You may be surprised to hear that we do not do many crafts at home. One reason being that kids+crafting=mess. The amount of children we have is the same as a home daycare and that makes it a bit different than sitting down with Sally to make handprint turkeys for thanksgiving. That’s 10 hands at our house, 50 little glue covered fingers touching everything on their way to the sink….and how exactly did that paint get on the ceiling? It’s not so much the kid directed crafting but the kid protested clean up that is cringe worthy. Every now and then we do it. I put my best foot forward and remind myself it’s worth it, because it is, but we don’t craft much here.
The other reason I don’t craft much with the kids is the sense of duty I feel towards environmental responsibility. I have always felt it’s important to take care of the earth, that I want my children’s children’s children to be able to enjoy the same earth I do, (and I’d really like to go on an Alaskan cruise before all the glaciers are in water bottles). The issue of our carbon footprints is one that seeps from what I do today into the generations that will come after me. I know this and while ignorance is bliss, knowledge demands responsibility.
Let’s be honest, 99.9% of what our kids make ends up in the trash.
I really struggle with the balance between crafting and taking care of the environment. I am so happy that our kids enjoy Legos as much as they do because Legos are reusable, (but there is the packaging and the factory that makes them and…there’s that balance again….). We also play with playdough a lot. Which we make at home and since it’s made of foodstuffs I put it in the green bin for compost. We do recycle all the paper crafts like colouring pages and paintings.
But there is just something about scissors and paper and glue. Something about yarn and googley eyes and pompoms. Something about beads and sparkles and stick-on gems. Something about stickers and ribbon and tape. Something about those supplies that call to young eyes and minds. They work so diligently putting them together, and they have such pride when they show you their creation- even when you have to say; ‘That’s lovely honey, tell me about it.’ because you have no idea what they’ve made. Kids really relish the opportunity to be creative with their hands.
I totally get it. Digital scrapbooking is all the rage, but I can’t get into it. I only understand repurposing when I see someone else do it. (Who knew that cribs could become porch swings?) Creativity is a sensory exercise for me too.
I do not want to stifle the creativity of my children. I want them to find ways to express themselves and interact with the world around them. I truly believe the benefits of crafting in regards to mental health are exponential, and that kids who craft become not only Picassos and Rembrandts but also doctors and mechanics and engineers and…..
How do you go about finding that balance? I am in the process of deciding what I’m going to stock in our ‘craft supplies’. Currently we have hand-me-downs, leftovers from birthday craft projects and things I’ve purged from my scrapping stash. We’ve entered a phase where the kids want to be doing more structured activities on Snow Days, PA Days, Weekends, March Break, Summer and I’m trying to decide what to stock up so we can be creative at home together.
But I know down in my heart that most of the things we create will become snapshots and trash. And I get misty every time I see that Coca-Cola Polar Bear commercial. Where is the balance?
The Suzuki Foundation website, http://www.davidsuzuki.org, talks about taking responsibility for our carbon footprint like this: Simple changes in our everyday lives can help slow climate change — including reducing our energy consumption, choosing to travel sustainably, and being conscious of what we purchase. This is what I want to be mindful of as I lead my kids in our crafting activities. I don’t want to harm creation in the name of creating.
I struggle to find balance between investing in a child’s creativity and taking responsibility for the environment. Do you?