Creating with kids requires a different outlook I’m actually a pretty creative and crafty person. I use the word ‘actually’ because you probably wouldn’t know this by observing my current parenting style. I buy Halloween costumes from the store, spend money on kits I could emulate for a fifth of the cost, and only one time made cookies that looked like reindeer.

Before I had a child, you could often find me on a weeknight preparing for the holidays by crocheting (the cutest ever) winter hats, hand-making notecards, and baking holiday loaves for our friends and neighbors. And I regularly used my sewing machine for lots of amazing projects. Now, my weeknights—pre-holiday or otherwise—mostly just include wine and television. What happened to me?

I’ll just say it: crafting with kids just isn’t as fun. Mostly because it’s messy and not at all relaxing. Many crafts are meditative: knitting, crocheting, sewing, painting, beading, etc. Before kids, I found these types of activities relaxing, fun, and was even known for inviting people over to do them. Once I got out my robust bead supply and invited eight friends over to make jewelry. Here is what it was like: nine women, drinking wine in glasses with stems, laughing and story-telling. Few had done this craft before, so I spent most of my time happily offering tips, assisting with the tiny tools, attaching clasps, and twisting the wires just so. Everyone left having had fun and with a few new jewelry items.

Here is what that would look like with kids, even if you halve the number of guests: four children and me, dumping tiny beads that were once organized neatly into small containers onto the table – and therefore onto the floor. Me repeating, “try this way” a million times. Me picking up tiny beads. Me trying not to yell, and then trying not to cry. Me wanting to assist with tiny tools and attaching clasps but children grabbing and yelling, “NO, I can do it!” and then needing to use ten times as many clasps because they keep breaking. No one finishes a piece of jewelry and no one had fun.

Deep breath. I wrote above, ‘crafting with kids just isn’t as fun,’ but now that I took a deep breath, that’s not really the case. I do love crafting with kids but it’s just (really) different now. In fact, I enjoy crafts with kids so much that whenever I have to (get to?) care for two or more of them at once, I plan a craft. But these days I’m doing simplified versions of what I might do if I were on my own. Instead of jewelry-making with beads, it’s friendship bracelets with embroidery thread. Instead of crocheting winter hats, we’re weaving hot pad holders. Instead of sewing custom purses, we’re hand sewing felted creatures with yarn.

So, I guess I’m not mad about it. It’s fun to see kids create and a joy to be a person who helps them learn useful skills.

But, I still look forward to using seed beads again in a way that doesn’t totally stress me out.