Monday, August 15, 2011

Creativity Challanged

When I saw that the theme this month on MomColoredGlasses is creativity I had a sinking feeling. How was I ever going to come up with a post on this topic when I am one of the least creative people I know? I did not receive the "crafty gene" in my DNA makeup.

There are multiple factors involved in my "uncraftiness" which make it hard for me to be creative. For starters, I'm a by the book kind of person. Give me a recipe, some directions to follow, or a schematic to look at and I'm fine. I was great with connect the dots and paint by number when I was a kid. Give me a blank piece of paper and I was lost. I need some direction to make something original.

Then there's the time thing. I work 10 hour days 4 days a week, then I work 3 out of 4 Saturday mornings. My weekday off-day is usually full of doctor's appointments, grocery shopping, or playing outside. That doesn't leave much time for me and Tommy to do crafty things (or so I thought).

And lastly, Tommy isn't much for sitting still. Unless he's at the table eating, he's constantly moving. He doesn't even stay in one spot for long when watching his favorite movie - which is Cars, and is currently playing right now, while he is running around the living room playing with his Cars characters as they come on screen. The thought of glue, glitter, and small pieces of crafty items around my Tasmanian devil sends shivers down my spine.

So, I figured I wouldn't have anything to share this month. Then I wondered about the other moms like me. The ones who don't have much time, who have kids with short attention spans, who couldn't make a nice looking craft without step by step instructions. And I thought there must be things for us. So I looked around my house, and I found the things that Tommy and I do that can be considered creative.

Coloring - you can't get more basic than coloring. And Crayola has this wonderful line of washable and color magic products. The washable crayons allow me to sit Tommy at the table with coloring books or paper and let him scribble to his heart's content. If he gets the crayons on the table they wash off with a couple swipes of a wet paper towel. Sometime I'll draw shapes and he'll tell me what the shapes are and then color in them. One of my favorite memories of him is when I drew a stop sign and he told me it was an "oc-a-gon." The color magic markers are even more wonderful. They only draw on special paper. You can buy special coloring books or blank paper for these markers. They even have color magic finger paints if you really want to go wild. We actually took these markers and coloring books on our last trip. He used them on the plane, in the airports, and at the vacation home and I didn't have to hover over him the whole time worrying that he'd make a mess. That let me relax and let him be creative.

One of his other favorite creative toys is the Fisher-Price Pro Doodler. It uses a magnetic pen and 4 shape magnets to draw on a blank screen. Some days he just wants to fill the whole screen in, clear it, and do it again. Other days he draws various lines and scribbles and then tells me that they're rhinos or elephants. He has a small Doodler for the car that just has the pen. Sometimes I'll write his name on it and he'll read off the letters, say his name, then scribble over it and make birds, tractors, or big trucks- they just look like lines to me, but in his imagination he's drawing masterpieces. The great thing about these toys is there is no mess, and you can easily clear them and start over. You can't hang them on the fridge or give them to Grandma, but they're quick and easy and still creative.

We also like to be creative with music. When we're at his grandmother's house he loves to "play" the piano and sing. In the bathtub he has a floating xylophone he bangs on. He also has a plastic drum filled with kid sized percussion items. He likes to use the funky colored drumsticks, hit the ant sleigh bells, and shake the eggs to make fun sounds.

One thing that can get a little messy involves sidewalk chalk. He loves to draw on our patio. Some days he just takes the colors and scribbles. Some days I draw shapes and letters and he tells me what they are. Then we hose them off (or the rain does) and we can start all over again.

So, even if you don't have a lot of time, or you don't have the crafting skills that other moms have, you can still have creative play time with your kids. You may not be making craft sale worth projects, but you'll still be having fun, creating memories, and helping your little one use their imagination.

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