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Why We Don’t Need More Super Fun Art Activities

by Jean Van't Hul
October 6, 2015

Why We Don't Need More Super Fun Art Activities

I’m doing totally the wrong thing.

I’ve been over here in my corner of the web jumping up and down, waving my arms, and telling you about fun new art project after fun new art project. Because I love doing them and love sharing them.

But you don’t need more art project ideas. Heck. I don’t need more art project ideas.

We are bombarded with new and exciting art ideas from all sides—Facebook, Pinterest, blogs, books, everywhere.

The problem isn’t that we don’t have enough fun ideas for kids art.

The problem is that we have too many.

Too many ideas and not enough time.

We are overwhelmed.

It’s not an art problem.

It’s a life problem.

It’s a 21st century society problem. A materialism problem. An overscheduled problem. A school and work and enrichment activities problem. A computer-in-everyone’s-pocket problem.

We have let our lives become so full, there’s no time for anything else.

No time for creativity.

Creativity needs breathing room. It needs space to just be. It needs unstructured time. Boredom even.

A little after-school stream play to go with our snack…

A photo posted by Jean Van’t Hul (@jeanvanthul) on

It needs time in nature watching the seasons change and throwing rocks into the stream.

Time to doodle. Time to explore and think and play. Time away from all the shoulds and structured activities.

How have we let our schedules get so full that we don’t have time for what matters?

And when I say we, I mean I. Maybe you, too. I don’t know. But definitely me.

Between school and homework and gymnastics and errands and birthday parties and getting dinner on the table, it feels like there is no time left.

And if there is, I don’t want to force fit art into that time. I want to let the kids have some breathing space.

Scribble Drawings with Watercolor Paint

And sometimes a low-key art activity helps provide that breathing space. We doodle together while we talk about school and friends. The kids make a game out of modeling air dry clay into silly figurines. Or they draw while I read aloud.

But more times than not these days, we’re just going from school to gymnastics, then home for dinner and homework and bedtime, and I think—Where did the day go?

And where did my ideal of childhood go?

The unscheduled days of play and nature, art and experimenting.

Maia’s in 5th grade now. Is this just what happens as kids get older? But it’s not like she’s a teenager. She only just turned 10.

So no, we don’t need more new art project ideas.

I feel like we need to reclaim our lives and make space for what matters. For unstructured time, play, creativity, and experimenting.

But how?

I’ve tried telling my daughter she doesn’t really have to do all her homework, but she feels pressure from school/teacher/peers/self to do so.

We only do one extracurricular and it’s something that Maia would seemingly choose to do all day, every day, over anything else in the world.

It’s not like I spend half the day cooking and cleaning, either. I’m more likely to pick up a rotisserie chicken or pizza for dinner.

Part of me wants to go live in a cabin in the woods and unschool, but I don’t really want to do that. I don’t want to run away.

So, what’s the answer?

Is there an answer?

Or is it that I just need to go with the flow and realize this is a new season for us?

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