Are you craving more connection with your daughter?
Today I’m interviewing Amy Miller, the founder of the Mother Daughter Art Project.
Amy is warm and inspiring and has such a passion to support mothers and daughters to connect in fun and meaningful ways that will lay a strong foundation for years to come.
Amy created the Mother Daughter Art Project – a monthly subscription box with all the art supplies and ideas to create an intentional piece of art together. She provides all the supplies and conversation starters to encourage daughters to feel more comfortable asking their mom questions while focused on creating something special in as little as 30 minutes each week.
The Mother Daughter Art Project is based on an important vision:
- Connections made through the creative process during a child’s developmental years can have a profound impact that can last a lifetime.
- Shared experiences provide a foundation for learning and facilitate building a scaffolding for meaningful relationships.
- Creating art together provides a pathway for expression, not just in the visual sense, but in the ability to communicate and express ideas. These experiences, over time, are what make connections stronger, trust deeper and relationships safer.
These experiences, over time, are what make connections stronger, trust deeper and relationships safer.
Scroll down to read the full episode transcribed.
What You Will Learn:
- How connection and community go together.
- Art projects moms and daughters can do together to strengthen their bond.
- The importance of our daughters feeling comfortable asking us questions.
- Having non-transactional conversations with our teens and tweens.
- A simple way to ground ourselves and make sure we have an open heart and aren’t reacting.
- Listening with curiosity to our teens and tweens.
Where you can find Amy and The Mother Daughter Art Project:
Find more encouragement, wisdom, and resources:
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And here is the episode typed out!
Welcome to the Moms of Tweens and Teens Podcast. If some days you doubt yourself and you don’t know what you’re doing. If you’ve ugly cried alone in your bedroom because you felt like you were failing. Well, I just want to let you know you are not alone and you have come to the right place.
Raising tweens and teens in today’s world is not easy. And I’m on a mission to equip you to love well, and to raise emotionally healthy, happy tweens and teens that thrive.
I believe that moms are heroes, and we have the power to transform our families and impact future generations. If you are looking for answers, encouragement, and to become more of the mom and the woman that you want to be, welcome. I am Sheryl Gould. And I am so glad that you’re here.
SHERYL: Amy, welcome to the podcast. I’m so excited that you’re here.
AMY: I am thrilled. I’m just so excited. Looking forward to it all day.
SHERYL: This is going to be so exciting for our listeners to hear about what you’re doing and to get to know you better. I love what you’re doing and getting to know you and the energy that you exude and how much you love people and want to make a difference. So, I want you to tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and what you’re doing.
AMY: Okay, well, thanks again, Sheryl. So, I am a mom and a wife. My husband and I have been married for 25 years; we have two daughters. They’re now 21 and 19. And so I’m an empty nester too. And that’s a new role for me.In the middle of COVID, like right in the beginning, I had an art studio at my house, and I would have summer camps at the house, and I would do private lessons.
I’m part of this Facebook group for art studio owners and someone posted, “learn how to have an online class.” I wasn’t leaving my house, so I thought, “Well, why not?” So, I took this free workshop. I was like, “Yeah, I can do that.”
My initial thought for this course was going to be art lessons for kids like a membership, and art lessons for kids. I started down the road of that and I decided I wasn’t really feeling passionate about it, because it was going to be all one-way interaction, me teaching art lessons thinking that the kids are going to do it at home.
And then my older daughter was home, getting her wisdom teeth removed. And we got in a little bit of an argument at that moment after her surgery. I walked into the studio, and it was like an epiphany, “Oh, I’m changing this, I am going to pivot, I am going to do something for mothers and daughters.”
I knew at the moment of our argument that we would find a resolution because of the way we have to communicate with each other. That is when the mother daughter art project was born. That was the starting point. I couldn’t stop and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since that moment 18 months ago.
SHERYL: Wow. That’s so cool that you have that one moment where you know exactly where you were standing.
AMY: Yeah, right. Actually, right there. I see it. Right there.
SHERYL: It’s gorgeous behind you. Did you create that? I see you have a project from one of your projects back there.
AMY: Yes. So, the posters I have behind me were created when I was teaching art. I taught art for 12 years from kindergarten through fifth grade. And every four or five years, I would rotate the first project of the year. And these posters came from that first week, in every class, I made a new poster for them.
So, this one says, “everyone’s an artist.” For this small one, I painted the black words, cut them up in the back, and numbered them for a puzzle. As the students walked in, I gave them a puzzle piece. And they colored while I spoke to them and gave them a tour of the room.
I talked about expectations and how to clean paint brushes and all those transactional things that no one wants to just sit and listen to. So, they were busy doing something and listening. And then at the end, I talked about community and the importance of behavior and working together.
While I’m having that conversation, I’m calling up the numbers one through five and I’m taping them together and it’s all upside down. So, I’m taping the puzzle together with them in the room. And then I’m saying, “well what if one of these puzzle pieces was torn or ripped or missing?”
I related that to behavior, and we wouldn’t know what this puzzle would be and so then I would do a big reveal and talk about everyone. We need to share supplies and be kind and be part of our community. Then I would hang these posters in the room as a reminder. And so, people would come in and say, “Oh, I did that piece, or I did that piece, or I did that piece.” And so, when I left my job, four years ago, I took the puzzles, and they’re there all over my studio.
SHERYL: How beautiful is that? What you’re doing now is those puzzle pieces, you were creating that community in that connection, and you are also teaching them and talking to them while they were creating.
AMY: I have always been about connection and community. Sometimes it’s really hard to have a conversation when you’re staring someone in the eyes and you’re sitting across, and there’s nothing for your hands to do. And you’re thinking, “What do I do?” and then you get distracted.
I feel for me at least and I find it for others too that you can be so much more focused on a conversation if you’re actually doing something. If you’re coloring, people who doodle or fidget. I mean, they’re listening. Just because they’re coloring or doodling or fidgeting, doesn’t mean they’re not listening. It helps with the process.
So, what the Mother Daughter Art Project does is I send every month art supplies for a specific project. And I want to also point out that I am not trained in art at all. I’m all self-taught. I make art accessible for everyone, regardless of how old you are.
So many people get stuck that they’re not artists. One of the projects I have here, I’ll describe it is nine hearts – they were empty wooden hearts, and I sent glue. And I sent all this all these beads and crayons and puffballs and paper and yarn and shells,
SHERYL: Oh, it’s gorgeous. Oh my gosh, that is so cute.
AMY: Then the mom does three, the daughter does three, and they do three together.
SHERYL: Oh my gosh, that’s so creative. Yes. The mom does three, the daughter does three, and then you do three together that’s so special.
AMY: This is actually one of my favorites. So, I sent chipboard with holes, and string to connect them together. And I sent all this stuff and I encourage them to take things from their own house. So the mom would do two, the daughter would do two and they would do two together and then they trade. So, this is yours, ours, and mine.
SHERYL: Wow. It’s so it’s so cool. What do you call it when it hangs like that?
AMY: They’re four-by-four pieces of chipboard with holes. I sent paint for them to paint the background and then it would dry. They are 30 minutes, so we can start talking about the questions because, in the Mother Daughter Art Project, there are questions every month about a certain theme.
I try to divide the projects into 30 minutes a week, because, finding an hour and a half or more to spend interrupted can be really challenging. So, I tried to divide the projects up.
So, the first step is to paint the background. That’s it, talk about some of the questions that I send. The second step, decide what you’re going to design what your designs are going to be, and then maybe glue one or two of the things down. That can be the second 30 minutes. For the third 30 minutes, finish it off and then finish up with the questions and then trade and put them together.
SHERYL: Yeah, I love that. It’s one a month so you don’t feel all this pressure to get it done you have the whole month to do it. You sent me one and my daughter comes home tomorrow and we’re going to do it. The way that you have it packaged and all is amazing.
I got the gratitude one with prayer flags. And so, explain the cards that come because this is a creative part. And then there’s the connection piece to start a conversation.
AMY: In addition to all the supplies needed for doing one project, there’s a theme, which is the connection part. For example, for one month, the theme was emotional wellness.
I also have a podcast called “The Mother Daughter Art Project.” I interview guests about the themes every month. So, on one side of the card, I have the information about my guest and how to find them. But on the other side, are all the questions.
The questions start out really simple because we want our daughters to feel comfortable asking us questions. So, for emotional wellness, “Mom, what does it mean to you to feel emotional?” It’s a personal question, it seems like an easy question to get asked. But then as we go through this spectrum of questions, they get more vulnerable, and it really turns into a learning moment for the daughter and the mom.
One of the questions, “Mom, how are you able to help yourself get out of a feeling you don’t want to be feeling?” Then the mom gets to share her personal experiences with her daughter. And then flip the question around and ask her daughter in an age-appropriate way. Ask the same question, knowing that the moms know their daughters best.
I really love the friendship theme. The question, “Mom, tell me about some friends you had when you were my age?” That’s a really simple question. “Mom, did you ever have to end a friendship? And how did you do it?” I think especially with tweens and teens, our friendships can be sometimes really fluid. And we don’t know how to handle it.
And our children, our girls, and our sons are struggling with ” I don’t like this person anymore.” “It doesn’t feel good in my gut.” And they’re not really sure what to do so.
I want to say two things about the questions. The conversations are non-transactional conversations, meaning it’s not your daughter asking you to drive her someplace, do her laundry, or give her some money. And it’s not you are asking her “did you do your homework, clean your room?” Those are all to-do list kinds of conversations. And those conversations are important to have.
But these conversations that come from the questions are non-transactional. It means whatever your answer is, that’s your answer. I want to encourage the moms to really know that they can say, “I need to give that some thought.” As moms, we think we need to know the answer right away. When we say to our daughters, or to anybody, “I actually need to give that some thought, I’m not sure how I want to answer that.” It models for your daughter that she doesn’t have to know everything all at once.
SHERYL: We have to pause because that’s something I’ve learned in the last 10 years, especially with my business. I think I was supposed to know, I was supposed to know the answer to something and so I almost like pulling something out just to say something but just being able to admit “I really don’t know”, there’s freedom in that. Even parenting taught us how to do this, we don’t have the time. We don’t really know what we are doing. It’s okay not to know so I just had to say I just love that concept.
AMY: It reminds me of a conversation I had with one of my daughters. her second year of college. I had a hard time letting go and I missed her so much. What we do for our children is we want them to have these strong links, right? And when they’re doing it, it is still hard for us. I remember telling her directly, “I am navigating, I’m trying to navigate. My role as your mom now, I don’t know how to do this. So, I’m trying to figure it out.” So just the admitting that I don’t know what I’m doing, and I’m trying my best, and it was bumpy for a while. But we got through it.
SHERYL: I love that, Amy. And that’s just so vulnerable to be able to say, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m trying to navigate this. And this is new for me.”
AMY: The way that we have our relationship, she’s able to tell me things that she doesn’t like that I do. And then I have to respect that. We have to respect when our kids say, “don’t do that.”
SHERYL: Such a good point because the natural reaction is to get defensive. And of course, we’re going to do some things they don’t like.
AMY: I’m not saying to not ever do things that our kids don’t like, because as they’re growing older, and their frontal lobes are forming, they’re still not fully functioning adults yet, but they will be and as their parents or adult, we definitely have more experience than them. I’m not saying don’t ever make your kids upset.
SHERYL: I wasn’t even taking it that way. More like, our kids are going to give us feedback. Sometimes that’s spot on. What I heard you saying is that, when she gives you feedback, you’re able to take that, am I understanding you correctly?
AMY: Yeah. One of the things that I do to take that pause, whether it’s my daughters, my husband, a friend, is if we’re having a conversation, and I’m starting to feel a little triggered, and I want to make sure I’m listening with my open heart and taking it all in and not reacting, I curl my toes and that grounds me to the earth, it is my own private way to make my pause and have a physical sensation in my body rather than the deep breath. When you do that people know you’re pissed. And then they just get more upset.
SHERYL: Yeah. So, you curl your toes. I’m trying to think about what I do. I think I raise my shoulders up to my ears. II get all stressed out. But the curling of your toes that helps you?
AMY: Yeah, and I’ve shared that with others. I would encourage people to try to curl their toes because I can curl them like I’m curling them right now. Right? And you have no idea. I’m not anxious or nervous or scared. But I want to make sure I speak slowly. And then I’m clear.
SHERYL: So, what’s been some of the feedback that you’ve gotten? You just launched this 18 months ago but it’s really, it’s starting to take off. I mean, your energy and excitement around it are contagious. I believe so much in what you’re doing that this is so needed. What’s the feedback?
AMY: I only have only gotten good feedback like “wow, it’s brought us closer. My daughter loves the time, she gets so excited to get the box.” And one mom said, her daughter loves to do the QR code. She’s seven, she loves to do the QR code to the time-lapse video that I create for the project. And do schedule the time, just like I suggest for 30 minutes a week because she has a little brother. And a little brother sometimes wants to be part of it. And sometimes they let the little brother be part of it. And sometimes it’s that one-on-one time.
And the projects, everybody’s been very happy with the supplies that I send, the quality of the supplies, and the creativeness. I have a 17-year-old who’s a member with her mom. And one of the things she’s told me is she thought, “oh, I don’t do art, I’m not an artist.” And through these projects that are so accessible to all ages, she’s had a mindset shift. And she feels like she’s an artist, and creative. And she’s getting closer with her mom, and she’s leaving for college next year. So, this is a great time for them – one last really good solid year of spending time. They’re both busy, but they’ve committed.
SHERYL: Yeah, they’ve committed to doing it. I like what you said about so much being transactional because that’s so true. And we can spend so much time, nagging or reminding or telling them what they need to be doing, versus just being and there’s nothing like in the present moment.
When you’re creating, it grounds you at the moment where you can just fully be. I like the way that you have also designed the questions. And maybe the listeners picked up on this, that the daughter asks a mom first, it’s not us interrogating them, they get to ask the questions.
AMY: There’s a very specific reason for that. We want our daughters to feel really comfortable and know that we are their safe space. We will want them to come to us with questions that are not on a card. So as our daughters grow through their tweens and teens and into adulthood, we want them to come to us to ask us questions and to be that trusted resource.
Not our only trusted resource, but we want them to come to us. And so having the daughter practice asking the questions from a card reading the words. And then the mom listened with curiosity, to her question, and then flipped it back and asked the daughter that same thing. Like, “what about you? Who are your friends right now?” And then just listen with curiosity. Silence is really powerful.
SHERYL: Yes, listening is really powerful versus it’s easy maybe to get those conversations, and then our kids might feel like we’re judging them or, not being that safe listening space for them. And so being able to listen, is the most powerful thing that we can do when it comes to connecting and loving our kids. Showing them love.
AMY: I think it’s important also that our daughters know that. We actually were not always a mom. We were little girls once. And we were teens once, and preteens and we went to college, and we had not the same experiences, because nothing is ever the same for any two people. But we had experiences to get us to where we are. And we’re human and vulnerable.
I think as a mom to be able to show our kids that we are human, and we struggle, and we have intention, and we want to do our best. I think there are so many good lessons.
SHERYL: There are so many good lessons. I was even thinking that sometimes we don’t know what to say to get a conversation started. That’s what I find. Working with moms. I make a lot of conversation scripts because it’s just like, “oh, maybe we shouldn’t say that. But what do we say?” It’s not easy to always know.
And so, you provide the questions that help get the conversation started. I really believe we need that. And it helps kids develop skills with asking questions. I feel like with phones nowadays, they’re not having those face-to-face conversations, asking, taking the time where kids are really asking the questions – that’s a skill to learn.
AMY: It’s true because especially in texting, you’re always right in the middle of a conversation, it’s all transactional. “What time are you going to be home? What do you want for dinner? I’m going jogging. I’ll be home at 10.” None of those are conversations that open our hearts and get us deeply connected.
SHERYL: Yes. Your questions provide that, and I just love that. And being able to get to know each other on a whole different level.
AMY: That’s what this is all about. And knowing that it’s not about the end product of what the art project is, it’s not about that product at the end. It’s about the process, that you spend time together. The journey that you’re on overtime to create this space, so when you create the space for your daughter 30 minutes a week, you’re showing her she’s really important. She’s a priority. I have time for you.
SHERYL: Yeah, I love that. There was something you were saying, and I was thinking of so many lessons that are in this. We were talking before we got on here, you’re talking about the creative piece, and I’m not an artist. I have taken some art classes.
I find it very telling because I usually compare myself to whoever’s sitting next to me. I think we can do that in different ways in our lives, too. Versus like you said, just being in the process. I mean, life is such a process and an imperfect one at that. And you were talking about your little plaque, tell them about a little plaque.
AMY: I also, by the way, sometimes feel like I’m not an artist, I can’t draw. And so, all these boxes are not drawing boxes. They come with projects for art, but really, it’s a connection box. So, I also have those comparison feelings. For so long. I always felt like I needed to do everything perfectly. And if I didn’t already know it, it was too late for me to learn. I’m not sure what happened. I think it was when I turned 50 last year, I just decided I’m going to try it I’m going to do this.
So, my plaque is “she is perfectly imperfect.” And I have it here on my desk, it floats around, I never put it away. And it’s just really my reminder that I’m doing all of this business in fear and imperfection. If I fail that’s moving forward also because then I’m learning and that whole growth mindset.
SHERYL: Yes. Which is so important. And that’s how we learn is through those mistakes. And that whole perfectionism thing holds us back from so much. So, did you get this idea before you turn 50 to do this?
AMY: I did. So, it was 18 months ago that I had this idea and I’m just going to do it and I’m not a business person. Everything about me as a person is in this box. From the art and the questions and packaging and the video. Everything about that is fully me – the creativity of it. And everything that’s not in the box like the website and the finances and the marketing and the email. That’s all not my skill. But I am learning. And I have people that I’ve surrounded myself with that encouraged me, teach me, and helped me move forward with this. And I’m doing it anyway.
SHERYL: Yeah, I’d love that. And I want the moms to hear that because I think you have a dream. And my feeling is, that you got that dream and that passion inside of you. And because you’re so passionate, because this is how I feel about moms of tweens and teens. It’s like that fear that you have, the passion overrides it, the excitement about what you’re doing overrides it.
When I get scared, I have to say to myself, “I’m serving other people with my passion. And so, I’m going to show up, I’m going to do this, even though I may fall flat on my face.” I am so I’m passionate about it. And so that really helps me and then I’ll learn from it if I fall flat on my face. Which I have. But I’ll keep on learning because that is what is my guiding light, so to speak, is that passion that I have. Is that how it feels?
AMY: People are waiting for what I have. Yeah, so people are waiting for my offer, they may not know it, or they may be trying to find something to develop this connection with their daughter, then they might know that they want it.
When I envisioned the mothers and daughters where they would be and start and where they would end up. I didn’t think about it in words, I thought about it in images. I was on a hike with our youngest daughter. I had this image, and I came home, and I drew these flowers out. This is the first stage of the mother and daughter. So, they’re in the same garden. The stems are separate. Two flowers, one tall one shorter, they’re not really touching with the petals. And the stems are kind of far away. This is where they’re at.
The mom is thinking, “I really want to spend some more time with her” She sees this Mother Daughter Art Project and starts working through the monthly boxes with the connection questions and all of that. And so, the second picture is also two flowers, the same two flowers, the stems are closer, the petals are touching a little bit of overlap, and their relationship is developing to be closer.
The third stage is really the same two flowers. They’re both bigger flowers. And now they have leaves. So, they’re really growing. They’re each growing, not just the daughter growing. They’re both growing as humans and they’re getting more connected.
The fourth stage I think is what we really want to have because as our kids leave our nest and go and establish their own life and away from separate from us is now those two flowers are in a container. And this is a safe space for them. And this container can go from my house to your house. It can just hold us no matter where we are.
SHERYL: I love that. Because you’ve laid that foundation. That’s just beautiful. I said I have to have you on before Christmas and Hanukkah so that those moms can know about this because I think it’s a wonderful gift to get and it’s a membership and the membership is closed right now. But it’s opening up?
AMY: Opening November 27 for Small Business Saturday.
SHERYL: Okay, November 27. How long does it stay open?
AMY: I’m going to keep it open until December 7. So, my birthday is in the middle of that week. So, it’s going to open up on November 27. My birthday is on December 5, and I’m going to close it on December 7. And I will welcome anybody who’d like to join in and take this offer, it’s a monthly subscription.
Or you can do three months at a time, you can get a gift for three months, and you’ll get a gift certificate. And everyone who signs up in this opening from November 27th to December 7 will start in January. But if you buy it as a gift, then you’ll get a gift certificate.
SHERYL: Okay. All right. That’s awesome, you don’t have to worry, it’ll start in January. That’s a fresh start, that’s a perfect time. How many boxes? Is it a year membership?
AMY: It’s a monthly membership. If you wanted to cancel, you’d have to cancel before the 10th. But you can go as long as you want. I have people that have been in since the beginning.
This is my 16th month. And the gratitude prayer flags are what they’re doing now and talking about gratitude. And I wanted to mention since you’re going to be doing it with your daughter, and there’s one banner in there if you had another string or cut that silk thread, in half, then you can make some and she can make some and then you can do some trading. So, if she doesn’t live at home, you can each have a banner of six flags that you each have both of your work on.
SHERYL: I can’t wait. I’ll take a picture and I’ll put it on Instagram to show it off. I just love what you’re doing so much. And so excited to see how this just takes off. I know you believe so much in what you’re doing, it’s going to take off.
AMY: I really do. I feel like I needed to figure out a lot of things in the last 18 months to know what I wanted it to be and look like and all of that. And now I feel like really solid established. I’m planning from now until August with my themes and my projects. And so, I feel really solid to welcome more mother-daughter pairs into the community and start having an impact on their relationship. I am ready for more people.
SHERYL: It’s already taken off, but it’s going to grow, grow, grow, you’re going to have to have your own warehouse!
AMY: And that, honestly, really scares me. And I’m doing it anyway, I’ll figure it out.
SHERYL: Exactly. Well, what encouragement do you have, to the mom that’s sitting here and maybe she’s sitting on some dream or something that she feels passionate about? And she’s scared and she feels like everything has to be perfect. What would you say to her?
AMY: Yeah, you’re making me cry because you’re describing me 18 months ago, and this opportunity to learn about how to do what I’m doing, showed up right at the right time. And I took the opportunity and I learned, and I pivoted, I’ve been pivoting and pivoting and pivoting all the way through. And honestly, I know this is a cliche when people say it, if I can do it, anyone can do it. But honestly, if I can do this, anyone can do it.
SHERYL: I feel like that too. So, moms, it’s a beautiful thing when and I love your emotion and the tenderness of your heart. I just want moms to know that it’s important that we have our own lives and our own passions and things that bring meaning into our life. Especially you and I are in empty-nester stage.
AMY: Yeah. I also want to point out that I think my daughters are really proud of me. I stopped teaching four years ago and then I was home and then they left. I’m not sure what I would be doing right now. I feel like I have a purpose. And I feel like I’m being a good role model for them to pivot and just try new things. I think they’re really proud of me.
SHERYL: I’m sure that they are so proud of you. I know, when I started doing Moms of Tweens and Teens, I saw a real difference in my kids. They all of a sudden felt like they could start really going after their passions. And they were afraid, but they were trying things that they were scared to try, I think because they saw me doing it. And it was inspiring to them. We have all those doubts and fears. It’s like, “I go on the podcast, and am I not going to sound smart or not going to sound stupid,” or whatever but nope, going to go on here and do it anyway. And then we learn, and we grow.
AMY: I have a lot of those doubts too. But I really feel passionate and believe in the idea and the concept. I really want mothers’ and daughters’ relationships, to have that connection and bridge-like I have with my kids. I want them to have the same kind of communication and understanding and skill set that I’ve nurtured and created.
SHERYL: Yeah. It’s a gift. Well, thank you, Amy. So much for everything that you’re doing. And love getting to know you and sharing where they can find it.
AMY: My website is amysartpalette.com I’m on Facebook as Amy’s Art Palette. Also, on Instagram at Amy’s Art Palette. It’s all Amy’s Art Palette. And that’s my umbrella business, Amy’s Art Palette. And one of the things I offer is the mother-daughter art project, subscription box, the mother-daughter art project as a podcast.
I have some other things that I am also offering right now I’m doing some family connection pack. So, sending four different boxes with multiple supplies to different houses. And they’re going to get on their own zoom call and have the gratitude conversation and do the project. All 16 of them. So, Amy’s Art Palette offers a lot of things. But the mother-daughter art project, a subscription box is where you can find what we’ve been talking about.
SHERYL: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show Amy. I’ll put all the links in the podcast notes as well. Thanks so much.