Craft Avoidance

Plato never got to make bugs out of egg carton pieces and pipe cleaners. Queen Elizabeth never made a sixteenth century mask out of a paper plate and googly eyes. Abraham Lincoln never crafted a snowflake by weaving variegated yarn around popsicle sticks.

Miserable failures, all of them.

When I think of all the successful and celebrated individuals of history who didn’t have access to preschool arts and crafts, I can’t summon up much interest in breaking out the pom-pom balls and glitter but I still feel guilty for not doing it. I think I’m a fairly creative person, but to be honest I can’t get excited about pipe cleaner bugs and googly eyes.

When I look at websites about preschool and realize that lots of programs include “arts and crafts” that we don’t do I’m tempted to think I’m failing as a mom and a teacher. It’s so easy to get caught up in the mistaken belief that you have to do everything the same way everyone else does.

In our homeschool preschool, we do a lot other than crafts – good things, things we like, things that work for us. And yet, when I think back to my own preschool years, I remember crafts fondly and wonder if I’m depriving my kids. My favorite was one day when we were allowed to draw with melting crayons on a tinfoil covered hot plate. Y’all, as I type this I am LONGING to do that again, it is so satisfying to feel a crayon melt. I don’t know what that says about me. But honestly, even though I know they would love it, I would never let my kids do that craft at my house. With our luck we’d wind up with melted crayon all in the carpet and upholstery and someone would set their hair on fire or accidentally tattoo their sibling. I admit it: I am weak, and I am not going there.

When I’m tempted to compare myself to other more crafty moms or preschool programs, I try to remind myself that all moms are different and all kids are different. Some people are really into crafts and I think that’s great. Some people are really into sports or languages or cooking or mechanical things. Every family has its own culture and that’s a good thing.

One thing I’m learning as a mom is that it’s a good thing to expose children to a lot of different experiences and concepts, but it’s a bad thing to imagine you have to expose them to EVERY experience and EVERY concept all at once. All you get in that case is a frustrated and harried mama and overscheduled overstimulated kids. It’s not worth it.

So for us, for now, crafts are out the window. Do you struggle as a parent with determining what activities to pursue and what opportunities to pass up? Do you have a family policy about it or a clear definition of what’s important to your family? If so, does it change over time?

9 thoughts on “Craft Avoidance

  1. Mom, I haven't got a hotplate so let's plan to melt crayons this summer.

    J, you can send K and N over to my house to make food messes, and I'll send my kids over to your house to make crafts. 🙂

  2. I can relate to this completely. So most extremely messy projects are left for the older ones that know the value of such project because they have to clean up after themselves, lol.

    Oriental trading's craft kits fill in some gaps of creativity and fear of messiness for us.

    Stacy

  3. I love to do crafts with the children, but I have to admit I've done much less with them since having Emma. I feel guilty about it because I used to do so much 'messy stuff' with the older two before I had her. I just don't have the energy for clean up at the moment! I know that this is just the season we are in at the moment and that we will have plenty of time to do it all again in the future. It's hard explaining that to your three year old who just wants to cover her body parts in poster paint and smear them all over sheets of paper (and the table and the floor…)

  4. I the least craftiest one of the family.We do lots of coloring,cutting and playdough as our creative outlet.We bring out the yarn,Cheerios and macraroni on occasion for necklaces.Also put Cheerios on uncooked spaghetti noodles for that fine coordination.

  5. Stacy, I'm glad you posted because you're one of the craftier people I know – if you don't do mess I don't feel as bad!

    Paula, you have such a good perspective!

    Anonymous (I think you're my aunt Fran!) – good tip about stringing cheerios on uncooked noodles. I'll have to try that. Whenever I think of you and cheerios I hear you say "CHAAAAAH-ree-ohs!" The kiddos will look forward to a package from you!

  6. Catherine, you can solve this dilemma with community art programs. I don't know what the beaurocratic state of things is in your neck of the woods, but here in sunny Charleston, the city parks and playground department puts on NUMEROUS weekly programs for the toddler set. Our favorite is the local nature center, which teaches about a different creature each week (ladybugs! foxes! turtles! owls! snails!) and then guides the children in a related craft. These programs often ramp up in the summer and are NOMINALLY priced.

  7. I love doing crafts with my girls, and I know I am one of those rare people that can look past the mess of it all. I think I am like that though because I am the youngest child. By the time my mom got to me, she just let me do as I pleased…somewhat. Mess was the theme of my childhood! Ratty hair, miss-matched clothes, you name it. You do remember me at camp, right?!

    I think it is important to not compare yourself with other mothers out there. You do an amazing job reading and teaching your children. At times I feel like I am failing my children because I am NOT a teacher. I see all that you do with your kids and wish I had those capabilities, but alas, God did not bless me that way, so I do my best to move on and concentrate on my other redeeming qualities.

    I love reading blogs of other mothers with young children to get ideas of thing we can do in our house. But it is a slippy slope, comparisons always creep in and you can't help but wonder, "Am I doing enough?"

    At the end of the day, I know my girls are loved, healthy, and happy. And I know they know how much we adore them. Can't ask for much more than that.

    I am really enjoying your new blog. (Can't remember if I have told you that yet or not, sorry if it is a repeat!) Makes me think and challenges me. Keep up the good work!

  8. Ainsley, that sounds cool. Sadly we do not live in sunny Charleston, but maybe there are similar programs in our area.

    Blair, I do admire you for the crafting you do and the joyful way you parent. I completely agree about getting ideas being a slippery slope – it's so hard to keep a good perspective when you care so much about your kids. Thanks for the kudos on the new blog!

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