Someone recently asked me what my most valuable tool was as a parent of two kids that need entertaining. My first instinct was to say, “TV!” But that only works in phases. Wes didn’t even start really enjoying TV until this summer and it is not perfect for a parent because, at least with my kids, they only watch certain things. I can’t turn on the TV and ignore them for hours. I have to queue up shows on the DVR, or put in certain movies. Also, it kinda makes me feel guilty. I don’t feel bad for the periodic Power Rangers episode, but after more than about 30 minutes or an hour, I start to feel like a crappy Mom for using my TV as a babysitter. So, TV has some down sides. On the other hand — paper and crayons? Perfect in every way.
My kids love to color/write. We have boxes of crayons/pencils/pens and assortments of pads/coloring books/paper in all the rooms in the house they spend time in. The most commonly used set – and therefore the one with the biggest assortment – is found in the kitchen. The “color” box in the kitchen is a basket that is full of all sorts of implements of writing. I don’t bother to keep things separated because I insist they clean up and if they had to sort pencils/crayons/pens it would never get done. Everything just gets thrown in one pretty basket that stays on a shelf in the kitchen. Below it? Another pretty basket with tons of printer paper or notebooks or coloring books.
I told Temerity Jane that I have found a perfect use for the notebooks/journals I’ve bought and then stopped using. The kids color in them! They feel honored because they get a cool notebook to color in (because we all know this office supply addict ONLY buys cool journals) and I don’t feel wasteful when I buy a new one to replace the one I got bored with. Win/Win! Also – most of the notebooks/journals I buy are smaller so I can carry them around with me, so they fit in those boxes beautifully.
See? All baskets hidden but can immediately be brought out as they’re waiting for me to fix their meals or if they just want to hang out in the kitchen while I cook. Because of the ease and convenience of this activity, they really do love to draw and write. It follows them to school where their teachers both comment on how well a box of markers and a stack of paper entertains them. (Well, markers probably entertain them because I don’t allow them free-range with the markers anymore. Too many body-part-coloring incidents.)
This is also Weather Independent. My kids like a lot of outdoor activities, but this time of year when the heat index is 115 some days? Outdoor activities are NOT going to happen. I have a heatstroke just walking to my car from my front door, we’re definitely not playing outside.
Basically, it’s something that keeps them entertained but doesn’t make me feel to guilty for leaving them alone with it. I don’t know if this would work for all kids, maybe mine have a predisposition towards liking writing since their Mom is addicted to pens and paper. Either way, in my home? The most valuable tools for keeping my kids entertained: Crayons and Paper.
What about you? Do your kids like to color and write? Do they yell at you when you dare try to throw away any of their millions of creations? Because I have to sneak to the garbage can when their not looking or else we’d be on an episode of Hoarders just for the piles of children’s art we’d have stacked around the house.