One Designer’s Back-to-Basics Guide to Keeping Little Kids Busy (and Staying Sane) This Summer
Annabel Inganni knows a thing or two about juggling—during her waking hours, she toggles between crafting gorgeously patterned home goods for her line Wolfum in her Pasadena workshop and doing playtime with her 6 ½ year old, Birdie. As you’d guess for someone whose day-to-day is so very hands-on, Annabel’s all about analog toys and games, and she’s got a big, sweaty-fun summer planned for her and the peanut. “I have so many wonderful memories of just tooling around making up games at that age,” say Annabel. “I’m really excited to do all kinds of crafts with her.” See what they’re ‘bout to get into...
TAKE IT ONE STITCH AT A TIME
“I have a ton of fabric scraps, so I’m teaching her how to work a sewing machine. It’s surprisingly simple, and I feel like it’s a good skill to teach kids. Right now we’re building a whole little fairy home with lots of tiny things inside. We’re going to find lots of natural sticks and things to furnish it and sew together little blankets and make a picnic set-up for the fairies. I find with an almost seven year old, the more intricate the activity is, the longer she’ll stay engaged, so it’s nice to have something you can keep coming back to. I also love making God’s eyes with her, so I’m always collecting colorful yarns and things for that.”
CHOP IT UP
“We do a ton of cooking together because I want to give her autonomy. I’m just getting into teaching her knife skills. It sounds crazy, but I read that Anthony Bourdain started his daughter even younger. It’s really fun for her to learn basics like how to crack an egg. When I started Wolfum, it was about bringing back a lot of these things from my childhood that I felt had gotten lost along the way—and these kinds of home-ec skills are part of that, too. I want her to know how to do these things, if for no other reason than she knows how things work and get made.”
“For a long time, I’d wanted to do a whole game division for Wolfum of the kinds of things I grew up with. We started with the travel backgammon sets and now have a full-size table version along with these really gorgeous cornhole sets. With kids these days, the pace of everything is so rapid, so it’s nice to slow it down a bit. I also think it helps if grown-ups can get into things they feel nostalgic about. I ordered vintage Simon game on eBay a few years ago, and even though it still gives me a lot of anxiety, I love it. They just recently re-released it. When other parents of my generation see it, they get so into it. “
“I think the next big thing is the supersized version of regular games. There’s a huge lawn-size Connect Four, and giant dominoes are now a thing. They have them at rooftop bars in L.A., so that’s another one that’s good for all ages! I also like to do painting on a big scale—I’ll unroll a huge sheet of paper outside and let Birdie just go nuts painting all over the place. Then I just hose her down afterwards.”