The Doodle Space


Having a ‘doodle space’ for one’s creativity is such a healthy, positive thing in a home.  It not only encourages creativity but it can be a really good way for any family member to reduce their stress levels.

Unfortunately, in many homes today, any activities that are remotely “messy” are discouraged and rather left for their children to do at school. In addition, we live at such a hectic pace and are so overscheduled that there is usually insufficient time to allow for creative free play, when in fact we need far more of it.

The Doodle Space

What I have realised over the years of being a parent is that if the paints, crayons, pastels, playdough and other creative media are kept packed away and out of sight, our children engage less and less with them until they no longer want to play with them at all.  And this is a travesty.

A doodle space needn’t be a large area. In fact, if you are short of room, say the corner of the family room or on the patio, then the kitchen bar counter is perfect.  Just keep a selection of media in a large shoebox or plastic box in the pantry, and put it out on the counter for your children to doodle with while you are cooking dinner, or after their homework is done.

It can also be a nice way to shift gears between coming home and starting on homework or chores because it is relaxing. Try doing messy play together, either on the same piece of paper which can be rather fun, working around each other or adding to each other’s creations, or working on one’s own piece side-by-side.

What you will need for your doodle spot:

  • The younger the child the larger the paper so that they can cross their midline while drawing or painting.
  • Some pre-mixed poster or powder paints. As children get older disc paints are great. Finger paints are good for pre-schoolers.
  • Aprons for the pre-schoolers and large T-shirts when required for older kids.
  • Paint brushes the appropriate thickness for the age of the child.
  • Pastels and crayons
  • Playdough, tools and cutters
  • Scissors

Putting your children’s works of art up on the kitchen wall, the fridge door or some other designated space makes them feel celebrated and appreciated. If you haven’t put some squiggles on paper for a while have a go, and you might experience yourself quite differently.

Because play matters.



Parenting expert and toy judge

Author of Future-proof Your Child for the 2020s and Beyond (Penguin Random House, 2019)

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