“Peek-a-Boo.” Once, those three little words were probably enough to elicit giggles from your child. But as kids grow older, their interests diversify, and it can become increasingly difficult to find ways to connect. Finding a new hobby to do together can be a way to bridge the gap between you and your child or strengthen the bond that’s already there.
Leatherworking can be a great craft to do with your kids, not only because it’s fun in its own right, but because the results are tangible and useful. Learning leatherworking is unique enough that your kids may find it cool, but they’ll also develop valuable life skills, like sewing, that can translate to other aspects of their lives.
But if you’ve never done any leatherworking before, you may not know how to get into leatherworking with your kids. We can help! In this guide, we’ll walk you through the basics of leatherworking with your kids and help you translate this timeless life skill into a hobby you’ll both love.
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Why leatherworking with your kids is a good idea
You know that it’s important to spend time with your kids. Studies show that kids who spend more time with their fathers have fewer behavioral issues. Spending time with your kid can also strengthen your bond and build their self-esteem.
But sometimes, knowing how to connect with your child can be difficult, especially as they head into adolescence. Picking up a new hobby together can help you find common ground and give you something fun to talk about and do together.
The importance of sharing hobbies with your kids
It’s important for children to have hobbies so that they can learn what they’re interested in, spend their time in a productive way, and build self-esteem. But sharing a hobby with a parent can be especially powerful for children. Sharing a hobby can give you an opportunity to have conversations with your child you might not otherwise have, and can allow you to teach valuable life skills they’ll carry with them into adulthood.
While working on your hobby together, you can teach your child how to follow directions, set goals, and organize their work. You can also use it as an opportunity to work in lessons from school, such as the history of the project you’re working on or its cultural significance. It is, perhaps, in part because of this that studies consistently show that when fathers and their children share activities, the children have higher academic performance.
But regardless of whether you use your time together as an opportunity to teach additional life skills, studies find that spending time on hobbies can bolster the psychological health of both children and adults. This means:
- Lower stress levels
- Higher quality sleep
- Improved school and work performance
- Better social circles
- Increased overall feeling of happiness
And when both you and your children feel better on a regular basis, it naturally becomes easier for you to connect with one another.
Additionally, recent studies show that just spending time with your children isn’t what leads to a strong connection. What matters most is not the amount of time you spend with your kids, but the quality of the time you spend with them.
Even working parents, who may not have a lot of hours to spend with their kids each week, can boost their kids’ self-esteem and lower their chances of engaging in dangerous behaviors as long as when they are with their kids, they’re actively engaged with them. Sharing a hobby, in this way, is a higher quality bonding experience than just vegging out in front of the TV with them.
Why leatherworking is a great hobby choice
Working with leather is a unique hobby. While there’s a good chance that there are other kids at school who play video games with their parents or throw around a baseball after school, you may be the only parent offering leatherworking as a potential hobby for your child.
Having a unique hobby can make your kid a little more interesting, both now and in the future.
Leatherworking also teaches your child valuable skills that they may not get otherwise. Your teen son, for example, may not be willing to break social norms to learn sewing as a hobby, but leatherworking involves sewing and will teach this life skill naturally.
Leatherworking also involves measuring, sanding, and knife skills that are great for everyone to master before adulthood.
How to get into leatherworking with your kids
Knowing how to get into leatherworking with your kids isn’t all that different from knowing how to get into leatherworking as an adult. The main differences when working with kids include:
- Prioritizing safety
- Getting their buy-in by hyping it up ahead of time
- Keeping it exciting in the long-term
It’s important to both teach and model leatherworking safety, including wearing protective lenses and practicing general knife safety skills. But if you’re really looking for how to get into leatherworking with your kids, the first key is to know how to hype it up.
Watching leatherworking videos
YouTube is a big part of kids’ lives. In fact, 80% of parents admit that their kids watch YouTube, and 53% of those parents say that it happens on a daily basis. Using something your kid already likes is a great way to showcase a new activity that you’re trying to hype up. Leatherworking videos can show your kids what to expect from the hobby, and can be genuinely cool.
Watching videos is also great for both you and your kids when you’re trying to figure out how to get into leatherworking because it can give you visual feedback for some of the terminology you’ll read in leatherworking books and leather craft kits.
Some of the coolest YouTube channels to check out for leatherworking videos include:
- Popov Leather: Our leatherworking channel, which includes plenty of DIY & craft with me projects
- Skill Tree: A channel dedicated to teaching life skills through interests like roleplaying, Skill Tree has a 60+ video playlist dedicated just to leatherworking. While it's a good idea to pre-watch these videos, as not all of them are kid-friendly, we love the energy in their videos and the fact that they may help your kids connect to leathermaking in a new way.
- Bruce Cheaney: This channel is by a leather artisan who shows skills like how to thin leather and how to carve letters into leather.
- Drawbridge Props & Armory: Another fun hobby channel, this one looks into how to make props in a home workshop using metalworking, leatherworking, and woodworking skills.
- The Art of Craftsmanship: This channel gets into different types of craftsmanship, including blacksmithing and bow making, and has a short playlist dedicated to leatherworking.
Exploring leatherworking books
Using leatherworking books to teach you how to get into leatherworking can show your kids the importance of doing research. You can even plan a trip to the library around this new hobby you’re working on together.
Leatherworking books can be a great way to build hype because they may include full-page illustrations of gorgeous leather projects.
Picking up leather craft kits
Sometimes, the best way to get excited about working with leather is to jump in with both feet. Pick up a leather sewing kit and a simple leatherworking project, plan an evening or a weekend, and just start trying to work with the material together.
Be sure to make it fun. Don’t stress too much about the end product, and instead focus on how it feels to work with the leather. Laugh at each others’ mistakes and have fun while you work. That’s the best way to turn a single day’s activity into a lifelong hobby you’ll both love.
How to keep leatherworking enjoyable for you and your kids
Leatherworking can be a lot of fun, but it can also be difficult, especially when you’re just getting started. To turn this into a fun hobby, it’s important to reduce the pressure on both you and your kids. Be careful of how you talk about upcoming projects. While you want to get excited about the possibility of cool, handcrafted leather items in your home, you also want to manage expectations so your kids don’t wind up disappointed if it takes a while to master the craft.
Practice having a growth mindset
It’s easy to think that your first DIY leather journal kit will turn into a masterpiece that they can show off to their friends. But when, inevitably, your kid struggles with their first few projects, they may want to quit.
This is when teaching your kid about having a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset is important. Instead of thinking “I can’t do this” or “I’m not good at this,” teach your kids to think “This is hard, but I can get better.”
The easiest way to do this is to focus on small successes rather than overall failures. Instead of noting that you can’t use the new leather wallet you made, for example, point out that you’re proud of how much tighter your stitching is getting.
Modeling a growth mindset with your own work can help your kids pick up that habit and notice their own growing successes as well.
Choose projects you enjoy
Even if you’re not perfect at leatherworking yet, it’s important to pick projects you and your kids are excited about. For example, you might look into reskinning a baseball or creating a fashionable leather purse.
These pet projects can help your kids feel more engaged in the work they’re doing, which can help them stick with it through the bumps and bruises in their personal learning curve.
A family that crafts together stays together
Whether leatherworking turns into your new favorite hobby with your kids or is just one of many hobbies you try out together, the important thing is to find new ways to engage with your kids. Working on a craft with your kids provides you with an opportunity to talk to them, bond with them, and educate them all at the same time.
And even when your kids are going through that fun stage of adolescence where it seems they do nothing but push you away, they need that consistent support from you. They need you to reach out and find new ways to bond with them. A unique leatherworking project can be just the thing you need to ignite their curiosity and get them excited about spending time with you.
Article by Ryan Popoff
Ryan Popoff is the creative mind behind Popov Leather wallets, iPhone cases, belts, watch bands and journals since 2013. With a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts, my leatherworking journey began at home. I wanted to create a simple leather wallet that could fit into my front pocket and — to my delight — it was a hit with family and friends. Hopefully you love our honest, quality leather goods too! Reach out with questions.