Tinker Time, An Hour a Week for Moms n’ Kids Who Wanna Make Stuff
My son, Teddy, has the most-wonderful kindergarten teacher. He encourages students to be curious, kind, and, most-of-all, imaginative. The classroom has an imaginary adversary in “Captain Skipper,” for whom they plant cookie traps, write conspiratorial notes, and make detailed treasure maps. Last weekend, we went to the Children’s Museum and Teddy spent over 2 hours in the “Tinkering Lab,” making a pirate ship out of wood and fabric, perfecting it so it would befit the exacting Captain. He’s never been more excited about school. And at parent-teacher conferences, after presenting me with a folder full of “work” Teddy had done (including his Dibels test scores and other quantitative measures of Teddy’s “growth”), Mr. W stressed importance of creative play and nurturing Teddy’s natural inclinations. I came away less concerned with Teddy’s progress as a reader and more motivated to give Teddy the tools to pursue his own interests (which, according to him (and often worrisome to me), center solely around “the shows”— the watching of “the shows,” and the planning of the watching of “the shows”).
I got to thinking about how often Teddy sees me pursuing MY interests (and not watching “the shows”). We adults don’t allow ourselves to “tinker” very much, do we? British philosopher Alain De Botton has a lot to say on the joys of doing work we love. Check this out:
Motherhood involves a good deal of “duty” (pun intended!), but there’s obvious beneficiaries who (sometimes) look and (sometimes) act like us, so that’s a big motivator. And I’ve been lucky... as an art teacher, I most-likely logged WAY more tinkering time than the average mom. Now that I’m at home most days, it’s hard to carve out time for the things I love. So, my kids rarely witness me doing them. But hear this... after years of dreaming about it, my husband recently started taking piano lessons. Our boys see him working hard at this thing he loves, this thing that’s separate from making money, from maintaining our home, etc. and it’s pretty powerful.
Of course, there are obvious constraints to ignoring my sense of “duty” around the house (messes, messes, and more colossal messes) But, I’m more than merely mess-obsessed and, dammit, I want my kids, my boys, to see me prioritizing curiosity over cleanliness, experimentation over order. It’s important for us moms to make time for OUR imaginations, for OUR daydreams (it’s good for us). Plus, if our kids see us “tinker,” they get permission and encouragement to do the same (it’s good for them). And, maybe, just MAYBE, they forget about “the shows” for a minute.
So, I’m working it in to the schedule and...
This Sunday, I’m instituting Tinker Time.
Here’s the rundown:
The fam, and whoever else is hanging around.
1 hour of “quiet” material play/practice/creation (plus 30 minutes of prep time on either end). Each family member gets to tinker SOLO (parents may get interrupted here and there) on a project of his/her choosing. No group-work just yet.
Every Sunday. Early afternoon, 1-2pm, while our 9 mo. old naps. At 2pm we clean up and share what we did.
At home. Same room. I suppose we could take this outside on occasion.
I got into this already.
By prepping materials, setting up expectations (i.e. “You can ask for help but I want you to solve problems on your own,” “You will clean up whatever mess you make”, “You can’t permanently alter our apartment... or your body,” etc.). It’ll take a few times to get in the groove.
Here’s some stuff I’ll have on hand: cardboard, paper, masking tape, glue, rubber bands, wood bits, beads, buttons, paint (if I’m feeling), crayons, markers, pencils, scissors.
I’ll give it a go this Sunday and report back with a few pics n’ things. Cool?
Any moms out there fit this sorta creative stuff in the weekly schedge already? Any tips on keeping it easy?