I don’t remember doing a single craft project with my mom growing up. Maybe my memory is faulty, but I did love making things. I made foam clay food for my dolls. I wrote and illustrated my own series of fashion books. I even remember doing a cross-stitch pattern or two. But I don’t remember my mom sitting there with me doing any of it. And that’s just what I needed.
I did structured crafts in school—classic cutting and pasting and scrunching up tissue paper flowers to make cherry blossom trees—and I spent hours meticulously coloring in my coloring books. My creativity took many forms as I grew up: writing poetry, drawing and painting, altering old jeans into bell bottoms. I had art class during first period in high school one year, and that was the best way to start my day.
I do remember my mom baking cookies with us (and getting to lick those much-coveted dough-covered beaters), and sewing Easter dresses along with stuffed toy bunnies and even bunny baskets for our eggs. When we lived in England during my elementary years she took up bobbin lacemaking. Today, she’s an avid knitter.
As a craft blogger I specifically write tutorials to teach people how to make craft projects, so it would only make sense that I’m super-crafty with my kids, right? Wrong. My crafty how-tos aren’t assignments; they’re inspirations, jumping-off points. They are my own personal a-ha! moments that I’m blessed to call work.
I’ve tried my hand at craft projects with my kids from time to time, but they’re often not interested, or the craft is too complicated for the littlest ones, or they’re done in a flash and ready for the next project. It’s exhausting and not that fun. So I choose not to set myself up for that frustration.
I always have craft projects for work going on. Sometimes my kids join in, and sometimes they don’t. More often than not, they see my ideas and put their own spin on them. And I can’t tell you how many times my kids inspire me with their ideas. Making do with what we’ve got, they’ll roll and tape a hundred sheets of paper to start their own backyard paper route, turn themselves into Box Trolls and parade around the house, or build a giant cardboard cat house that they insist on keeping in the living room. Just the other day, my finger-knitting-obsessed six-year-old surprised me with a purse she’d designed and created all on her own.
As a parent in the age of Pinterest, it’s easy to have a mile-long bucket list of all the activities/sports/incredible craft projects we must do to give our kids a complete childhood. I’m grateful for my mother’s laid-back example. I don’t have to buy into the pressure. Nourishing creativity doesn’t come from following step-by-step instructions. It comes when you fly off on your own and explore your own ideas.
So I refuse to feel guilty about not crafting with my kids. Instead, I buy plenty of paper, tape, paint, and scissors, and save as many cardboard boxes and toilet rolls as I have room for. The crafter’s kids may not be doing many craft projects, but they’re definitely not short on creativity and inspiration.