I accept that my kid just isn’t crafty. He isn’t really a maker. He will play with playdough –and if you think you aren’t a control freak just try playing playdough with a toddler—or more accurately try cleaning up…so many specks of mixed up colors drying out everywhere, but I digress. Other than playdough Ellis has zero interest in crafty things. He doesn’t color. He will instruct me to “draw a shark and color it in blue” but he won’t actually do it himself. He likes to take the caps off all the markers and line them up like a train, but that doesn’t count as crafty.
But after reinventing my own crafty area to great result I started to wonder if this was a space problem and not a craft issue. So this post got me thinking that I need to practice what I preach for the boys. I have loved having a space of my own and it has encouraged me to do the activities that I love. I want the boys to have space to do the things they love too, but I often just expect that they can make it work without too much help from me. Markers come out at the kitchen table and I spend a lot of time reminding Ellis to draw on the paper not the table. That set up is not fun.
So on a whim we tried out a new set up on the screen porch. Turns out this sweet vintage kids table is an ideal spot for crafting and my kid who never draws started churning out works of “art” (in my eyes). He doesn’t have to worry about marking up the table (it can take it, marker wipes right off) and he is free to wander out there whenever the mood strikes to color instead of asking to use the markers and enduring the production of setting up.
Buoyed by my craft table success I decided to try an improve the outdoor play experience too. I have noticed in the last few weeks that when I say “go outside and play” the kids have been out for shorter and bored faster. This has been baffling to me because the weather is perfect and there are leaves everywhere. It is the best time of year to play outside. But today I figured out that the leaves were getting in the way of playing so we raked them all up and wouldn’t you know it they played for HOURS in the sandbox.
I know raking and putting a table outside isn’t really revolutionary and I realize this might seem obvious, but it reinforced a central value of parenting for me. I know I am not the best at just playing with my kids, but I am good at setting the stage to make good play possible. I feel like it is my job to clear the way and then move aside to let the fun begin.