Creating Fidgets and Giving Back: Life Lessons

imageBecause our afternoons are pretty busy once the kids step foot off the bus, we’ve really been pretty open to allowing them to play, create, explore, or simply relax, in the early AM hours before the school bus comes.

They have their expectations of what needs to be accomplished first: brushing teeth, washing faces, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and making sure their backpacks are ready to go. It’s a consistent routine; one that runs well (most of the time!), where my kids are usually incentivized to get through these steps in order to get to their coveted free-time.

It was this morning, during one of those fun, messy, papers-flying, arts-and-crafts materials scattered moments where my eldest daughter triumphantly comes over to me with two cartoon-style paper figures; definitely filled with something squishy, that could fit in the palm of my hand. Ever the tactile-sensory seeker, I almost automatically began to knead the craft between my hands.

“Mom, I made a fidget, like we did in the summer! This time, I decorated paper, and filled it with pompoms! Kids like emojis and dogs, right?”

To make this as a long-lasting fidget, we would substitute some of the supplies:)

  • Here Shayna used paper-we would probably try felt. It can still be colored and decorated!
  • I would superglue it together-as an art project that was completed quickly before the school bus came, she used tape. It may last for a bit in our sensory bin-but I’m not counting on any real longevity!
  • Otherwise, I love the idea of putting pompoms inside as a filler. They are soft, textured, and quiet (if they are to be used anywhere where noise is a concern).

Ok-here’s a twist. My main motivation behind writing this post was not about the actual creation of the fidgets (even though I loved the imiginative and creative process!), but rather, the ideas around teaching kindness, and seeing past oneself.

Yes, the idea was so creative, and sometimes, I really get some fantastic and out-of-the-box therapy activities from my out children and those whom I treat.

But to me, as an OT, as a mom, as a human being, that’s not the point. It’s about character.
Thinking about others before yourself.
Turning your talents and gifts into a means to affect change, no matter how small the scale.
Realizing that kindness is the most beautiful part of who can be as a person.

Looking into the simple and pure happiness in my daughter’s eyes as she gave me these tools that she created to help them feel calm and happy-that, to me, is one of the more memorable moments of my life. I will cherish it for always.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I remember thinking of all the words of wisdom and teachable moments that I would impart throughout my journey as a parent.

Eight years and three kids later, while I hope that I have accomplished those, at least in part, I would never have thought it would be my children teaching me some of the most amazing and important life lessons of all.


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