Creative mum finds brilliant way to entertain the toddler

Viv Yapp left behind her job as an art director at an advertising agency after having her two sons. But while the baby was napping, she was stuck for ways to entertain the toddler. Until she came up with the idea for 366 Cards – making one card a day, based on a world event…

Maternity leave can be a bit lonely sometimes. Maternity leave plus looking after a toddler? That’s just total madness. After I had my second baby, I was trying so hard to set up a routine with the two but their schedules often clashed. The toddler would be screaming to go to the park when the baby would be crying to get nursed. I had to find an activity for my toddler Covey to do at home quietly so that he wouldn’t wake up his baby brother Arlo, and one day out of the blue I discovered his love for cutting paper with scissors (demonstrated in the video below). So we just went with it and started making these cards together.

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We usually start after I put baby Arlo down for his morning nap. I will bring my box of craft stuff to the dining table and we look up what day that day might be. Covey tends to like the animal-based national days like National Whale Shark Day or Save the Elephant Day, but he’s also a big fan of the food-based ones (we’ve had lots of doughnuts and cupcake days as well as a National Chocolate Week… that was fun!). Once we figured out what day we were doing, the next step would be to pick out colours together, then start cutting and gluing whilst talking about the subjects of those days. I remember learning about how a jellyfish stings from watching a Ted video together whilst we were making a card for National Jellyfish Day.

To be honest, making collages is not my natural style. I did go to art college and was an art director in an advertising agency before having babies, but I was always more into painting. Doing collages was really driven by Covey’s love of using my scissors so it was a new challenge for me, but I started to love playing with simple shapes, and in the end I was amazed at how much I enjoyed the loose playfulness of this technique.

Another thing that I found amazing in this process is that, although I sometimes felt isolated being on maternity leave, the process of uploading these cards on social media and connecting with others gave me a welcomed link with the adult world I’d left behind – a connection that was vital amidst mornings filled with tantrums and endless loops of baa baa black sheep. We’ve gathered a bit of a crowd and I’ve met some really creative people on Instagram who inspire me in other ways.

Watch our video here:

Working around a toddler’s attention span was certainly not easy! Often I wanted to carry on and spend more time on a piece but Covey would want to get onto another activity. Toddlers can also be pretty adamant at times, and Covey certainly has a bossy streak to him, like telling me I’d got the size of an astronaut wrong in relation to the moon, or insisting on using a colour that I found ‘ugly’ for a gecko’s eye. But what I learnt in this process is that letting go of my “grown up” perspective of perfection and letting Covey’s child-like approach take over was liberating, and I was often surprised by the result. ‘Imperfection’ is actually, kinda perfect.

Follow 366 cards on Instagram: @366 cards