As a creative person I feel there is a certain pressure to do amazing craft activities with my children. Over the past four and a bit years I’ve learnt that simplicity works best – a few valentine’s ago I tried to do a themed craft morning with Stanley and it was one of the worst days of my parenting life. I vowed never again but learnt so much from that awful day. For me, I view my job as a parent in a crafting situation is to guide and facilitate rather than micro manage the activities we do. One of the greatest joys I get as a mum is seeing my children’s imaginations unfurl, their ideas come from such a pure and beautiful place unmarked by boundaries and restrictions that I really like to follow their lead when it comes to what we create. Quite often their ideas are way better than mine anyway. I love how the places we’ve been, programmes we watch and books we read can inspire us to make wonderful and gluey creations.
We live in a world full of ‘shoulds’ – if crafting isn’t your child’s thing then don’t push it. I find the easiest way to get Stanley and Milly’s attention is by starting my own project, very soon they take an interest so I start to get them involved by asking them their opinion on colours or fabric and soon enough they ask for their own materials to work with. At Christmas Stanley was amazed that I could actually make fairies, since, we’ve been spending together making ‘toys’ from fabric scraps up in my craft room. As someone who often waits for a perfect moment to create, working to a four year olds patience has made me really loosen up not focus on perfection whilst at the same time showing my children you can create your own magic without having to constantly consume.
Talking of consuming, I’ve been writing for a while about the importance of using up my existing craft supplies and it applies to children’s crafts too. You don’t have to stick with specific children’s craft packs, of course there is a health and safety element to glue and paint but raid your cupboards and pull out any odd bits that need using up. That purple washi tape you bought in 2011, best fabric which now looks tired and outdated, those paper straws you were saving for best now squashed in a drawer – set them free and put them in a craft box. Keep the box close by and bring out a few bits at a time, too many options can be overwhelming – if we’re painting i’ll just stick with paint and paper, if we’re sticking I’ll keep it simple with glue and sequins or glue and paper scraps rather than trying to mix everything together.
Our best creative time happens organically and usually whilst we’re still in our pajamas. If you’re an over-scheduler give yourselves a break and opt for a quiet morning or afternoon instead. Ideas often just happen – a left over cardboard box gets turned into a house, air dry clay into a post dinner dinosaur, the nature of what I do means there’s always bits and pieces to play with so again if super tidy is your thing be brave and leave a few bits out and see what a young imagination can conjure up.
I like keep a seasonal basket on the table full of bits that we can create with during holidays and once interest has passed I recycle what can be recycled and save the masterpieces. Whilst I dream of spending a whole morning creating, the reality is often a 20 minute stretch before squabbling kicks in. I’ve learnt not to get too upset if I don’t get the chance to finish a whole cup of coffee during the process. Time spent together, without distractions is far more important than a Pinterest perfect morning that ends in tears.
If you want to get creative around children here are a few favs…