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Friday, March 29, 2013

Out of Boredom Comes Creativity...

Like many of my generation, I have experienced creativity emerging from boredom first hand as I did not have the opportunities nor the distractions that exist today.  As a parent, not only did I not allow the words "I'm bored" uttered in my presence but when sensing the feelings of boredom, sent my children outside to play, and although I too went outside, I did not join them in their play.

As a parent I chose not to fill up my children's schedules so that they had little time at home creating their own schedule. Sure I have involved them in organized activities in order to introduce them to things that might strike a chord in them, helped them to see that they have particular gifts and talents that can be offered for the greater good in their lives and also to teach them about how to be in community. However, I did not want their lives to be so full so that they were unable to make creative and constructive choices when they were all alone at home with oodles of time - like during the summer.  Because television and games were not a habit in our household, my children would choose other pursuits over them.

What we do have in our yard, are four treehouses, three of them built by Max and Jillian, a trampoline, tire swing, trapeze, cement pad with basketball net, scrap lumber and metal heap, a shed with tools, a paintball course built by my son when he was 15 years old, bikes, hoses hooked up to a creek and a dugout for what would seem unlimited water, and a zipline. By now you may have gathered that I live rurally.  However, I would hope that living in the city wouldn't change HOW I have parented but that I would look to different opportunities for them to envelop the gift of creativity as well as the gift of relying on oneself for motivation.


Two treehouses connected by rope swing...

How does a parent go about instilling this in children?
  • by resisting the desire to fill up a child's schedule.
  • by resisting the desire to offer suggestions when they seem bored - instead let them know that you have great faith in them that they will be able to fill their time with constructive activities and that you can hardly wait to hear all about their endeavors and adventures.
  • allow time for daydreaming. (I learned this from Max when he was in grade one and a wise health care professional expounded with, "He's got the gift of daydreaming!")
  • ask them for their game plan for the summer. It doesn't mean that they have to meet every goal but just to have some set out. (Once again, I learned this from my son who is a goal-setter and sets one surrounding his athletics, music and school.)
  • model the behaviour that you want to see - determine what your own summer goals are?
As individuals and as a collective, we are raising children and doing so to the best of our abilities right here and now, and we can all improve on the ways in which we parent. I am in no way suggesting that I am doing everything "right" because, of course, I am not. I too am just muddling along the path in this game that we call parenting.

A good and wise friend, Linda Garvin once told me that, "kids need to be kids while they're kids", summer will be here before we know it and for us it is about being wild and free, creative and... mostly barefoot.

...Ellyn

Thanks to my friend Linda Garvin for her continual teachings...