Up until last year neither of my kids went to school outside our home. They were young and I felt that being home with me was the best choice for our family. This year, however, things have changed and suddenly I find myself spending 2 hours shuttling my eldest to and from her school. We love the school, so it’s worth it, but suddenly I’m very much faced with what so many of you have talked about!
By the time I pick her up and get home I need to start working on dinner right away. Then it’s a whirlwind of picking up toys, dinner, bath, books and bed. Gone are the long afternoons spent playing around with different art supplies.
I suddenly find myself working in a 22 hour day, versus the 24 hour day I was used to! (and this doesn’t even take into account the time my little one is at school or other important things such as, you know, sleep!) But I still want – and need – to do all the things I did before plus a few more. Chores that keep our home running, cooking dinner, work, time for myself, and of course creating with my kids.
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It’s a question we hear time and again – how do you find time for craft with your kids when there is so much to do everyday? And let me tell you – I get it. So here are the things I do to make creating a daily reality in our home, perhaps a few of them will work for you too:
1. Set up multiple creative areas in your home.
We have crayons and paper in the kitchen, ongoing or messier projects are kept in the dining room (such as watercolor paints, Perler beads in trays, or clay), crayons and coloring books in the car (along with a baking tray to corral the crayons and provide a hard surface), and their main art area is in their bedroom including crayons, pencils, stickers, tape, glue sticks, and scissors. With 4 art areas they have greater access and thus a greater chance of being able to create on a daily basis!
This will, of course, depend on how old your children are. If you have babies or toddlers, limit yourself to 2 areas to help contain the mess. I have a 3 and 5 year old and I know their style when it comes to art supplies (they don’t usually have free access to markers, for example…learned that one the hard way!)
2. Turn quiet time into creating time.
If your child is younger and still needs a quiet time (and I would argue that no matter the age, we all benefit from some quiet time!) instead of turning on a movie or reading books the whole time, what if you set up some simple supplies (I’m talking crayons and paper here – there’s no need to get fancy!) and an audiobook like Sparkle Stories? Your little one will be able to recharge and, if you grab a crayon or sketchbook of your own, so can you!
3. Use transitions to your creative advantage.
The reason we have art supplies in the kitchen and car is because I wanted to take advantage of those times. My kids can color or draw on their way to school. They can create at the kitchen island while I make dinner (which has the bonus effect of keeping them out from under my feet while I’m dealing with hot things!) What I love about both of these creative times is that I’m also there either driving or creating on my own making dinner. And the types of conversations that come up and out while little hands are busy? Well, let’s just say I hope I can keep this level of communication open when my little ones hit their teenage years!
Have an older child that needs to do some homework? I’d encourage you to have them take a break and draw, color, sketch for 15 minutes before diving in. And even better if they are able to join you in the kitchen if you’re making dinner. You get creativity and connection – and your child gets a bit of a mental reprieve from a day of learning. Everyone wins!
4. Alright, now here is the one that’s really going to blow your socks off…
STOP DOING CRAFTS.
Yes, I did just say that. The truth is, I only do about 1 craft a week with my kids, and sometimes none at all – they take time to set up and execute and aren’t really what my kids love to do. The rest of the creative time in our home is for free art and kid-led projects. Lots of drawing and coloring. They will often come up with crafts or projects of their own to create with little to no help from me. The point is, when we say “crafting” with your kids, what we really mean is allowing your children opportunities to create – to be creative. And we encourage you to join in! All it takes is grabbing a crayon and coloring with them for 5 minutes – or just fully stopping what you are doing to fully appreciate their latest creation.
What we don’t want is for you to feel like if you can’t do a specific craft with your kids then all hope is lost and you are somehow failing. Not true! I think, actually, there is often a greater benefit to freely creating versus doing a set project – the level of brain work involved such as imagining something and turning that into a reality – is tough! (Give it a try – envision an elephant and then try to translate that image to paper – it’s hard to do!)
So stop focusing on what craft you are going to do, and instead realize that all those moments of creativity – those are all wins. THAT is what everyday creating looks like. And you can totally do it too!