How do we foster creativity in our children and in our parenting? Both require space and time. We all need ample time and a sense of abundant space to let our creative subconscious flourish. Recall your child’s joy when having an unscheduled afternoon to start and finish a project or imaginary play. Do you remember her or him proudly presenting this project? Reflect on a time when you had extra time to prepare dinner and got really creative with ingredients and truly cooked with love. Our children taste the love in that cooking.
As a single parent, I became the mistress of multi-tasking, always watching the clock to keep track of the myriad plans and projects we had. Then one night while I was washing the dishes, I realised I was holding my breath. I was stopping myself from being fully alive by trying to do too much in too little time. I became resentful of all I expected myself to do. I stopped enjoying parenting. This is easy when there isn’t another parent to share tasks with, when there isn’t another parent to interact with, play with, and guide your child. I felt very alone sometimes.
When I was full of resentment and empty of resources, I forgot how to respond creatively to my son. I learned from a dear friend to start to pay attention to all of our energy levels, and then to pull back from plans and activities BEFORE everyone got tired, hungry, and grumpy. I built a shoulder like on a road, for extra wiggle room. I found that when I was “in time” rather than “on time”, which is an adversarial relationship, I could play more, which led to more creativity, and fun. There was energy to dance to a song that came on the radio, or prepare a silly meal, or turn a tantrum into a hide and seek game around the house.
When I suggest to clients creative responses to children’s oppositional behaviour, many harried parents say, “I don’t have time to get creative and turn it into play – I’m too busy for that!” But often it’s our children’s unheard requests for play that turn into “bad” behaviour. You can be really efficient with time and play first!
Find pockets of time and space and creativity will follow.