My older sister is a professional food blogger and authors the site Mama Loves Food (click to view). With 5 young kids at home she balances the task of preparing, photographing, and posting about all sorts of dishes from barbeque chicken to homemade ice-cream, while also finding time to homeschool her kiddos! Honestly, I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Lol.
She recently expanded her repertoire to include Facebook Live shows in addition to the blog. She began this venture with live cooking shows and eventually added a craft segment as well.
This summer, while on a 3 week vacation to Colorado she asked if I could step in to cover her craft shows during her absence. Although I had no experience with doing Facebook Live, I knew the kids would have fun engaging in an hour of crafts and so I said yes. We did three shows and although I feel like we were a hot mess, we had fun and seemed to get positive feedback from the audience. April returned home and took over her show, but asked if we would like to do our own show once per week, as she was trying to increase her content on her site.
I discussed this with the kids and they both said that they would like to keep doing the show, so we signed on for an hour of our own. We decided on Monday’s at 4 pm. I figured this would give us enough time to walk home from school, but also not run too late into the evening to conflict with my husband’s arrival home from work. We began a week or two before school started and eased into the process.
I have full autonomy on picking the crafts that we create and typically try to come up with the ideas on my own. I use my kids interests paired with an idea of what we have laying around the house that we could repurpose for crafts and have thus far been pretty successful at doing so. My ideas aren’t always fully organic though, I use a lot of inspiration from things I’ve seen done by others and also crafts that I engaged in as a child – I just try not to replicate something that is already trending on Pinterest at the moment. Additionally, I don’t want to be spending extra money each week purchasing arts and crafts supplies and as someone who strives to live relatively green, repurposing items that would otherwise end up in the trash or the recycling bin aligns well with who I am. Furthermore, I try to pick a craft that can be completed by a range of ages. Although my kids (current ages 5 and 7) are the ones that are completing them on air, I attempt to explain how they can be made easier or more difficult depending on the age of the child engaging. In a perfect world I would create a calendar of our upcoming crafts, but the reality is that I wait for inspiration to hit and this can be as late as the night before or the morning of (sorry April!). It is funny how an impending deadline can make creative juices flow. 😉
During these past few months working on the show I have learned a lot about myself and my own interaction with my kids. It is extremely difficult to conduct an hour long live show with young children where you are supposed to successfully complete a task in a given amount of time. Here are some of the wonderful takeaways that I’ve been gifted by engaging in this activity.
1. LET GO OF PERFECTION: In order to have fun, I have to let go of my perfectionistic tendencies and simply focus on spending this time with my kids. Our focus is on making memories and nothing more. It’s not about the outcome of the craft, it is about the time we spend together. If I get frustrated that the craft is not turning out the way I envisioned it to, it will impact my behavior towards the kids. I will find my blood pressure rising and my patience lowering. This completely defeats the point of the craft.
2. THIS IS THEIR CRAFT: Although I am technically leading the show, this is their craft – not mine. I do feel like I have an obligation to show the viewers what we are making and how we are making it, but I am realizing as we go, that my real value is showing the viewer how important the interactions are between us as parents and our children. I am not a craft genius, but I am a pretty good mom and I think it’s important that we stress a community of fun and support. I think it is important for all parents to remember that the reason we do crafts with the kids is for them, not us. So, a pumpkin may end up having 3 eyes or a nose that looks like an arm. So what? 😉
3. LIFE HAPPENS: Last week on our show I had barking dogs and fighting children. At one point I put my hands up and said something like “‘This is real life…this is motherhood”. I’m not going to say that it didn’t bother me that my children were fighting on a live show – or fighting at all – but the reality is that this is life. I can’t expect my kids to be perfect on air all the time. They are not professional talent that is getting paid big bucks to create a motion picture – they are real kids, doing real crafts, with their real moms. And I’m sure even the high paid kid celebrities throw fits themselves – they are after all kids.
4. HATERS GONNA HATE: I cannot get over the audience that April has created and feel honored to be able to engage with them. There are people that tune in from all over the world including New Zealand, England, Canada, and Africa, and of course all over the U.S. I try to give shout outs and check in with people because it means so much to me that people are watching us and creating a community over our love for children and for crafts. Whenever we have on-air faux pas I have comments of support and encouragement. I am so thankful for the love that is shared on this site. That said, there are always a few comments that aren’t completely supportive and loving – such as “get on with it” or “this is boring”. With those, you just have to laugh. Again, I am not a professional talent getting paid the big bucks. I am a mom at home with her kids doing a craft and streaming live through my phone in my family room. So I try my best to use any feedback as constructive criticism and then shake off any negativity that it may bring. I do love though how other viewers will sometimes go after the negative comments and stand up for me making comments such as “give her a break, she is mom doing crafts with her kids”. I love this group!!
5. BE IN THE MOMENT: My patience with my kids is tested during every show with the kids. It turns out that the 4 o’clock start isn’t ideal because we have to rush home immediately from school and go right into the show upon walking in the door. We are often frazzled and rushed when we get home and so even though we try to take a minute to settle we are typically a little more on edge than usual. Additionally, unlike my daughter who loves doing the show, my son has decided that he doesn’t want to do them anymore – which I respect – so this throws a wrench into the dynamic because often he seeks my attention during the show. I also feel pressure to engage with the audience and attempt to stay on task with my craft. Being in front of a live audience I have to be very thoughtful of how I react to all elements – kids complaining, dogs barking negative comments, etc. So I try to slow down in these moments, take a deep breathe and remember why we are doing this in the first place. We are doing the show to help my sister, spend time together, and promote craft time with families all over the world. That’s what it’s all about.
As a result of doing the show, this conscious mindfulness has spilled over into my everyday life. Although I believe that I am a good mom, I will totally admit that I am often short with my kids and overreact, especially if I am putting my needs before theirs. By doing the show I have been more mindful on air and off air of how I react to the kids. I take more deep breathes when I feel myself getting frustrated. I take a pause and reevaluate the situation. Am I on my phone or computer and preoccupied with irrelevant tasks when all they want is my attention? Or am I trying to prepare dinner and need to either have them engaged in the task at hand with me or explain to them respectively why I need focused time to complete the task solo.
There are lessons to be learned at every step in our lives and becoming more open and mindful to the opportunities to learn about ourselves and the dynamics within our relationships is imperative for self growth. I will always be a work in progress, but I am enjoying the journey. I have found that since starting the show I have been more mindful of my relationships with my kids. I try to take more time to focus on fun and laughter. Just as my focus of the show is more about making memories than making the actual craft, this is a motto that I am trying to emulate in my everyday life.
Instead of the walk home simply being about getting from school to home, I try to think about how we can use this time to create memories. Sometimes it means stopping to climb a tree, but other times it is just about putting my phone away and fully focusing on engaging in an enthusiastic conversation with them about their day. If I bring energy and excitement to the conversation, they seem to echo it right back and the details of their day spill out. Not every day is perfect, but again my goal is no longer perfection – I just want to have more good days and more positive memories. I don’t want my kids to think back to our times walking to school and think of me constantly nagging and yelling about being late or off task. In those moments when I notice my muscles tensing, my voice raising, and my frustration growing, I try (key word here!) to take a moment, breathe, and change the direction of my energy to that of happiness and understanding. Because, in the end I want them to remember laughter, love, and an occasional tree climbing adventure.
If you are interested in checking out some of our past craft shows you can click on the link about titled “Craft Videos”. At the time of this post we are currently airing on Monday’s at 4 pm EST, but are going to be changing our day and time shortly due to the kids upcoming Gymnastics class conflicting with our current time. I’ll try to remember to update the post with our new day and time when available!