One of the fabulous things about being a stay at home mom is your influence. You don’t necessarily have to adhere to the same standards your parents or care providers had for you. With a few minor tweaks, certain rules can go right out the window.
Rule 1: No painting in the house. I’ve had a few nightmares with the paint believe me but I’ll take any excuse not to park my kids in front of the television. It’s very important you buy the right paints. You should be looking for non-toxic and washable. If it does not say “washable” I wouldn’t risk it. Secondly, you have to establish boundaries. In our world, all paints are kept in the dining room, at the table and if we are lucky on a cookie sheet. Cookie sheets are amazing for containing messes. Then there’s the obvious, you want to protect the area with vinyl table cloth, a drop cloth, newspaper…whatever you have on hand and you want to protect their clothing. My kids have smocks but I always forget that we have them. I tend to just grab Will’s old under shirts. Lastly, clean up. I escort my kids to the bathroom to make sure they don’t get paint anywhere it need not be. They go play and I clean up.
That probably sounds like an awful lot of work to paint with a preschooler but let me tell you why that’s important. Paints are a great way to teach colors; primary, secondary, tints and hues. I also think it’s important to display their works. I usually have their drawings on my fridge and paintings or mixed media on the fireplace mantle. Art builds confidence and I don’t have the budget to go out and buy it. Long live hand made!
Rule #2 Playdough. This isn’t so much of a rule as it is a united weariness when it comes to playdough. I’m sure most of you are picturing crusty playdough stamped down into a aging shag carpet. I make play dough for the kids about once every 3 months. Believe me, it doesn’t last that long. As soon as its cool enough to handle, I let the kids pick what colors the playdough will be. That really makes it special for them. “This is my princess tie dye playdough!” “This is my super hero color playdough!” Both kids will spend hours at the table playing with it. So how do I get away with it? Again Boundaries. The play dough stays at the table on a vinyl placemat and when they are finished, I make them clean up, Why? It’s a good way to show consequences. If you don’t pick up, you’re playdough dries out and it goes in the trash.
Rule # 3 Get out of the kitchen! I used to say this to the kids until I was blue in the face. I was absolutely terrified they would burn themselves or get a hold of knife. Soon it just became pointless. They were in the kitchen because I was in the kitchen. Now, I try to find once or twice a week to do something special with them. Last Saturday, my son and I made blueberry muffins together. This Saturday, Kylie and I made pancakes. It’s a great time to drive home the importance of washing your hands and the over all demystification of cooking as a whole. The key is to keep it simple and find things that they can do. I usually do the measuring but if the recipe calls for multiple units of an ingredient, I have the kids count out loud with me. Then, I let them take turns, dumping the ingredients into the bowl. Sometimes, I’ll have them grab an item out the fridge or pantry for me. Be aware of what they probably should not do. I do not let my kids pour batter from bowl to dish nor do I let them take the dish in or out of the oven. As a reward, they are always the first to try whatever we make.
With a little consideration, these 3 rule breakers are a great way to get creative with your kids. They create memorable afternoons with lots of little teachable moments along the way. Good luck and God Speed!