5 Ways to keep on crafting during the school summer holidays.
The sun is out, the crafting bug is calling, local craft fairs are opening up again...and you have the children home from school. Don't get me wrong - having Lou home for the summer holidays was (and still is), always one of my favourite times of year, but it does make things a little tricky when you need to work. Never fear, if you have toddlers who are into everything, teenagers who need a personal taxi service, or grandchildren whose parents are out at work; I'm here to help with 5 ways to still manage to be productive...
1. Craft together. Set up a table (or floor), that is large enough that they can do their craft and you can do yours. Once your child gets to school age, they can easily occupy themselves with 'making'. The key here is forward planning! Make sure you have the things to stick separated out into pots. The children can even help with this before you start. A large wipeable cloth is also a must so that you don't have to constantly twitch every time they move with glue or paint. I always found that the Ikea plastic cups and plates were perfect for a multitude of things, including paint. If you put a little paint on a plate rather than in a pot, it's much easier to control and less likely to be knocked over. I also suggest having somewhere ready to dry the art work (pegging on the washing line, or laying out on the lawn works well) and a bowl of soapy water in the sink so they have somewhere 'safe' to head for as soon as they decide they are finished. As they get used to this way of working, little ones as young as 4 can have their end of the table while you have yours.
2. Block out some craft time. It's all about routines. If your little one has an afternoon nap, your 7 year old has an hour of telly-time after lunch, or your teenager doesn't emerge from his pit until half eleven, then you can grab valuable time. Granted nap time is a tricky one, but as children get older they can understand that you have 'work' time and they need to leave you to it. The flip side of this is that when you have time together you also have to commit to being completely 'there'. No phones, no distractions. When Lou was old enough, if I needed to get some work done, we always set a time limit and the rule was "Blood, Sick or Dead". If she was bleeding, being sick, or had died, she was allowed to interrupt me. The fact that it was so silly meant that she stuck to it and often came to find me at the end of the time pretending to be a zombie. In fact, now she is 15, I occasionally get told "I'm watching a film, Mum. Blood, sick or dead. OK?!" I always make sure I stick to it....and yes, I do a great zombie impression!
3. Get rid of your children! In a nice way, obviously!! If you are not too exhausted at the end of the day, then after bedtime is a possible time for crafting, but better still is the playdate swap. Now, I know that this is some people's worst nightmare, but honestly, I used to love it. If you have a friend with a child of similar age, or your children are school friends, then this is a great solution. On the day when you have extra children, you do need to be more organised, but a few large cardboard boxes, pizza bases where they can choose their own toppings, and a trip to the park, and you're sorted. Yes, I know that's a simplified version, but really, if you can make it through the afternoon, or even whole day, then you know you will have a day soon where you will have the time, space and quiet to do what you want to do. Again, I would definitely say the key to your play date running smoothly is to be 'there' and only check your phone etc when you absolutely have to. Also, a little top tip: if you have the space and energy for more than one extra child at a time, the payback will also be more!
Age 5, playdates and painting
4. Prepare a list of short jobs. These are the jobs that you can get done while you are waiting for the kettle to boil, waiting outside dance practice or waiting for your teenager to finally be ready to leave. Parenting does involve a considerable amount of waiting! Things like answering an email, finding a pattern that you want to try, ordering more yarn (there is no such thing as enough yarn), watching a You Tube video on a new skill that you want to learn...you get the idea. If you don't write down the ideas that you could do in 15 mins or less though, your Mummy brain will forget them, so have an ongoing list that you can add to when you think of a new one.
Age 13, painting props for my stall
5. Get them to help you. I have deliberately put this one last as this is more a long term goal! When children are small, they love helping, but often their 'help' actually makes more work as you re-do everything as soon as they leave the room. If you have the patience, then let them help anyway, even if you do have to correct things after. In a couple of years time, they will actually be really helpful and there won't be any re-doing necessary. There are also things that small people can do that really do help - asking them to sort out your yarn, buttons, beads, or whatever your stash is comprised of, is always a good one. If you make kits, asking them to put collections of items together is great for them and you. If you can't trust that their boxing skills are quite up to your standard, then the Ikea plates make a welcome return and you follow behind, putting each set into the packaging (and having a sneaky check in the process!)
So there you go, my top 5 tips on how to keep a little crafting time for you, through the school holidays. Remember though, school years are short, no matter how it feels at the moment, and these times are precious. You need some time for you, for your own sanity, but you also need lots of Mummy time without feeling even remotely guilty!
Enjoy your summer 🌞😘