“Can I make slime?” I’m sure I’m not the only one that wants to hide whenever they hear that request. There’s something about the impending mess that, well, fills me with dread.
Sometimes making art with kids can be hard. The top three complaints I hear are from parents are 1) I’m too tired, 2) I don’t know where to start, and 3) the clean-up – UGH!!!
If you’re feeling any of these – or your own special flavor – here’s something to remember:
Sometimes you are just too tired and that’s OK. While artmaking is a wonderful way to connect with your child, there’s no point in forcing it if you are too exhausted to be present.
That said, I know for me, when I pull out the too tired excuse there’s usually something else going on below the surface. Usually there’s a “not enough” thought running in the background that puts me straight into survival mode.
A big one for me is “There’s going to be a big mess that I don’t have enough energy to clean up.” Maybe for you, it’s more like “This is going to be boring and I’m already depleted,” or “I’m not good enough at art, so why even start?”
Here’s the opportunity –
Whenever you have resistance to starting an activity with your child ask yourself – what am I telling myself about this experience? What am I avoiding? Am I feeling depleted and need nourishment? Allow yourself to be still for a moment to hear what your heart really trying to tell you.
From this place, perhaps vulnerable and uncertain, connect with your child and see what happens. Let yourself be in the messiness, even just for a couple of minutes. This is actually what your child is longing for – authentic connection with a their perfectly imperfect grown-up.
You can find a guided moment of calm here.
Three more tips for making art time with your kiddo more manageable:
If sticky things or wet paint drive you crazy, then skip it! Options for art play – crayons, paper, textured paper, recycled items, hole punch, fabric, pom poms, stickers, transparency sheets & Sharpees, photocopies of high interest objects and people – just a few things to get you started.
Try this – put out a piece of paper (as large as you can find, I like a cut open paper bag for this one) and your favorite drawing medium. Invite your child to make lines, shapes, and colors with you on the paper. See where it takes you!
Some things that might emerge –
You both get quiet and your breathing syncs up in a really satisfying way
You open the floodgates for lots and lots of sharing!
You’re kiddo may mirror your drawing style or ask you how you did something
You may end up playing a lively game of “crayon tag,” chasing each other’s crayons around the paper
And in case your wondering, the goal isn’t to “make something” but rather to practice being together in a different way. Have fun with it!
It’s ok if an artmaking experience only lasts a few minutes!
Some tools to have on hand when you set up your art space
an easy to clean surface to work on (tray, recycled cardboard, messy-time tablecloth)
something to put bits and scraps in
something damp to wipe sticky hands on
a careful selection of which materials you want to offer today (not the whole art tub!)
I hope these tips inspire you to experiment with playful artmaking, and to most importantly, enjoy a new way of connecting with your kiddo. Share in the comments, or post a picture of your artmaking on Instagram – tag me @mindfulmessesarttherapy with #mindfulmesses
Stuck in constant power struggles with your kiddo? Tired of yelling with no one listening? Looking for a way to communicate with your child that is more connected and in-line with the loving relationship you dreamt of having with your child? Check out my signature coaching program – Break Free From Power Struggles – here.