“So am I. There’s nothing to do around here.”
Chances are you’ve heard that more than once… today. Sometimes it seems like a mantra for modern kids. Between cable TV, the DVD and the Wii, a lot of children have come to believe they should be entertained at all times. In some cases, this constant connection with electronic abbreviations has short-circuited their creativity connections.
Creativity means approaching a need, task or idea from a new perspective. Too often, we relegate creativity to the painters and writers—a trait needed by the world’s artists, but better set aside by the rest of us. But this isn’t so. The corporate world calls creativity “thinking outside the box” and it’s needed now more than ever. It’s easy for companies and individuals to get in a rut or adopt an attitude of “good enough.” But progress and innovation often depends on the ability to approach problems from a different angle. This is the essence of creativity.
As parents, there are a number of ways we can inspire creativity in our children—and they don’t all involve signing up for art classes (although those always help).
1. Change your routine. You may feel like you’re on a treadmill: breakfast, drive the kids to school, go to work, pick the kids up, dinner, homework, get ready for bed. Then the next day you do exactly the same thing with little or no variation? Is there any way to add some fun into the mix to break things up? Creative escapes don’t have to be costly or time consuming. For example, instead of your usual dinner, why not have sandwiches at the park or a picnic in your backyard.
2. Try new things. As adults, we often have the luxury of doing only the things we do well. If we’re not good at math, we use a calculator; if we are not athletic, we avoid sports. Our children, however are expected to master a variety of skills ranging from soccer to algebra. Challenge yourself to dive into something new this month, whether it is a hobby you’ve always wanted to try or just a new food. New experiences stimulate our brains and open us up creatively.
3. Approach problems from a different angle. If completing a certain task or chore seems to be a problem in your household, look for creative solutions. Ask yourself and your family if there is a way to make the job more fun or interesting. Matching socks might be the most boring task on the planet, but turning it into a race to see who can come up with the most pairs in a minute makes it much more fun.
4. Remember to laugh. I’m sure that stoic people have creative ideas too, but those who have a sense of joy seem to ooze creativity. Consider this quote from Thomas Edison, “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” Now, tell me he didn’t have a sense of humor.
Gayleen Rabakukk is a freelance writer who spends her time in Edmond keeping up with her teenage and preschool daughters.