The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

Arts and crafts is FUN! (Just forget about the mess)

on March 3, 2014

I often wonder how it’s done.

The beautiful pieces of artwork that people have on their walls created by their talented young offspring.

Pictures that only need a glance for you to identify exactly what the scene should be. Where you can give genuine praise and not just a murmur of parental encouragement.

This is a butterfly. The effort of #2 last weekend.


I specifically asked Husband, who was supervising our budding artist, to make sure the result didn’t end up like this which is quite the norm for her creative outlet. He said she was doing really well to start with and contouring something butterfly shaped but then he got distracted by #3 and by the time he returned, this is what happened.

We have since improvised and called it the ‘Night Sky’ and will need to revisit it with glue and glitter. When we’re feeling brave. As Husband discovered just recently, doing arts and crafts with one’s children results in more time spent by us clearing up their ‘creative mess’.

Back in the day when there was just #1 and we were excitedly looking forward to the Next Big Step. What can we do to enhance development that is also fun. I know, Playdoh! It seemed the obvious choice and all the kids in the know were getting to grips with it. All those pretty colours. The tempting and huge array of creative possibilities. #1 and I were going to have so much FUN!

You can make anything from Playdoh. Build a whole town complete with vehicles and inhabitants. Stock a sweet shop, cafe, mini bar with tempting plasticine delights. Learn the alphabet and do sums too. What a brilliant thing is Playdoh.

Just how long should Playdoh captivate the imagination of a toddler? Half an hour? An hour?

Five minutes.

The reality in our household is that the vibrant Playdoh colours are a bit too tempting and #1, 2 and 3 have all taken a nibble or two at some point as part of their development. Not enough to make their poo multi coloured and sticky, though it does happen I’ve been told.

They’re not interested in making shapes and pretty things. They like to roll it out, jab it, cut shapes, flick small bits of it around the room. Then they like to mash it altogether creating one unappealing giant browny green lump. Even if they did like to create all the things that Playdoh suggests, how does one then separate all the tacky components back into it’s rightful coloured pot?

Would it be wrong to insist that a whole array of Playdoh delights be created from one single vibrantly coloured Playdoh pot at a time?

So after Playdoh, we graduated onto paints. We love painting. The table, the floors, ourselves. Especially ourselves. It’s the result of asking them to do far too many hand and foot print pictures I suspect.

Every now and then, I feel a soupçon of guilt that perhaps I’m not encouraging the creativity of #1, 2 and 3 enough. Forget the mess, forget the amount they eat, it’s non toxic these days. Forget the fact they don’t colour within the lines. Let them create! Let their minds flow without barriers. Let them develop confidence and unleash their anxieties and concerns through the beauty of moving colour onto paper.

Last week I received an email on Fun Things To Do With Your Child and one of the activities is painting with bubble wrap. I saw a video on Facebook posted by someone who must have also received the same email. It does look fun. And we have copious amounts of bubble wrap so why not I thought?

On a Sunday morning, there’s just myself and #2 and 3 at home whilst Husband is with #1 at rugby. Rather than having a lazy morning just pottering around and enjoying the calm of just two out of three at home, I thought it would be a good time to try the bubble wrap art.

It started off well enough. Paper on the floor, purple paint in a dish, paintbrush at the ready. Bubble wrap neatly wrapped around #2’s feet. Cover soles of bubble wrapped feet and off we go. What makes it simpler is that we even have wipe clean marble floors.

Except, I forgot that #3 has a fear of bubble wrap. She is beside herself as #2 gleefully goes popping around the floor. She won’t even let me carry her near to the bubble wrapped feet. Like the bubble wrap monster has swallowed up her sister and is about to get her next. To be fair, she was up next. I had imaginings of how cute it would be to have small bubble wrapped feet prints on this work of art too.

So as I can’t get near to #2, she then starts running amok around the living room. It is only when her bubble wrapped feet starts to sweat profusely in this tropical heat does she then announce she’s had enough. I clean her up, mop up the floor and all is calm again with no bubble wrap monster in sight.

#1 comes home from rugby just as I’ve finished clearing up and decides he wants to join in the fun too. Ok, I say. Get the bubble wrap out again and sellotape it around his feet. He wants to have green he says. So now I have green paint all over the wipe clean marble floors, that’s ok too. Husband is protecting #3 from the bubble wrap feet eating monster and #2 is sat serenely on the couch.

It’s all going quite well.

Until #1 starts painting the floor, #2 catapults herself off the couch and comes stomping into the paint with her bare feet and footprints the living room again whilst #3 is unsupervised amongst the melee and tasting the paintbrush before tentatively aiming a few good strong brush strokes on the piece of paper in front of her. She’s pretty good. She then grabs a paint sponge and for some unknown reason heads off to the bedroom to attack the rugs and bedsheets! I barely stop her in time as I launch myself with surprising athleticism to bring her down.


I know these works of art don’t look like much effort has been put into them. To be fair, their painting attention span lasts as long as Playdoh. But every time I feel I spend twice as much time, if not more, wipe cleaning the floor, picking up bits of Playdoh stuck to the couch, washing out mouths filled with crayon, chasing after children with paint covered bodies intent on hugging bedding.

It makes me wonder time and again about those parents who have children who can sit nicely all morning or afternoon doing fabulous arts and crafts at home. How?? Why does it always end in chaos in mine? Why do mine never sit intently colouring in within the lines for hours on end?

But I know they can produce fabulous, beautiful pieces of artwork. As they come home from school with some lovely pieces Mister Maker would be proud of. Me too. At least they’re learning properly from somewhere!



2 responses to “Arts and crafts is FUN! (Just forget about the mess)

  1. Kelly Yuen says:

    Hahaha, funny post 🙂


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