Parenthood and the Pursuit of Creativity

For working artist Molly Goodall, motherhood signaled the end of her creative pursuits. Well, at least that was the idea when she set aside her paintbrush in favor of swaddles and newborn snuggles. After years of spending long days in her art studio, Molly found new motherhood couldn’t afford her the focus she needed to tend to her art career.

It wasn’t until her son, Carter, was approaching his first birthday that Molly realized she needed to nurture her creative side again. This time she turned to the sewing machine, creating tiny coats with big, fanciful designs for her little boy to wear. From those nap time sewing sessions, Molly created a children’s clothing company, Little Goodall.

Molly GoodallNow, nearly eight years later, her online boutique is stocked with impeccably hand-sewn dresses, jackets, trousers, and blouses—all featuring whimsical details that capture the sweet and fleeting spirit of childhood.

We were over-the-moon to catch Molly by phone from her studio in North Texas. Here she opens up about the importance of creative pursuits and life at Little Goodall with her young son at her side. When it comes to parenting a young child and growing a fledgling business, Molly has plenty of words of wisdom to share.


“Balancing parenting and business was a challenge, and it’s still a challenge. It’s gotten easier now that my son is older. But when he was young, he was always with me and I worked around his nap time. When my son was little, he would be in the studio with me, in a pack ’n play. As he got older, he’d start creating: gluing buttons on pieces of felt, making pictures, etc. He’s always been side-by-side with me.

If there was work I needed total concentration for, I would schedule that for when he was at preschool or very early in the morning. When I wrote my sewing book, “Wild Things to Sew and Wear,” it was summertime so my son wasn’t in school. I realized that to fulfill the book contract, I was going to have to make some serious adjustments. So I started going to bed when my son went to bed in the evening. Then I would wake up at 4 a.m. and work for three hours before he woke up. Later he would go to camp, but unfortunately, camp for young kids is never very long. So I would find a camp he was interested in that had a Starbucks nearby and I would do the writing and editing of the book at the coffee shop while he was at camp.

Now if there’s a big project, I’ll still use that trick where I shift time a little bit. I’ll go to bed a lot earlier and then wake up around 4 a.m. because then I have that head start. By the time my son wakes up, I’m ready to be with him and focus on him, and it’s not like mom’s completely distracted.”

Little Goodall romper

Photo provided by Little Goodall

“I can be completely consumed by a project. But I also believe in taking 30 minutes to really focus on your child. Sometimes that means a lot to them, and it can offset the time you’re spending on something else. For example, I always read to my son. I mean he reads to himself now, too, but I always read to him for 30 minutes every night.

When he’s driving around with me a lot and we’re going to different vendors, I ask for his help. I try to involve him, but I also try to schedule in stops that are exciting for him, like going out for ice cream or stopping at a park. I know where every playground is within a 50-mile radius of Dallas-Fort Worth. If we can find a good playground and stop for a little while, it helps me clear my mind and be in the moment and focus on him. I try to remember he’s only that old for so long. I only have one summer with him at each age, and I really don’t want to miss it.”

Little Goodall jacket

Photo provided by Little Goodall

“Think about everything in terms of baby steps. Whatever your idea is, break it down into smaller increments of time that you could accomplish something in. Even if you start by saying, ‘I’m going to spend five minutes today making a list of ideas’ and then the next day another five minutes, and then the next day you do 10 minutes. Oftentimes, the hardest thing is getting started. But think of it like a bucket: the more drops you’re putting in that bucket, the closer you are to filling it up and accomplishing something.

That’s the process I used to get back into [creating]. This way I can say, ‘OK I have an hour here that I can put towards X. Or maybe I need a nap, and I’m going to nap for an hour and when I wake up, I’m going to put a good 15 minutes of focused effort into this and then I’m done.’ On the other hand, when you look at [a project] as 36 hours of developing this new idea, it’s all too overwhelming. Those little creative spaces are what give us our spark, and I believe our kids benefit from their moms having creative pursuits, whatever area they’re in.”

Lizzie Goodman

Lizzie Goodman is a freelance writer specializing in pregnancy, child development, and parenting. She lives in Chicago, IL with her husband and their toddler daughter. They are waiting for the terrible twos to end—any day now.