CAN BEING AROUND YOUR KIDS ALL DAY ACTUALLY MAKE YOU MORE CREATIVE?

As summer winds down and economic recovery plans are put into effect, numbers of coronavirus cases are skyrocketing. The question of how to safely reopen schools continues to be a mystery – experts say it’s dangerous, some are offering creative solutions like outdoor classrooms, and many are expressing concerns about the risks associated with not providing in-person learning for families that lack access to the necessary resources to create a supportive at-home learning environment.

If you’re a parent, your most important job is keeping your family safe. But you also have another job, which is um… your job.

Balancing the needs of our families, our careers and ourselves has never been more difficult. The tug of war we are experiencing can force us to compromise. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself that Youtube can be educational so you can spend three hours working through a thorny brief, or perhaps you put all your conference calls on mute so you can play dress up with your kids.

It’s now apparent that we’re in this for the long-haul and work is piling up. Getting things done now means taking a video call while your 4 year old dances around your desk and sneaking away at midnight while your newborn snoozes – it’s not easy. 

In the past, coming up with creative ideas required input from the world around us and uninterrupted time to concentrate. With that world in crisis and kids needing more attention, how are we supposed to concept? The answer, ironically, is to get creative.

Accept that you have a new partner in crime. The good news is that they’re amazingly creative but maybe not so great at sticking to the brief. (Did you know LOL dolls also need to manage their blood sugar?)

Try integrating your kids into the creative process.

THE INTERNET IS (SOMETIMES) A BEAUTIFUL PLACE.

We all noodle about on Chrome while working but as parents we’ve developed a love-hate relationship with the Internet (and gaming consoles and smartphones, too). Channel the need for screens into something that can inspire rather than distract.

The Getty Museum Challenge motivated people to recreate art using three objects lying around their homes; the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City allowed their security guard to take over Twitter to not only educate our children about the “Wild West” but provide some much-needed entertainment for the adults; and sites once used for events have included educational programming in an online format. And let’s not forget about Pinterest, be inspired while you scroll through thousands of ideas to keep them entertained, and find something yummy for dinner. 

UTILIZE THE WISDOM OF U2.

U2’s frontman Bono was on to something when he said, “Music can change the world because it can change people.” Sure, your parents may have yelled at you to “turn that music down” while doing your homework but research shows certain types of music may help with creativity. It has been found that “happy” music can help people better perform creative or “divergent” thinking.

Additionally, music for many of us offers therapy and stress relief. From balcony concerts that make us feel remotely connected to our neighbors during isolation, to Hamilton’s appearance on Disney Plus and #EduHam at home, music serves as a release from the day-to-day stresses in life and a way to safely keep us connected with others. So, go ahead and get “Lost in the Woods” with your daughter.

GET SOME FRESH AIR

Open their eyes to the world around you and take in the beauty of the unnoticed. The small details up close and the blur of the trees in the distance make for a completely different perspective. Take the time to explore the shapes in the clouds. Sometimes it’s the little things that spark brilliant ideas. You just have to go out and look for them.

“IN A TIME OF TEST, FAMILY IS BEST.”

This Burmese proverb offers a lot of insight into how external sources aren’t the only to inspire – some of the best creative sources exist inside our own home. The partner we chose in life might just be our strongest ally.

It’s been a while since we’ve had to use our creativity in unique ways – to see a pile of pillows, blankets and couch cushions as a castle is design thinking. Maybe listening to music together can lead to discussions on current slang and trends. Teaching your little one how to draw might just help those rusty storyboard skills. Taking time to engage and play games with your children can actually lead to tangible business ideas – just ask Travis Scott about the power of virtual Fortnite concerts.

There’s no one right answer but keep taking breaks to build a marble run when asked. Have your kids tell you a joke (“What do you call a pile of cats? A MEOWtain!!!!) or take them out for a hike and really listen to what they say (they have some very weird ideas about the world). Being more in tune with their needs and giving your mind the ability to wander could actually help to challenge and push our creativity to new limits.

Your mini me’s are always modeling their behavior based on what you do. Maybe it’s time we took a cue from them for a change, and use our imaginations in a new way. Seems like it’s going to be awhile before things get back to “normal,” so let’s find ways to use this new-found time with our families to make something amazing.

 

Commentary provided by Kate McGuire