Why I Usually Don't Buy Coloring Books For My Kids (Or Myself)
When C was just about two, I never bought her bought her coloring books. I only bought a huge pad of a paper, twistables and crayons. I'd let her sit on the pad, and just color and scribble away.
Everything she did at this age, looked like this...
The reason WHY I did this, is because I want her inner, creative self to blossom. Art materials, like coloring books are great, but I've always said, "I'll buy any kind of Art materials C wants when she's ready and when she asks me, but for now, I just want her to play with just a few coloring tools, because it's when she just plays with color on a blank sheet of paper is when her deep, inner, creative sparks will shine more than ever."
Plus, I'm a big stickler for the "less stimulation, the better." When it comes to Art supplies, your head can spin just looking at all that's out there to play with. ;)
As her scribbling days lessened, her drawing skills ignited. Which I'm sure you saw in your own child/children as they began to grow more into their independent, creative self.
Now that she's older, I still only have just a drawing pad, paper and her colored pencils, markers and crayons out. She has a pair of scissors, but this is pretty much it when it comes to kid Art supplies in our house.
Because she's in school now, and she's doing LOTS of activities, especially Art activities, that have her producing the same outcome as her classmates, I like to have simple choices at home ready for her so she can easily calm her 4-year-old school stimulation and reconnect back to her unique, creative self.
So when she comes home and we sit down for some "coloring" time, we ALWAYS start out just coloring a blank sheet of paper with our favorite colors. Because it's when sitting down, to just PLAY with color, without any rules and only fun, in this way, is when the magic of creativity and calm happens.
After she, what I like to say, "got rid of all the white" on her paper, her creative sparks come ALIVE! She easily got out of her "school and at-home rules" head for a bit, by just playing with some color, in her own, personal and unique way.
Not looking at anyone else's work...just her and lots of fun color to be had. This calms her mind and allows her to easily get into the present moment. It's SO much easier to connect to your inner, calm, happy and creative self in this way, than just sitting down and immediately thinking of something to create with a certain outcome.
When you're in your left-brain more than your right, it's difficult to immediately jump in and begin creating (your calm, happy and present self!). Just coloring a page makes this transition easy peasy, fresh and breezy!! ;)
After she calmed her mind for a bit, she then drew her friend Chloe's house...
Amazing!!! Right? This IS what happens after about 10 minutes or so (depends on how much thought is being dominated by the left-brain. The thoughts that are consumed with rules, analyzing, judging, right and wrong and so on).
Her right brain came out to say hello when she "colored a page" and then she began to draw something even more!! OH YEAH!! That's the power of mindless, creativity baby!! :):)
So, yeah, now that she's in school, she's been introduced to more coloring pages. Yes, she just scribbles them at times, but all year, I've just been amazed at what she's been bringing home.
And, yes, she's coloring (and not coloring) in the lines, because yes, we have to follow school (and life!) rules. And trust me, when my kids come home with homework and they need to do work that has to be "in the lines" I will make sure that is done, but when they come from school and are just in need of some mindless, creative play, that is hands on, coloring, right brain way, I'll let them do whatever they want.
No rules!! Just FUN! (and, my intention as a parent is to make sure they're calming their inner most self in this creative way, everyday!! It's SO, SO important!! It's not something that can be done once a week, every other week or once a month...this type of activity is needed daily!!)
Our children's brains (and adult's, too!) are saturated with left-brain, right and wrong, follow the rules thoughts all day long, so it's imperative that they get a break from that to replenish and recharge themselves.
Playing with color is truly meditative and it helps one stay connected to their inner most happy self!! When a mindless, creative play break has been done, going back into a very dominated, left-brain, to-do list world is dealt with EVEN BETTER!!!
So, yeah, check out these coloring sheets C did at school...
And this one that she colored for her Thanksgiving feast...
Oh my gosh!! The color!!! It's amazing!!
Sure she may not be completely inside the lines, and these coloring sheets aren't being graded at school and she definitely brings home sheets that are scribbled with one color, like the picture of the girl and dog up above, but I know, that because I give her time to just BE with hands-on, mindless, creative fun everyday, without any rigid rules or certain outcomes, that THAT has allowed her, to stay connected to her inner creativity and has allowed it to shine in this way.
SO, SO powerful!!
Now that she colors SO many coloring sheets at school, she comes home and we print LOTS of coloring sheets out from the Internet. I don't mind now, because she's asking for them. It's what SHE wants to create, so I let her create as she pleases. :):)
When it comes to HER creativity, I ALWAYS let her guide me. Instead of the other way around.
Sure, I put some materials out, but I always let her decide what she wants to do. That way her creative confidence continues to shine, she stays connected to WHO she is and what SHE loves and she continues to live her life full of joy and enthusiasm, all while living her life in a world that gives constant rules and demands. :)
And just look at what she has done!! WOW!!!
Now, I'm NOT showing these to brag about my daughter's coloring skills. I'm showing it because I want to share just how POWERFUL it is to just let our children (and ourselves) just PLAY with color (or just DO anything hands-on) without ANY rules, on a daily basis!!
We're a society that is driven by rule following. We need rules to keep ourselves safe and out of trouble. It's how we learn to grow when we mess up and face the consequences. Rules are SO, SO important.
But, we're also a society that never slows down, never sits still, never gives our brains a much need break from technology, to-do's and trying to thrive in life. And because of that, we're stressed out, tired, burnt out and wishing we had more energy to not only give to our family and friends, but most importantly, to ourselves.
And our kids, with standardized testing dominating our classrooms (and longer work hours for us adults) our stress levels are maxed out!! It's when we take 10 to 15 minutes to just play like a toddler that stress EASILY lowers and the true inner, happy, confident, calm and present self (that we're meant to BE!) appears more and more.
And, the best part of all, when you play with color, in this toddler-like way, you reconnect with the creative person that you we were ALL born to be!! Yes, YOU are creative! Your children are creative! Your husband is creative! Your mother is creative! The stranger you passed on the street is creative! EVERYONE IS CREATIVE!!
So when your child or children get home from school (and when you get some alone time for YOU!!), sit down and just PLAY with some crayons. If you don't like crayons, no problem! Just DO something that's hands-on...meaning NO technology, only things that have you cutting, building, gardening, dancing, singing...anything that lets your left-brain take a much needed break and lets your right brain shine again!
(It use to shine and be perfectly balanced with your left-brain, ya know! Yep...back when you were a kid!! )
Because when you just color a page like this...
Not only will YOU and your child/children BE much happier than when you/they first started, because the stress from the day has eased up some, but you'll/they'll also start creating things that you never thought you/they could create.
Just give it 10 minutes or so, so those, "I can't do it...I can't draw...I'm not artistic" thoughts can calm. This is WHY coloring a page without drawing anything is SO important. When you're SO left-brain, SO into your to-do's and rule following all day long, it takes some time to make the switch to right-brain, happy, love-what-I'm-drawing-land...especially if you haven't colored in a really, REALLY long time!!
Just like what C did here....
She said this is her and Harry Potter going into the castle with a bear by them. :):)
And then, when you (and your child/children) go back out into the real world, where there are many, MANY rules to follow, you'll handle those rules with so much more ease!!
Yep!! This coloring page shows this for sure! A little bit of rule following, because when we see a coloring page, we think, "Must color in the lines and color the characters in to look just like they do on TV."
Because, yes, when C colors pages like this, she'll ask me, "Mom! What color is Peppa Pig? What color is Daddy Pig?" and I always respond, "whatever YOU think!"
Always gotta keep her creative sparks ignited. ;)
But as those "rules" are followed, they're followed with more ease and JOY, because the mind has been nourished and relaxed with lots of mindless, colorful play. :)
So, yeah, if you tend to use a lot of coloring books with your kids (and yourself), take a break from them and see what happens. You might be surprised that your kids (and you!) might not need them as much as you think.
Oh, and don't get me wrong. I love a good coloring book now and then. You'll find me coloring my own coloring pages right along with Camille. It's a great way to unwind from the day, for sure! What I really LOVE about them is that they're great for those who haven't colored in a really, really, really LONG time, because they do calm your mind and can ignite your inner, creative sparks that haven't been lit since toddler years. Because, it pulls you into the present moment! Awwww yeah!! :)
Wanna CREATE your own calm (and get your kids CREATIVE calm on, too!)?
Here's what you do!
1. Get a blank sheet of paper, markers, colored pencils, crayons...any kind of coloring tool you wish.
2. Color the page. Use different colors. Colors that FEEL good to YOU! Or, just use one color. There's really no rule here, just do what FEELS fun and GOOD to YOU!! But, remember, you just wanna PLAY with color by filling the entire page. No outcomes to achieve. No artistic skills required. Just YOU and your connection to colors that you LOVE! The only goal is to calm your mind, not get a grade or create something professional.
Now, it may sound SO easy, and you're probably thinking, "Just color a page!?!? Whatever! I have better things to do!" And that my friend is your lovely left-brain talking, and it says that you NEED this activity more than ever!
Because your left-brain pretty much runs your entire day, it'll be hard to calm it down right away when you do this activity. It'll tell you every reason why this activity sucks, why you should get up and do activities that are way more productive, that, "Yeah right, calm my stress with coloring!? I don't buy it!" and the best one, that you're NOT creative and you have NO creative skills.
But, once you let 10 minutes or so pass by and you keep getting your coloring on, those thoughts WILL calm. And when they do, you'll find yourself completely in the present moment and focused on the colors and you'll start to notice thoughts that tell you, "Hey! This IS fun! I really love the color teal. Wow, I wanna keep coloring...I wanna do more!!"
And then, when you're done, you'll have a BIG smile on your face and you won't even remember what was stressing you out 20 minutes before you started.
And, yes, you'll probably see your kids making this awesome transition a lot quicker than you. They're still very connected to their right brain. :)
Have fun! And, please, if you try this, lemme know how it goes for ya! And, if you're feeling creatively, confident, I'd LOVE to see what you and your kids create. Tag me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. :)
Life IS creatively calm and colorful...SAVOR it up!