Pinterest came out when I was pregnant with my daughter. I spent most of my morning sickness filled pregnancy pinning fun projects to do when she was born. I waited patiently for twelve months-my craft supplies slowly building and including the words non-toxic and child friendly.
Finally, she reached the age she could focus a bit more. I was so excited. I thought for our first craft activity, we would do the no mess paint in a bag project. I prepped everything during nap time and was practically jumping up the stairs when I heard her stir. I sat her down. She looked at the plastic bag filled with paint and paper and pressed her finger in. I leaned in with anticipation. She looked at me and started chewing her hand instead. I urged her to try again. She crawled away from me and started playing with the Tupperware cabinet. Paint was of no interest, but give her a sour cream container and a spoon-she was set to play for twenty minutes.
Surely I picked the wrong project. I went through my board that evening, looking for other ideas. Contact Paper Sheep made her cry. Paper tube pom-pom drop stuck to the wall for a month with no interest. Edible finger paint- not so much.
Feeling frustrated, I took a break from baby projects on Pinterest.
During night wakings-I started looking hard at the realism of Pinterest projects and why it mattered so much to me to have a picture perfect project. I thought about how my projects looked when I was little and wondered if my bar was set a little too high. The next day, I let my daughter interact with the safe craft supplies I had collected. She loved playing with the pom-poms but wasn't too crazy about crayons. I started to look at why she enjoyed the Tupperware drawer more than paint in a bag.
I took a deep breath and decided to try again with projects, this time looking at them as a mother-rather than the following directions perfectionist I tend to be when crafting or cooking.
I now keep four basic rules in mind when approaching a new project with my daughter:
1. Factor in attention span
If prep work is needed, do it during nap. The project needs to be set up and ready to go-the last thing you want is to turn your back to grab paper towels and end up with white paint squeezed all over the carpet (it was washable-luckily)!
2. Go with the flow
If your little one wants to modify the project, let them! The activity is meant for them to use their creativity! Pull out all the art supplies-let them find what they like to play with. Doing crafts with children is all about taking time to bond and spend time together. One of my favorite projects is a painted canvas that my daughter decided to modify with scrapbooking embellishments. It doesn't look like the guide picture, but I love it.
3. No matter what it looks like-display it!
The best way to build a little one's self-esteem and confidence is to praise their work! I have a special spot in our dining room for displaying my daughter's art work. When she has a new creation, she knows it gets displayed. She is always so excited to show off her new project.
4. Sometimes, forget Pinterest entirely and go simple.
My daughter loves playing with the soapy bubbles in the sink "washing" her paint brushes. She has played all day in a cardboard box with markers. Simple everyday things can be magical for a child-embrace them!
Now that my daughter is a preschooler-she loves art! We paint on a daily basis and she requests a lot of the projects she used to turn away from. While I am relieved to finally have a use for the hoarded contact paper and pom-poms in my craft drawer, I am happier that my daughter taught me to listen to what she wants. Through doing that, I learned to slow down and find beauty in what I have rather than what I expected.
Jennifer Lindquist graduated from Concordia College, Moorhead MN in 2005 in business and French. She currently acts a Social Media Coordinator for Sleeping Baby. She is also a photojournalist and has been featured on the Army News Service, Fort Sill Cannoneer, Fort Gordon Signal and Fort Huachuca Scout. She lives overseas with her husband and three year old daughter.
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