This blog is a finished product, two years of memories. These posts are now going to the next stage of becoming keepsake books for my daughters.

I'm still blogging at The Irish Rhymes & Joanna's Little Shop.

Thank you so much to everyone who was on this journey with me.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

I nurture a creative culture

Welcome to Week One of the month-long Carnival of Creative Mothers to celebrate the launch of The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood
by Lucy H. Pearce

Today's topic is Nurturing a Culture of Creativity at Home. Be sure to read to the end of this post to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Join the Carnival and be in with a chance to win a free e-copy of The Rainbow Way!

November 27th: Creative Heroines.
December 4th: Creative Inheritance.
December 11th: The Creative Process.

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"We're busy doing nothing, working the whole day through, trying to find lots of things not to do..."
2011-2013 including the mono-brow incident (top right) when Sadie chose face-painting over making masks.
Holly was not amused

Hello and welcome! This is one of the many stops on Lucy Pearce's Carnival Of Creative Mothers to celebrate the launch of Lucy's book The Rainbow Way.

As you can see the encouragement of creativity is not new to our home. There's nearly two years' difference between the first and last photos above. Sadie and Holly have been scribbling since they were teeny. I think any parent would almost have to go out of their way to not nurture a creative culture since children will try to do more of what they like doing than what they don't and, as long as you're not saying no all the time, then you are encouraging them. It is important to me to nurture a culture of creativity in my home because it is important to my children. For me spending time consciously (not that I am ever unconscious here!, I mean being fully present) with my children makes whatever we are doing more enjoyable and beneficial for them. It's not always easy; there are plenty of distractions and, let's face it, when you've done something a thousand times it just takes that next time to make you feel like you're losing your mind. Yes, the first few times a child paints or uses a glue-stick they will make a mess but it's worth bearing in mind that it only takes them a few goes to master things and after that every time adds to their confidence.

I have always been organised and liked it. Then I had children. Sadie and Holly are relentless in their need to draw, paint, colour and/or simply destroy! They are on the go
A selection from the mini baker sets
at top speed all day every day. This, of course, is as it should be and I am grateful that they are able to be just right for their ages. It is, however, exhausting. To counter being drained of all energy while willingly catering to the whims of my girls I have imposed what order I can so, where practicable, I have clawed back some semblance of organisation.

We eat risotto a lot. It's one of the meals the children can help with (no oil splashing, lots of stirring). I keep the risotto rice and carton of dried grated cheese together in a low cupboard in the kitchen so each of them has a job to do by getting them for me and then they get to help with adding things in as we go. It's a simple way to let them be involved.

I quite like to bake. Sadie and Holly love baking so I try to find easy recipes; you will often find us making no-bake recipes. I put together what I call mini baker sets, one for each helper/child/thrower of eggs across the kitchen. You'll get the idea from the photo above: I used empty spice jars (the ones with sprinkle holes) for flour and sugar and empty cream cartons for milk. Having these in the cupboard and fridge means that the girls can get their own baking stuff when we decide to bake and also that they can mix away in their bowls how they want while I do the actual baking and there's no chance of too much mess or waste. Make sure you rinse out your mini milk cartons after each use and keep ready for the next baking session, I put a small amount of milk in our two and put them in the fridge just before I announce that we're going to bake. I have them labelled with the girls' names so they're also doing a little bit of kind-of-reading each time they take them out.

"...We're busy going nowhere, isn't it such a crime?..."

Making sure Sadie and Holly keep busy is important to me, I think it's good for them to feel they've done something in a day especially with our outdoors time being limited at this time of the year. They are at home with me and I like giving them a sense of routine, it's good for me too. We rarely bake or make anything to a very high standard so it's important to remind myself that that's not the aim. A former perfectionist, I have forced myself to still aim for excellence but mostly, nowadays, the excellence is in the enjoyment and not in the final result. I also think that keeping children busy means they are tired by bedtime. Mine are usually in bed for 8pm these nights and asleep by 9. I am able to leave their bedroom door open and they will sleep away. At that time of the day I really feel the benefit of having offered them something to apply their energy to.

We have a room in our house that, until recently, was known as "the black hole". We were ever fearful of a child getting lost or maimed in there. I attacked said room and removed baby toys, broken toys, bits of things, a bike!, basically everything that the children are now too old for or doesn't work. It is now a haven, loved and used by all of us.

If you are one of the people who has seen our playroom in
real life please note: I tidied and photographed it late at night
Welcome to our playroom. When Sadie was born a friend of mine gave me the blue unit in the photo; he was dumping it. It wasn't blue, it was knackered. I painted it inside and out. It has a strong table that pulls out so you can sit at it, it's great for using a Stanley knife on or doing any gluing. It holds all our art and craft stuff. The toys are at the other side of the room and we have a table in the middle. I absolutely love my unit because it's the reason I'm always ready for the demands of my superiors (children). It only takes a minute for me to get out all the paints/pencils/scissors, everything has its place. And it's a great way to get my girls into the routine of putting things away when they're finished....We're working on it bit by bit!

There's no question about it, painting  is always top of the list of things that my children want to do. I find the c.600ml bottles of paint and glue very handy, I think I bought the ones in the photo two years ago or even more and I only bought a new bottle of red recently. Sadie and Holly like to squeeze out the paint themselves and yes, the first few times I let them do that there was a mess and a few of my nerve endings stopped functioning. But now it makes them so proud to get the paints, organise the table and squeeze the paint out themselves that I think the cursing in my head was worth it. I keep the paint trays and brushes in that thin drawer you see above so the girls can get them themselves and I keep a realm of printing paper in the bottom drawer on the right. The girls like opening the big door on the bottom where I hoard lots of things that don't make it to the recycling bin.  It was nearly a year ago when I read this post on Mama.ie and it really inspired me to hold on to the more robust items that I'd washed for recycling. Sadie and Holly can help themselves to these things at any time. Before a bath there is a tearing through this shelf for containers that can act as boats for Lego people. Sometimes they'll pull out a washing-up liquid bottle, some cotton wool and an egg box and announce they are making birds. They'll try to put it all together with a glue stick and when that fails they'll ask me to get the liquid glue. I will then have to squeeze it on where I'm told to and they make something that doesn't look anything like a bird but they'll be delighted with themselves.

Foam bits, a stapler and a pen for
eyes & eyebrows:
A rabbit that began as a bat, a bird
and a flower fairy.
To me those are the keys: Say yes to it when you can and be as organised as is feasible. Oh, and wear old clothes, well, do if you want! It works for me, that way it doesn't matter who wipes their nose off me or what globs of glue or paint come my way at speed. And don't get me wrong, I don't believe it's necessary to go to great lengths all the time - I just love when the girls decide that they're going to make a lego city or dinosaur family or when they gather leftover foam pieces and ask me to staple them, when it's a no-mess-no-fuss-no-stress arts and crafts project I'm as delighted as the children are to take part.

The children keep most of their books by their beds and like to 'read' aloud when I've finished reading their bedtime stories. They also have a penchant for picking out particular characters or images in their books and sending me to get some cardboard so I can draw the ones they choose and cut them out for them. Then they get to act out the story afterwards. I don't know if you can see the ducks clearly below but they are an example of what Sadie and Holly always do when I've drawn something for them: They draw on eyebrows if I didn't or they define them more...They have a thing about eyebrows! Sometimes they want to draw in bed and I say no so they sneak in some markers and draw on the walls and all over their books, bedclothes and themselves. We have come to an agreement about this recently: They are now allowed (do you see how I used that word 'allowed' which suggests that I am able to control the trafficking of markers in this house?) to each bring their magnetic drawing board (aka Etch-A-Sketch but neither of them are that brand) to bed. Serious works of art are produced on these and there's no cleaning up required.

I nurture a creative culture in my home. That word nurture there is an important one. By nurturing I am feeding but also steering the creativity so that little lessons can be learned along with it and my children take responsibility for a few things here and there while enjoying themselves and doing what they choose.

In the spirit of this post I leave you with one of our favourite crafts: See below for Sadie and Holly making xylophones. You'll think I have an obsession with empty spice jars because here they are again: Jars, water, food colouring and spoons is all you need.

Each child must (in our house) have the same amount of jars and matching spoons: Sadie picked red food colouring and Holly picked blue. Adding the little drops of food colouring takes dexterity, listening for the different notes and then altering the liquid quantities gives the children a sense of autonomy and, best of all, when the splashing and messing starts there's not all that much water anyway!

Thank you for visiting us today and for joining in with Bing Crosby singing Busy Doing Nothing in the background, it's one of our favourite songs here. Enjoy the carnival!


Making xylophones, making a mess and a selection of art from our gallery
"...We'd like to be unhappy but we never do have the time."







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and grab your free extras 
(first 200 orders only!):

- exclusive access to a private Facebook group for creative mothers
- a vibrant greetings card and book-mark of one of the author's paintings.




Kindle and paperback editions from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble

or order it from your local bookshop!

  • Carnival host and author of The Rainbow Way, Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares an extract from the chapter Nurturing a Family Culture of Creativity.
  • Lilly Higgins is a passionate food writer. Now a mother of two boys, she's discovered a new calling: to instil in them a love of food and creativity in the kitchen.
  • DeAnna L'am shares how visioning the New Year with your child is an invitation to be inspired: use creativity and resolutions to create a fun road map for the year ahead.
  • Molly at Talk Birth on Releasing Our Butterflies - balancing motherhood with creativity.
  • Laura shares some of the creativity happening at Nestled Under Rainbows and a few thoughts about creativity.
  • Georgie at Visual Toast celebrates her own unique culture of creativity at home.
  • Esther at Nurtureworkshop spreads the love of the ordinary, the delights of everyday things that can be an adventure of the imagination.
  • For Dawn at The Barefoot Home creativity is always a free form expression to be shared by all in a supportive environment where anything can be an art material.
  • Naomi at Poetic Aperture is a mother, artist and photographer who tries to keep her daughter away from the expensive pens and paints.
  • Aimee at Creativeflutters writes about keeping your sanity and creativity intact with small kids in the house in her post: Mother + Creativity - They Must Coexist.
  • Amelia at My Grandest Adventure embarks on a 30 Days of Creativity challenge...you can too!
  • Becky at Raising Loveliness explores creating with her smaller family members.
  • Jennifer at Let Your Soul Shine reveals how children help us connect to our souls, through music and movement.
  • Mary at The Turquoise Paintbrush shares her experiences of creating with kids.
  • Joanna at Musings of a Hostage Mother explains why creativity at home is important to her in her post "I nurture a creative culture."
  • It took until Amy at Mama Dynamite was pregnant aged 35 to discover her dormant creative streak - she has found lovely ways of tuning into it every since.
  • Emily at The Nest explores how creativity runs through her family's life together.
  • Jennifer at OurMuddyBoots sees that encouraging creativity in children is as simple as appreciating them for who they are: it just means overriding everything we know!
  • Lisa from Mama.ie has discovered that a combination of writing and traditional crafts can provide a creative outlet during those busy early years of new motherhood.
  • Anna at Biromums shares what nurturing a culture of creativity means to her.
  • Zoie at TouchstoneZ argues that the less they are interfered with, the more creative children become as they grow up.
  • Darcel at The Mahogany Way celebrates creating with her kids.
  • Sally (aka The Ginger Ninja) of The Ginger Chronicles is continually inspired by her own mum and grandmother.
  • Just being creative is enough, says Nicki at Just Like Play, as she ponders her journey of nurturing a creative family.
  • Allurynn shares her creative family's musings in her post "Creativity... at the Heart of it" on Moonlight Muse.
  • Laura at Authentic Parenting explores how being creative saves her sanity.
  • Mama is Inspired talks about how she puts an emphasis on the handmade in her home, especially in the holiday season.
  • Kirstin at Listen to the Squeak Inside shares with you several easy ways for busy mamas and dads to encourage their children to be creative every day.
  • Mila at Art Play Day always lived in her dreams, sleepwalking through life ... now she is finding out what creativity is all about.... her inner child!
  • Sadhbh at Where Wishes Come From describes how picture books can nurture creativity in young children.
  • On womansart blog this week - nurturing a creative culture at home.



10 comments:

  1. Thank you for giving us such an in depth insight into your family's creative lives. I especially love all the pictures!

    "I have always been organised and liked it. Then I had children." So, so, so true!!!

    Thanks for taking part in the Carnival and for all your support of my work. xx

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    1. You're welcome, Lucy, best of luck with your book!

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  2. As usual, a great post! Love the photos of your girlies... and someday, *someday* I will have a whole ROOM that we can craft in... and close the door on!!

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    1. Thanks Emily, having just read your post I'm not sure that a room would be enough to contain all the creativity that bursts through the walls of your house! (am gathering strewing bits and pieces as we speak!)

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  3. Love it! So wonderful to be "busy doing nothing" - great! Thank you

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  4. Thank you so much! I hope to get to read the other carnival contributions tonight and I think your name is there too so looking forward to that.

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  5. I love the idea of the labelled cake mix bottles - that would have been great for Angel: sadly she was the only creative one! But like that I STILL have the remnants of the art box and a suitcase full of her drawings in the attic, that i'm not allowed to throw away :)

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    1. Yes, they're handy and I replace them as I get new cartons of cream and they're also good for the girls learning to open things themselves without the fear of a large amount of liquid going everywhere. I got in trouble recently for getting rid of a mountain of art work (there was so much more left I thought I'd get away with it). I like the idea of my children wanting to hold on to it when they're older though so I'll have to keep some. I read about a clever idea on another one of these posts that would make it easier and tidier to hold on to the masterpieces: Giving children their own sketchpads so their art stays in the books. Mine have scrapbooks that we glue stuff into that will also have to be culled but I love the idea of them having their own drawing books, possibly they will just rip out the pages, we will see!

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    1. Thank you, we do too (now that it has been cleared, it really was a death-trap before!) and it's brilliant that the Lego creations and paintings can be left on the table in there.

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