The prospect of doing arts and crafts at home with small children can seem intimidating. As parents, we have this fantasy that we’ll all be sitting around the table, with big smiles on our faces, quietly working on our project – it’s all peace and harmony.
In reality, it tends to be a lot messier than this and adding more mess to the usual mess of everyday life with kids doesn’t sound like the most appealing idea. Before you know it, you’ll have glitter, bits of crayon, yarn, crumpled paper and glue all over the place. Among the chaos and frustration, you’ll be asking yourself how come other parents manage to do this without losing their minds.
Well, this is what we’ll be discussing in this article. With a bit of planning and patience, you’ll get there.
And if you’re worried that you’re not a particularly crafty person, you can relax. Kids don’t even care about the end result. They like having fun during the process and spending quality time with you. And as you continue crafting with your kids, you’ll be amazed at how engrossed in the process you can get.
Choose the Right Time
It’s best to plan crafting time with your kids when they’re fresh and relaxed. This could mean in the morning or after nap time.
It’s also important to set up everything you need before involving them, so they don’t have to wait around. If they get bored, they might touch something they shouldn’t, draw on the walls or glue things to the table.
You’ll need more materials than you anticipated. Kids can go through a lot of paper, glitter, crayons, glue and ribbons. Always have extra materials on hand and a trash container. Your kids will make mistakes and so will you. That’s ok but expect to do some things several times, and if you’re also cutting out things from paper, it’s easier if you can tidy up as you go.
Since we’re on the subject of tidying up, be ready with wet wipes, paper towels, a tub of soapy water and a facecloth. When you’re done, you can start cleaning straight away. Plan something for your kids to do after crafting so you have enough time to put everything away and clean the activity area.
Choose the Right Place
Think carefully about the space you want to dedicate to your creative pursuits. You don’t even have to do all your arts and crafts inside. If you have a patio and a garden, you could also bring out the supplies and spend some time with your kids outside in the sun.
If going outside is not an option, choose an area in your home where there’s enough space so the kids won’t touch the walls or furniture with paint on their hands. The type of flooring is also relevant because it’s much easier to clean paint and playdough from tiles than from the carpet.
You can take some additional precautionary measures like covering surfaces and using materials that are easy to clean, though, in the end, you’ll still need to become tolerant of some degree of mess. It comes with the territory, but it’s worth it!
Choose the Right Projects
The projects you choose for arts and crafts with your kids should be simple and fun. However, the definitions of simple and fun can differ from child to child. For example, your child might not like drawing. In that case, you can choose something like finger painting.
Some kids won’t like finger painting because they don’t like the sensation of paint on their hands, so you could cut out figures from coloured paper and make your own storybook. But use a glue stick, so they don’t get glue on their hands.
The projects you choose should be flexible enough to allow your child to express themselves and explore their artistic potential.
Whenever you think of an activity for arts and crafts, ask yourself:
- Is this something my child will enjoy, or is it something I like?
- Is this appropriate for their age and stage of development?
- Will they find this activity fun or too challenging?
- How much of the project could they do on their own?
- Does the project give them enough opportunity to express themselves?
Set Some Rules and Supervise
Even though one of the goals of crafting with your kids is to allow them to express themselves creatively, this doesn’t mean you can’t set some clear rules regarding their behaviour and how the materials will be handled.
As with any activity, they need to know what’s allowed and what isn’t. For example, they’re only allowed to use the materials at the table, and they shouldn’t draw on anything else but their paper.
Of course, you’ll need to supervise them and remind them of the rules. This will also give you a chance to guide them and encourage them so they can develop their artistic skills.
You’re not there just to supervise and clean. This is an opportunity to spend quality time with your child. And crafting can be very relaxing. It has actually been shown to have mental health benefits. Try your hand with some crayons and watercolours.
You’ll quickly rediscover the joy you felt when you were crafting as a child, and you’ll be able to relate to your kids on another level.
Try Something New
As we mentioned before, your child won’t care that much about the results. They just want to enjoy the process, so don’t be afraid to try new things. The internet is full of ideas for every season. It’s impossible to run out of projects.
And you don’t need to learn the steps in advance and practice. Making mistakes will teach your child that that’s ok. Mistakes are not something to be afraid or ashamed of. They’re opportunities to learn and improve.
There will be times when you find an idea for an arts and crafts project on the internet, try to make it with your child, and it will look like nothing you had imagined. But you had fun, and you made some nice memories together. There is no right or wrong way. If you’re both happy, it’s a success!
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