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life & design

Crafting with the Kiddos

I do love making things. I do not always love making things with my kids. Do any of you find this? I really want to work on this because I want them to love it the way I love it. But I have to be honest, crafting with three vocal and demanding kiddos at one time is a handful. There is some mama-yelling for sure – ack! I have a Kindergartener, a 1st grader and a 2nd grader, none of whom have problems speaking their minds. Every time I do a craft with my whole crew, I tell myself to do it individually next time. But inevitably, they all crowd around the work area in my office and its virtually impossible to get them to split up. And so we began . . .

We made pillows – special ones. I got this idea after our New Years Eve ritual which involved the whole family sitting around a circle of candles in the dark. We passed a candle around each discussing our highlights of the past year and sharing hopes, wishes and goals for the new year . . . .all the while sipping champagne (okay martinelli’s sparkling cider) from REAL champagne flutes. This is a BIG deal for my kids– and fun. It was special and moving for me. Their wishes were so earnest, so endearing. They expressed the kind of stuff that makes you want to squeeze them and freeze them forever. What sweet things they are.
The ritual got me thinking about how I wanted them to carry their wishes for the New Year with them and close to their hearts all year. I thought we would make self-designed, cushy pillows that would hold their dearest wish secretly inside the stuffing. I intended a simple project – two 5×7 fabric pieces, sew, stuff, place wish, stitch up – but they all wanted something different . . . I want 2011 on mine . . .I want to weave mine . . . I want a heart on mine (and a pocket and a doll to go in it). So we did it all . . .and here are the results AND what I learned.

I realize that to reduce mama-yelling during crafting time means I have to glean some lessons from my experience and implement them next time:
1. Split them up! I do say this every time. . .the grabbing, not sharing, I wanted to use that, playing with scissors, its my turn, no fairs and more drive me nuts. Focused attention to teach someone a skill, to have fun doing the project and to be present for every part of the process would be truly heavenly . . . and mean a lot less mama-yelling.
2. Stay simple. Put limits on what is possible to create. Even if you want to give them what they want in their project, at a certain point it gets too complicated for them to execute and fails to hold their interest. An unfinished project is frustrating. . . we definitely had to revamp a few grandiose ideas in order to finish.
3. Give them the right to choose. . . . and remove “the cringe” Oohh, you would not believe the choices my son makes when he puts a project together – colors and patterns that don’t work together, fabric textures that don’t flow, over-decoration – lets just say that simple isn’t in his vocabulary. But, really, who cares? (somehow I do). The point is to let them explore their own creativity but I have a tendency to try to push him to things that I think look good. I have my own vision of how I want the project to turn out – I. must. stop. doing. this. But it is VERY hard.
4. Let them do what they will . . . and remove “the cringe.” When I looked up from helping Charlie and saw my daughter with the permanent markers coloring her pillow, I must admit, I cringed. Why though? I cringed because I thought her little heart pillow was adorable and I didn’t want her to “ruin” it. But again, the point is for them to explore their own creativity. So I turned to my other son, who grinned ear to ear and promptly picked up the markers and made his pillow a birthday present for BlackJack, last year’s Christmas present.
Ohh, they are so dear and I learn from them every day!

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