Daily Routines with Charlotte Swiden
This week on our journal we chat with Swedish born artist, designer and mum Charlotte Swiden about tea, routines and the new normal.
How has your daily routine changed during these times of lockdown?
I have two young kids, Lukas 8 and Nils 5, plus my design work and art practice, which all kind of evolve around home so in many ways it hasn’t changed that much. I don’t have to commute to work and rush around doing pick-ups and drop-offs, which is probably one of the best things in these times. The slower pace has been really enjoyable. Another silver lining has been our family meals. During a ‘normal' week we usually don’t have time to sit down as a family every night but now we have a properly cooked meal together every day. The boys love sharing their stories and little highlights from the day and it really unwinds all of us.
What I miss the most is nature. We live in a small apartment in Melbourne so the weekends we usually spend at the ocean or in the forest. It’s been hard to not be able to have access to something so essential to our spirits.
What have you found challenging during this time and what has the time at home taught you?
The most challenging thing has been managing screen time with the kids. We just had to be a bit more loose with the amount of time that they spend on devices and try to make sure that what they do has some quality and learning element to it. This time overall has really taught me how priviliged we are. We can still work and continue our lives pretty much as normal from home, putting food on our table, access health care when we need to and keep in touch with everyone in our community through the net. I’ve been able to really enjoy the present and the gratitude of that luxury, making the everyday feel special.
How are you managing lock down home life with the kids, art and work?
We try to keep our daily ritual as similar to our regular one as possible to create a sense of normality for our boys. Most mornings I go for an early run, it gives me a chance to get out in nature and also to have some time on my own, it fuels my mental wellbeing immensely. We have breakfast together, make sure the house is sort of re-set and that everybody is dressed and ready by 9am. Then one parent starts some light school activities while the other parent starts work.
I’m the graphic designer for Storm+India. Previously I would have worked a full day designing but now I spread my hours over the week. It’s great to have the flexibility when juggling home schooling and having a pre-schooler at home as well!
We try to keep our days fluid and take lots of small breaks to go outside for a bit, have a little chat or prepare a snack with the kids. It’s all about creating an environment that feels as un-stressful as possible for all of us at the moment, not putting too many ‘we should’ in there. It’s up and down of course, just taking one day at the time.
What do you think we’ll see in art that comes out of this period? Has your own art changed during this time?
In my opinion, creativity really grows from restraints, so there will definitely be some great art to look forward to! I usually like to do long stretches of painting without much break to really immerse myself in a project. During this time I’ve had an hour a night to create and it’s been a good challenge. I’ve felt really motivated to use that hour, just let go of any expectations of making big things and just play around and have some fun. So I’ve mostly been doing paper collages that fit that brief perfectly. I usually use my collages as a base for my paintings anyway so I think I will have lots of material for new works when we emerge from this period!
How will life look for you at home and work once we emerge from this period? What does the “new normal” mean to you?
It’s funny, in the new year I did a ‘2020 goals/dreams list’ and I wrote: “More quality time with the family, less stress, more meals together, reading more to the kids, creating more, sitting down and enjoying a cup of tea without doing something else at the same time.” In many ways this is the world I find myself in now. Sure, there are a lot of things that I’m missing, but I try to focus on the positives. It’s really a once in a lifetime opportunity to get to push the pause button and reflect on what’s important. We have our health and we have each other. I hope in my ‘new normal’ I can keep focus on this.
What are your daily tea rituals?
I’m Swedish and as you might know Swedes are among the biggest coffee drinkers in the world. I find myself quite sensitive to caffeine, so my morning ritual is a S+I Matcha latte. The green tea gives me that perfect pick me up without that nervous, anxious feeling coffee sometimes gives you. When the kids are in bed my husband and I like to have a S+I Rooibos Chai or a S+I Detox Evening tea together and just sit on the couch for a bit. I really love how that just rounds off the day.
What will Mother’s Day be like for you this year?
A nice day at home with my family, maybe we will have some tea and get some cinnamon scrolls home delivered. And I will definietly take a couple of extra hours to myself and make some art!