How Not to Craft with your Baby
This post originally appeared on our old blog Born to be a Bride.
The initial vision for this post was to walk you through my first project with Willow step-by-step, interspersing adorable photographs of our crafting journey punctuated by a shot of the beautiful finished product. My daughter had other plans.
As with everything these days, plotting and executing a craft with a baby takes longer than expected. The idea was sparked by a friend during our Dallas stay over Valentine’s Day but we got too caught up enjoying our littles (and each other) that we forgot to do it. For the two weeks since, I’ve been ruminating on it and decided that missing Heart Day didn’t mean I couldn’t revisit the craft. With Josh and my dating anniversary coming up next week, as well as the one-year mark from when I found out I was pregnant, I thought this would be a perfect time to surprise him with a little piece of artwork from Willow.
Again, my daughter had other plans.
When Wills refused to nap all of Monday morning, I finally coaxed her to sleep by putting her in her stroller and pushing back and forth. (Whatever works, right?) But since she was already bundled and buckled, I realized it was pointless to not take advantage, and off we headed to Michael’s. Of course she woke up within minutes of entering the store, and let the entire staff and clientele know that she was a) starving, b) in need of a diaper change, and c) not feeling the vibe.
Rule #1: Do not bring your baby when buying your materials. Leave her at home with a sitter or co-parent, or better yet, purchase online once she’s in bed and you have your glass of wine in hand.
Monday afternoon was a wash, but I was not to be deterred. On Tuesday, after a long, hearty nap and with a fully belly (we’re talking about her here…) we set out again. I photographed my supplies. I arranged the paper. In a stroke of genius, I repurposed our bathroom soap dish as a paint palette (sorry, Josh). I had her in a cute little Giggle romper so she’d look extra-adorable in the photos. She was awake and alert, so I figured this would go off without a hitch. Little did I know that she would hate the feel of the cold paint, and my gentle pressing of her tiny toes to paper so much, that she would scream her head off. Between trying to get a good print one minute and comforting the next, the whole cycle turned into a 20-minute war with no victor.
Rule #2: Wait till she’s sleeping… or at least tired. It was only after the apartment became cluttered with multicolor cardstock featuring an array of smudged, disastrous footprints that I realized I could have saved my daughter and myself the drama by just waiting until she was sleeping and wouldn’t notice. I could have painted those little toes, made a few prints, wiped her off, and been done with the whole thing. #momfail
There was one point in our journey where it dawned on me that the problem wasn’t so much the paint itself, but the moment of contact to paper. I was trying so hard to hold the edges and the child, against her jerky movements, that I failed time and time again. At the bitter end, I came up with a technique wherein the paper was on the floor, secured by my feet on either end, and Willow’s feet were gently placed on it and swiftly lifted up again, but I only have two hands and two feet, so the results kind of sucked anyway.
Rule #3: Don’t go it alone. Were this project not intended as a gift for Josh, I would employ him to help us with the do-over this weekend. But a girlfriend whom I was texting after the debacle offered her services next week — I feel there’s a strong chance that with four hands and two faces (one to concentrate on the task at hand and one to make goofy expressions at Wills) we can totally figure it out, if I haven’t had success with the sleeping option by then.
This morning, Josh was changing Willow’s diaper and poked his head out to inquire, “What’s this white stuff on the floor?”
I don’t know what kind of logic I was employing, but it’s probably the new-mom, sleep-deprived brand in which one convinces oneself that a 12-pound baby and a lithe, ex-cheerleader of a mother can use white paint on an Oriental rug and eventually, a hardwood floor, without making a mess. Oh, and why I was wearing my favorite leggings is beyond me. Henceforth they will be known as my Painter Pants.
Rule #4: Plan out your space ahead of time. Lay down newspapers, magazine pages, brown paper bags, or old towels and create a safe space for crafting. At the end, it will be a lot easier to dump it all in the trash or laundry rather than racing around your house with a razor blade trying to scrape paint off of everything. God, I feel dumb writing this. Be merciful in your comments, I beg you.
Hours later, there were papers strewn all over the apartment. She’d had a bath and a lap-nap, my leggings were soaking in OxiClean (not gonna work), and I’d gulped down a caffeine-free Diet Coke with gusto before attempting to tackle the disaster. In the wreckage, I found a few incomplete prints that definitely don’t satisfy the parameters of the project, but could be used for her baby book or other things.
Rule #5: Relax. If it doesn’t happen, try again later. I haven’t given up on this project entirely, but I’m letting myself off the hook for a couple of days. As mommies, we want to do and be and create more, more, more, all the time. I always pictured endless crafts, marking every moment, scrapbooking till I was blue in the face. But the fact is, I’ll never get these years back. Yes, having a heart-shaped rendering of Willow’s three-month-old feet framed on my wall is a valid goal, but spending the afternoon smelling her (red?) hair and holding her in my arms was the much more important thing I did yesterday.