Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cultivating Our Creative Spirits

This is part of creative exploration right?  
I've noticed a trend lately when it comes to the time I spend with my children.  We get busy.  We get rushed.  We spend a lot of time in the car, rushing to and fro.  Preschool, gymnastics, Girl Scouts, kindergarten, doctor's visits.  The time that we are home is often spent cleaning up messes, putting out fights, calming crying kids, and "getting ready" for some kind of activity.  I feel as if I'm always trying to maintain a sense of order instead of slowing down long enough to just enjoy the moments.  And I'm realizing more and more that this kind of living is something I need to be conscious of in order to change it and do the things that help to cultivate and enrich our creative spirits and to be more fully present in the joy that life has to offer...even when life is filled with what feels like limitless "go here, go there, do this, and do thats".

This week of spring break has been a reminder to me of the way things used to be before my kids started school.  We'd spend the day painting, mixing, finding uses for every cardboard box we found, and letting our imaginations lead the day.  I had the art easel and box of supplies up in the dining room and I did all I could to encourage  creative exploration.  We painted rocks, gathered pine cones, created little people out of popsicle sticks, and made castles out of the couch cushions.

This kind of creative exploration and living not only helped us feel more energized and enjoy each other more fully, but I could see how it enriched my children's life in other ways.   They were always coming up with ideas and asking new questions.  As a teacher, this is the stuff that makes me most excited!  To see children create, explore, and question their surrounding world!  Filling my days with creative activities like painting, exploring, scientific inquiry, and experimenting with different art media is not only enriching for my children, but for myself as well.  These things inspire ME to open my creative spirit and break down those ugly mental blocks that make me feel CREATIVELY Constipated!  They also inspire me to feel more open to new ideas, creations and writing possibilities.

Today at the Portland Children's Museum, I was reminded just how much I love it there! I love everything it stands for and all the stimulating and enriching opportunities for open-ended exploration, inquiry, creative thinking, and imaginative play.  We used to go once a week and I hope to start this routine again.  Yes, it is crazy sometimes but I think that the enriching experience it provides for my kids far outweighs the inconvenience and exhaustion it sometimes causes for me.

A huge "Light Bright".  This kept this little guy busy forever!

Some of my big mother goals:

  1. To bring back creative exploration in our daily lives and finding new ways to cultivate our creative spirits (and really figuring out what this means for me!)
  2. Allowing our "messes" to just stay where they are more often and making more time to "Live, play, explore, imagine, and create"!  Life is too busy as it is and if I don't make a conscious effort to slow down and pay attention to what is important to me, I could easily get lost in "managing" the life around me instead of "Playing in the game".  
  3. Have a set time where we try out new projects or let our questions lead us to new activities.
  4. Bring back 1-2 days a week where we have "NO T.V days"...none! Movies, shows, etc.  I'm not quite sure what happened to those days but it used to be that T.V was only allowed on maybe 2 days a week.  Now it seems like it is on every afternoon after my oldest gets home from school.  It has become a bad habit.  Don't get me wrong, I think t.v definitely has a place for me as a mother who needs breaks and my kids need to just "zone out" sometimes too!  But I do think that there are many things that can take the place of television and also help to enrich their minds and creative thinking that can be just as fun for them as a movie...the key is finding things that will still give me a break when I need it.  
  5. Remind myself that the days with my kids are numbered and the day that they are no longer "kids" will come faster than I will ever know!  Make the most of it! 
  6. Continue to create Balance in my life!  Taking the time to cultivate my creative energy and personal goals is equally as important and necessary in order for me to be the best mother I can be! This means taking "breaks" from my kids and not feeling guilty about working hard towards my goals with running, writing, etc.  

1. What are some ways that you cultivate your creative spirit?  

2.  If you're a mother, what are some things you do to encourage creative thinking and imagination?  Projects, games, activities, art ideas, etc?  

3. What are some of your big Motherhood (Fatherhood) goals?  



  1. OH this makes me miss little people.. sniff, sniff. My goals? Hmm to be more patient, loving and give them more time. Life is so busy esp now they are older and school is well, no longer crayons and storybooks.

  2. love this, amanda! we just got a membership to the children's museum. We'll have to meet you there sometime this summer! I have a lot of goals as a mom...I often put them off and say, "Oh, I'll start that this summer." No reason why I shouldn't start now. My oldest is super in to history... I need to figure out a way to teach/ let him explore that more... Really want to be a little more structured in our activities (really not me) but I think it would help me do more 'creative' things with the kids. I'm not exactly 'crafty' but we do love to paint and make messes!! :)

  3. Your children's museum looks awesome! Our is fun, but not quite as messy - and I love the messy learning!

    There is a website I go to when I need creative inspiration for fun projects at home: notimeforflashcards.com
    Maybe you'll enjoy her crafts as well?

  4. OK- so I definitely feel the busy go go go "functioning" but not experiencing and enjoying trend.....Kudos for recognizing it:) The Children's Museum looks so fun. It reminds me of when my girls were little. I was a SAHM (we lived in TX) and I would take them to San Antonio (2 hour drive) almost weekly just to go to the museum, the planetarium, the big library, the bookstore!!! Sometimes I feel like my son got the short end of the stick and just ends up traveling from place to place with a Nintendo DS in his hand....it bothers me.

    I like the big mother goals especially 2, 5, and 6:)

    Ways I cultivate my creative spirit. Music has always been huge to me. I've been playing, singing, writing for as long as I can remember. Sometimes my husband will find me at the piano in the middle of the night with the soft pedal down and a book of staff paper...huge stress reliever.

    I'm thinking my comment could be longer than your post if I keep going and answer all of the questions-ha!

    BTW, you are a Knockout! You can see the muscle definition in your legs right through your jeans! Have a great night:)

  5. wow. you're number 2 and 4 I can relate to all tooo much and those have b/c goals of mine this last few months too:):)

  6. Looks like a good day. My daughter starts kindergarten in the fall and I am so excited for her and me but I am going to miss all the time we have to do things- anything.

    I try to give her time to just be a kid, time to play and use her imagination. I love when she is playing alone and taking away fully immersed in her own world.

    I also try to remember that childhood is short. My favorite quote is, "The dishes can wait, childhood cannot".


  7. Have you ever read the book Mitten Strings for God??? Go out and get it and read it. I personally re-read this book whenever I'm feeling like a crazy momma and it helps remind me of what is really important. I think you will love it.

    I love the pics of the children's museum and "building forts" etc. at home. Those are the things that kids really do love the most. Don't be too hard on yourself you are a great mom.

  8. Wanted to let you know I read the most recent post first and then headed over to this one. No matter what adventure I am on that leads me and my time away from the kiddos at times, I will always know that being there for my kids and creating moments with them is more important than whether or not I improve at running, become a successful blogger, succeed at work, write a book, etc. I love you for writing these posts even if readership drops or comments drop. THIS is your life. THIS is what you'll want to read years from now as you look back on these times.The joy and the struggles. How you feel about balancing everything on your plate. How you had a running goal, life goals, relationship goals and yet through all of it you were a mommy number 1. I'm with you..been really busy lately and things have to take a backseat. Especially blog reading/commenting/writing. Last night there was a HUGE thunderstorm and hail in our area. I needed to run 4 miles, I needed to work on a school project, I have a work assignment that I took home THREE weeks ago that I haven't even started and my house is a mess. So what did I do? I got my toenails painted by Nat, I got pretend food made for me by James and Isabel and Ryan took turns reading chapters of a story to all of us. It was bliss. Just so you know...your blog posts are one of my favorites. :)

  9. What a wonderful post!! I love the picture of you and your children. It looks like you all had a great time at the museum!!

    As a kid, one of the coolest things I remember doing was making cards for family members. It wouldn't be for a special occasion but just to put a smile on a family members face. I remember working so hard on my cards.

  10. I love your mommy goals! I just have one little guy left and he's really into playing with me. I need to make more time to do just that, play. I love how they can turn anything (especially a cardboard box) into hours of playtime! And I LOVE no TV days. We had a rule of no TV until after dinner last summer. It was great and all the kids ended up having a great time playing with each other.

  11. We used to go to The Children's Museum ALL THE TIME! I loved it up there!

    One thing I've always done for creative stuff on long car rides was to buy those doodle books where there is maybe a part of a picture and the instructions then tell the child to use their imagination to finish it. I LOVE THOSE THINGS. My kids have been doing them for years. I love what they come up with!

  12. I think about the rushing and multi-tasking too -- and I don't have kids (or even pets!) I sometimes think about slowing down and being simpler, but I could be more active at it.

  13. You're giving your kids such a wonderful gift - the ability to use their imaginations!

  14. Great post! Like Adrienne, I also recommend "Mitten Strings for God". I also like to re-read it, too! We have cut back T.V. a lot during Lent this year, and it has been so great for the kids to make up games, do art projects, and play outside more. Thanks for the reminder to make my own "mother goals" :)

  15. I just recently discovered our local Children's museum and aside from being wonderful, it is a life saver on a rainy weekend.

  16. I didn't read this post. I can say that cuz we are buddies. I saw the pics. The last one with you and your kids is really cute. Doesn't look like you gained 4 lbs.

    Hey look, I'm the first guy to comment here. Well, my biggest Fatherhood goal is to get my kid into the college she wants. She will be applying in the Fall of this year which completely blows my mind. Guess what? One of the schools on her short list is Univ of Portland.