When you walk into my house, you might see hastily-wiped-down tables and smell the scent of bleach in the room. If you look closely, you will see art projects taped to the walls, hung on the fridge, windows and ceilings. You will see my kitchen table is stained with paint and glitter and the floor underneath has beads and playdough, kinetic sand remnants, popsicle sticks, dried slime, flower petal oil pastel smudges, stacks of paper and paint splatters on the nook bench. I’m pretty sure the sight would cause plenty of mothers anxiety. Truthfully, I clean this area daily and deep clean it frequently enough.
However, over time, I stopped noticing all the messes from the crafts and only saw the spark of creativity in my children’s eyes.
I grew up with an extremely crafty and talented mother who was constantly encouraging my siblings and me to create with so many different mediums. My brothers, sister, and I had a flair for art and we were each talented in our own ways. Naturally, when I had my own children, I also wanted to help them discover the joys of art and find passion and creativity. Now, my house rivals the art museum in the sheer amount of pieces my children have created. The paint messes on my table, walls, floors, clothes and kids don’t bother me because I know ultimately the stains will come out (thank you magic eraser) and childhood is such a short season, I don’t want to discourage my kids from their play.
For many mothers, the idea of glitter can cause an anxiety attack, and slime is forbidden in many households we’ve visited. Deep down, I think we all know that it is good for our children to explore their creative side but we may have a hard time getting past the mess and clean up of art time. From my experience, as a mother of little Picassos and the sole owner of an in-home daycare, here are some tips for how to make art time smoother and less messy.
Crayons and colored pencils may seem very basic and boring to some kids but these supplies get used at our house daily.
Their opportunities are endless through coloring books, sketch pads, copy paper, notebooks, posters, and homemade books. These classics are here to stay. Clean-up is easy as can be with a small pencil box and a folder for your child’s masterpieces.
If your children are a little older, origami is a beautiful art form to consider.
There are no paint messes, just beautifully printed (or plain) paper that is thoughtfully folded to make objects. Your kids can watch demonstrations on YouTube or look through a how-to book for design ideas.
If your child really loves to paint but you don’t want a paint mess in the house, take it outside!
Throw old clothes or a swimsuit on your child and let them paint to their heart’s content. Explain the term Plein-air Painting and you can even go into an art history lesson! Clean-up is a breeze with a garden hose on any splatters on the ground or for messy, colorful kids.
If you struggle with coming up with craft ideas for your kids to try, look on Pinterest!
There are thousands of ideas to try, but if pinning isn’t your thing, you can find ready-to-go craft boxes at the store your kids can just open and go. Place some old newspaper down on the table of paint if glue is involved and your table will be saved.
Everyone remembers the magic of a simple box when they were little.
Your kids will love it, too! Let their creativity explode as they color rocket ships, race cars, pirate ships, cottages, submarines and more! For extra fun, they can add stickers to their box or other fun crafty items if you’re willing!
For children who need a sensory experience without a mess, make your own sensory bag.
You can take a ziplock bag, fill it with shampoo, add a few drops of food coloring, glitter and beads, and seal it up (duck tape for the curious ones)! Your child can now smoosh and squeeze without the mess!
Any sweet lovers?
Decorating cakes and cookies definitely count as art for me with the extra bonus of a sweet treat! Watch a decorating video or even take a class together and try your hand at making a beautifully frosted cake!
For kids who know how to work a computer, try a program.
Even one as simple as Paint if they prefer a screen.
Art time doesn’t need to cause anxiety and be super messy for your children to have fun and be creative, but when it does, I have not yet encountered a stain that a magic eraser couldn’t beat.