Family life

The (messy) truth about about crafting with kids

Jennifer Pinarski discovers that doing crafts with her kids is harder than she thought.

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The crafty Pinarski household. Photo: Jennifer Pinarski

Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children.

There’s no easy way to say this, but I really don’t like crafting with my kids.

I know, I know. I’m a stay-at-home mom and crafting is something I should do with them—at least if stereotypes are to be believed. I’ve really tried to like crafts and I’m endlessly jealous of the Pinterest-perfect projects that show up in my Facebook newsfeed. But somehow my crafts end up looking like they’ve been half-chewed by a hippopotamus and my house winds up covered in dried glue, glitter and pipe cleaners.

Don’t be fooled, crafting isn’t for the faint of heart. Here are a few truths I’ve learned about crafting with kids.

The liquid starch industry is kept alive by parents trying to make bounce balls.
I found an awesome craft recently that called for liquid starch. I looked in every grocery store in a 50 kilometre radius before I gave up and bought bouncy balls at the dollar store (which was a fraction of the price of liquid starch if I were to buy it online).

For every 38 recipes for homemade playdough, only one will work.
Every recipe I’ve found for homemade playdough is just a little different. Water-to-flour ratios, whether to add powdered drink mix or cream of tartar, cook it or not to cook it. The cooked doughs apparently last longer and have greater pliability, but after burning my hands on the last batch I made, I’ll take my chances with gritty playdough that my dog will end up eating. Oh, and just because one recipe worked perfectly once, don’t be fooled into thinking it will work twice in a row.

Read more: Crafts: How to make a bird feeder >

A degree in advanced chemical engineering should be included on the ingredient listing.
My marketing diploma works well when I’m trying to sell my kids on the benefits of eating their vegetables, but useless when I’m trying to read the instructions on how to make gak or silly putty.

The longer it takes you to set up the craft, the shorter your kids will want to do it.
Craft experts might be able to whip up a batch of playdough or a dozen sock puppets in a snap, but it’s an hour of cussword-inducing set up for me. My kids are often just as happy with a bin full of pom poms, scissors and a glue gun (which they usually find without any prompting).

Read more: 12 free printable toys for kids > 

It is impossible to contain glitter. Ever.
Unless you want to look like you have a stable of unicorns in your basement, it’s best to just leave glitter at the craft store. I have found glitter months after using it in a craft, usually in the most bizarre places—like behind my toilet or in my bed. Maybe I need to start checking for unicorns.

What are your favourite crafts to do with your kids? Tweet me @jenpinarski.