Designing Motherhood – My biggest project

Posted by Sónia Vilabril In: Design, Stuff We Like

Becoming a mother has changed my life in too many aspects to mention here. Motherhood has become my biggest and most challenging project, I simply wasn’t used to frequently feel tired and lost… There were some bad moments, but there were many more good ones. I cried the first time he smiled at me… Never a smile had such an impact, before or after.  

How has being a designer influenced me as a mother?

I’ve been helping him create his own toys and build fun furniture, it’s a great way for us to engage with each other, and save a little money while doing it. He absolutely loves his teepee bed!

Not rushing him to grow. Some projects require patience and time. It’s the same with children. I don’t worry too much about his growth rhythm, they’re all different and unique, your child may take longer to start walking, speaking or whatever you’re obsessed about that week. Just relax, don’t worry too much… give them the time and space, they will grow, believe me!

Try teaching him to be neat and orderly but also, help him develop his creativity and individuality.

Letting him follow his instincts! I let him climb the couch! Apparently they all have this need. I just tell him to take off his shoes and I show how he can have fun without too much danger. It’s important that they develop and listen to their own instincts, that’s something he will need at every stage of his life. I try not to forget that the ultimate goal is to prepare him for adulthood, I won’t be able to protect him all the time.

Trying to understand what he likes. Just like I followed what I wanted to do I want him to choose what makes him happy. It’s amazing the amount of new information they are able to absorb when they’re motivated, at age 2 he was recognizing all the main car brands.

Communication is key. The same way a designer must listen to its client, mothers must listen to their sons, they are often right, surprisingly. When my son starts getting irritated, I try to validate his perspective so it doesn’t escalate. They do have an opinion and when you take the time to listen and explain, they feel more like they’re part of the family and I think this will prove to be essential in future years.

The last but not the least… being a designer influenced me to follow my intuition and tastes. As mothers, we receive much contradictory information, from other mothers, books and even pediatricians, so I learned that is crucial to be as confident on my mother’s intuition as I am on my work.

How has being a mother influenced me as a designer?

I’m certainly much better at focusing on the work at hand and overall being more practical. Because of the lack of time, I need to concentrate much more when I work so that I can leave on time to pick up my son and still feel like I’m not neglecting every other aspect of my life. Everyone that I work with at NDrive knows that, and they’ve been very understanding and supportive, that gives me a great sense of security and tranquility, and at this time of my life, that’s priceless.

Trying not to bring work home. Life is short and my son won’t be a 2 year boy for long. This is such a bonding phase between me and him. He’s literally learning how to communicate and play, I really need to focus on him, we both need it.

Being patient, staying calm. As a mother, I needed to find a way to deal with my son’s tantrums. I quickly understood that is crucial to stay calm, if I’m calm, there are more chances he will be too. Children at this age are like little sponges that feed on your energy and I’ve come to learn that a good way to be calmer is by doing things more slowly. This was a game changer and it has helped me in all aspects of my life.

Not being selfish. Sometimes, designers can be selfish, the artistic aspect of the job makes it especially personal, so we tend to want things done in a particular way. Being a mother changed that, I think I’m now better at teamwork and more open to colleagues inputs, I guess I’m a little less self-centered and besides all the challenges and self-doubt, I do feel like motherhood made me a better person.

Wanting to design for boys. It’s difficult to find beautiful clothes for boys. Stores seem to focus on feminine clothing, probably because it sells more, and let me tell you, I’m not happy about that at all!

Picking my battles. As mothers we need to focus on what really matters. Has much has I want to protect him, I can’t keep saying “no” to everything. This is hard to execute, especially at first, but it helped me bring down my anxiety and stress levels.

Sonia has been a designer at NDrive since 2008 and a mother for the last 2 years. She hopes that by sharing her story, other mothers can better deal with all the challenges that come with simultaneously having children and a career in design.

Sónia Vilabril
UI/UX Designer at NDrive