Stuck on how to become a hands-on mom? Let's tackle overcoming these 10 hands-on hurdles to start doing creative activities with your kids!
I’ve been in conversation with my sister-in-law lately about how to become a hands-on mom. She’s just at the beginning stages of truly being able to do activities with her oldest.
It’s all about overcoming hurdles and obstacles – excuses we find to avoid doing the hard thing. And being mindful about spending time with kids does take effort.
As we’ve been talking, it has opened my eyes to overcoming 10 hands-on hurdles, that a lot of moms have when it comes to doing hands-on activities with their kids.
Easily Overcoming 10 Hands-On Hurdles to Become More Involved
Now, I don’t claim to be the Oprah of motherhood or anything. I had, and sometimes still have, some of these same excuses.
Okay, but what does “hands-on” actually mean? Basically, it means to spend purposeful quality time with your kids.
It’s just spending time, doing activities, and making memories with your kids. On purpose.
Anyone can be a hands-on “mom” – dad, grandparents, preschool teachers, caregivers, au pairs, nannies. Anyone involved in the life of a child can, and should be, hands-on.
Start Overcoming 10 Hands-On Hurdles Right Now!
There are about 10 or so things I hear from busy parents and caregivers at the start of their “hands-on” journey.
Have you said (or heard) any of these?
- My child isn’t interested in doing projects.
- It’s so messy!
- The arts and craft projects never turn out!
- They can’t do any of the ideas I find!
- I don’t have the time!
- I don’t have any of the stuff to do the activities I find.
- I’m not crafty/creative myself!
- They’re not learning anything from it anyway…
- I’ve got a baby, too. It just doesn’t work.
- I’m so not organized enough to do this all the time! How do you do it?
Sound familiar? Yeah, I know.
It’s easy to get stuck in the excuses loop. What helps me is reminding myself why I’m in it to begin with: my kids!
From there, these hurdles were much easier to tackle. Seriously, I promise it gets easier!
My child isn’t interested in doing projects.
By simply spending some quality one on one time with my kids, I’ve learned what their interests are. This helps me choose projects and activities that I know they’d be excited to do with me.
Not only by what they like to play with, but also by how they act.
Whether they’re a baby, toddler, or a preschooler, you’ll find out so much about your child.
If they like to sit and do things, or get up and move. If they gravitate to the dolls and like to play dress up, or if they’re into motors and balls.
Knowing what they like will help you create activities and projects around that.
Once you know what their interests are, use this info to introduce new concepts and activities. If your child is all about moving and has a lot of energy, create fun, energetic activities for him to do, but with added details of something they’re not quite as eager to do.
And I found out the biggest secret: Do it with them!
If they’re not interested and you really do think it’s something they would be interested in if they gave it a chance, start doing it without them, they’ll likely join in.
And the key to it all? If my kids don’t “bite” on an activity, I’ll put it away and try it again another day.
It’s likely their mood that day. Another day it will go over a lot better.
It’s so messy!
I like to embrace the mess. I tend to let the kids get carried away with most materials, sensory items, like sand and flour, especially.
My husband doesn’t care much for that though. So I understand when people don’t like to let everything get messy.
Plan ahead if you can. If you’re doing a painting activity, think about what they’re wearing, or what’s below them.
Put a sheet down, or take it outside, whenever you know there’s bound to be a mess.
Since I let things get messy, I’ve found the best solution is to make cleaning up after the activity a group effort. Getting clean is part of the activity!
Let them scrub with a rag and water, or use the vacuum. My kids flock to the vacuum any chance they get.
The arts and craft projects never turn out!
Explore the process of the activity. The idea examples I come across are always so stunning and I am always so excited to make them with Henry.
They rarely turn out like that. Henry usually has his own plan.
I try to provide him with the tools to explore and he can decide how to implement them.
Also, not every activity or project we do ends up here on the blog. They don’t all turn out at our place either!
But what matters is that they’ve enjoyed it and the time spent with you.
They can’t do any of the ideas I find!
This was the hardest for me when I started being hands-on with Henry. I kept looking up activities for him to do that were for two-year olds.
I couldn’t. And there’s no way Henry could have or even wanted to do those things.
I found that, ultimately, the most important thing is to remember where your child is developmentally. I couldn’t expect Henry to do what other two-year-olds were doing just because he was two.
It’s not an age thing, it’s their skill level and where they are developmentally.
By spending more time with him, I figured out what he was capable of doing or not doing.
I’ve learned to push him to his limits a little bit at times, too. We’ll definitely try something outside his comfort box, but I don’t expect him to always grasp it either.
I don’t have the time!
I don’t expect my kids to have the attention span to do it for longer. Although, sometimes they surprise me.
The younger they are, the less time they’re probably willing to devote to a project. So I always try to keep that in mind when I’m doing something with George.
Most of my activities are set up on the spot, mostly because I’m not organized enough to think ahead. So, most take 5 minutes or less of prep time.
Start working these 20 minutes, or so, into your daily schedule.
Treat it as part of your day, as something that needs to be done. Not as something “if I have time.”
I’ve learned that if it’s a priority on your list, you’ll make time for it.
I don’t have any of the stuff to do the activities.
There are only a few basics you need to be hands-on with your kids. Being hands-on doesn’t just mean being crafty and artsy!
Here’s what I keep on hand:
- Scissors (depending on their skill level)
- Glue (School glue kind)
- Tape (I recommend painter’s tape, so it comes off surfaces easily)
- Crayola Washable Paints though, they’re tough to beat.
Pretty much everything else can be made pretty easily with stuff you have in your cupboards! Seriously.
Save your recyclables or other things you might normally throw in the trash. Once you start being “hands-on” you may become a hoarder.
We have tons of old measuring cups, laundry detergent bottle caps, bottles, medicine droppers, and so on. You’ll soon find that a lot of “ordinary” items are a LOT of fun for the kids.
Basically, anything can be a toy! It’s about using your imagination and overcoming hands-on obstacles, right?
I’m not crafty/creative myself!
One word. Pinterest.
You’ll find plenty of inspiration there to get your creative juices flowing.
But do remember that you don’t have to be overly creative, or an artist, to be seen as creative by your kids. Alissa, from Creative With Kids, believes that everyone is creative, and I agree.
Creativity doesn’t just lie in art and craft projects. You can be creative in the kitchen, with organizing, and almost with anything else.
Dive into your passions and find a way to enjoy it with your children!
Most of the time, just by starting the activity or project itself with the kids, it brings out my own creativity.
They’re not learning anything from it anyway…
I’m not a teacher. So most of the time I have no idea what my kids are learning… but believe me, they are learning.
Whether it’s a “learning” activity, or not, they are learning.
Every single thing they do during playtime, or hands-on projects, kids learn from it.
It could be intentional learning that I planned for, like the ABCs, 123s, shapes, colors, etc. Or it could just be learning to follow along step by step, or listening, or taking turns in a game.
Kids learn from things that just happen as they’re watching me or by doing an activity. Every little thing is a learning opportunity for them.
This is true for parents, too! Just think of all the things you’re learning about yourself and your child while you work on overcoming 10 hands-on hurdles!
I’ve got a baby. I can’t become a hands-on mom.
A baby most generally sleeps. This is when I do our hands-on activities the most.
If it doesn’t pan out that way – because a lot of times it doesn’t – we try to incorporate George into the activity.
If it’s simply not ideal or safe, I set him up to do something “contained” in his high chair. I do this if what Henry and I are working on will be destroyed in the event that George comes along.
When I do try to incorporate George into the activity, I try my best to make sure he has something to do.
It might be the same thing that Henry and I are doing. Or it might be something slightly different, but with the same “tools” that we’re using.
A lot of times, he likes to watch from the sidelines holding onto the same tools that we’re using, doing his own thing.
I’m so not organized enough to do this all the time! How do you do it?
Me neither. I’m not organized at all.
Hey, I used to be. I used to be the geeky spreadsheet lady and would have all of this charted out weeks ahead of time.
But kids happened. The organization has taken a huge back seat.
Most days I plan in the moment. Henry asks me to do an activity or an experiment and we figure something out together.
But I do keep a log of activities, crafts, art projects in the back of my mind to do”‘someday.” I know that doesn’t always happen, especially when you’re first starting out.
Pinterest is a great backup. Often, I’ll bring up my “Get the Kids Moving” board when its one of “those days” and we just need some distraction.
Just take the first step to be hands-on!
Honestly, it’s sometimes just doing one thing. From there, you do the next hands-on thing.
And the next. Then the next!
Before you know it, you’ve become a hands-on mom (or dad or grandparent or teacher or nanny…you get the idea). Look at all the way you worked on overcoming 10 hands-on hurdles!