Life Slowing Down


My life has changed.  I’m 3 weeks into teaching art with an incredible group of kids, my own children are needing me less and the site is running smoothly. I have loads of time on my hands. How did this happen?

It doesn’t seem that long ago that working a nine-hour work week was next to impossible with kids and a household to manage. It feels like yesterday that the 3 hours after school and before dinner was spent in driving to swimming/golf/sailing/gymnastics/softball/orthodontist.

Last January, I decided that there would be a barebones Christmas holiday at the Cutcliffe in 2013. I was so busy, the very thought of actually doing Christmas ever again seemed unbearable.

Come July, my thoughts hadn’t changed much so I sat each child down and asked what was the one thing about Christmas that they liked most. Actually, that’s a lie. I really told them that I was canceling Christmas. It didn’t go over well so when I got back from Canada, I signed up for Jeanne Oliver’s Home for the Holidays e-course. I figured I needed to rediscover the creative joys of Christmas again.

Right now, I almost don’t even need the class. My life has slowed down so much that even the Christmas displays at Costco don’t bother me.

I am creating a few new things for my upcoming e-course in two weeks just because I seem to have so much time lately. Things like lesson planning worksheets and a few more posts. I have a bit of an addiction to content creating and you are the beneficiaries! Are you planning on joining me?

And I’m not exactly sure what’s going on at school, but the kids are so much fun this year. They’re goofy, squirmy, loud and creative. I’m really having fun.

Maybe it’s the yoga class I’m taking? Hmmm.


Your turn….

What about you? Are you feeling stressed? Do you have kids to manage and a career to build? What about the upcoming holidays? Run or fun?

Share your thoughts and don’t be shy. We’ve all been where you are right now!


  1. Michelle says:

    I’m more stressed than I’ve ever been! Full-time job teaching, twin 5 year olds still adjusting to the new demands of Kindergarten, husband unemployed for 8 months with no solid prospects. Christmas? Too stressful to even consider at this point! I’m so afraid of disappointing my girls at an age when they are old enough to care about what they receive, but not quite old enough to understand these circumstances. This is turning out to be one of the hardest years of our lives.

    • Patty Palmer says:

      Hi Michelle,
      Yes, this sounds stressful! The twins will adjust to the routine and will soon love every minute. Kinder is a hard transition as many kids try so hard at school only to come home a crying wreck. Well, at least that’s what my experience was when my kids were little!
      As for Xmas presents, my husband and I always kept presents to a minimum when the children were young. They seemed delighted with what they got. It changed for us when the kids were around 10. Then they knew the difference. Making cookies, doing family activities and being together trumps any gift. Believe me, that’s what my kids remembered when I threatened to cancel Christmas!
      Hang in there Michelle. Life is all about transitions and you are not alone.

  2. Mrs. Art Lady says:

    I just finished talking to a co-worker about my stress level this year. It is through the roof! She reminded me that every September is like this, and that I should step back and let things fall into place. *Whew* I am feeling overwhelmed with my art classes, my personal education courses, my family life, and the shortage of hours in the day!! I realize, though, my co-worker is right. I feel this way every Fall and it does pass. When it does, it is usually holiday time, and I always welcome it with open arms. I know I will this year, too. We trimmed the holidays many years ago when I was sick and my husband was unemployed. We were forced to simplify that year, and we have kept it simple ever since. It was a worthwhile change, for sure!!!

    • Patty Palmer says:

      You need to start watching “Super Soul Sundays” on OWN. I LOVE the interviews. It will calm you and add perspective to your life within minutes.

  3. Jill says:

    Like Michelle I’m feeling very stressed out. I teach all different level art classes (preschool-adults) out of my home studio. I teach seniors at 4 different residences in Boulder County. Last year I created a format for doing artist presentations for the seniors which has been very successful (though it takes forever to create each one). I now have more senior residences requesting that I present them. Possibly most exciting is that I’m working on an 2014 Artist Retreat in Italy, painting, visiting artists’ studios, cooking class, meditation…really a cultural retreat. I was just asked to put some of paintings in a gallery show. I’m 4 weeks into a year long integrative nutrition course. And I’m a divorced more with a elementary schooler and middle schooler. Of course, the kids are my top priority. Not taking the kids back to CA for Thanksgiving…have not idea about Christmas. Getting through day by day!

    • Patty Palmer says:

      You know what would be total joy? Teaching art to pre-schoolers and the elderly in one class. Wouldn’t both groups love it?
      As for your presentations, only do extra stuff like this if it brings you pleasure. If you don’t enjoy it, others sense it. Instead, share your creative retreat experiences with them as that it what is resonating with you.
      And although you sound super busy, remember that life is good so make sure you breathe!

  4. Ranie M. says:

    I’ve never really enjoyed Christmas as a child, maybe it was all the consumerism and hassle of returning gifts that were too big, too small, not desired, or poorly made. You are right when you mentioned spending time with children and giving them an experience helps make christmas an enjoyable time of the year. In our household, my husband and I give the gift of time to our middle-school-aged son. We go on trips throughout summer, spring, and winter breaks; buy a tree just for the smell and go to the mall to view the decorations. It doesn’t bother my son to see no presents under the tree. We now have bliss during Christmas. I read an article by Wayne Dyer about “stuff” which set me on my path: Keep up the great work, Patty!

  5. KM says:

    School is in full swing. I’m driving to fencing/swimming/dance/orthodontist for 3/and all the regular stuff. I keep thinking back to the “art camp” we had at home this summer. It was ZEN. There was mess, but there was such restfulness in the creating. I’m thinking about holidays…and what I can cut out so that I can just enjoy our family time. Last year we colored the Warhol tree mural ( as a family. I’m looking for a project for us to do together this year. Our family focus is presence not presents!

    • Patty Palmer says:

      Love the idea of a family art project. Makes me miss the days when the kids were young and we did these types of things. Although, I know my 14 year old would love to do a collaborative project. Thanks!

  6. Leah Pepper says:

    Patty, your site is wonderful! I teach K-6 grade at a private school. I have been teaching for four years and your site has brought me so much new inspiration for this school year! We have made the apples, shape robots, and are now working on the sunset silhouettes. Like the other teachers, I am stressed as well. I have a husband and three kids, work, and online classes just to name a few. But, I am blessed and thankful for all I have. It is nice to hear that I am not alone. Thanks again, and keep up the great work! (I can’t wait till I have some free time like you!) :-)

  7. Ellen Dumas says:

    So interesting to view September from a calmer place. Into my third year of retirement following a 37 year teaching career, but still staying involved with kids and the Arts. Created a small job for myself at a small public gallery in a nearby town. I get to write programs to match gallery exhibits, do school tours, teach art lessons, and NOT have to contend with reports and daily teaching pressures. It’s fun to share my love of learning as well watch their joy of creating. My husband and daughter are both professional artists, so I also have the support and mentoring I need to do my best. Remember every day is a gift even if it doesn’t always seem that way. Enjoy your family, students, and colleagues. We are blessed to play a part in so many lives! Have a great October and remember to take time for YOU!

  8. jenna says:

    Hi Patty, your site has been an inspiration and a godsend. It’s great to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel — that life does slow down a bit and it’s worth all of work you have put into this program and this website! I’m still on the uphill climb however am very encouraged!!
    Thanks so much!

  9. Stephanie Needham says:

    Hi Patty,
    Thanks to your courses I have some great new lessons and my K-6 students are loving them. I also like to try new techniques with the some of my own lessons. Since every teacher handles things differently. I love your organization , especially the way you distribute supplies. My new blog has a lot of work to go but I am sure it takes time. The best part of my year is my students and after all isn’t that the icing on the cake? :-)

  10. Amanda Shuler says:

    I just had a meltdown last night because the stress of life seems too much right now. I’m glad to know that at some point things will slow down some! I have three small children, I teach middle and highschool math and I am the art teacher for 1st through 4th grade. I feel the most awful that my own children get less of me than I’d like. I want to soak up every bit of being with them and live in the moment but can’t seem to do this. I try to get things checked off my list just to start on the next item.

    • Patty Palmer says:

      Let the guilty feelings go. You are doing what you have to in order to provide for your kids. I can’t wait to tell my daughter that you can be an art teacher and a math teacher! Very cool. Now, that’s a great role model!

  11. Laura Dodson says:

    On a bit of a whim, I decided to try to work in rotating art classes for Kinder and First. WOW. Best decision ever! I teach 7th and 8th grade English, too, and now! K-12 art. YAY. I thought I would be dying by now, but my English classes are phenomenal. We’re reading Shakespeare and the kids LOVE IT. My Elem art classes are finding their groove 7 weeks in, and I have one particular class–3rd grade–that is absolutely Heaven sent. Gosh, I love that group of kids. So far, so good.

    Of course, over the last two weeks all FIVE of our sons decide to get into some sort of trouble at school. Erg. But classes? A cinch.

  12. R5Bales says:

    I am a bit embarrassed to admit that my stress level is very low. I decided years ago that making life as simple as possible does a several things. I have fewer places to be, I get to relax and enjoy a hobby and it costs me less.

    I am caring for my granddaughter and we only do piano lessons. While we do have other hobbies, we don’t do them every day. It has been refreshing to not have to do soccer, karate, dance, piano, ceramics or whatever.

    For the holidays, we have a big hayride party complete with petting zoo and dutch oven cobbler (we are farmers) and that is our gift to church friends, teachers and students. It has been refreshing to not have to bake every day for 2 weeks, not to try and sew and craft too many gifts that end up in Goodwill, and I don’t have to stay up till 4.00 Christmas eve trying to finish a difficult project before Christmas.

    My hoarder’s tendencies are something that I REALLY am working on because it can get so out of control. Ugh.

    • Patty Palmer says:

      I love this. Slowing down is a beautiful thing. I love your holiday tradition. I’ve been in California for over 20 years and have only gone back to Canada once for Xmas. Not traveling during this mad season has been the smartest decision I ever made. The kids have always enjoyed celebrating at home but the downside is that we are without family. Still, we created our own family traditions which have been fun (but hopefully this year, less work!)

  13. R5Bales says:

    One more thing. I am seeing so many of you dear teachers have little ones at home. Little ones are tough. They demand attention, they demand a lot physically. It is going to take a long time (16-ish years) but it WILL get better. They will become more self sufficient. You will be able to have a little more time on your own.

    Hang in there. It will bet better. Know there is a grandma in AZ who would help you if she could.

  14. malinda brymer says:

    ;-} I am listening to Christmas music as I write this!
    I just want to encourage all the young stressed out moms out there in saying this to you:
    I am not gonna tell you to slow down or to make a chart or anything like that!
    Just BREATHE, SMILE, and ENJOY! Enjoy your difficult parent(s)! Enjoy your difficult kid(s)! Enjoy your difficult schedule(s)! light the scented candles even though I hear they cause cancer ;-/ turn on the CHRISTmas music even thought “Its’s too early” ;-/ ASK your loved ones what they LOVE about this time of year, their favorite memories and experiences of the Holydays ;-] DO THESE and add some to them because we all know we thrive on stress ;-]!!! and REMEMBER Mary & Joseph had a baby in a very unsuitable & imperfect setting and still it was CHRISTmas! hmmm… and then my final piece of advice – think about how many CHRISTmases you have left…. (not to mention, not all of them with your kids as there will come a time when they may have to split them with other parents ;-/ I’m just sayin…

  15. says:

    I began teaching art this year two days a week to 1st -8th graders in a rural, low-income school. I somehow created this job for myself by showing up as a faithful substitute teacher always willing to fill in gaps in the sub-day with art lessons usually inspired by your website. I asked the principal if I could make it official 2 days a week and she supported me! I am being paid through donations, PTG funds and hopefully (fingers-crossed) an art grant will come through as well. I never know if at the end of the month there will be money for me to continue but I keep plodding forward. The students are LOVING it as well as the teachers who are getting much needed prep time. I sub at least 2 other days and have a family with 3 busy children to manage as well. My oldest is a sophomore who needs regular tutoring in algebra and chemistry (the algebra I love, chemistry-not so much!) My son’s soccer practices are a half hour away as well as most modern conveniences such as grocery stores, so yeah, life feels like a non-stop busy fest! The one saving grace is that my husband is a teacher as well so when the school clock stops, we all stop together, and stay home, build fires in the wood stove, make and eat yummy food and do practice art projects together so I have material ready for when the action kicks back in. Living in the rural mountains of CA is often inconvenient but I love that it forces us as a family to make the most of our outings and figure out how to enjoy our time together at home. Keeping it all simple is not just an ideal, it’s a survival mechanism!

  16. Heather says:

    I’m really stressed. I’m from NY and we are struggling with Common Core, APPR and SLOs.Along with budget cuts again this year. I now have classes of 26 – 32 students…Can you imagine 32 first graders at one time with 2 special needs that have 1 on 1 aides and another aide to assist a couple of the “reg ed” kids, that is 36 of us in one room! this is in addition to teaching 3 classes in our JR/Sr high school.

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About Patty

I teach art to 400 school children in Goleta, California. My art library contains hundreds of free art lesson ideas. My shop has art lesson plans, videos and resources to help you teach art to kids. It's a whole lot easier with Deep Space Sparkle.

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