Crafting with Kids without Losing Your Mind

At any given moment in my household, there’s a craft project under way. Last week, we made cowboy boots out of construction paper, glue, and glitter. Yes, glitter. Crafting is kind of my thing. As a self-professed Pinterest mom, I like sitting down with my son throughout the week to make art. Yes, it’s messy. And yes, sometimes when the project is making toilet paper tube birds and becomes one where we make toilet paper tube tubas it’s a struggle to give up control, but it’s fun.

Art can also take over my kitchen table, and at times, the laundry room (keeping drying glue away from curious pet paws is important). It’s not necessarily for everyone, but it keeps kiddos busy—a plus when we’re all home right now.

Rather than let your kitchen table become the place where everything becomes extra-sparkly, I thought I’d share tips for how to craft with your kids (or let your kids craft), without worrying about keeping it all under control (because you’ll already have it under control)!

  1. Mix up the projects. Today, for example, we may do a free craft where I put out paper, markers, safety scissors, and glue, and let my son fully dictate what he makes while I color in a coloring book (any coloring book—even one of his). Tomorrow we may do a Pinterest project that has us making paper plates into turtles. Whatever you do, let your kids guide how they want to do the project. Maybe your turtle craft winds up becoming groundhogs, armadillos, or pirate ships. That’s okay. Art isn’t perfect! 
  2. Only get out what you are willing to help your child clean up. For me, that means we only paint a couple times a week and glitter comes out only occasionally. My son has turned painting into a full-body contact sport since he was one, so I only paint if I have the time and energy to both supervise a shower and wipe paint off of our cookie sheets (more on that in a bit) or table. 
  3. Figure out how you want to contain the art. My son, along with many of my friends’ kids, create at the kitchen, living room, or dining table. Eventually, those projects have to go somewhere, right? Instead of making art right on the table, why not contain it within a cookie sheet? I bought inexpensive ones just for art purposes. However, if you don’t have one to spare, you can achieve the same thing by folding a shipping box or cereal box flat. This will let you move their artwork place to place without covering yourself in glitter, glue, or paint.
  4. Know your child. My son loves self-directed art projects, but yours may prefer projects with a specific end in mind. Think handprint turkeys, coffee filter butterflies, or something entirely different. Putting out the supplies for a project you know will make their heart sing will lessen (but not completely eliminate) whining. 
  5. Join in! I love being crafty, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. I’ve found that creativity begets creativity and seeing me sit down to make art with him brings my son endless joy. You can create with them or color in a coloring book. Whatever you do, choose one or two craft sessions weekly to join. It brings you together with your kids and exercises the playful creative muscles tucked deep within. 

So tell me, what sort of arts and crafts are you working on while we’re all playing independently?