Thursday, February 5, 2015

Toddler Crafting: DIY Valentine's Mailbox

Yesterday Ez and I decided we needed a little break from unpacking and cleaning. I've been trying to stick to his general schedule as much as possible. We've been getting out for our daily walks, and he's still going to his weekly Gymboree class, but I've been slacking a little (ok, a lot!) as far as structured playtime goes. Thankfully Ez is a champ about entertaining himself, but I could tell by his increased clinginess that he needed some uninterrupted mommy time.

I had this blue box sitting around the house - because I have a thing about saving boxes - and it somehow miraculously survived the move in one piece. Clearly it deserved to become something more than an empty discarded box. Valentine's Day is next week, and Ez is part of a blogger Valentine exchange, so I thought he should have a mailbox to stash all his Valentine's. Enter a few tubes of paint, a sponge cut into heart shapes, plus one eager little toddler and we had a good 20 minutes of fun decorating his box. After the 20 minute mark the paint started going everywhere except on the box. That's when I distracted Ez with a soccer ball so I could clean up the mess.

Ez loves painting, but I'll admit I rarely choose that as a crafting activity. Because, the mess. I'm not a neat freak by any means, but the idea of cleaning paint out of all corners of the house really isn't appealing to me. So, here are a few tips I've learned about painting with a 20 month old and preserving your sanity:
  • Put the paint directly on whatever you want painted. Eliminate the need to transport paint from one spot to another and you greatly reduce the risk of paint getting everywhere.
  • That being said, paint outside if possible. Or at least somewhere that's not carpeted. That way when paint inevitably does get everywhere, it's less stress for you. We had handy dandy empty moving boxes to sit on, and once we were done they went straight in the recycling bin. Super easy!
  • Pay attention to your toddler's attention span, and adjust expectations accordingly. Sometimes it's just not realistic to expect a toddler to paint 15 valentine's in one sitting. Found that one out the hard way ;)
  • Let them do their thing as much as possible. Obviously the perfectly placed hearts were my doing, trying to show Ez how to use the sponge, but once he got his hands on the heart sponges he preferred making big smears. It's his work of art, not mine - at least, that's what I kept telling myself. (Although, I admit, I snuck in a few more perfectly placed hearts before I set the box out to dry. Old habits die hard.)
  • Always remember the end goal, which is to have fun. Worry about messes (on the floor, on your clothes, on your legs, in your!) later.

The end result. The name and the mail slit were my doing, after the box dried, of course.


  1. What a great idea! I always think it's great to have kids make their own creations, even if that means having smudges instead of neat shapes :-) it adds character!

  2. Great idea! Toddler crafts are the best!

  3. What cute idea and it looks so fun as well :D thanks fro sharing

  4. Very cute idea. I was thinking of Elin paint and reading your tips made me get an idea to paint in our basement! It's not finished and that would be great because it's way to cold outside here. I also have an obsession with keeping boxes. I always think I can find ways to use them again.

  5. how very, very cute!! I love the expressions on this kid's face! He is seriously a character!

  6. So much fun for little ones! Thanks for the inspiration!
    ~ Ashley

  7. ahh love it! I have that on my to do list. But it is hasn't dropped that to yet so we actually get it done. Mainly I'm just lazy. Although strawberry cheesecake muffins are higher on the to do list, so who knows what will happen!

  8. Love it!!!! Ez looks like he is having an absolute blast!!!