The holidays are upon us and, with them, the chaos.
The energy is high, folks.
The kids, who have a surplus of energy on a normal day, are bouncing off the walls.
And I want to embrace it, I do. They are only little for such a short period of time. And so I string twinkle lights, dance in the kitchen to holiday music, make peppermint-scented glittery play dough, and pop in some Rankin and Bass each night. And it is magical.
But, let’s be honest here: Sometimes I just want them to calm down, even just a smidgen. Just so I can think.
Because it can be really hard to think amid all of this magical holiday energy. And, sometimes, I need to get stuff done. Like laundry, and meals, and phone calls.
Plus, the kids need to go to bed. They must sleep to maintain this level of magic.
So, how do I calm them down when the energy is high? Well, several weeks ago we added a simple activity to our routine and this simple change has been nothing short of amazing. I hope it works in your home, too!
Recently I made the observation that my children are their most calm and peaceful when doing one of two things:
Initially, I tried reading aloud to my children when they were off the wall, but they just wouldn’t listen. So, I tried number two. While they were carrying on like wild hooligans, I simply took out a piece of paper and started to doodle. That’s it.
And, do you know what? They joined me. Every single time.
Calm Kids Down With Doodle Diaries
This doodle-during-chaos strategy worked so well that I purchased four small, inexpensive sketchbooks- one for each of us. We dubbed these books our “Doodle Diaries” and we have been using them almost daily for the past six weeks.
Lately, because the holiday energy is at an all-time high, I have upped our doodling time. Our Doodle Diaries have yet to let me down. My children calm down every single time they use them!
How I Use Our Doodle Diaries
I have been using these Doodle Diaries almost daily for the past couple of months and I have been utterly amazed by their ability to calm my children down almost instantly. And I’ll be honest here: it calms me down too!
I have used Doodle Diaries to calm my kiddos down at various times throughout the day including:
- First thing in the morning
- After lunch as a transition from school to home
- On crabby days, when no one is getting along
- Before bedtime
- On post-holiday, Hangover From Fun days
- Just because
When it is time to use our doodle diaries, I simply spread them out on our kitchen island. I then sprinkle in some inspiration. That inspiration could be a drawing book, a favorite story, a favorite toy, or even a small mannequin, like the little fella you see pictured below. Then, I turn on some music, announce that it is “doodle time”, and we get to work.
Sometimes we draw for ten minutes while other times we draw for an hour or longer. I have been consistently amazed by how quickly this simple act changes the mood of our family. Within a few minutes, my children are calm, quiet, and focused.
I always work alongside my children, and I believe that to be part of the draw. It’s quality, creative time together. There are no to-dos or must-dos during this time. Our only goal is to create together.
When our doodle time is over we are calm. It is as if, together, we have flipped a switch. Doodle time provides us with a moment of mindfulness in the midst of a busy day. When it is over, we start fresh with renewed energy and patience.
Lately, because it has started to feel like winter around here, we have paired our doodle time with a cup of tea. This new addition has made our time together even more special.
I love that we are making space in our day for the arts. I love that homeschooling allows us the freedom to create together.
And don’t be surprised if your art inspires more creativity. The drawing below served as inspiration for my oldest’s NaNoWiMo this month!
A Look Inside Our Doodle Diaries
The children have created some incredible pieces of art. I love that their daily doodles are contained in one diary. We have only been using these diaries for the past couple of months but already it is fun to look back at all of the entries!
Let me tell you, folks: Doodle Diaries are the perfect way to combat all of the holiday chaos!
How to Use Doodle Diaries in Your Homeschool
Truly, you need only a pencil and paper to start your doodle diary, but if you are looking for inspiration you can grab a favorite book...
…a favorite toy…
…a bit of nature…
…common household objects…
…your incredible imagination…
…or you can check out some of our favorite resources listed below.
Our Favorite Resources for Doodle Diary Inspiration
It wouldn’t be a My Little Poppies post without book recommendations. Today I am sharing our favorite books for Doodle Diary inspiration.
- I have started off by listing the easiest resources first. These will be perfect for those who do not feel that they do not have an artistic bone in their bodies (even though I think everyone has the capacity for art- we just get rusty as we age!).
- Next, I list some of our favorite how-to type drawing books. These books offer a fun challenge and tons of inspiration.
- Finally, I’ve listed our favorite art books with a more academic spin. These are for the homeschoolers who would like to create and cover another subject.
- Throughout, I’ve sprinkled in some of our favorite tools.
When you are finished reading, I would love for you to share your favorite resources for doodling. We are always on the hunt for new materials!
Our family has fallen in love with coloring books for adults. There are tons of them on the market nowadays. You need only search Amazon or pop into your local craft store to find them! We love the one you see here and any and all mandala coloring books!
All you need is this book, some artist tiles, and some fun pens. Zentangle is a form of art that uses repetitive patterns and designs. One does not need any artistic talent to zentangle so it is perfect for those new to doodling. The amazing part of zentangling is its ability to calm. We always keep some zentangle tiles in my son’s worry basket because it is a proven stress-reducer.
We discovered Ed Emberley when my oldest was just a toddler. As soon as he could hold a crayon, he loved to doodle. Ed Emberley has an entire collection of books that are perfect for young artists.
Ed Emberley’s books are easy for young kids to follow, as they are entirely visual! Perfect for pre-readers!
We discovered this gem at our transfer station! It’s one of our Instant Dump Classics! My children have spent hours drawing with this book!
My children love to draw animals. They love to use the book pictured here as well as How to Draw Wild Animals in Simple Steps by Johnathan Newey.
My oldest has been reading a ton of fantasy lately and, as a result, we have amassed several how to draw dragon books including this one.
If you are up for a challenge, try to draw some faces! We love the book pictured here, written by Susie Hodge, and we also like How to Draw Classic Heads and Faces by Walter Foster.
For Those Looking for Something More Academic, Consider These Resources
It can be difficult to homeschool during the holiday chaos. Maybe adding a Doodle Diary to your routine seems like just one more thing. If that is the case, why not try to merge art and academics? It’s easy to do if you adjust your thinking a bit, and there are heaps of great resources out there to help you do so. These are a few of our favorite artsy academic resources.
And Let’s Not Forget Usborne’s Amazing Art Books!
For those who are unaware, Usborne no longer sells on Amazon. This is the reason why I decided to become an Usborne consultant earlier this year. If you are looking to add some Usborne to your bookshelves, I’m happy to help. Whether you want to order online or host a FB party and earn free books, I’m your girl. Send me a message, either here at MLP or via my Usborne site.
***From now until December 12th, all proceeds from Usborne sales on my site go directly toward my little buddy, Carter***
Usborne has fantastic art books, including the following:
This post has been a part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page December 2015 Blog Hop: Surviving the Holidays Houseful O’ Gifted. Please click the image below to keep on hoppin’!
Tell me, folks: Do you doodle with your children? What are your favorite resources? Share here!
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and GeekMom. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram