Yesterday the final snow cleared on the front lawn and the yard was humming with sounds of new life as the birds set up house in the eaves and the crocuses pushed through the now visible flowerbeds. Spring is upon us and there's no better time to turn a corner on some better habits for the whole family.
Clean, clean, clean. There's something about better weather that makes you want to get things in order and make a fresh start. Even the messiest among us here are making a concerted effort to clean up and I was downright shocked when one of my kids announced it was time for a total room overhaul. Use the energy of the fresh new season to make a point about the happiness that ensues when things are in order.
Say no to screens. After a winter of being hunkered down in the media cave, sunny hints of spring ahead are the perfect push to get the screens to dim. I've noticed my kids are naturally more happy to play outside and if they do want to play video games right now, they are opting for the more celebratory round of Guitar Hero than the more strategic games they prefer to play in winter. Put your foot down and say this will be the spring and summer of less screens, more outdoor fun.
Get out the bikes. Our bikes have been piled up in a heap in the garage all winter, but yesterday no one asked when the temperatures hit low 60's. I looked out from the kitchen window and every single thing with wheels that ever lived in the garage was in motion. The neighborhood kids rode in circles on our driveway and all I could see was weeks of happy bicycle bliss ahead. Better to start as early in the good weather as possible!
Start planning for summer. If your kids are school aged like mine, there's no reason why they can't be included in the plans for summer fun. Have a family meeting and solicit ideas. Where do we want to go? What new thing do we want to try? What skill is this the summer to master? There's nothing worse than hauling your kids off to activities and summer camps that they never wouldn't have picked if you've given them the choice, so get them in the act right now.
For years we had two giant shelves loaded with art supplies in the boys bedroom. Quite often I would hear them digging around, looking for just the right recycled box to paint and become some new part of a very elaborate Lego world. It was organized and seemed to work fine, aside from the occasional mess, but a visit to a creative friend's house made me consider taking it all a step further. She turned a small sun room into a children's art studio and it was pure magic.
My kids were delirious visiting her house and it seemed to ignite a new level of creating love. One weekend later I convinced my husband to give up a barely used sunroom/office to create our own family art studio. There is just something about claiming some territory and honoring creativity in the place where you live and spend so much of your time. The kids have spent hours upon hours since holed up in the little room, creating to their hearts content.
Here is what I have learned so far:
Even the baby will want to participate. It helps to surrender to artsy mess and just let them get messy and into everything. We keep the any toxic or tiny supplies high and in tight containers, but markers, crayons and the like are fair game. Lyra constantly has marker all over her but she is happy.
Use what you already have. Dig through junk drawers and recycle bins. You probably already have most of the supplies you need. It is just a matter of organizing it and laying it out in an accessible and inviting way. If this isn't your strong suit, invite and super clean neat freaky friend over, she'll know exactly what to do. Don't be afraid of getting rid of old stuff to make the clearing for the new space either. Think about why and how you use your current living spaces. Are they being utilized? Is a guest room really necessary? Can a space be shared if you really can't give it entirely over?
Add some love to your space. Hang your children's own framed art work in the space. Put up shelves for sculptures and pottery. Don't forget to add photographs that remind you of beauty and family love. Music is a must have! My son Josiah made the art shown above after we were all sitting in the studio working on our own projects and listening to Yellow Submarine by The Beatles. We sometimes play family DJ and everyone picks a song to add to the playlist. All of it invites togetherness and creativity.
Do you have a small carved out for your art or work? What tips do you have for encouraging art in your home? Tell us in the comments.
We have been really busy this week, cleaning things up and looking for ways to simplify our lives. That includes putting unused things on craigslist. You really can't beat the concept of putting a picture of something on the internet and then giving a complete stranger your home address so they can come to your house at 11:00 pm and ask if you will take $100 for that treadmill that they said they would purchase for $300.
In our house, it is a feat of nature for anyone to part with anything. You never know when you are going to need that set of golf clubs that haven't been used in the entire seven years I have known you. Maybe, just one day, I might want to golf. So recently when a dear friend gave us two sets of loft beds, I got nervous. I know you can't imagine why. I'm sure I'm overreacting about the five times I have gone to the emergency room. But tonight we decided that perhaps we were at least four more years out for the little one to sleep in a loft so we should get rid of one of the beds. I whipped out my camera to take the obligatory photo for the ad. The camera was handy because I had just been taking pictures of the boys playing nicely. I wanted to have a memory on paper of that moment since I had spent the better part of the afternoon screaming at them for beating each other with a plastic pump that I kept taking away from them and hiding.
My husband grabbed my hand as I went off to the computer.
"Be sure you post the picture of the BED on craigslist and the picture of the KIDS on Supersisters."
I think he was joking though I really can't be sure.