Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Follow-up to yesterday’s post


Our dining room wall – and why I buy washable markers

Thank you to everyone who commented on yesterday’s post! Blissful_e wrote a comment asking for ideas on letting kids make a mess in a rented space. I think this is a great question, and so I wanted to address it in a separate post rather than writing an essay in the comments section.

Before we moved to our current home, we rented an apartment that had cream carpet everywhere except the kitchen and bathrooms – not a good environment for creative toddlers.  Luckily I only had one child at the time. Emma and I did most of our crafting on the kitchen floor. I also put one of these office floor protector mats under one end of the dining room table and sat my daughter over that for any crafty activities. We also bought a good carpet stain remover. If we were still living in that apartment with two toddlers, I would probably put a gate up in the kitchen and physically lock the kids in there for any messy activities. I’m really glad our house is nearly all tile/linoleum…

Some other ideas:

  • Cover part of the floor with an old flat sheet. If you don’t have any old flat sheets, see if your local thrift shop or even dollar store has some you can get for a cheap price.
  • For activities involving water or paint, put down a cheap shower curtain. Ikea sells a clear one for $1, or at least they did last time I was there. You can put your flat sheet on top of the shower curtain if you want, to add some absorbency.
  • If you have a deck or yard, do crafts outdoors whenever the weather is nice (preferably not-super-windy).
  • The bathtub can be a great place to do crafts like finger painting – your child has a hard surface to paint on (the bottom of the tub), and you’ll probably want to give them a bath afterwards anyhow. Just make sure you are using washable paint.
  • Have older children help clean up – this helps teach them not to be excessively messy. I had Emma wash off her wall artwork featured above (created while I was mopping the floor and she was supposed to be sitting quietly at the table coloring). She hasn’t tried writing on the walls since, but if she does, she’ll be on clean-up duty again. Crayola washable markers and crayons wipe off with a cloth dipped in plain water. I’ve had great luck getting regular crayons off of walls with a plain rubber eraser and a little elbow grease.
  • Choose art supplies you don’t mind cleaning up that can be kept within your child’s reach. In our house we have a bin with fabric scraps, colored paper, craft sticks (the tongue depressor type) and pompoms that Emma can get out whenever she wants. None of these are likely to hurt anyone or anything, and they are all easy to clean up. As Emma and her siblings get older (particularly as they grow out of the “high risk of choking” phase), I will be able to add a wider range of objects to this bin. Tape some contact paper to a wall or window (an idea I saw at Chasing Cheerios) and your child can use these objects to create a tactile collage.

Any other suggestions on saving parental sanity while allowing messes in tight/rented spaces?

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