS. Aaaaaghhh!
Summer camps are great because of the fact that they take place in the Summer when sunshine and good weather are usually a given. Not so with Spring camps, no, no, no; Spring is a time of great stress and uncertainty. Right now, it looks as if next week will be wet and chilly, which means less outdoor breaks, which means incredibly wriggly children, and the need to find different ways for them to expend energy, which leads to….

The Last Minute Target Run

There is always something I need at the last minute for my camps; sometimes it is art related, but more often it is Band-Aids, or tissues. Right now, I’m thinking that I need to buy some indoor sports equipment: skipping ropes, hula hoops, a basketball etc, because of the impending sogginess. There is ALWAYS a reason for a last minute run to the stores.

Have THE Talk with my daughter

“Honey, when you are in my camp, you have to remember that I’m your teacher. Behave the way you would with your school teachers…blah, blah, blah” Hopefully it will sink in this time.

Deal With a Babysitting Crisis

Why do I always have a childcare crisis just before each camp? Why? The four year old’s spot at preschool/kiddie camp/babysitter always falls through right at the last minute for some reason. Anyone interested in babysitting on Monday morning?

Plan Lunches like a Robo-mom

I make a very obsessive, color coded chart with lunch and three snacks for each member of my family (including myself) for each day of the week, so that I’m not expending valuable, groggy, morning minutes figuring out what goes in who’s box. Just look at the damn chart, and stop thinking!!

Take on one Extra Task That I Couldn’t Possibly Finish

Yep. I did plan on printing shirts for the Spring campers, but it isn’t looking likely right now. Hmmm, maybe I can just squeeze it into the next three days?? We’ll see.

The Luxury of a Full Work Week

The  last two weeks have been pretty productive, thanks in part to the lovely Spring-like weather. With no sudden, unexpected snow days, I managed to finish screen-printing all 1 million of my products (Well, it certainly felt like 1 million!). I have also almost finished ironing them all as well. My right bicep is now impressively larger than the left one, leaving me rather lopsided, but proud nonetheless. I’m right on target to finish tomorrow, and be free to spend all of next week getting organised for my Spring break camp.

Oh, and of course, I finally managed to film an intro to my YouTube channel (see below). Don’t expect too much, I’m no Martin Scorsese. I’m hoping to film the next video tomorrow, which will be a tour of my ‘work space’ (hopefully, I will have cleaned the house up a bit by then).

Feeling rather pleased with myself, I decided to go for a walk today, and bought a bunch of cool books at my local library’s used book sale. Then my phone rang, it was my four year old’s preschool: “Ms Sharma, your son is running a temperature, could you come and pick him up? That will teach me to get too smug!

So I’m at home with my little honey right now, typing this as he snuggles up to my side and watches Sesame Street. Apparently, it might snow tomorrow. Hmmmm, fingers crossed for that photo-shoot. Well, at least I have an understanding boss!

Compassion For The Unmotivated

It is 9am, and my younger child just left for preschool with his dad. The house is empty, I have limited time before I need to leave to do the midday pick up/drop off (it’s complicated, my younger child has a strange schedule), but I just can’t motivate myself to start printing. I am a bear with a sore head today. So I filled the kettle, and wrote this list:


No, it is not written on fancy stationary, because I can’t find any fancy stationary anywhere today. Yes, I do realize that this is not the first time that I have used writing my blog as a form of therapy.
I guess we all have these types of lists in our heads, so I should really stop wallowing and get to it. But before I do, one last thing:

Working from home is not easy, especially when you are combining it with being a parent, and working for yourself. So from me to those of you who are currently at home, struggling to change gears and motivate yourselves to work/get changed/tackle that big project, here is a big virtual hug. You are not alone and, yes, it is tough, bloody tough, so it’s okay to feel despondent from time to time, and write a ridiculous blog about it.

Give yourself a break (well, obviously a mental break, because if you are a parent, there is no such thing as an actual break), insert cheeky, eye winking emoji here.

There, got it out of my system (sort of), time to tackle one of those tasks.

Why routine is my frenemy

I had a baaaad printing day yesterday. I made so many silly mistakes, messed up so many shirts. My head was fuzzy, and my heart was just not in my work. It was a thoroughly unproductive day.
I think all the many, many snow days have thrown me off. Last week was like this: one day of work, two days with the kids, one day of work, the weekend – maddening! I understand why my four year old cried so much when he had to leave for school yesterday, it’s difficult to get used to anything with so much stopping and starting. When it comes to work, routine is all.
Wait, did I just say that??

Routine is supposed to be the enemy.
I have been known to say on more than one occasion that I dislike routine. I get stuck in a rut easily, and thrive on being spontaneous. I go out of my way to keep having new experiences, and avoid a repetitive, homogeneous life. I know this keeps my brain on the edge, it keeps me creating. In fact, I’ll wager pretty much all of my friends in the Arts feel this way.

One of my heroes, Debbie Harry, said it so well when she  talked about getting older in the Telegraph recently:

“If you stay creative, interested and open to new things, you won’t stagnate. “You have to look around, keep new influences coming in. A lot of people sort of pick a world to live in, and they’re comfortable in that – which can be disastrous.”

I don’t want to pick a world, or a routine, to live in.
However, over the past few weeks I have realized that I actually do rely an alarming amount on routine. The nitty-gritty of my life hangs on routine, I need it in order to do all the unpredictable things that I do. I call it (somewhat predictably) The Routine Paradox, ie: if you keep a strict dinner/bed/bath routine with your kids, they go to bed earlier. Then, once they are asleep, you have time to work on that crazy huge canvas in your bedroom (supposedly).

Routine has been my friend, my ally, in my quest to not be so routine:

– My tea routine.
I make myself tea every day, yet I do not always drink it. The actual act of making the tea is a way of signifying the start or end of an activity to me. I make a mug of tea to tell myself that it is time to start my work day. I make tea in the afternoon to signify that it is time to take a break and do something else.

– Exercise.
Without a gym routine, I would just melt into mush on my sofa and do nothing. It’s a cliche, I know, but the more I stick to my work out routine, the more motivated I am to actually get things done in other parts of my life.

It’s pretty hard being a parent without embracing routine with both arms. You try getting two kids through homework, dinner, bath, and bedtime without turning into a drill sergeant. Routine, routine, ROUTINE! I’m shouting it from the rooftops here.

As for screen printing, I’m taking a break from it today in order to do some lesson planning for the camps. I’ll get back to it once the lesson planning begins to get tiresome. In between, I think I’ll try starting a You-tube channel, and learn to Samba. As long as it all gets done in time, who cares.