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.
I pulled up to the car pool line, the door flew open and the kids jumped in.
"Guys, I have terrible news." I said.
"What?" They replied in unison.
"I totally mixed up the dates and we missed Sammy's birthday last night!" I explained.
"Oh no! Poor Sammy! We missed it?" Jack said.
"I know! I feel terrible, so I invited Charlie and Sam over for a birthday playdate." I returned.
"Woohoo! It's no problem Mom, we know exactly what to do." Josiah piped in.
We went straight to our local grocery store and the five of us headed to the bakery to pick out a cake. Lucy loved the cake with the alligator on top, Jack refused saying it was way too baby for turning seven years old. Josiah was trying to recall which flavor was Sam's favorite, chocolate or vanilla. In the end we decided on Boston creme which covered all our bases and seemed the most logical to everyone.
The boys ran to the door proclaiming a party for Sam, apologizing profusely and explained the mix up. It is always like a vortex when we pick up or drop off the boys together. Instant games of tag and rock, paper, scissors erupt and there is lots of whooping and hollering, pure joy.
I warned the kids this playdate would be in a house that was quite a mess.
Charlie didn't miss a beat. "No problem Patience, I love a good mess."
The kids ran into the house and I went to dig in the party box. I found some old pirate napkins, eye patches and earrings from a party long ago. There was some discussion if we should have a pirate party or not but Sam decided it was a good idea. Josiah cleared the table off, Jack got the cake ready, we all sang.
The moment was over as quickly as it came. It was one of the nicest parties I have ever been to in my entire life. There were no invitations, no music, no presents, no goodie bags. The house was a mess, the guests rowdy, the joy deep, it was perfect. I wonder how often we plan so carefully to create moments when the best kind seem to be born on their own. Kids know this better than most I believe, living fully in the moment before them.
Do you have any stories ot spontaneous joy your kids cooked up? Please tell us in the comments.
If you wanna add some fun to your spontaneous celebration, check out the cool party ideas here.
We haven't talked about games very much since the last lesson in losing we all got. My nature as a parent is to pull back, if I'm honest, maybe even avoid such situations. My kids taught me there might be yet another option this week.
Jack and Josiah disappeared up into their room one night for hours. They were laughing and talking so I never checked in on them to see what they were up to. They bounded down the stairs very excited. They created they their own board game.
It is a fantasy style game, similar to those they have played on the computer. Each character was a kid, had a name and special powers, perfect for re-claiming your own.
The game has a complete set of rules and cards. It seems a little easier to follow rules and lose when you have ownership in the design and thought of the game.
I'm realizing that art can serve kids in a different way of process besides just the act of creating itself. This little game is a way to introduce a previously hard subject with a new and positive angle. It gives a chance to explore losing and gain strength and knowledge in knowing how to handle disappointment in game play.
Once again, I can see how kids can find their way by using their intuition and minds. Even when I'm not exactly paying attention as a parent.
What kind of role does art and creativity play in your house? Do you wish there was more? After this experience, I realized how much more I want to create a culture of art and discovery in my own home. How about you?