Disclosure: I did not receive payment of any kind to write this post and purchased all products reviewed myself.
This year, “Buzz Lightyear!” seemed to be the unanimous answer, as written on the letters to Santa at Nursery by at least three of the fifteen little boys there. I also happen to know (hotline to Father Christmas as it happens!) those three little boys won’t be disappointed either but that’s not the point. According to an article on Female First, those happy people at IKEA conducted a survey to reveal what our kids want for Christmas, and, shock, horror, they want “real” toys, “traditional” toys, no less and also some quality time with us, their parents. So I had to unwrap and return all the video games, mobile phones and the like for Little Chap…
Interestingly though, the survey, launched just before Christmas to promote IKEA’s Soft Toy Campaign in support of UNICEF and Save the Children, suggests a whopping 42% of parents admit they prioritise cleaning their homes over playing with their children. Frankly we’d all be lying if we said we hadn’t done the same at least once.
Then there’s the not so surprising fact that 30% of parents admitted they don’t like letting their children make a mess and will only allow messy play once or twice a month (doing well my friends!), yet over a quarter of 7-10 year olds surveyed said they preferred arts and crafts activities over computer games and TV.
So, as the survey also found that a whopping 79% of us parenting types thought creative play was fundamentally important for our children’s development, here are my three top tips for making it happen without compromising on the colour of your sofa covers. At the risk of coming across as a completely Desperate Housewife/Pushy Parent (who, moi?), they are, in no particular order:
- Choose a good play group/pre-school where your little angel/s can indulge as many of their creative/messy play fantasies as they have time for. Little Chap has been finger painting like a demon since he was ten months old (just not in my house)! Check out the work displayed by the children when you go round. Most nurseries will give each child a special folder or drawer for their work, so they can take it home to adorn the fridge/their bedroom walls each day/week/term. Oh and make sure they provide overalls and use washable paints etc – even covered up, its amazing where a small child can make the paint go!
- Lessons learned outdoors are lessons learned better. So next time it rains, don’t let that put you off, just invest in an all-in-one rain suit and some wellies for your little one. I bought one from NEXT that seemed reasonably priced, and if you buy big enough, there’s room for some growth or to put a thicker fleece/coat underneath for warmth. Just make sure you’re wearing your wellies too (No, I wouldn’t expect you to have an all-in-one waterproof suit, though it might be handy for the inevitable puddle jumping!) and don’t do this in your best work suit.
- If in doubt, cheat! So your child doesn’t grow up thinking you’re a complete spoil sport (well, here’s hoping anyway!), why not invest in some good “ready to go” crafting activities? These won’t require you to spend hours “prepping” materials (pre-schoolers are not known for their patience, which when pushed is in turn only bound to test your own!). Some kits don’t even require glue, coming pre-cut, pre-stuck and just ready to go. So to assuage that parental guilt, set aside some regular, quality time depending on your work commitments, number of children and budget, pull one of these out of the box and hear your little Da Vinci sing your praises. They don’t have to be expensive either – here are a few of Little Chap’s favourites that also have my seal of approval:
- Mr Maker Minute Makes |These are available in multi-packs of six for less than a tenner, meaning not only do they offer you better value than purchasing them individually but also a cupboard full of ready cut and sometimes ready glued inspiration when you need it. This year, Little Chap has made a giraffe, some sea creatures and sewn some hand puppets.
- Crayola Colour Wonder |These magic markers look and feel like “grown up” felt tip pens, but the bonus for you is that they will only leave their mark on the special paper provided. No mess. No fuss.
- Galt Water Magic | These clever pads are great value for money, as each picture can be re-used any number of times and come small enough to carry around in your bag. Each pad comes with an easy to fill/refill water pen.
CBeebies magazines | These come in weekly and monthly editions and include a number of easy to do cut, colour and stick type crafting activities ideal for wet afternoons? The range also includes a Mr Maker art and craft publication which is literally packed full of ready prepared materials with simple (for mums!) instructions to follow.
So now you know how I cheat, as the kids are coming down from their Christmas highs what methods are you employing to engage their creativity? Are you protective of your home decor or do you consider yourself more laissez-faire? What are your favourite crafts or creative activities and are they the same as your child’s?
I linked this post up to #PoCoLo a great new linky at Verily Victoria Vocalises Why not pop over and read some other posts or join in?
Mayfair Mum x