5 Things My Kids and I Genuinely Do Imperfectly (and a Breakdown of Easy Activities, too)

Amanda Clark-Rudolph

It’s the process that counts, right?


Photo by Arina Krasnikova / Unsplash

“This is life, and imperfection is beautiful, and don’t be afraid of that.” Dylan O’Brien

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m not a Pinterest mom. Okay, those who know me are laughing because to them, that’s no secret at all.

However, I love doing loads of stuff imperfectly with my kiddos.

For me, it’s much more constructive to focus on the process with my two preschool-aged sons than on striving for perfection.

(Those of you who have ever attempted a craft with a two-year-old know what I’m talking about.)

Turns out the process is more important than you’d think.

According to Scientific American, “Subsequent studies revealed that the most persistent students do not ruminate about their own failure much at all but instead think of mistakes as problems to be solved.” 

Want to be imperfect together and need some activities to do so? 

Here are 5 things my kids and I genuinely do imperfectly (and easy kid activities, too)

1. Baking

As you can see by the picture of our Christmas cookies above, baking with a 2 and 5-year-old rarely goes as planned. But boy do we have loads of fun!

When we bust out our Pokemon aprons and bake, we gather and measure ingredients — two skills they’ll use in the future.

Sure, we spill flour, and icing covers hands, but we all clean up together.

Plus, research shows that cooking improves kids’ palettes, boosts confidence, and explores their senses. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m sold!

Here’s a quick and easy icing recipe kids love:


  • 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • A dash of vanilla 
  • 1 tablespoon of milk
  • A few drops of your favorite food coloring

What you do:

Have your kiddos slowly add the powdered sugar to the vanilla, food coloring, and milk, then mix it all up until it thickens.

In the mood for something less sweet? Bake these applesauce muffins or banana bread

2. Cleaning

Let’s be real: my boys are no professional cleaners. In fact, I need to keep an eye on my oldest —  known for kicking all his toys under his bed then saying, “I cleaned my room.”

Nice try, bucko.

I accept my two preschoolers will not mop the entire floor, dust every household speck, or wipe every crumb off the table.

But they try.

And I’d much rather have them clean imperfectly than not clean at all.

Fingers crossed that as they get older, their cleaning skills will improve.

Check out these strategies that have turned my kids into cleaning monsters. 

  • Using a chore chart: It still baffles me what kids will do for a star. We prefer the magnetic ones that sticks to your fridge.
  • Playing ninja cleaner: Seriously, tell your kid he/she is a cleaning ninja. You can even join in on the party and roll around while picking up toys and throwing them in boxes like ninja stars. Trust me.
  • Playing Dora the Explorer’s Clean Up Song -Don’t ask me why, but it works.

3. Finger Painting

Did you know that American artist Ruth Faison Shaw introduced finger painting into art education? 

The first time I finger painted with my kids, I had my doubts. I even questioned if Ruth deserved a pat on the back or a push out the door. 

Still, we took the plunge, and although we made a HUGE mess, it was soooo worth it.

Did my boys paint beautiful suns and calming oceans? Heck no, they covered their paper with a nasty looking brown which resembled, well, you get the point.

But during this imperfect process, they also mixed colors, explored their senses, and had a blast.

There are a ton of easy fingerpainting ideas on Pinterest to try.

Even though I’m not a Pinterest mom, we’ve given the lobster one a shot :)

4. Sports

I played D1 soccer and was a tri-varsity athlete in high school. In short, I LOVE sports.

But I also know that kicking a size 3 ball in the backyard with a toddler and diving up a storm at the NCAA tournament are two different beasts.

These days, my boys and I put a spin on sports at home. We play keep away with our dog, hit Wiffle balls off tees, and relay race through sand pits.

The Mayo Clinic emphasizes the healthy benefits of sports for kids in formal AND informal settings. 

I’m happy to say we’ve got the informal thing covered.

Here are a few backyard sport ideas:

  • Minigolf (build your own course)
  • Kickball
  • Relay races
  • Home run derby
  • Ultimate frisbee

5. Building towers

You know the saying, “What goes up must come down?” That’s the reality when two boys build towers — another imperfect activity we LOVE!

Of course, it helps that research shows playing with blocks improves fine motor skills, spatial awareness, and hand-eye coordination. 

Knocking ’em down is part of the fun, too!

So why not try building towers with the items listed below?

  • Legos
  • Wooden blocks
  • Magnetic tiles
  • Tinker Toys
  • Toilet paper rolls

Wrapping Up

Ex rugby player, Robert Tew, hit the nail on the head when he said, “There’s no need to be perfect to inspire others. Let others get inspired by how you deal with your imperfections.”

Because that’s how I feel when I do the above 5 activities with my kids. We make messes, miss the mark, “fail,” and learn. 

Not every project exemplifies traditional success, but we have fun while reveling in the process.

Together we try to complete something magnificent, and most of the time we do — imperfections and all.

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Hi, I'm Amanda - a freelancing mama who writes about family, travel, holidays, and more! In addition to freelancing it up, I'm a Content Coordinator for neighborhood magazines. My favorite pastimes: Writing, slurping lattes, and playing freeze tag with my two sons.

Ocala, FL

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