In the latest ‘Inspirational Mama’ interview series we met up with Sarah from Creative Balance (CIC) and chatted about how she not only runs her own business, is a mum to 2 young girls but is also a military wife with a husband who’s been posted away for the last 7 months!
Many of you will know Sarah through the after school and holiday art clubs she runs for children as well as the Big Art Club for adults. If you’ve not been to one of these then I highly recommend it! 2 hours of no technology, no children, great company and a chance to create your own piece of artwork! It’s definitely on my #AMotherDayInParadise list!
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m Sarah and a local Crosby mum to 2 little girls Hettie (7) and Juliette (2). I’m married to Paul who’s currently serving in the military so I’m often on my own for months at a time although we do face time several times a day. He’s coming home soon and we can’t wait!
I’ve always been creative and even at the age of 8 or 9 I actually set up my own business in my mum’s cellar running art and craft lessons!
My dad, who was a teacher, had a 2year secondment to the TATE gallery so I got to spend every weekend in there which really inspired me to go on and study design focusing my degree on textiles and ceramics.
To help me through university I worked in various bars and Littlewoods… I think most of Crosby probably worked there at one point or another!
After university I worked in a drug rehabilitation centre which was an amazing experience teaching art to adults. Often I’d hear people say their addictions or issues “didn’t affect the children or family life” which I knew wasn’t the case so that’s when I started to think about working with children.
What was your light bulb moment for setting up Creative Balance (CIC)?
After funding was cut for the drug rehabilitation I started working with young runaways in Warrington . This again was a fantastic opportunity but as they cut back on my hours and increased my workload, I started to become a bit disillusioned with the way vulnerable children were often left to their own devices and how often support networks were breaking down.
A few months after this time I found out I was pregnant with Hettie and I knew then that I didn’t want to work for anyone else; I wanted to do something that would work around having a baby and Paul being in the military whilst following my passion of helping people through creative expression and so I set up Community Interest Company Creative Balance.
That was 6 years ago and it is going from strength to strength. The last year has been our best yet!
So for those that don’t know what Creative Balance is what type of things do you do?
Well it all started with the after school art clubs, which are still going and are now in our lovely new home at Storyhouse Coffee Shop in Crosby village.
We also offer…
- Children’s parties and events
- School holiday art clubs
- School art workshops
- Community murals
- Adult workshops including Big Art Club
- Working with care homes (children and adults of all abilities)
- 1:1 sessions which give people a different outlet for what could be a whole host of reasons such as if a child is struggling at school or if someone is suffering from anxiety or has bereavement issues.
I love doing all of them and seeing the difference you can make to someone’s life through creative expression is so rewarding, everyday is different.
When it comes to Big Art Club I need that as much as anyone! It’s my pure escapism: 2 hours of completely zoning out of daily life and Paul always says to me how happy I am after that class… I’m always beaming from ear to ear, it’s crazy how it affects your mood. It’s a great group of people in a fantastic venue (Roast Coffee & Kitchen), I love it and need that adult time out!
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Trying to juggle everything: being a mum, running my own business, being a military wife, as well as attending slimming world!
Also the sleep deprivation! I was feeding Juliette who’s now 2 until she was 16 months old and she used to wake up about 16 times a night so that was a really tough time.
But even though Paul is away a lot he’s the one person who always makes everything right if I’m having a bad day. I’d be lost without him!
So how do you juggle being a working military mum?
In our family we…
- Never give up
- Never cancel anyone
- Always be early!
I have to manage my time well to be able to fit everything in as there’s definitely not enough hours in the day! I got some fantastic tips and learnt a lot from The Women’s Organisation about effective time management.
Every day I have it planned exactly what I need, what I’m going to get done. I’m definitely one for having a list and ticking things off!
Its little things that can really help though such as making the packed lunches the night before and getting into a good routine. I’m also extremely lucky to have my amazing in-laws, mum and her husband and my sisters there to support me. They’re all amazing!
What do you love most about your job?
The effect it has on the whole family unit or the whole school. Wherever I go it doesn’t just affect one person, It has a positive ripple affect throughout.
Often adults who’ve been to my adult workshops tell me they’ve adapted the skills and transferred them to their own children at home.
The after school art clubs are so much fun. Seeing the excitement on the children’s faces… sometimes they say can’t breathe they’re that excited!
We’ve just completed a project with them where they had to be both an author and illustrator and write their own story. They’re all brilliant, their imagination’s have been allowed to run free. Spike Milligan would be proud!
Recently I got local illustrator Katie Weymouth to come in and show them her portfolio and they were all amazed to see how the drawings had evolved.
People often say to me how do you get them to concentrate after a full day at school but they are the best behaved children in Liverpool. They love what they’re doing because it’s always exciting, fun, educational and most important therapeutic based.
What’s been your most memorable project you’ve worked on?
Oh that’s hard…. I love everything I’ve worked on! I’m very lucky as not once in the past 6 years have I felt “eugh I’ve got work today”. For me it’s not like working as it’s all therapeutic based so it’s good for me too. I absolutely love what I do.
One of my favourite things at the moment is one of the 1:1’s I do with a lovely 67yr old man in a local care home. Before I met him he had no hand eye coordination, no fine motor skills; he couldn’t move his hands properly to write his own name. Now after 12 months of working with him once a week, he’s creating beautiful watercolour paintings, drawing posters from his favourite musicals, even researching different styles and artists. He can do anything and he knows that now, his confidence has dramatically changed. It’s been amazing to see the change in him.
Who inspires you?
My late Dad. He’s been the biggest influence on me. Those early days going to the TATE gallery and the family workshops. He used to travel a lot with his students and he’d always bring home different artwork.
He inspired so many people. He believed in so many people. He did so well with underachievers in particular getting them through their courses and passing. To see the best in people is the only way to be.
There’s an award in memory of him at Knowsley Community College where here he used to teach: ‘The Peter Molloy Award’. We get to present it each year and it’s so inspiring to see people still talk so highly of him 15 years after his death.
Any words of wisdom for other #CrosbyMamas?
Look after yourself, stay close with your family and have the best group of friends you can possibly have! You don’t know when you will need them. There have been a handful of times in the past 7 months whilst Paul has been away where I don’t know where I’d be without them.
Oh and water colour changing books and bubble wrap! It’s ingenious and can keep little ones entertained and quiet the whole way round a supermarket!
What is your #AMotherDayInParadise?
A lie in!! I don’t remember the last time I had a lie in!
My dream day would be (after a lie in) a lazy day with no plans, nothing on the do list, spending the day with Paul and the children.
Getting a massage and then maybe cocktails!
…So you mean a Spa day?
Yes a spa day! I think after going through pregnancy and sleep deprivation every mum should get a boob lift, a spa day and a medal! An actual physical medal!
What’s next for you and Creative Balance?
Some family time. Paul is home very soon so we’re having a family holiday and have some nice day trips planned together. I’ve got the Summer Holiday Art Clubs coming up (more info on specific dates at the bottom of this page) as well as our regular events including the next Big Art Club which is on Tuesday 31st July at Roast Coffee. We’re also going to be launching a 2nd monthly Big Art Club at another venue to be confirmed soon!
For more information on all the services, clubs and classes Sarah and Creative Balance offer you can click on any of the links below…. I’m off to book onto the next Big Art Club!! Hope to see some of you there!
Summer Holiday Art Clubs
Sarah is running 7 Holiday Art Clubs on various dates throughout the summer. For details on each one and to book click on the links below:
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