The impact of motherhood to our craft

There’s no question that having kids makes a big impact in our life. Priorities change. Our heart expands and time transforms further into this limited resource. Although societal expectations and norms may be changing, women still often perform most of the “unseen work” at home, which includes taking care of the kids. 

Working with fellow makers who have become mothers, we wanted to know how they’ve taken on the changes that motherhood has brought on, particularly in their craft. Creative pursuits often demand substantial alone time to ideate or imagine, to focus and pay attention, parenting with its equally great demands for one’s time, attention, mental and emotional space, there’s bound to be an impact. Or in the words of Nica Cosio, an artist. journaling enthusiast, and mom of three, if motherhood and our different creative journeys are pieces of fabric, they’re seamed together. And as the fabric gets yanked and stretched in different directions it somehow just moves together. 

“Motherhood means having to go through constant change,” Nica says. “As the kids grow, I feel like my creative pursuits are also changing and adapting to my experiences.” With some parts getting stretched and yanked more than others, here’s what we’ve learned on the different creative journeys of mothers. 

Creative challenges and finding peace

Ann Enriquez-Poco, who created Gouache with her husband Louie, takes on many roles in their specialty bags and accessories business. A mom of one (with another on the way), she takes on sourcing, design, operations, marketing, and sales. But among her many roles in the business, she finds that it’s her creative persona that has taken the biggest toll while juggling motherhood and running a small business. 

“This is largely because it’s harder to set aside the substantial alone time needed for deep, creative work. Maintaining an experimental mindset is challenging when you’re constantly aware of the time and budget constraints for each task.” It didn’t help that they moved to a more suburban area, far from the many creative gatherings in the city, which Ann used to frequent. “I feel that this has restricted my exposure to the creative energies I used to immerse myself in…and consequently, I do feel that inspiration is a little harder to come by.”

What did help Ann was setting boundaries (“Such as enforcing a hard stop at 7pm”) and building a strong support system (“I’m lucky to be surrounded by a supportive family and a reliable yaya”) in order to “alleviate the pressure of balancing work, motherhood, and self-doubt,” she says. 

While she found the adjustments challenging, she has also found peace. “[It’s] in knowing that the work I do is still meaningful and fulfilling to my team and community.” She also feels that motherhood has made her more empathetic towards her team and their clients, inspiring her “to create more thoughtful and practical designs while still being mindful of Gouache’s aesthetics.”

Creative catalyst

Before having kids, Nica worked as a graphic artist in a small publishing house. “I was stuck in an endless grind of Photoshopping and layouts, editing and deadlines.” For her own journey, motherhood was the catalyst in her pursuit of arts and crafts. 

When she had her second child, Nica quit her job to become a stay-at-home mom, which she acknowledges is a huge privilege. Her days were packed with child-rearing and chores, but she craved to do things just for herself. Since she had spent most of her young professional life creating things digitally, she wanted to make things with her hands. She found it in craft projects, which she could do on her own at home. It became her “me time.”

“Because I pursued arts and crafts in the beginning of my journey as a mom, I think it all naturally evolved together. My journey as a crafter is very much parallel to my journey as a mother,” she says. This meant journaling only once or twice a week and just exploring different crafts when her kids were very small. Now that they’re older, she’s able to journal more often and she’s trying to hold more workshops and join more events. “I’m experiencing a bit more freedom to go out and do things. My creative life really flourished when I had [my children].”

It’s almost similar to Sarah Garcia’s journey of leaving a 9-to-5 job while her children were still young. “It allowed me to explore new things—including a new business.” She joined Ria Olizon, who started Real Scents. “It gave me more time to get to know my kids better and be part of their milestones, at the same time explore a new path for myself.”

Motherhood and one’s personhood

Nike Nadal-Reyes knows all too well how having kids can greatly impact one’s work. The accessories designer and mom of three had at one point given up her crochet accessories business, Nyuki, because of the difficulty in “balancing everything.” She was doing everything and crocheting took up so much time. 

For her it was the production and operations side of Nyuki that became challenging. But in terms of its creative side, Nike doesn’t think motherhood has made much of an impact on it. “My work and my designs have always been my own creative expression, a sort of physical manifestation of my taste and personality. That part has always been just about me and what I am as an artist.”

While change is an inevitable part of motherhood, for Nike, not everything has to change because of it. ”Motherhood doesn't have to completely change an individual's personhood. Mothers don't need to give up every little thing that they loved as individuals, be it their hobbies or sports or love for fashion, just because they decided to have kids.”

What she thinks ought to change though is the definition of success when it comes to women and “having it all”—being the perfect wife, a good mother, an excellent homemaker, and a successful stay-at-home entrepreneur. “It took me years (with the help of therapy) to learn to redefine my own version of success, and let go of perfectionism and the need for control,” she shares.

“My struggles with being a mom and an entrepreneur definitely taught me the hard way  to set healthy boundaries around my business and personal life. I also learned to set and give myself realistic and sustainable expectations, and manage other people's expectations of me as well.” 

To letting go

While the level of impact motherhood may have on the creative journeys of the women we interviewed varies, setting healthy boundaries and realistic expectations were actions they all deemed essential. As Roma Agsalud reflects, “Motherhood has definitely taught me to let go more.”

Before becoming a mom, our Common Room founder admits she would have jumped at every opportunity for the stores and their community without thinking twice. “These days, though, I have come to terms with the fact that I won’t be able to say yes to all because I have already said yes to the biggest and no.1 ‘project’ of my life—being a hands-on-mom to my girl. Nowadays, I spend more time assessing which projects to take and reflecting on why it would be worth taking.”

Ann has a similar mindset. Even if she finds her efforts are less intense these days, they are more deliberate. “I’ve come to appreciate the value of quality over quantity and the importance of being present and mindful in both my professional and personal life. I just need to constantly remind myself not to compare my energy, output, and journey to other moms or to my younger self.”

In the end, as Sarah puts it, “There’s really no right formula… it’s really what works for them the best given the cards that they have to deal with.” And we’re all dealt with different cards—different circumstances, resources and support systems, and struggles—which make measuring our creative journeys and motherhood against others pointless and even harmful. 

But we can gain insights, learn from each other, and find the reassurance we sometimes need that we’re enough. Where we are in our journeys—whether we’re just starting out, buried up to our elbows in diapers and work, or starting all over again—it’s right where we’re supposed to be.


Mabel David-Pilar is a writer, editor, and mom to one energetic boy. She has worked for local and international publications, including fashion, shelter, travel, and food titles. She spends most of her time writing, illustrating, stalking Common Room’s online shop, and making ferments. Together with her sisters, she co-created to celebrate fermenting in the Philippines.