One thing I’ve learned after having two kids is that “self play” is a pretty valuable trait to instill in your child. Yes, I would love to “play cars,” pretend I’m a cat, and become a master chef by just wearing underwear on my head for the day’s entirety. But then I realize that there are dishes and laundry and dust and sometimes Mama needs to just take a breath “by herself.” Because I think people usually visit the bathroom without an audience. And yet honestly, if I didn’t have Leah hanging on my leg and Mya asking me questions about puberty, it really just wouldn’t seem right. But when I do need fifteen minutes to throw dinner in the pressure cooker, the main lifeline I use is Mya’s art station. Mya does something productive and Leah throws all the supplies on the floor. And if that fails for Leah, I just open up the tupperware or spice cabinet and we’re good to go. 😛 Here are our tips for art station success:
LOCATION. If you can, set up a a station in a somewhat common area. It doesn’t have to be large– just a little workspace that they can go to by themselves without you even suggesting it. Maybe there will be a day when our kitchen doesn’t consist of a mini art desk and shelves and markers strewn all over the floor. But today is not that day. And I love glancing over and seeing what Mya’s working on and still feeling like I’m part of whatever she’s creating.
WORKSPACE and STORAGE. We refinished Mya’s art desk a couple years ago from a $10 garage sale find, but otherwise I would go for this desk from Ikea in our space. Someday I’d love to have an “office” space adjoining our kitchen/ living room where the girls could go. I like the layout of this T-shape desk for a dual workspace.
ORGANIZE. If you only buy one thing to organize your kid’s art/ homework desk, buy #1. This was a total game changer for making everything tidy and easily available. It’s sturdy and holds a lot and would even look great on an grown-up desk.
SUPPLY ACCESSIBILITY: make supplies easily accessible and others not so accessible (ie scissors, slime, kinetic sand). Mya’s always been pretty good about not making a mess everywhere, so for us this is pretty easy. When she does get out the sand and slime, she uses a tray (#3) to keep it somewhat localized and not (as much) in the rug. We leave out washable markers (#8 are the greatest for little hands and you can find them anywhere markers are carried), fast-drying paint sticks (every kid needs #4— they are seriously the best supply I’ve bought in a long time), lots of stickers, large paper pads (or this paper roll), and large coloring books (this is Mya’s current fave).
DOCUMENTATION. Grab some activity books that you’ll actually want to keep to look back on later in life. Mya works on #6 little by little every week by herself and then there are pages for us to ask her questions and fill out together. This daily one is also a gem. The other day, the question was “Who takes care of you when you’re sad?” Mya’s answer was “My parents. Ashley and Derek because they’re my snuggle bunnies.” And my heart melted.
One more day until Fri-yay!