Preschooler Pandemonium

5 non-messy arts and crafts activities for your child

Water Painting Doodle MatEvery child needs to explore arts and crafts. Sometimes it gets messy (like it should!) And other times you just want the benefits without the mess.

Their little hands benefit from manipulating artsy materials. And creating a finished craft teaches kids valuable lessons in patience, creativity, perseverance, and how things work.

What’s a mom to do for those times you want the crafts without the mess? We put on our Thinking Caps (our Beanie hats, of course) and these are the products we came up with.

All the art, none of the mess

Wikki Stix

These little WikkiStix are soft and bendy and slightly tacky so they can stick together – but their stickiness doesn’t come off onto your little one’s hands. Kids can curl them up, twist them together, bend them all around and even stick them onto a page to create images and scenes, letters, numbers and shapes. And then use them again whenever they feel like it! No residue and no cleaning required.

Write with water

Does your little boy or girl love to write but make you nervous when the markers and crayons come out? Try this neat water painting doodle mat that comes with a pen you fill up with water.

As your child “draws” over different sections, colors appear, making it look like he or she is using markers. The pen is easy to hold and draws nicely.

No erasing is required, as the water dries and the writing/drawing disappears in five minutes. (If you want to preserve one of her creations, you’d better take a picture!)

Magnetic drawing board

A classic toy that makers got right a long time ago, magnetic drawing boards now come with all kinds of bells and whistles. However, the fun remains writing, drawing and using your imagination – all without any chance of spills, stains, or mess.

My son received one for his birthday when he was two and he is still using it every day at four. (He used to draw cars, now he practices writing numbers.) These are great for travel, as the pen is attached and can’t be dropped or lost.

Stickits

We got this foam craft set at our local supermarket one time when my son was allowed to pick out a toy for himself. It took me a long time to actually bring it out to use it with him, because it just looked daunting. But boy was it fun! And it was much easier than I thought.

You basically use a little damp sponge (so the water can’t even be spilled!) to wet the foam pieces and stick them together to create shapes. You can press shape templates onto them, cut them, and even reshape them to really get creative!

Sticky Mosaics

Creating messy mosaics were so fun when I was little. Now my son can do it all by himself using stickers and a cute template. This sticky mosaic kit lets him use his tiny fingers to pull apart stickers to fill in the corresponding shapes on the picture. When he finishes one, it has a tab for hanging the complete mosaic and a spot for him to write his name and the date on the back. I hang them in his room, they’re that cute!

Disclosure: I (the blogger at Beanie Designs) have used all these products with my son, to great success. Beanie Designs is not affiliated with nor receiving any sort of compensation for the product links above – except for the satisfaction of being helpful to our customers. Learn more about Beanie Designs.

Do you have any more non-messy craft activities to add?

Managing Your Time

How to find stores run by a WAHM

If you are looking to support a work-at-home mom (WAHM) business, online is probably the best place to start, as most don’t operate a physical storefront.

For a WAHM, her website, like Yacine’s Beanie Designs baby hats website, is likely to be the primary spot where she serves her customers and provides her wares.

But most WAHMs don’t have the resources and deep pockets to conduct a lot of website marketing, like larger companies do, making it hard for them to show up in broad search queries on Google.

Even if you search on “WAHM baby hats” for example, you may not see a neat and simple list of work-at-home moms who knit baby hats for sale.

So, you may need to do a little sleuthing to find the WAHM who is going to wow you with her unique products and out-of-this-world customer attention.

Some places to find WAHM-run stores online:

First of all, think up new ways to use Google. Try using “handmade” in your search query (“handmade baby hats” instead of “WHAM baby hats”, for example).

Then check out directories of WAHM businesses, like these:

WAHM Businesses listed on WHAM.com

WAHMS Online

Mom-owned stores listed on 5 Minutes for Mom

Who’s that WAHM – a directory by business/product category that lists WAHMs by name (and links to their websites)

Look around Etsy.com, a marketplace for all things handmade and where many mom businesses offer their products to the world.

Even social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the like are great places to look. These social sites create the ideal environment for small businesses to meet and get to know new customers.

One word as you’re shopping: When you land on a WAHM’s website, be sure to read the “About” page to learn who you’re buying from and who is making your item.

And please don’t forget the basics of security when buying online. A good WHAM retailer will abide by these best practices to help keep your shopping online safe.

Do you have a WAHM experience to share?

Healthy Family & Home

Buy it from a WAHM

Beanie Designs was founded by (and is still run by) work-at-home mom (WAHM) Yacine Diop. So, as you can imagine, she has a soft spot for other moms working to create great products and offer them to the world.

WAHM-owned businesses are a small retail niche that not a lot of people know about yet. You’ve probably already been encouraged to “buy it local”. But what about buying it from a WAHM?

Why buy from a WAHM?

Several reasons make it very attractive to buy from a WAHM.

Work-at-home moms often bring a touch of quality to their products you won’t find from big corporations. They can be so tough on their own products, examining each item and requiring them to be absolutely perfect, that they hold back items with even minor imperfections. (See how Beanie Designs weaves the quality into its baby hats.)

There is an artisanal creativity in a WAHM product that you will never feel when you buy something mass produced. Often the products a WAHM creates are one-of-a-kind things you can’t find replicas of anywhere else.

WAHMS are working to support their families while also staying at home for their kids. They make sacrifices, balancing family-time while tending to their business’s needs, and vice versa. They need to recommit to their passion and priorities every single day, often creating and working directly from their kitchen tables late into the night. Their choices are helping to make the world a better place for both your family and theirs.

When you buy from a WAHM, you’re supporting a family, not a big faceless company. You’re helping make it possible for that mom’s children to take music lessons or join a sports team.

Yacine still runs the day-to-day operations of Beanie Designs from her home as she tends to her growing children. (Read the Beanie Designs story). In fact, I’m pretty sure that all the knitters, crocheters and other members of the Beanie Designs organization are also work-at-home moms (along with some dads!)

The next time you’re looking for a gift, take the time to see if any WAHMs provide what you’re looking for.

Have you ever bought from a WAHM before? Tell us all about it here!

Newborn Madness

Would you pierce your baby girl’s ears?

Sun Hat: Purple with white flower

I always wondered if I'd had a baby girl, would we get her ears pierced?

During my first pregnancy years ago, my husband and I talked about getting the baby’s ears pierced if the baby turned out to be a girl.

We disagreed.

He thought we should go ahead and do it soon after birth. He is from India, where babies’ ears are pierced very early.

He even approached it from a practical standpoint: she will likely have her ears pierced at some point in her life. Why not help her avoid the pain later and have it done for her when she’s a baby and too young to remember?

I argued that we should wait and let her pierce her ears at an “appropriate” age.

I had to wait until I was a teenager before my parents would let me pierce my ears. It was a grownup privilege, to be earned, in my parents’ way of thinking. Not the least because it’s a (mostly) permanent – and cosmetic – change you’re making to your body.

It was thought to be along the lines of wearing makeup, which was also a no-no until I reached a certain age.

Now that I’m actually a grownup, I can understand why they felt like that. I agree that it’s important to avoid focusing on physical aspects of beauty from too young an age, to give girls a chance to develop confidence and a sense of self that doesn’t rely on cosmetic enhancements.

But do earrings even qualify as something along those lines? What about cute girls’ clothing, then? Where would you even draw a line?

From a practical view, I worried about the baby’s clothing catching on the studs in her ears.

To be fair, I hadn’t done any research. I hadn’t really taken notice of babies with earrings or talked to other moms who had gone ahead and pierced their baby’s ears. I am mostly going on a gut feeling here.

Well, my husband and I never had to disagree for long – we now have two boys, so the question never came up again.

But I always wondered, what if we’d had a girl? Would we have ended up piercing her ears?

What about you? Did you pierce your baby’s ears?