The chaos of everyday life feels overwhelming when you've got young kids.
Your day is non-stop full.
Time and again I see parents in the private Facebook group asking how to move toward an UnBusy Life when you have little kids.
How can you possibly embrace slowing living when you're constantly on your feet?
Does this feel familiar?
Every day you scramble to wake the kids and make sure they're dressed, fed, and out the door to get to school on time. By the time they're finally set, you're already frazzled and just want to sink into a chair and enjoy a quiet cup of coffee, but your little one who has been overlooked in the morning school rush wants some well deserved mommy-and-me time.
You pause and set your hot coffee down.
You play for a bit and then pop her in front of an educational PBS show while you clean up the kitchen and do the breakfast dishes. Afterward, you run a few errands, going to the grocery store and storytime at the library. Back home, you put away groceries and slap together a quick lunch for two.
After lunch is a short window where you can unwind.
Naptime is your time to relax, catch up on email and Facebook, tidy up the house a bit and decide what you're going to make for dinner. Too soon, your little one is up from napping and everyone is home from school.
You drink your now cold coffee and ask yourself where the time went.
The kids are running around, and the house is noisy and chaotic. You start dinner and count the minutes until your partner is home from work. Dinner is followed by bedtime routines and stories until — whew! — the kids are finally in bed. (Scenario Inspired by Artful Parent, p. 17-18)
. . .
Whether you're a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, life with little kids is chaotic.
When my girls were young, I worked full-time and it felt like every free moment was spent caring for the kids, the house, or everyday chores like grocery shopping. I often felt so worn out. It felt like I was failing at motherhood.
When I stumbled into THIS TOOL at the public library everything changed.
At a glance, this might look like a traditional kids' activities book, but it is so much more than that. The intro of this book was life-changing for our family.
It encouraged me to pause.
It allowed me to see the beauty and opportunity in this chaotic period of my life.
It helped me choose to live and embrace, rather than endure, this season of life.
What I realized was that with just a little creative planning, I could move toward becoming unbusy WITH KIDS.
Here's the same scenario described above but, with a little bit of planning from The Artful Parent book as a guide…
You wake up at the same time, start the coffee, and take a quick glance at the to-do list you scribbled last night. Among your other activities, such as buying groceries and doing to the library, you've written a few notes for integrating art into the day: markers, playdough, contact paper, and Q-tips.
After the usual chaos of getting the kiddos ready for school, you set out some paper and markers at the kitchen table. You sit beside your toddler as she enthusiastically draws, while you sip on a cup of hot coffee and enjoy a piece of toast.
It doesn't take more than 10-minutes, but it's enough for you to feel reconnected and relaxed after the morning rush.
Next, you set out the playdough for her to work on while you clean up the kitchen and do the dishes. When you head out to run errands, both of you are in a good mood because your needs have been met. You pick up another art activity book while at the library and some contact paper at the grocery store.
After lunch, your little one goes down for a nap, and you use the time to catch up on Facebook and tidy the house as usual. This time though, after picking up toys, you set up an art activity on the kitchen table for the kids to do when they get home from school. You put out paper, pour paint in small bowls, and add Q-tips for a simple pointillism activity.
The kids are excited to see the art materials and gravitate towards them immediately. They both work on their own versions. When your toddler gets bored with painting, she moves back to the playdough. Eventually, you clean up the art materials and set the table for dinner (which you've been working on in peace while the kids were painting).
That night, after the kids are in bed, you feel great that the day has gone so smoothly.
And everyone was happier.
You glance through the library books of art activities and jot down a few things you'd like to try with the kids. You already have the materials on hand for potato printing, so you add that to your to-do list for tomorrow afternoon. (Inspired by Artful Parent, p.18-19)
With just a little planning, you can add creative activities to your routine and move toward Becoming UnBusy.
Here's the truth...
The course of the day is not significantly altered, but the FEEL of the day is dramatically changed. Instead of being crazier and more chaotic, art actually makes the day easier and joyful.
This book encourages us to do BOTH.
Whether you're a planner, a spur-of-the-moment person, or somewhere in-between, art can be an easy way to move toward becoming unbusy and enjoying a calm day with your kids.
After reading the intro to The Artful Parent, I ordered myself a copy of the book on Amazon. I knew it was a tool that I would go back to again and again.
I am so excited that the author Jean Van't Haul, who has become a friend over the years, is releasing a revised edition of The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family's Life With Art & Creativity.
In the book, Jean explains...
I define an artful activity as any that is full of art, beauty, and creative exploration. While painting, drawing and other traditional art-making methods are obvious choices, there are many other activities to consider as well.
Taking a nature walk. There is infinite beauty in the natural world. Observe the veins in leaves, clouds in the sky, the color of petals, and more.
Cooking. Preparing food together is creative, educational, and nourishing.
She continues to list other opportunities to be present and wonderfully unbusy with your kids.
But ... I got distracted from the list when I saw this quote showcased in the book.
YES — The little moments with our family are where we need to foster a sense of unbusy because they are so important. The Artful Parent book, this unbusy tool, provides ways for parents to change how our day-to-day interactions feel.
A joyful, calm, happy life is possible with little ones underfoot.
P.S. I love all of Jean Van’t Hul's books. What I love most about The Artful Parent is the art activities are process-based. Which means you're kids are not going to be upset that their project doesn't "look like the picture." All the projects encourage creativity versus perfectionism.
Learn why I personally believe that is important HERE — Going Beyond Knowledge: The World Needs More and Better Creative Thinkers.
Got any questions about the book? Pop into the private UnBusy Facebook group and let me know.
*Citation permission: From The Artful Parent, by Jean Van’t Hul, © 2013 by Jean Van’t Hul. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications Inc., Boston, MA. RoostBooks.com. A big thank you to Jean work providing our family a revised copy our The Artful Parent!