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Creating Art (and Memories) with Kids

All this talk about Artown has got me thinking about how art works not only within our community, but within our family. I am a creator and a firm believer in the saying, “art saves.” If I go for too long without making something, I start to feel it deep down inside. The need to ‘make’ is like a volcano –  my creative lava rising to the surface. If I don’t let it gently bubble over the edges in small doses, I often feel like I might erupt. And we all know what happened when Mount Vesuvius blew – everyone went down. We can’t have Mama exploding! Here’s the truth (and I am thinking several of you will raise your hand to this): as mothers, we often forget to nurture and care for ourselves. With kids of any age (because each age has its own challenges and demands, no?), it’s easy to make excuses to not create.  We push aside our own needs and self. I do the same thing when it comes to exercise or a weekend getaway with just my husband or my girlfriends. These things are important, they are the “put your oxygen mask on first, before helping others.”

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If we don’t make sure we are okay, how can we do the same for those we care for? Creating could be cooking, baking, knitting, drawing, writing, painting, sewing or photographing. I have tried them all, and love each one for different reasons and for the varied end results. For me, art, in any of its many iterations, is a self-care tools. It also happens to be something I want to pass along to my kids. I truly love seeing the world through their eyes, from their point of view and perspective. I get to know them more, and they me.  Finding ways to include and encourage my children has produced some really special moments and memories for our family.

And by the way: I don’t want to read in the comments that you aren’t creative. Tough love mamas, tough love. We are all creative! Do you problem solve? Do you find new uses for old things? That’s creativity.  When we think of being a good role models for our children, we tend to think of things like, “don’t smoke, don’t do drugs, be kind, use your manners…” But the little sponges that sit next to us at the dinner table each night, they are also watching other actions and choices we make throughout the day.

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Here are some ideas on how to get the creative and artistic juices flowing.

If the kids ask to paint or draw, get your tools out too, and join them.  Both of my kids have their own journal and supplies. When I get my paper and pen, I offer to get theirs out, too. I am always surprised at the length of time we can actually sit and doodle or write together. My son loves to practice his writing and my daughter could paint, cut and glue stick everything within reach for hours… Turn on some music that inspires you or change up the scenery by going outside or to new place.

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Put all those Pins to practice. If you are anything like me, you have a multiple boards going out on Pinterest. Each one is chock full of ideas, but how many of those have I put into reality? Pull out one of those tutorials and make it happen!

If hard copy inspiration is more your style, a great resource is the book The Creative Family. I might not use all the recipes in my copy of Time for Dinner, but I really enjoy all the ideas it has for not just making quick and yummy meals, but also including the kids in the kitchen and food prep.

Get messy. Ten minutes of clean-up time is well worth the hour of entertainment spent making. Those pens and paint, they wash off the skin. The flour, the pencil sharpening scraps, the bits of clay, they sweep up easily. Fifi loves to help me with the broom and dust pan and O likes to help me wipe down the table after we are done with our projects.

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It might be nerve-wracking, but let them use your stuff.  Seeing my son shoot with my grandfather’s camera made my heart swell, plus he took an amazing photograph, something I would have never been able to capture without his help and my willingness to “share my toys.”

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Include them in your process. I am halfway into a self portrait a day photography project. Some days I am the only person in my image, other days an idea a moment in motherhood strikes me and I get the kids in on the action. Being silly and remembering to not take it all so serious is half the battle (and the fun) of parenthood. I think we have all been here, am I right?

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So what are you going to make today? Tell me in the comments!

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About Vanessa Simpson

Vanessa Simpson
Vanessa Simpson A chaser of light and a catcher of moments. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography from the University of Nevada, Reno, however, after working for over ten years as a map maker, she said goodbye to the 40 hour work week, and said hello to the 168 hour work week, aka motherhood. Vanessa also runs her own business as a professional photographer.

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