Many of the things that positively impact our mental wellbeing are seemingly small. They aren’t necessarily radical, revolutionary or unpleasant (some are even fun!) and, for some people, they can yield huge results. It’s important that this space shines a light on some of these simple solutions, as well as discusses more complicated and difficult issues.
‘Slowness’ is probably a term (or concept) that’s familiar – even if you feel like you haven’t really grasped it. Sydney Piercey is a woman who does ‘slow’ well. She also role models it well to her young children, so she’s reaping the benefits and her kids are building a healthy habit. Sydney will be the first person to tell you that she doesn’t craft as a purposeful outlet for her own mental wellbeing, but – from an outsider’s perspective – it’s likely that the act of slowing down and engaging in simple, connective activities with her children impacts the way that she feels.
Mothers of young children commonly say that a lack of time plays a big role in why they struggle to prioritise themselves or their needs. Finding something that you can do alongside your children (either with them or next to them) is one way to remove this barrier. It also helps to ensure that the activity becomes part of your lifestyle and something that you can enjoy often, as opposed to an infrequent one-off.
Slow and Simple Collage making with children
With two young children aged 1 and 3 (and one on the way), I’m hugely drawn to slow and simple pursuits at home or in the garden to keep us all happy and occupied. I enjoy busyness with the children but only when it occurs naturally. Having days packed with plans doesn’t appeal to me in the way it did pre-kids as I find the organisation and co-ordination required now quite overwhelming!
We are big lovers of craft in our family. My daughters love making things or watching as I make things and so this is how we spend a lot of our time. Collage making is an activity we especially love. I’ve enjoyed creating in this way since before the children, making collages from holiday photos, fashion magazines and even sweet packet wrappers as a girl. Delighted that the gift prompt for first wedding anniversaries is paper, I made a giant collage for my husband from paper souvenirs collected over our years together. Theatre tickets, coasters from bars, boarding passes and little love notes all found their way onto this A1 sized collage – it was so much fun to make! But it’s a great one to do with the children too, and here are some of my favourite reasons why.
RE – USE. It’s important to me that creating art with my girls is done in a sustainable and earth-friendly way. You can use empty packets, junk mail, magazines, old birthday cards or children’s artwork as paper for your collages. Not only is this low cost, it’s an example of how crafting with kids doesn’t require a cupboard brimming with special materials. My eldest daughter and I once made a huge night time city scape on painted black paper just using lots of cut up receipts for the windows!
FOR ALL AGES. Collage offers something for a range of ages. Whether it is very little ones like my youngest, who can place and arrange cut outs as they choose, or slightly older ones getting to grips with using scissors to cut shapes, like my eldest. There’s also the job of making or choosing the collage paper and applying glue with a stick or a paintbrush. Collage making really can be tailored according to your children’s age and abilities.
(MOSTLY) MESS FREE. Paper scraps aside, collage-making needs not involve paint spillage, which is a big plus for me! For children who love paint (mine included) I decant a small amount of mod podge into a pot to be used to glue pieces down. It dries clear and comes out of clothes meaning I can be a little less vigilant about surfaces and the girls’ clothes as they create.
SLOWNESS. I love having a project that I can spread out over a number of days. Something to pick up in quiet, restless or needed moments. For some, said project is knitting, for others it may be gardening, for me it is collage making. The cutting out or making of paper can be done first and then set aside on a tray or in a tin. A little later on that day, or days after, we pick it up again and begin the sticking. I’ve been known to make a collage project with the children last over a week!
I hope you’ll be inspired to find your own slow pursuit to enjoy with your children. I so appreciate the moments we can slow down with them – the world alone can be busy enough let alone with little ones in the mix!
If collage making is something you choose to pursue, do check out some of these wonderful collage artists whose work I love. Christian Robinson and Eric Carle who both illustrate their children’s books with paper collage, Deborah Roberts who explores and challenges the stereotypes of beauty, boyhood and criminality through her work and Scarlett Bowman who also makes work from things found around her. Also check out Collage Club London who run amazing collage workshops in London and virtually!
For more of my sustainable craft and creative play ideas, you can find me on @sydney.piercey on Instagram.