Our First Unplugged Project - and The Resulting Perfectionism  

Monday, March 3, 2008

This is my first try at participating in Unplug Your Kids' Unplugged Project. Every week, a new theme is given, such as red, toothpicks, or fabric, leaving readers and their children to interpret anyway they want. Everyone then signs up at the Unplugged Blog, and you can see everyone's different ideas of how to do the theme. We are far from Unplugged in our house - in fact, Paige is watching Little Einsteins while I type this. But, I do like attempting to do projects with her, and I love the idea of a theme, and seeing what everyone comes up with for that idea. I've always found the idea of giving a group of people the same items interesting. They always come up with unique ideas.

This week's theme was music. First, Paige and I danced. However, seeing as I got the music by turning on the TV and using one of the all music stations that my cable company provides, I figured that it probably didn't count as being Unplugged. I had a great idea though - to make a rainstick with her. I used the directions from Enchanted Learning, but then I also consulted a video of the project from Sprout's Good Night Show. That girl made it look so easy! However, I found out that it wasn't so easy for perfectionism.

First, Paige and I decorated a paper towel tube with stickers. They were alphabet stickers, and I let Paige pick what letters to use and stick them on. Next, my directions said to cut out a circle of paper to cover the ends. Easy enough. One set of directions told me to glue the circle on, one said to tape it. I figured tape would be easier and less messy. However, no matter how much I tried, I could not tape the paper on! The tape would not stick! Michelle helped me out, and we tried a couple different kinds of tape, and nothing worked. Now I was starting to get frustrated and mad at myself. How come nothing ever works right for me? I started to think. Michelle went and got some Saran Wrap and my rubber band ball. She had Paige pick a colored elastic and helped her put Saran Wrap over the first end. Paige and I then followed the rest of the directions, and put Saran Wrap and elastics over the other end. This seemed to work well, but when I shook it, a lot of the rice got stuck in between the Saran Wrap and the end of the tube, and you had to push it back in. Also, the tube wasn't keeping it's shape at one end - the rubber bands squished it shut. This was really irking my perfectionism.

I have a hard time when things don't go the way I planned for them to go. It is often hard for me to "change gears." This makes it hard for me to do things with a 3 year old sometimes, because things almost never go the way I had planned, and I want to make sure she doesn't become a perfectionist like me, so I try to go with the flow. But during this project I'm sure she saw I was frustrated that it wasn't coming out the way it was "supposed" to. Michelle then reminded me of the motto I use for my classroom, taken from Maryann Kohl's books - that it is the "Process, not the Product." (Darn her for being a logical friend.) She's right. I know she's right. The finished product doesn't have to be "perfect." It doesn't have to look just like any picture. The important part is that Paige and I did it together, and that we had fun. I just wish that wasn't so hard for me to remember sometimes. I just wish I didn't immediately get all stressed out about every little thing.

How do you deal with things when they don't go as planned? Anyone have any tips for how I can "let go" of having Paige and I do "perfect projects?"

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9 comments: to “ Our First Unplugged Project - and The Resulting Perfectionism

  • Becky @ Boys Rule My Life
    March 3, 2008 at 11:17 AM  

    I think you are absolutely right that the important thing is that you did something together.

    As far as letting things "go", I have found that with kids (3 in my case) it is always best to give myself lots of time so I'm not trying to hurry. If something doesn't work, get them involved in problem solving, "What do you think would work, because mommy's way isn't working very well." Try to keep a sense of humor about it all. You'll look back on this project with so much fondness. I have really enjoyed these Unplugged Projects.

    It's nice to meet you, by the way. I hope I didn't overstep any lines in the advice. (You asked, so I thought I'd volunteer some thoughts...) :)

    Hope to see you again next week with something "shiny"! :)

    have a great week!

  • Piseco
    March 3, 2008 at 11:22 AM  

    I've had moments of perfectionism too... although I'm much less perfect than most!

    One thing that helped me was to deliberately choose projects or activities where there isn't a "right way" that could get stuck in my head! Things like fingerpainting or free drawing. I look forward to seeing more of your "imperfect" projects!

  • reprehriestless warillever
    March 3, 2008 at 12:31 PM  

    I had a hard time with the ends on rainsticks as well. I make the circle larger than the tube, and then wrap a few inches of tape around it.

    Not pretty, but it works. Some of our sticks have lasted two years, and that is with the constant abuse of four small children. I think you might be able to catch a glimpse of one or two of them in the picture on my post.

    I have found that the kids can be creative problem solvers, and aren't constrained by the directions [since they can't read them anyway ;)]. When my son was 4, he cam up with the idea of attaching a string to his rainstick so that it would rattle as he pulled it accross the floor.

    It's nice to "meet" you. I hope that you do more unplugged projects with us.

  • Anonymous
    March 3, 2008 at 4:16 PM  

    Welcome to the Unplugged Project! A rainstick was a good idea, I am sorry it didn't go perfectly though. Even dancing sounds like a fun idea - it doesn't matter that it came from the cable TV ;) .

    I am a perfectionist too, but now that I am on child number three, I am forced to be a bit more "realistic"in my expectations. For example my house is far messier and more cluttered than I ever would have tolerated before, but three children can make mess faster than I can clean!

    As for rainsticks - my kids made some once and used foil taped on the ends. It stuck, but the foil eventually perforated and the beans came out the hole. Maybe rainsticks are the one craft project that cannot be done perfectly?

    It's nice to "meet" you. I am so glad that you joined us and I hope we'll see you next week!

  • Heather
    March 3, 2008 at 7:47 PM  

    yah!! another project to check out. I love seeing all the different projects. I think that you did great. Can not wait to see what you do next week.

  • coastalgirl
    March 3, 2008 at 8:16 PM  

    Too bad about the squished end of the rainstick, but I bet Piage had a blast anyway. As long as it's fun, right? Glad to see you joined unplug your kids.....we'll be posting our contribution tomorrow.

  • Michie
    March 3, 2008 at 8:43 PM  

    Thank you all for visiting my blog and leaving comments! I really do appreciate the ideas and the help on my sad little project. As you can probably tell from the title of my blog, I am working at trying to curb my perfectionist ways - I don't want Paige to become one if I can help it!

  • jennwa
    March 4, 2008 at 12:57 PM  

    I use to have the same problem. We would do a project and it did not turn out like the magazines. Just keep doing it and that need to look like the magazine will go away. Sometimes what the kids come up with are even better. I know (trust me I know) it is easier said than done but just try to let it go. The kids do not care if the project looks perfect, they are just glad they made it with Mommy.

  • Mrs. Brownstone @ XBOX Wife
    March 5, 2008 at 11:01 PM  

    Hey! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog!

    This "Unplugged" thing sounds like a great idea! I think we will try it here as well!

    Thanks again.


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