Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Being A Crafty Mom

I am not a crafty mom. I wish that I were. To tell you the truth, I cannot see my mother ever doing any projects with us. My mother once killed an air plant. I am serious. All you do is put it on the refrigerator, and it survives. Ours died. My mom is not a crafty mom either.

The difference between us is that my mother worked very long hours and was exhausted when she got home. We stayed with relatives or family friends, and occasionally at daycare. I, on the other hand, am with my son everyday. I also work long hours and am exhausted, but I am with him the majority of the day and doing my working around his schedule.

So I feel obligated to craft away with him. In fact, I have become obsessed with figuring out what I am supposed to do with my son everyday. I find that he is content walking around, tearing out the cabinets, or looking through books. I want to do crafts with him. Over the past few weeks, we have tried a few crafts, and here are some of the things I have learned.

First, my son just enjoys spending time with me. One of my craft ideas completely bombed. There was no recovery from my idea, but my son did not mind at all. He ran around grinning as if we had come up with some brilliant idea. He was giggling and giggling, and the event was a success. I have learned that some of the educational value, and definitely the social value, of doing crafts with my son is that we enjoy our time together.

Second, simple is better. My son is only 13 months old, so he still has little coordination. I have to work on coming up with ideas that he can do. That is tough because he is so small. The internet is full of excellent ideas for children of any age. It is important to keep in mind his coordination level. Right now his focus is on banging and shaking, so next week we will be making drums. I have been collecting items, such as a container that held soy nuts and a can from coffee. We will use these container to put beans, rice, and even dried corn to make a drum set. He will be able to decorate them, with all of the skill of a 13-month-old, and then he will have something that he can enjoy.

Third, crafts can be cheap. Many of the craft ideas waiting in the wings for us will cost nothing because we will use tissue boxes, butter containers, and other items that we already have in our home. Instead of going out and spending money on crafts for children, you can use your imagination and make the crafts from objects you already own. Most of our craft projects have been very inexpensive, which is wonderful because he goes through them so quickly.

Finally, I have learned that my son gets great enjoyment out of everyday life. One of the projects we did was a nature scene. We went outside and gathered leaves, twigs, and other items. Then I helped him glue them onto a piece of paper. I labeled the items by their proper names, and they are hanging for him to see. He smiles and reaches for the scene every time he passes it, and I know that he enjoyed that time we spent together.

It is not so much about finding something amazing and new that no one has ever done before. It is about finding something that your child can enjoy. I have found as well that I really enjoy working on the crafts with my son. We get to sit down together and spend our time doing something that we both really enjoy. I get to help his little hands make the movements we need for the project, and I am amazed as he delights in his handiwork. While we work hard on other parts of his life, such as learning language and improving his coordination, these craft projects will provide a lifetime of memories for his mommy, and that is important, too.

By Julia Mercer

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