We all know the crafty homeschool mom. She has her kindergartner building the Leaning Tower of Pisa with organic macaroni while you are struggling to get through “Handwriting Without Tears” before lunch. I’ll confess – I am a crafty mom. (Though I’m too cheap to use organic anything for a craft.) I’m not a crafty mom to make a point or to make anyone feel badly. It’s just how I am. But, over the past 15 years, I have become friends with women who are glitter-phobic, paper-phobic, and paint-phobic. They are all lovely women who feel that they have somehow let their children down. It’s time to learn to “fake” being crafty.
I come by my “craftiness” honestly. My mom is an artist. She never minded doing projects with me or my siblings. However, we all went to public school and mom left most crafty stuff to our art teacher. Once I had my own children, she let me in on her secret. You only have to do a crafty thing once or twice and (young) kids will believe you did it all the time. I was shocked and horrified when she told me this. I drove home, put the kids to bed, did laundry, picked up the debris strewn throughout the house and started thinking. My mother was right. We did not make puppets every year – we did it two years in a row for a scout thing. We did not actually make Christmas ornaments every year, we did it off and on over a period of five years. We did not spend weeks making our Halloween costumes each year – my mom guided us through the process so that we felt as though we did. Funny how the older you get, the smarter your mom gets!
Here are five steps to help you, like my mom, “fake” crafty.
1. Decide what makes you most crazy. If glitter makes you want to cry, take glitter out of your craft options. Poof. If mess makes you crazy, however, you need to rethink this whole having kids thing. Kids are messy. With a little planning, you can contain the mess. Being a crafty mom does not mean letting your kids run wild through the house with paints, permanent markers and glitter guns. Plan activities. Set up drop cloths, table coverings and rules as needed. If you’re prepared for the worst, it hardly ever happens.
2. Find a crafty friend. Truly crafty people are generally happy to host a crowd. Let her take charge of building Guy Fawkes dummies on November 5 and, in return, you take the kids for a park day when she needs a break.
3. Does the thought of holiday cookies terrify you? Make the cookies one night while the kids are asleep. (Buy dough to support the high school band and use that dough!) Make/buy icing, sprinkles, etc. One calm rainy afternoon, break the cookies out of the freezer and set them on the kitchen table (which you have covered with butcher paper to help with clean up). Give the kids butter knives and spoons along with bowls filled with sugar and other decorative, edible items. Let them decorate. Do not watch. Do not try to make them pretty. Put the kids’ cookies in their own storage container and let them eat them. You are free to make or buy your own pretty cookies.
4. Make crafts an outdoor activity. If you live in a warm climate, invest in a picnic table. Set the table close to your outdoor water source. Keep a stash of old clothing for the kids to wear while they create. Let them do messy things like use real clay, fingerpainting, paper-machier and salt maps outside. Have them use the hose to pre-clean up before they come back into the house.
5. Be organized. If you are a homeschooler, plan three history-related crafts for the school year. Buy the supplies early and store them together in a place where you can quickly find them. Do a trial run of the project while the kids are asleep. Pre-do anything you foresee being a disaster before getting the kids in on the project. Let go of perfection. Focus on what the kids are learning about whatever they’re studying. Take pictures and share their messy creations with others!