When I was little, Grandma Edith lived next door. I would ask her if I could use her sewing machine and she let me. She taught me how to thread it and to keep my fingers away from the needle but mainly she left the room. She always had spare needles when I broke one. She always had spare cloth so I could make another drawstring bag. This is how I learned to sew. By the time I was in middle school, I was sewing dresses. Grandma Edith also let me bake cookies. That’s where I learned what happens when one forgets to add the flour to butter cookies.
I should have called this concept, “Walk Away” because that’s what Grandma would do and that’s how I learned.
I tried to remember this idea when my children wanted to use sewing machines, saws or the kitchen.
Stop. When you use this concept, be sure to teach safety rules. I dislike the saying, “let them sink or swim.” Well, that could lead to drowning, so teach first, walk away afterwards.
Stop. And teach your children to clean up afterwards or you will go crazy. If your children will not do as you ask, then you’ll need to form some strategies for that. I’ll touch on a few ideas in Concept #10. (Not that I’m an expert, which my children will attest to. But these will be just ideas, some of which worked.)
Now, forward ho!
If you can afford a few books for your child, do so. It’s nice for children to have their own books. Pick up one every now and then at a second-hand store or on thriftbooks.com, if you want. Give them as Christmas and birthday gifts. It’s neat when they like them so much, they re-read them. If you’re close to a library, frequent the library. Get them their own library cards as soon as you can. My eldest had his just before he was three.
Paper, pens, and coloring supplies: If you can possibly help it, don’t limit the use of these items. Save used paper as scrap paper. Shred personal documents but otherwise, if both sides haven’t been used, put it into a box for scrap paper. Thin cardboard, such as that of cereal boxes, can be put into the scrap paper box as well. Paper is great for planning, drawing on, origami, letters, throwing away dead mice, wrapping small gifts, and paper airplanes.
Yarn or crepe paper is great for being creative. I used to make these and these as a kid. Check out this cool activity. There’s a lot more that can be made or created.
Save your cardboard boxes. My husband and I often joked that for at least one of our kids we could have wrapped up boxes and sticks and he’d have loved the present. So let your kids use the boxes to make cars and boats, and maybe they can make this or this for your cats. Or make something for themselves.
Tools, wood and other building supplies: safety first, then let them give it a try. If you have electric tools, stay close by until you’re certain they’re using tools safely.
Kitchen and food stuffs: yes, teach them how to safely use the oven and to read recipes. My youngest daughter and I had a good laugh when she, as a teen, was at our house with a friend and said, “let’s make some cookies.” I wasn’t home and the friend was wondering if my daughter was allowed to use the kitchen by herself. YES! Please teach them. My oldest daughter got tired of waiting for me to teach her how to make cinnamon rolls so she got permission to make them, followed the recipe and after that we would beg her to make them again.
Sewing machines: I think my sons used my machine more often than my daughters. One made a shirt and hat. The shirt was surprisingly good for not knowing how to work a pattern. (I should have taught that but then where would his creativity be?) The other son made a bear for his sister, from a pattern he created. (Paper was available for him to create the pattern.)
It truly amazes me how creative children can be. Enjoy watching them and see if their creativity inspires your own.