You recently told me that your biggest challenge is when it comes to doing more creative projects with your kids is TIME.
As parents we are always strapped for time. Since I had my first child I’ve been a working mom, stay at home mom, mom of two kids and a newborn, work from home mom, overcommitted mom volunteer, lets just say I’ve faced a lot of the challenges with respect to time that many of you also face.
I learned over the years that if I really want to share creative experiences with my kids I’m going to have to get creative on how and when to squeeze it into our perpetually saturated schedule. After all, the time is now. Kids grow up FAST; before you know it they are off to college and you’ll be wishing that you spent more time with them. I hear this from veteran parents all.the.time.
So what’s a tired, busy parent to do? Well, over the years I found a few tactics that have helped us sneak some creative family time in. I hope that by reading through these 5 Easy Ways to Find Time for Family Creativity you might find one or two of them sound do-able. Check them out and tell me what you think!
1. Set aside 15 minutes in your week
The biggest misconception about making time for family creativity is that it’s a huge time commitment. It doesn’t have to be. In fact I recommend against it becoming a huge endeavor because if it is, the more likely you are to NOT do it.
Can you set aside a mere 15 minutes a week to do something creative with your kids? That’s right, 15 minutes is ALL YOU NEED! Most kids can successfully accomplish a simple project in 15 minutes. Another bonus to the 15-minute plan is you will be less invested in it’s success. The self-imposed pressure for a project to go well kills a good time. Some projects will be hits and some will be misses and keeping things short and sweet means you can brush off misses a lot more easily.
So take a look at your family’s weekly schedule and see if you can find one day/week where 15 minutes of creativity can be included. And then pencil it into your calendar-NOW.
Need some help thinking of EASY 15 minute ideas to try? Hop over and check out this list of 80 EASY creative projects for kids.
2. Prep in advance
I recommend you prep a project in advance of when you are going to do it, as in a day or at least few hours in advance. Chose a quiet moment at home and jot down the materials list, grab a tray, and gather everything you need. Clear off the table, set the tray down and you’re ready! If you spend a few minutes prepping a project in advance you are less likely to brush it off when it comes time to do the project. I mean really, even if you are exhausted the project is ready to go, you simply need to add kids and show up!
Alternatively, depending on how old your children are, enlist your kids in the prep. Assign them the task of gathering the paints and brushes or clearing off the table. And on the opposite end, make sure they help clean-up too!
3. Save that chore
I know that pile of dishes in the sink is just staring at you…but will your kids look back on their childhood fondly and remember…clean dishes? Probably not. But will they remember a childhood filled with creative exploration, a paper helicopter flying contest, that GIANT small world you painted on the patio, or the wizard’s brew that wouldn’t stop bubbling. The next time prioritizing a chore over creative time with your kids tempts you, DON’T DO IT! Prioritize fun!
4. Device-free days
This has been a game changer in our house. The older my kids get the more tied they are to electronics. Last year my husband came up with the idea of Device-Free Days. We allotted 2 no-device days a week for all of us (though we are allowed to work on computers while the kids are at school).
Device free days give my kids an expectation that we will be spending some time together as a family on those days. While it has not been without whining, my kids have started playing together more on device free days, and it actually provides an incentive for me to plan something fun to do so once the homework is finished they don’t start asking me why they can’t go on their iPads…..consider it a gentle kick in the butt that’s good for the whole family!
If you try this, you may want to consider having a few ready to go activities like these on hand so you don’t feel overwhelmed with planning.
5. It doesn’t always have to be a project….
Family creativity doesn’t always have to mean sitting down at the table and doing projects together. Tons of opportunities exist to inject a little creativity into your family’s daily life. Creative thinking is ultimately about being able to see the world with fresh eyes and wonder, of being able to think about new solutions and developing confidence in both success and failure. Reinforcing a creative mindset for everyone in your family through simple activities is just as effective as sitting down and doing projects together.
Not sure what I mean by simple creative activities? Print this list of 42 creative prompts for families and try some.
What do you think? Are any of these do-able?
Listen, when all the things you “have” to do pile up, spending time with your kids doing fun and creative things feels like a luxury, I know, but I’m also guessing that if you read this you know the importance of making time for your kids, of sharing creative time together, and you want your children to grow up as problem solvers with fond memories of tinkering and making stuff as a child….
So make this your mantra for family creative time: It shouldn’t be hard. It really shouldn’t. As parents we are always going to be exhausted from a day at work, stressed out about getting dinner on the table, or cajoling our kids into finishing their mountain of homework….so keep things simple. For everyone. If you can spare just 15 minutes a week to try a project with your kids or a few minutes/day on a creative prompt that’s really all you need to get into a creative family mindset.