You finally get that shiny something you have been eyeing for days at an online shop. Up until this point you had spent countless hours thinking about how it would save you time, save you space, make you feel better, look better or maybe even make your home feel and look better. Two to three days later, the thrill of it has faded into the background and your life is essentially the same.
Shiney, Lifeless Object
We’ve all experienced this same fleeting thrill. We all know the residual emptiness that eventually dawns after anticipatingly chasing a shiny object. It looked so good in the commercial, in the magazine, on the billboard, or in the shop window. Their promises to save us time, save us space and more importantly have us feel sexier, smarter, happier, more “independent” or energized, were all so convincing.
A Time Where Full Body Engagement Was Critical
Did you know there was a time in American history where people made every object they owned? They milled their own flour, sewed their own clothes, made their own furniture, fixed their own cars, made their own jewelry, toys and home decorations. A family’s very existence heavily depended on the skill, ability and strength of literally every family member’s pair of hands.
Our Working Hands Are Portals to Fulfillment
From having been around children for many years, I have witnessed first hand the electric atmosphere, the sense of accomplishment and complete immersion that happens when they create things with their hands. My experience of making things is no different. The creative process of starting with nothing and with hands, mind and heart creating something, can be deeply fulfilling, even transcendent as we step into the present and push out the mind chatter.
Our Hands Can Lift Us Out of Depression
Research now supports that this disruption of repetitive thoughts when working with our hands, can even alleviate depression as neuroscientist Kelly Lambert has shared in her book “Lifting Depression”. In this article from Whole Living, Body + Soul magazine, called DIY Therapy: How Handiwork Can Treat Depression, she expands on this point :
“We’ve found that doing a mentally absorbing task interrupts ruminations long enough for them to subside, and your thinking becomes more clear and less negative,” she says. “Then when you go back to your concerns, they seem less overwhelming and you’re better able to see some action you could take to overcome them.”
The New York Times Bestselling book “Shop Class as Soulcraft “ makes the case for the importance of working with your hands. Philosopher turned car mechanic, Matthew Crawford questions on both economic and psychological grounds, the educational imperative of turning everyone into a “knowledge worker” and defends the right to develop what he calls manual competence.
The Process of Creating as the Ethos Life
Since the industrial revolution, we as a society have distanced ourselves from the rich process of creating, leaving us hungry for that nameless “thing” that drives us to buy and consume endless varieties of stimulation. When really, if we leaned in towards making this magical suspension of time a regular part of our lives by actively creating things, or at the least fixing or creatively improving what we already have, we’d be more satisfied and need less.
As the middle of summer lingers on and we may be looking for ways to engage our kids away from the screens and give ourselves some TLC, I offer you 21 ways you can satisfy these two very real needs by treating yourself to some DIY-self-care-therapy alongside your kids.
Continuing our Summer Series
For those of you stopping by for the first time, this is the fourth post in my Summer Self Care for Parents series. In my first post I shared 5 tips that have helped me create a summer that is not only fun for our family but also kind to me in terms of my needs for refueling and time to myself. In my second post I shared why being bored for kids is good, builds self care skills for later in life and how it can be the fertile ground for creating things. In my third post l expanded more on this point of creating things with 20 reasons why it’s among the most restorative forms of self care. I also gave 5 art prompts to get you started on your own creative adventure.
To quiet your inner critic, strengthen your creativity and make memories with your family, today I offer you a categorized list of 22 things to create that are fun, useful and beautiful. I made sure that above all these things were easy and uncomplicated to make for those of you that me be dipping your toe into the DIY world for the first time. Without further ado here is the list!
- Color a mandala, here are four I made for you to download mandala 1, mandala 2, mandala 3, mandala 4
- Grab a sheet of paper and make a family drawing where one starts and the other continues
- Staple papers together and make a story with doodles where one family member fills one page and the other continues the story with a doodle on the following page. Alternate until the story reaches closure
- Speed doodle on a page with a timer set for 1 to 5 minutes, do your best to fill the page without censoring whatever comes out
- Enjoy the sweet humming sound of this colorful paper spinner
- Make bookmarks for future gifts with construction paper, ribbon and a hole puncher. Add quotes you like or cut out pictures from magazines and make a collage. Here are 8 more book mark ideas you could do.
- Print out quotes you really love and put them in frames around your home
- Cook or bake….anything!
- Identify your keys easier by personalizing them with a little decorative paper like in this example
- Recycle your plastic milk jugs and make lunch container from it, details here
- Why buy greeting cards when you can make quality 3D greeting cards like these with some adhesive dots
- Are there times you want to show your appreciation beyond a thank you? Make compliment cards in advance and ready to hand out
- Make a stress ball with a balloon and flour
- Need a place to put up notes that is nice to look at? Make a framed corkboard
- Make a wipeable framed note board to remember important things like this one
- Make wall art with old shoe boxes like these
- Take a minute to make a flower thumbtack within to spruce up your cork board
- Recycle old DVD cases and make pretty accordion picture frames
- Make a leather strap bracelet within minutes
- To add beauty to a small corner make small vases from old nail polish containers like these
- Make your own mini zen garden for your desk or living room side table
- Make an I love you wipeable frame for a fun way to communicate with your loved one
Links to More Activities- Based Lists
Here is a list of 200 activities your child can do, not necessarily things for them to make, to keep them engaged all summer long. Not only are these activities fun but free!
For those of you with teens the list understandably has to be different. What engages a child will most likely not engage a teen so here is list of activities for them.
The Bored Jar
As part of a making things project you can also take any of these 3 lists, write each idea on ice cream sticks and put them in a “Bored Jar” for an easy and amusing way to access them. Here is great example that categorizes the activities with washi tape
Hope this post helps nudge you to spend at least 5 minutes today dipping your toe in the untapped vibrancy found in creating things. What has been your experience in creating things? Is it merely when the situation arrives that you can’t buy what you’re looking for? Or is this topic one that you have never explored? I’d love to know
Until next week, enjoy the summer heat and if you found this post helpful take a sec to like, share or comment below. As always thank you for making this post a part of your day!