SUMMER’S HERE. DID THE CREATIVE CHALLENGE JUST GET HARDER?

Coming up with creative ideas requires input from the world around us and uninterrupted time to concentrate. With that world sharply limited and kids needing more attention, how are we supposed to concept? The answer, ironically, is to get creative.

“SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER.” 

From kids finishing school and heading to camps to grown-ups finding inspiration in the great outdoors, summer is a chance to relax, have fun and recharge your creativity. The sunny season is typically full of pool parties, baseball games, and music festivals but this year is a bit different.

Virtual school, as weird as it was, provided some loose structure to our days and gave us a few activities we felt contributed to our children’s prosperity. Now, with many camps and pools closed and families shying away from other summer activities, children have more free time and less to do. Naturally, they turn to their parents for help.

Balancing the needs of our families, our careers and ourselves has never been harder. The tug of war we are experiencing can force us to compromise. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself that Youtube is 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.

Maybe there’s another way through the madness. 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?)

Here are a few ways to integrate 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.

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 primetime television sing-alongs, 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.

“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 start by 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!!!!) and get 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.

Maybe taking a cue from our children will force our brains to use our imaginations in a new way. As hard as this is, let’s find ways to use this new-found time with our families to make something amazing.