PARENTS

I'm Jealous Of Crafty Mums

27/03/2015 15:30 | Updated 27 May 2015

Mother and two children painting in dining room

When the wet weather hits, parents around the country turn to craft boxes to keep their children happy. During my pregnancy, I imagined I'd be the same.

I'd be the sort of mum who saved egg boxes and instinctively knew how to turn them into crocodiles. The queen of cardboard loo roll creations, I'd never run out of finger paint or ideas.

The trouble is, I've never been very good at arts and crafts. Even as a child my art teacher would look at me with pity in her eyes. So I'll never know why, when motherhood came, I thought artistic talent would follow.

I've tried. Oh, I've tried. And thankfully, my two-year-old son hasn't noticed how rubbish I am – yet. He's put up with my botched attempt at turning a delivery box into a car, not one but two dodgy cardboard snakes and my endless drawings of unrecognisable animals.

Despite all that, I thought I was doing OK at this art thing. Then we went round to a friend's for a play date.

"I thought we could make birds out of loo rolls," she smiled, deftly painting the cardboard and sticking on feathers she just happened to have in the house as if it were as easy as breathing.

I admit I looked on with jealousy. Was she a better mum than me? Was her child going to grow up amid a glow of arty happiness that mine would be missing?

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Desperate to keep up, I scoured Pinterest and crafty mum blogs with envy, wishing I could spend wet afternoons with my son turning our living room into a magical world of paint and glitter.

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Instead, the next time it rained we wound up with a blob of Play-Doh that looked like, well, a blob.

It turns out I'm not alone.

"To be honest I find crafty stuff quite boring," admits mum-of-two Clare. "Partly because I'm rubbish at making stuff myself and partly I suppose because I'm not very imaginative with stuff like that. I've mostly given up worrying about it."

Mum-of-one Vicky agrees, and lets her two-year-old lead the way. "When it rains and my daughter's bored with her toys I roll out some lining paper on the floor and give her some pens or paint," she says. "She does a much better job by herself than anything I try to do with her!"

This has made me wonder – am I trying too hard to be something I'm not? Maybe I should put away the paintbrushes for good.

Leading parenting expert and author of The Baby Bedtime Book, Fi Star-Stone, agrees that there's pressure to create mummy masterpieces.

"As a mum myself I think there is enormous pressure through social media,' she says. "Don't believe everything you see. Some of these things take hours to do and have been photographed beautifully. But it's not a competition."

So if art's not your thing, what can you do when the heavens open? It turns out rainy day activities don't have to be hard work. And they don't have to involve getting paint on your carpet, either.

"As long as you're interacting with your little ones, they're happy,' Fi says. "Even if they're just helping you load the washing machine with you and getting to push the buttons you normally tell them not to."

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Another option is to throw on some waterproof suits and wellies and go out to play in the rain. After all, what do kids love more than splashing in puddles?

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If you'd rather stay indoors, try leaving the art supplies behind altogether and get baking. "Let your kids decide on the cupcake ingredients," Fi advises. "I've had some master disasters come out of the oven but you're not going for an amazing creation." It's just about having fun and making them feel involved.

Or simply throw a blanket over two chairs to make a den. Little ones can play inside for hours, and even eat their lunch inside.

That said, even if you're not keen on crafts, your children don't have to completely miss out on the magic crayons and coloured paper.

Mum of twins Beth has a different approach. "I like to think of it as my 'cuckoo strategy'," she says. "In other words swooping in and reaping the benefits of the imagination and preparation of others. We do arts and crafts as part of junior church and we book onto weekend events locally."

"Everything crafty goes to nannies, then I don't have to deal with it. Ever," agrees Chelsea, who blogs at msmummyoftwo.com. "I wish I could be the crafty mum, but I just don't have it in me, I really don't like the mess!"

So the next time the sky goes black, instead of pulling out the paints I'm going to grab my phone and find an arty activity nearby.

Then with the guidance of a talented organiser, my son and I can let off some creative steam together.

After all, it's lovely to have a beautiful picture to hang on the wall, but a happy afternoon spent with mummy – rainy or otherwise – that's priceless.

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