Juggling work and parenthood – Serena Williams style!

This morning I was watching BBC Breakfast news with my coffee whilst getting ready for work….they’ve been discussing the challenges facing working mums and Serena William’s post earlier this week about her recent struggles trying to balance life as a new mum with her career.

Seeing anyone high profile speaking out about trying – and failing – to have it all and get the balance right hopefully reassures us all that we’re not alone. Whatever career or role we might have pre children, throw a baby into the mix and we need to find our own way of navigating the path ahead – there’s no right or wrong way.

I struggled hugely going back to my career as a solicitor after having my first baby – in fact ultimately I left the legal profession and began looking for alternatives where I could work more flexibly around my little ones……and of course that’s how ARTventurers was born! Most of our ARTventurers franchisees have similar stories – setting up their ARTventurers businesses so that they can do the school and nursery runs and try and achieve a better balance between work life and life as a mum.

Have I got the balance right? No. I don’t honestly think that any of us could say hand on heart that we have. Some days it works better than others. My goal was to be able to spend as much time as I could with my little ones before they started school, to take them to school every day and pick them up at the end of the day, to be there for all major events and to be able to work around them during the school holidays. I’ve achieved all of that but it’s meant that I’ve had to make other difficult choices like working weekends, taking my work on holiday with us and often working late at night. As a parent we’re all professional jugglers – sometimes we’re better at keeping the balls in the air for longer and looking like it’s all under control and sometimes the balls just keep dropping and we need to stop and pick them up again. Changing my career path to become an ARTventurer was absolutely the right decision for me but it’s still a challenge running even the most flexible of businesses around family life.

Whatever path you’re taking – resuming a career, taking a career break, setting up a business, becoming a SAHM…… – I think that the key to achieving the best balance that you can for YOU and your family is threefold.

Firstly, having a supportive tribe around you. Friends, family, colleagues – people who are there to support, listen and can step in when you’re starting to drop a few of those balls (and we’re very lucky at Team ARTventurers to have a FAB tribe 😍😍😍 – having people there who are in exactly the same boat when you’re balancing business and parenthood as you is invaluable).

Secondly, stop comparing. Not only is everyone different and what works for one mum won’t necessarily work for another – but also remember that behind all of the Facebook smiles and Instagram perfect photos, we’re all juggling and struggling just like Serena.

And thirdly and most importantly – it’s ok not to be ok. We put too much pressure on ourselves – we’re not going to be winning each and every day. As long as we’re managing to win some of the time that’s just fine.

Fiona x

Why we love art and creative play!

5 reasons why art and creative play activities are SO important for babies, toddlers and children…

Whether it is paint, glue, glitter, squidging, squishing or modelling, children love them all! However, the daunting prospect of cleaning up afterwards put many parents off doing art and creative activities with their young ones. Despite that, here are 5 GREAT reasons to let your little ones bring their imaginations to life, however messy that may be…

 

1) To develop their motor skills!
Baby ARTventurers will build up their hand-eye coordination with activities such as stacking, scooping, stirring and pouring, whilst squidging and moulding are great for muscle tone! For the older ARTventurers, playing with paint and using scissors all help to develop hand muscles and fine motor skills to prepare them for writing. An ARTventurers favourite is painting with GIANT balls – rolling them in paint and then across the paper – which is brilliant for co-ordination and team work!


2) To help with their communication!
Art and creative play is a fantastic way for babies and toddlers to interact with grown-ups and other children, whilst learning new words and phrases. Making marks on various materials is your child’s way of expressing themselves to you visually, while talking about shapes and colours helps pre-school language skills. Our FAB ARTventurers classes incorporate music making and singing too!


3) To allow them to express their feelings!
Painting and modelling (or just simply exploring a messy play tray during an ARTventurers class) allows little ones to express themselves when their verbal language skills are not fully developed yet! Active creative play also enables kids to release energy and it is a great stress reliever and can be GREAT for frustrated toddlers. Studies show that this can help with biting problems too!


4) To improve their self-esteem!
The main aim of ARTventurers is to develop and encourage ‘confident explorers’, so all sessions are designed with children’s natural curiosity in mind! Here at ARTventurers, we strongly believe in the value of free-flowing activities and the benefits they can have on our little artists. We believe that there is no right or wrong way to do messy play, so long as everyone is having FUN! This approach to creativity helps build self-confidence – as does putting their artwork on the fridge to show it off!


5) To learn to be hands-on!
Children learn by using their senses and so the sensory, hands-on nature of art makes it a great tool! It enables children to learn about the amazing world by DOING – mixing paint, colours, drawing and painting objects such as animals! Trying out different tools and materials in an ARTventurers class increases sensory stimulation which is vital for brain development!

Top 5 tips for using paint at home – the ARTventurers way!

Introducing your little artist to paint at home the ARTventurers way!

Baby playing with paint

As most parents will know, the thought of letting your little one loose in your home with paint fills you with horror! All those lovely white walls and carpets covered in paint? No thank you! However, allowing babies and toddlers to get messy can be SO important for them and their development, whilst giving you a great opportunity to bond! So, fear not, here are some top tips from us at ARTventurers when using paint at home with your little ones…

Think BIG!

Do you remember those old rolls of lining paper or leftover sheets of wallpaper that are stuck in the garage or loft gathering dust? Bring them out! These types of materials are ideal for covering your floor with and letting your little ones loose on. They’re easy to bin afterwards or even stick up on the wall to display the masterpieces and are a lot more fun to work with than small A4 sheets!

Paint on a white sheet
An example of the creative things that could be done on a big sheet of paper!

 

Make sure the paint is non-toxic and suitable for use!

Obviously, your child’s safety comes before keeping your house clean and tidy! So before you all get messy at home, ensure you know the paint being used is safe for use with small children. You can even try and mix it up with edible paint from cornflour, as we all know how much young ones want to put everything in their mouth! There are plenty of recipes online about how to make edible paint, so be sure to check them out.

Baby happy in paint
Looks like great fun!

 

Be prepared for the inevitable mess!

Cover your surfaces and floors with something easy to wipe down or bin, like an old shower curtain or plastic tablecloth! This protects your lovely house from getting covered in paint, but also allows young children the freedom to move about and be really creative with their whole body instead of sitting at a table. Stripping your little one down to a nappy also means less washing too as you can just plonk them straight in the bath!

Happy child with paint on feet
Feet are great for painting with!

 

Join in and get MESSY too!

Babies and toddlers learn from watching other people, so if they see you getting involved and covered in paint too, they will be curious and copy you! Who knows, you may enjoy it too?

Toddler and adult enjoying painting
It’s hard to tell who is having more fun here!

 

DITCH the paint brushes!

Unless your child is anxious about getting paint on their hands, leave the paint brushes in the box and use your body parts to create art instead! This allows them the freedom to investigate and explore the lovely colours and textures of paint, without having to pick up a brush!

Babies playing with paint
Very creative!

 

There are 5 tips and a bit of inspiration from the ARTventurers team that you can use at home to get creative with paint with your little ones. There are loads of benefits to letting children be creative with art from a young age, and these tips will help them do so! If the thought of letting your little one loose at home with paint still frightens you, an ARTventurers class takes the stress and worries away for you, so be sure to come along!