If I could of, I would have started this post with a photograph of Richmond Toddler that would have perfectly reflected the saying ‘a picture paints a thousand words’. But I can’t. That photo, had I been able to capture it, would have peeled back the illusion of mother and child bonding over tissue paper and Pritt Stick, paint and salt dough, to reveal a naked truth beneath: that crafting with a toddler is not the calm, enjoyable, mother/child creative experience ‘they’ would lead you to believe.
That photo would have shown the truth. The truth that – in my limited experience anyhow – reveals that doing crafts with a toddler rarely ends up how you read about it from others’ accounts. ‘They’ tell tales of a rainy day made brighter by the small family of ducks created from a batch of loo rolls, yellow card, and more than a healthy dose of imagination, everyone sitting at the table nicely, painting, gluing and sticking in a calm and collected manner that doesn’t involve raised voices and “you’re not doing it properly” being articulated through gritted teeth. More than once. Ahem… Okay, maybe I’m just not cut out for crafting…
So, back to the ‘truth’. The reason I can’t prove this with my own photographic evidence is because while I did consider picking up the camera and capturing a rather striking image of my darling daughter with a cocktail of shaving foam and purple paint smeared across her eyes, I thought it probably best to crack on with dunking her in the bath and cleaning her up quick smart before she started screaming in agony or indeed went blind. It’s a shame really, because it would have made for a great photo. But it wasn’t to be.
Me: “Don’t rub your eyes with your hands Allegra, no… don’t! Don’t! DON’T” – *Allegra rubs, rubs, rubs some more, oh and then a bit more for good measure, the shaving foam/purple paint mixture transferring from her hands to adorn her eyelids, eyelashes, forehead, nose, to create a look Adam Ant himself would have envied. Sigh.
Allow me to rewind to the beginning of this tale.
Last weekend, faced with yet another day stuck indoors thanks to the dismal winter weather, I decided that we would while away the hours on Sunday with a range of Easter themed crafts that would keep Richmond Toddler entertained and boredom at bay. So I spent Saturday evening researching different ideas and getting inspiration from the likes of Red Ted Art and Rainy Day Mum – both excellent blogs that are filled with amazing ideas for a wealth of crafty activities to enjoy with your little ones.
I stayed up late getting the dining room table prepared (with many a mat and sheet for protection), the ‘materials’ out and ready, Easter egg and bunny templates printed off etc. etc. and was delighted to see Allegra’s face light up when she came down in the morning and saw everything I had laid out for us to play with.
She climbed straight up onto a chair and wanted to get started, while eating her breakfast, and we first made an Easter picture together out of broken eggshells, glue, paint, and glitter. Oh and the odd pom-pom. I got the idea from a blog (annoyingly I can’t remember the name of it and struggled to find it again, so apologies for the lack of credit) and Allegra really enjoyed being able squeeze and crush the eggshell in her hands, and stick them to the paper to create her own little sculpture. She then had fun squeezing glue all over it and scattering glitter over the whole thing, then decorating with the squeezy paint. It really kept her entertained for what seemed like an age, but was actually only about 30 minutes…. still a whole day to fill then, it was only about 8.30am by this point!
The next thing she showed an interest in having a go at was colouring in some Easter egg cut-outs I’d printed off and then putting some stickers on them. Allegra LOVES stickers, I can’t express just how much, and so being able to peel them off and stick them on to each egg kept her amused for a good while and she was pleased with the finished result and happy to see them stuck up on the door of her playroom. Although annoyingly she keeps peeling them off the door and throwing them on the floor. Sigh.
Later the same day, I managed to get her back to the table to do some painting and she painted these very cute little Easter bunnies from a template I’d downloaded from a fantastic German blog I discovered Titatoni. The bunnies once painted can be strung together to create a pretty Easter garland, so once dried, I stuck them to a ribbon and we now have them hanging on the living room door looking very pretty.
So it was all going pretty well and then I decided to jump in with both feet and combine a bit of arts and crafts with a bit of messy play… something I have NEVER done before and will more than likely not be in a rush to do again. I presented Allegra with the opportunity to do some shaving foam painted Easter egg prints. I know, I must have been mad.
We squirted some shaving foam into a tray. Allegra then squeezed some purple paint on top of the foam and then she looked at me in sheer wonder and delight when I said “okay, you can put your hands in and mix it all up.” Wow, she was in her element! Her face was beaming, she was squidging the mixture in her hands and letting it ooze through her fingers. She absolutely LOVED it! And actually, in fairness, the mess was quite contained so I didn’t break out in hives, I was quite proud of myself (just to put things into context, I am known as a bit of a Monica Geller amongst friends…). It was great to see her enjoying herself so much.
But then, just as I was thinking that perhaps messy play in the house wasn’t such a bad thing after all, disaster struck. For some unknown reason, Allegra decided she would smear the shaving foam/paint mixture across her face and then rub her eyes with it, and then rub them a bit more, and then a bit more. Despite my pleas to stop. So there she was, covered in foam and purple paint, wanting to jump down from the chair, wanting to run wild through my home of muted, pale coloured walls and furniture, and me terrified at the prospect of what havoc and disaster she would cause, not to mention being somewhat concerned that she might permanently damage her eyes with the homemade purple eye make-up she was now sporting. Not good.
Stress levels rose. I began to sweat a bit. Okay, a lot.
Richmond Daddy ignored my pleas to come help (something to do with feeding the baby at the time… lame).
So I had to bundle Allegra into a towel, while she wriggled and protested and tried to rub her eyes some more, and then run upstairs to the bathroom, strip her, and dunk her into the tub, wiping her eyes clean quickly: I was amazed that she wasn’t screaming in agony but it seems that shaving foam and paint don’t sting half as much as baby soap when it gets in your eyes. Who knew?!
Well that pretty much concluded our day of crafting. I think Allegra enjoyed herself – she certainly went to bed happy and chattering about the painting we’d done. I needed a large glass of wine by the time she’d gone to bed, but looking back, I think it was a success overall – although it didn’t necessarily feel that way on Sunday evening.
Yes she would lose interest and wander off (probably to be expected given she’s only 2) and yes she would ignore my suggestions to ‘paint inside the lines’ and ‘you can paint more than just one splodge darling’, and she pointe blank refused to join me at the table to create this rather cute looking cotton ball lamb (I will suggest this again later in the week, we WILL do the lamb at some point!), and then of course there was the foam/paint incident, but by and large it was a pretty successful day I think. But, it did feel like quite hard work if I’m honest. It certainly required a fair bit of persuading and cajoling, and a big dose of patience.
I’m pleased we did it though and Allegra seemed to enjoy it and it meant that a day stuck inside the house didn’t see us just resorting to Peppa when we’d run out of ideas for what to do. So I think we’ll get crafting again in the future (well, we still have the lamb to make!), but maybe I’ll leave the shaving foam out of it next time!
Are you a crafty mum?
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