The Uncrafty Mumby Gemma Campbell
It’s the summer holidays. I’ve bought swimming costumes, an outside Octopus water sprayer and more sun cream than you can shake a stick at all ready for beach and park fun times!
But this is the UK after all and instead of glorious sunny days, we have torrential downpours and thunderstorms!
I could take them to an aquarium or an indoor soft play, but unfortunately, my Mat Leave pay is already stretched and even with discount vouchers, I can’t sustain the entertainment costs for all the rainy days.
So, it’s a Pinterest search for crafting ideas for 6-year-olds and all manner of great ideas pop up and in my excitement, I think most are doable.
I try to show my 6-year-old how to make a pom-pom…not only can’t I do it, even with a simple kit from the charity shop (£1), but she gets bored watching me struggle and wanders off asking if she can watch a film. She watches 2 back to back and I tidy the house.
The next rainy day, I decide we’ll do some simple papercrafts. The paint has turned to water. We have no glue. I can’t find the scissors and am not willing to blunt my hairdressing ones and the googly eyes end up all over the place. I contemplate popping to the shops to buy some staple pieces like glue and glitter but she informs me they do crafting at school and she’d rather watch a film. She watches some horsey nonsense on Netflix. I start to tackle the bedrooms and put the laundry away.
We try learning to knit, sewing, making slime and even attempt some science experiments that she got for Christmas all in the attempt to persuade her way from screentime. I fail at everything and she just gets annoyed that I’m so incompetent. Finally, I surrender and opt for something I know I can do – baking!
Each one of these craft attempts occurs either when the baby is asleep or is bouncing away merrily in his Jumperoo. He, thankfully at 9 months old, doesn’t need so much in the way of entertainment other than a few textured balls and an annoying singing light-up toy.
But the baking one he wakes up just as we are starting. I ask my daughter to carefully mix the ingredients together in the bowl whilst I pick up the baby. And almost immediately there’s a crash. I turn around and the bowl is on its side and the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and egg are now all over the worktop and floor. She’s 6. She’s incredibly careful and when she sees my surprise she bursts into tears and runs off into her bedroom, mistaking my look for being in trouble. I’m now left with a screaming baby, dribbling eggy cake mixture and a crying 6-year-old. Baby and I rush off to her bedroom and we spend a good 15 minutes telling her it doesn’t matter and she’s not in trouble.
Finally, the baby is in his Jumperoo, six-year-old is back in the kitchen, the mess is cleared up and we start again. Only I don’t have enough butter. I check online for alternatives and am reliably informed that oil is a good enough substitute. Only, when the brownies are cooked, we discover it really isn’t. Or at least Olive Oil isn’t!
Thankfully she sees the funny side and informs me that I’m “useless”. I suggest we go out for cake and bundling them into the car, I begin to think soft play might actually be a good idea.
We are now a couple of weeks in and the forecast isn’t looking much better for the rest of the summer holidays. The last attempt at home entertainment saw me discover baby is now mobile and likes to chew on wires (Playpen/baby gaol immediately purchased) and that I am the uncraftiest person I’ve ever met – I’ve broken the needle on the child’s sewing machine. I’ve stained the dining table and suddenly lost the ability to even bake edible cakes and cookies. Working out the cost of zoo days and indoor play places it is actually cheaper to book the 6-year-old into Activity Days with a local company and the occasional tennis camp. We’ve found a free Lego café, got our National Trust card, there’s a whole week with a local church who are running crafts and activities for free and the local council are doing Park Playing Out Days whatever the weather. We have waterproofs, wellies and a baby rain cover and so, armed with packed lunches (I am “awesome” at these, according to my daughter) off we head to take part in organised things with people who can actually do stuff and who have all the right equipment. And I have an August planner detailing every free event or session, just so we know what we are doing going forward. And all of the crafting stuff has been dumped in the spare room, for the next time I decide to have a go!