By BRIGITTE ROZARIO
Arts and crafts are a great way to unwind, relax and explore your creativity. In general, children love arts and crafts while parents just find it tedious and messy.
ParenThots found some mothers who love creating crafts and they even blog about it. They say it's a good way to spend time with their children and to de-stress. These mums are a new group of crafting and scrapbooking mums.
Merryn Tan teaches at an early English literacy centre twice a week for a few hours. The rest of her time is spent with her son Ethan, now 2+.
As a child, Tan loved crafts and painting. Naturally, when she became a mum she turned to arts and crafts as a way to keep her son occupied.
What started out as a way to keep him quiet soon became an avenue for mother and son to bond.
“Initially the purpose of introducing Ethan to arts and crafts was to keep him quiet because with my husband at work, I had to handle Ethan on my own. I almost went crazy. I didn't know what to do with him and I discovered that he actually doesn't like to be in front of the TV too long. So, the only thing I could think of was to let him play with colours.
“I can see that it has helped him a lot. He's more focused and takes instructions very well.
“His motor skills have also improved. He can now pick up a brush without problems. I don't need to assist him. Before he turned two he could already pick up a brush and even paint on his own. I also found that origami helped improve his motor skills. He also knows his body parts because I use the palm or foot when painting,” explains Tan.
Eventually she started a blog about the arts and crafts that she and Ethan create.
Her blog is called Crafty Crafted Studio (www.crafty-crafted.com).
“I started the blog to share craft ideas with other parents. I feel that not many people take up arts and crafts anymore and I think it's dying. Not many parents create crafts with their children. As a result more children are playing videogames, the PlayStation … they are always in front of the TV or the computer. I don't want my son to be like that. I want him to enjoy things like crafts.
“I share instructions for the crafts in my blog so that if parents have the time and patience they can actually create some of the crafts with their own children. Crafts is something parents need to do it with the children otherwise it's hard to cultivate the interest in the child. The child will get bored and not know what to do with the paper or they won't know how to create the crafts.
“The most important thing, I think, is the approach. When I create crafts with Ethan we also use it as a learning opportunity so I will ask him to maybe count his fingers. I make him learn and play at the same time.
“Also, by crafting with Ethan I have created a very strong bond with him. You can see that he loves crafting and when we craft he really enjoys it,” says Tan.
|Tan and Ethan with one of his creations.
Unlike a lot of parents, Tan says she doesn't find arts and crafts the least bit tiresome or tedious. In fact, she says although she had to put down a lot of old newspapers when Ethan first started painting, she no longer has to do this.
“Not many people have the patience to guide their children through arts and crafts. Many parents are too controlling and tell their child that they should paint or colour a certain way. When we create crafts together, I don't show Ethan what the end product should look like. I just instruct him. He will follow my instructions and he will get the end result – that is his interpretation of the art.
“Some people will draw a tree and then tell the child, okay today we are drawing this. So the child will just copy that.
“When you do that they are not using their creativity; they are just copying what they see.
“I might tell him we're doing a rabbit and from there we see what we can do. I just let him create so that the end product is from his own creativity,” she says.
Tan explains that she learnt along the way to just let go and let her son have fun. She has also learned to always have a backup plan because Ethan might not always want to do whatever she has in mind.
Keeping mum focused
Librarian Chung Fon Mee of Kota Kinabalu started her blog The Daily (http://fonmee.blogspot.com/), in 2007 with the intention of keeping some simple records of her sons' development and to help motivate her to be a good parent.
Eventually, she became interested in scrapbooking and now her blog is devoted to that. Her sons' photos are the central image in most of her scrapbooking projects.
|Chung with her two sons.
She says she enjoys scrapbooking as it has helped her find herself and gives her an avenue to create things that she cherishes.
“I hope that through scrapbooking, my sons will know how I feel and how much I love them. They might see a totally different side of me through my scrapbook projects. Now I use scrapbooking as an escape, to wind down, to keep myself sane really, and to find myself in the creative world,” explains Chung.
While her sons, now five and seven, do like helping her with scrapbooking, Chung says she prefers them to do the simple cards for fun.
Blogging about her scrapbooks and her children is a way of keeping a personal record of her crafts and her children. She also hopes that it inspires others to take up scrapbooking.
Like Chung, Norazah Sulaiman does scrapbooking at night after the children have gone to sleep.
Norazah, an IT specialist, also started her blog first and then went into scrapbooking.
Her blog is called My Crafty Things (http://letscraft.blogspot.com/).
She started scrapbooking when she was trying to find something to put in the party packs for her daughter's birthday party.
“When I started my blog in 2006 I used to write about painting and embroidery. I also did knitting.
“I used to read other people's blogs but they wrote about their lives, the things they did daily. So I thought why don't I start a blog and write what I do for my crafts” explains Norazah.
She says that her children, now five and six, sometimes create crafts with her. She normally just gives them paper and embellishments so they can stick them however they want. And if there are relatives' birthdays, she and her children create the cards together.
It's a good way to spend time with them, she says.
|Norazah working on a craft project while her children look on.
“When you give them the material and let them create you will see how differently they think and how they create. Even the way my son and daughter work on crafts is totally different from each other.
“They have a lot of imagination so they can create anything. It also helps them focus and come up with ideas,” she says.
Norazah explains that as mum who juggles work and family she has a lot of stress in her life. Crafting and blogging is like therapy for her.
After the children go to sleep it's her time to work on crafts from 10pm-midnight or 1am.
Her blog is a great place to network with other bloggers and it's a good way to share information.
Norazah is pretty serious about scrapbooking and even goes for workshops conducted locally and regionally by craft designers.
Tan, Chung and Norazah all agree that crafts give them an outlet to express themselves and in the process become better parents. And the blogging part? Well, that's their way of sharing what they do with an appreciative audience while networking with others who have similar interests as them.