Every year I make the same New Year’s resolutions: get organized, eat right and be a better mom/wife/friend/blogger. This year, I’m working on more attainable goals. And one goal is figuring out how to make time to craft with my kids. Oh, don’t worry, I’m a stay-at-home mom. I’m with my kids every second of the day. I’ve played with every game and every toy we own 850, 000 times. I spend time with my kids. But the real purposeful stuff? That’s what gets away from me. It’s so easy to get caught up in running errands, cleaning the house and basic every day living that I forget to do the REAL mommy stuff.
I love doing crafts, making up games, telling stories, introducing new books, planning adventures and making my kids laugh. Then why do those things get forgotten and overlooked most of the time? Because they take time. And planning. And energy. Most of which moms don’t have. Ahem.
So, I have purposed in my heart to make REAL time for my kids. To do the craft, make up the game, tell the story, introduce the new book and plan the adventures! In order to do so, I’ve made some changes (ok, I’m in the middle of making them…)
1. PICK A TIME
Fun is oftentimes equated to spontaneity. But it works best for me to pick a time to craft and play. Right now my son still takes two naps (this isn’t going to last long, I can tell!) so that first nap is the perfect opportunity to craft with my daughter. We can get the glue out, the tiny pieces of stuff my son wants to put in his mouth AND I can give her undivided attention.
This first nap would also be an opportune time for me to take a shower, clean the kitchen or blog while my daughter watches a show. And sometimes I don’t want to “give” my daughter that hour. I’d rather curl up on the couch and watch Mickey Mouse with her and my laptop. But if I don’t give this hour to my daughter then the laundry, my computer and other errands will take priority.
You might not have a nap to work with, but pick a time that works for you–maybe right when the kids get home from school, or right before dinner when they can sit around the table, or first thing in the morning BEFORE you’ve cleaned so you can clean it all up at once. See what works for you and make that your time for pre-planned fun!
2. PICK A TOPIC
I know it doesn’t seem hard to figure out a craft or an activity. But how many times have I stood looking at piles of construction paper and glue and thought, “What in the world can I make with this? What can we do?!” Maybe it’s the teacher-y side of me, but I like to pick a theme and use it help plan our activities.
When I first started crafting with my daughter, we did the ABC’s. That was an easy theme—we picked a scripture for each letter of the alphabet and then did crafts and activities that went with that letter or verse. At Christmas we do Truth in the Tinsel to help tell the Christmas story. I’ve used big portions of scripture to steer our crafty endeavors.
Pick your favorite anything and go with it–want your kids to learn about space? Italy? your family tree? Just pick a topic and stay on it for a few days or weeks. It will stay in your brain and you’ll be surprised at the ideas that pop up! For this new year, I think I’m going to pick some of Lydia’s favorite books and make a little “unit” out of them…
Or maybe I’ll use Lydia’s new favorite book, Pinkalicious. We could make cupcakes, discover how red and white make pink, do a food group activity and even wear pink all day!
3. PICK A BRAIN
One of my heroes and mentors in life, Jim Wideman always says, “Creativity is just concealing your source!” Don’t feel like you have to make up your own crafts and activities every time. What do you think google is for?! There are so many awesome crafty, parenting, kids blogs and sites out there, you would never have to have another creative thought in your head! I love to subscribe to blogs where the author has kids my same age. I can see how their kids do the craft and know if mine can do it, too.
4. PICK UP
Oh, I know. This is the worst one ever. But it’s true. I finally had to organize all the crazy craft pieces I have in my house. I bought a paper file to hold all our construction paper. I hung up a giant over-the-door shoe organizer in the closet to put the scraps of ribbon and craft foam that floats around our house. I bought plastic shoe boxes to store leftover bubble wrap, bottle caps and toilet paper tubes. So, now when I find a new craft on a blog, I know right away if I have the materials. When I have my nap-time window to make a craft, I can find everything I need. I can also clean it up in a hurry!
And don’t forget about your basketballs, soccer balls, jump ropes, bubbles, walking sticks, skates and helmets. Put them all in a spot where you can quickly get to them. Make sure you can have fun in just a few seconds. You don’t want the first ten minutes of your fun time to be laced with, “Mom, I can’t find my—-?” arguments.
These are only a few ideas to get you focused on your kids and your schedule. I want my kids to know I am a purposeful parent. And although a paper-plate craft or a jump on the trampoline isn’t going to change my kids’ life or even be a life-long memory, those thought out moments are a foundation that will impress your kids and inspire them for a lifetime.