By: Sandy Churchill
We live in a time of anxiety overdrive. The news seems to be a non-stop stream of animosity and heartache, as a testament to the frequent selfishness and cruelty of human nature. Couple that with our frenzied schedules that keep moms, dads, kids, and other family members in a steady state of going and doing leaves little—or no—time to breathe, reflect, and relax.
Never mind that ‘busy‘ and ‘stress‘ pepper our daily conversations. We are now seeing even our youngest children hurling backpacks of homework-overload to and from their first-grade classrooms. Many kids are hearing the stressed-out conversations of grown-ups, while struggling with their own demands of schoolwork, standardized testing, and expectation overdrive.
Why We Craft
What I rediscovered as a mom, is how crafting has the power to slow us down, provide us focus, and offer us joy.
We joke at our house that “Crafting is cheaper than therapy,” and it’s true.
As anyone who knits, paints, scrapbooks, or crochets can tell you, something happens when we delve into a creative project simply for the joy of it. Our breathing slows, we take the time to stitch or consider a color, and the troubles of finances and health, relationship worries, or household chores seem to melt away. For a little while, we are able to simply be—and not feel the pressures of the practical, and near-endless to-do list.
Perhaps it is because we are working with the other side of the brain and we give our linear, practical side a break. Perhaps it is the sheer, indulgent joy of creating something beautiful. But what about this artistic therapy for the smaller ones in the household as well?
I teach enrichment in our town’s after-school program and this fall, we offered a clay class for elementary students. We over-filled on the first day of registration and had to open a second class. Parents and kids shared the same sentiment: “My child/I cannot get enough art.”
Many towns struggle with cost-cutting measures that often put art, music, and other specialist programs on the chopping block. But I propose that we need art now more than ever. There is something magical about time to create, imagine, ponder, and focus—free of expectations and deadlines. I witness my first, second, and third grade students in the pure joy of shaping their creations, molding, rolling, and then tweaking the features of each sculpture to their hearts’ delight.
I believe that providing children with the time, space, and materials to draw, paint, sculpt, and craft is an amazing remedy to help soothe the spirit and restore optimism and peace to the spirit. I know in my heart this can work for adults, and think this is a gift each of us can offer our children, as therapy amidst a frenzied, fast-paced world.